Demand for designer clothes in Uzbekistan has picked up over the past ten years. Among fashion designers who work to alter local tastes is Timur Tashkenbayev, who has been interviewed by an Uzbekistan Today correspondent.
Timur, what is the clothing market like today?
“Ten years ago, we mainly wore what was brought from abroad. It was believed that only cheap T-shirts and clothes for home wear were made in Uzbekistan although local companies made a lot of quality clothing for export. However, times and tastes change. Today, more and more Uzbeks want to wear locally made outfits. And demand has been spurring the emergence of new brands in the market. Well-known companies have been changing work approaches. While most companies used to copy foreign styles, today they prefer to have their own fashion designers. Currently, there are over ten labels in the market that have their own signature styles and their own fashion designers. New designer shops have sprung up and the number of such shops is increasing day after day, which means that locally produced products are in demand.”
You are known as a designer who has been working for the past three years for the local label Fratelli Casa founded ten years ago. Is it hard to change people’s habits and convictions in an area such as clothing?
“Although more and more Uzbek people are wearing clothes made by national brands, winning their trust is not easy. It may seem you have a brand with a recognizable style and exclusive, limited-edition clothes. Add to that a lower cost; lower than you would pay to have an item made or brought from abroad. In spite of all these advantages, to make a client happy, you have to be able to hear his desire and try hard to turn into an outfit.
Our brand is very active on social networks. The team is led by Sherzod Kayumov, one of the founders of the brand.
If we want someone to become our permanent client, we try to fulfill his or her order without delay. We place a lot of premium on contacts with clients because what we do is based on his or her opinion. This sort of dialog is the way to earn people’s trust.
We stick to these rules when we make not only exclusive clothes, but also whole batches. We also try to amaze: a new collection is something born of a new idea. We demonstrate a sense of responsibility in ensuring quality as well; it should be flawless. Therefore, we always create a sample and put it to test: washing, ironing and so on. If a fabric passes the test, then we bulk-buy it to create a whole batch of garments.”
As you know, tastes differ, especially when it comes to clothes. As a designer with his own set taste and clients with different preferences, how do you manage to find the golden mean?
“We primarily work to make clothes for daily wear of European style but with the use of national elements. That’s the secret of our success. To be able to hit the bull’s eye, we are always on the lookout for fashion trends here and abroad. There is no place for trivia in this sense. Gone are the days when all that is European was considered fashionable. Foreign-made clothing does not always align with local tastes.”
Does it happen that people are thrilled by a particular product but do not buy it?
“I create some 300 designs a year. That would be a new design every day, sometimes more than one. Having said that, I can’t guarantee that each of them will sell like hot cakes. In fact, some of them take a year or two to sell out.”
When does that normally happen?
“When you go overboard. Clients like a creative touch to clothing but it should be in moderation. I think that being able to sense this boundary is exactly what reveals a designer’s mastery.”
Can you say a few words about yourself? How did you end up being a clothing designer and how did you become a sought-after fashion designer?
“My mom is an engineer and my mom is an architect, and there has always a lot of drawing involved and a creative atmosphere reigned in our home. My sister was a contributing factor as well: she had a sewing workshop that made clothes for export. First, I drew designs for myself and then my sister’s sewing workshop turned them into outfits. But back then I couldn’t event imagine that I would become a fashion designer. Even while trying to enroll in Tashkent Institute of Textiles and Light Industry, I dithered for a long time as to who I wanted to become. I got into the institute at the third attempt when a new school – fashion design – was opened at the institute. And that is how I became a fashion designer.”
How did you become an adherent of global fashion trends?
“I have received no training abroad and nor have I done any fashion show beyond the country. I guess my choice was influenced by an offer I received upon graduation from the institute to interview for a position at the fashion house of the Kayumov brothers, the founders of Fratelli Casa. I successfully passed the interview and was invited to work with them. The Kayumov brothers have extensive experience in working in the clothing market both in and outside Uzbekistan, in particular in the United States. Therefore, they are introducing many innovations in Uzbekistan. At this point they are working to develop their own label: I have been their designer for three years now.”
Do you often communicate with foreign colleagues?
“Most online and primarily with professionals from Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. By the way, many of them frequently visit Uzbekistan, where they explore our traditional textiles that inspire them to come up with new designs.
I have been invited to Kazakhstan to do a fashion show. Also, an exciting offer has come from Barcelona, from an organizer of shows by labels such as Dolce Gabbana and Armani. Since he does not have partners from Central Asia, I am being invited to become the first one.”