In conversation with Nighat Imam, Preali

One of the key elements to wedding festivities is the wardrobe selection of every soon to be newlywed. Some decide to go abroad to update their latest selections, while some stay home, sticking to their roots and fashion choices. Then of course, there are those who indulge in a little bit of both. No matter the decision made by the end of the day, we tip our hats to a select few who’ve expressed their passion in fashion through their wonderful works of wearable art starting with Nighat Imam, the brains behind Preali, to understand how style cannot exist without substance.

Where does the name Preali come from?

It’s a hybrid of my daughters’ names: Preanka and Alicia. The first three letters from each of their names. When did you get into fashion design and why? For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in design and fashion. As a child, I was scolded by my teachers for drawing in my math books. I continued to cultivate my interests in design as an adult, obtaining a degree in computer graphics. While I was in college, I started working at a clothes boutique to help pay for my tuition. I decided to continue working for famous retailers after graduation so I could learn about the business and management side of fashion. When I launched my lifelong aspiration of creating my own fashion line with Preali in 2011, I was able to integrate my first love – design – with the practical business knowledge I had acquired over my 20 plus years career.

What inspires your work?

My love for art, fashion and people. I love dressing people up. When I see someone taking an interest in expressing his or her identity through clothes, I am really inspired. What are common motifs present on your designs? I don’t follow any particular motif, but I do have some signature techniques. I love hand paint, simple karchupi and embroidery work, both of which are reflected in many of my pieces.

Is there a signature Preali style?

I work alongside our team of artisans to craft each material into wearable art. And our pieces come to life on the women and men who wear them with individuality, ease and a dash of whimsy. There are a lot of designer boutiques in Dhaka. How do you stand out from the competition? I don’t meditate too much on competition. I retain my individuality, and follow my philosophy whatever I’m creating: I believe in ease, simplicity and elegance, but also helping my customers stand apart from the crowd.

What are your future plans for Preali?

I have big dreams with Preali. But I would like to take this one step at a time. Although Preali is working with various weavers around Bangladesh, including from Tangail, Shahjadpur, Belkuchi, Baburhat, and other places, I would like to work more with the local weavers and the handloom industry as the business grows. We are about to open a second Preali boutique on the ground floor of Pink City. We would like to invite you all to come and visit us.

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Juneyna Kabir

Juneyna is the sub-editor of ICE Today and ICE Business Times. She spends most of her time planning her next meal and plotting female world domination