Fashion designer Nzinga Knight is known for her demure and vintage inspired designs. Having shown in New York fashion week twice, graduated from Pratt Institute and being a life long Brooklynite she brings a series of diverse experiences to her line. Her faith and philosophy about women’s fashion also brings a genuine curiosity to her designer peers and onlookers alike so much so that she landed a spot in the latest season of Project Runway. So what does Nzinga Knight have to say about Nzinga Knight New York? We wondered the same…
-When was Nzinga Knight New York first created?
I began designing and selling clothing for women when I was in college. Nzinga Knight NY was created in 2010 but I began designing since way before then and created a capsule collection which sold in 2007-10
-When Nzinga Knight New York was
first created were there many brands like it that catered to
When Nzinga Knight NY was first created there were very few brands that I knew of catering to Muslim women.
-How would you describe Nzinga Knight New York’s aesthetic?
The Nzinga Knight New York aesthetic can be defined as innovative, classic and chic. Certain elements like the increased modesty and classic feel oftentimes make women feel like I’m giving nods to the past. Some items have a timeless a vintage feel.
-What made you decide to name the brand after yourself?
I decided to name my label after myself because my designs represent y sentiments and aspirations in fashion. Every piece has to be something that I’m proud to say I created and represents my vision so I decieded that rather than be anonymous I’d create clothing and boldly say that I did it. Also, my name has a nice sound and sounds like a designer name. I also like that my first name is African and means beautiful and that my last name is European and is related to nobility. It’s the eclectic and unexpected mixed with formality and western aesthetics.
-How much does your personal style plays in to Nzinga Knight New York’s designs?
More and more my personal style plays into my designs. I’ve designed many things because they are pieces that I’d like to own and I’ve designed some pieces with other women in mind. Regarding my personal style I like classic as well as eclectic things. I like pieces that are sometimes simple as well as pieces that have a wow factor. That’s how I balance out my looks from day to day.
-What kind of women does Nzinga Knight keep in mind?
As I design I think about women who are living or striving to live their lives to the fullest. Women who enjoy going out and looking great. Women who have friends and family who love them, enjoy them, and like to have them around so they have dinners, gala’s, brunches, weddings, gallery openings, etc. to attend. The woman that I have in mind knows that her inner beauty can and should radiate out so her sense of fashion is a reflection of her inner beauty. She’s smart so her clothes are smart, she’s loving, so her clothes and sense of style make people smile. She’s approachable yet precious so her clothing achieves a balance of that.
-As a designer do you ever struggle between creativity and modesty?
-Nzinga Knight recently include separates in its collection was this a conscious move to diversify (away from solely evening gowns)?
Including separates in the collection is a natural progression for NKNY and a conscious decision. Separates give women more options. Dresses give women lots of ease because one look is presented to you at once. Both are great.
-How has the journey been for you as a designer? What was the public reception after your showing in fashion week?
Being a fashion designer has been gratifying and rewarding as well as very trying at times. As a designer I’m also an artist. So much of my life as a designer is about greater self-realization in my work- creating fashions that are truly a reflection of my ideas and feelings. Another important part of being a designer is creating items that women want and that stores want. Having a balance between being true to oneself, which is one of the highest callings as an artist and being true to commerce i.e. what sells and what will benefit consumers is my task.
The Public’s reception after my showing during fashion week was very positive. There was a lot of anticipation for my designs/ collection and I began getting public support through my fans and friends via the Nzinga Knight New York facebook page, and various media outlets all over the world. My phone was ringing off the hook with calls from Jordan, to the UAE, Australia, and across the US. It was stunning! Articles about my design work and in-studio practice leading up to fashion week were published a week prior to the show and many articles continued to be published for months after. It was beautiful.
-What is the future of Nzinga Knight?
The future of Nzinga Knight New York and me as a person is in sha Allah (God willing) very bright. I look forward to creating better and more desirable and accessible clothing
each season and building the company to one day be as financially successful as Tory Burch or even more successful. As a woman, I look forward to getting married and having children and having that add beauty to my life. I look forward to loving more, expressing more, being bolder and brighter.
-Your designs are available online, do you plan to open brick and mortars? Where?
My designs are available online at NzingaKnight.com I plan to open a brick and mortar store in NY one day and a few other locations- where ever the demand for my designs are greatest.
-You have shown your clothing both with and without the hijab, is this a conscious decision? If so, why?
When I showed my collection as part of New York fashion week I showed most of them without hijab; there was one design, the Twareg that had a hijab buit in so the model rocked hijab. I recently showed that collection at Hijabfest, all of the models were Muslim and I showed the looks with hijab.
-What is the future of modesty in the west? Do you see it growing or staying largely within the Muslim community?
I believe that the future of modesty is very bright. I think that many designers creating modest clothing will increasingly create styles that have more of a mass appeal. After all, a great dress- whether it has sleeves or not, or a great pair of pants is just that. Most people purchase clothing because they have an emotional response to it. It’s great when the designer has a story that they can relate to, but in the end it’s about the product. So long as designers creating modest clothing create great clothing, I think our businesses will grow and the designs will be coveted. Women of all faiths have been purchasing my Nzinga Knight NY designs from the beginning. In sha Allah (If God has willed) this will continue and increase.
-What’s one thing you’d want everyone to know about Nzinga Knight New York and Nzinga Knight the person?
I would like for people to know that Nzinga Knight NY is about creating beautiful clothing for women that is delightful, empowering and innovative. Who I am influences how I design. I’m a woman, I’m a New Yorker, I’m Muslim, I’m creative and I’m vibrant and spiritual. All of the elements fuse together and are expressed in fashion.
Follow Nzinga Knigt all over the web: F T I and see her designs here: Nzingaknight.com