Q&A with Project Runway alumnus Naim Josefi

Photos provided by Naim Josefi.

Music & Arts

Q&A with Project Runway alumnus Naim Josefi

A product of Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Naim Josefi is a Swedish fashion designer who has an eye for couture, seamlessly blending the tactility of textiles with the innovation of technology.

Many fashionistas first got a taste of his aesthetic on Project Runway Sverige, where he won the 2012 competition. Josefi has been nominated for the British Design Museum’s “Designer of the Year” award, and his 3D printed shoes were featured in an exhibition of up-and-coming designers at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

We caught up with Josefi ahead of the whirlwind that is New York Fashion Week (Sept. 7-14) to get some insights into his design process, how he challenges himself and who he’d love to dress one day.

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You grew up in the fashion/retail world. When did you first get interested in fashion design?

I first got in contact with fashion when I started helping out other Swedish fashion brands (such as Whyred, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, etc.) as a tailor in preparation for their upcoming fashion shows. They had heard about my expertise as a tailor since I was working at Stockholm City Theatre at the time, making costumes.

What is the fashion industry like in Sweden?

The fashion industry in Sweden is very small, but appreciated internationally. It’s a perfect place to start up and set the foundations of your fashion brand.

You dressed both Bahar Pars and Clara Henry in stunning, steel-sequined garments. What inspired you to use such an untraditional material?

As a designer, I always work in an intersection of art and technology. I wanna contribute to the fashion industry by pushing it forward using innovative and untraditional materials. Steel is a comfortable material to use with modern technology, and since you can recycle it many times over, it’s also a very sustainable material. I feel fortunate that it has been greeted with such appreciation.

What is your proudest moment in your career so far?

The proudest moment so far was when I got nominated for designer of the year (2011) at the British Design Museum, alongside famous designers that I admire such as Jil Sander, Lanvin and Comme des Garçons.

Speaking of untraditional, we’re obsessed with Melonia shoes, from your collaboration with Materialise. The video on your website talks about recyclable materials and closing the loop. How important is eco-fashion and other sustainable practices as it relates to your work?

Everything I design is with sustainability in mind – it’s every designer’s responsibility to push the human race forward when it comes to sustainable clothing. The most sustainable way to work with different materials is to be able to close the loop, and that is my main goal when it comes to eco-fashion.

Back in 2012, you competed on Project Runway Sverige, where you won several challenges and ultimately were named the winner. What was that experience like?

I loved the challenge with the short deadlines and all the cameras around you 24/7. There was no time to focus on anything else but my work, which made me feel like I was in a state of trance.

In addition to your innovative, 3D collaborations, you’ve also worked with another Swedish favorite of ours – Happy Socks – as part of its Local Hero campaign. Was it a challenge to create something so vibrant (and pink) compared to the aesthetic you’re known for?

It is always challenging to design outside of your comfort zone, but I love to work with small details such as the patterns I made for Happy Socks. The important thing for me was to keep the Happy Socks DNA but be able to add my own touch, it was a very rewarding experience for my own development.

If you could dress any celebrity, who would it be?

Sweden’s own superstar Alicia Vikander, of course!

Any advice to the budding fashion designers out there?

Don’t give up, it will all work out in the end.

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