The award-winning fashion designer Raishma Islam created spectacular couture for fifteen years before launching her own ready-to-wear collection back in 2013. In this interview, RLI spends some time with the woman herself to learn more about her company and how her goal is to make more women feel beautiful and unique in the coming years.
Raishma’s fashion journey began at the age of 8, when her mother initially taught her how to sew. It was this moment that sparked her interest in design. Upon completion of her fashion degree at De Montfort University, she refined her skills under the tutelage of esteemed designer Elizabeth Emmanuel, known for co-designing Princess Diana’s iconic wedding dress.
“My ambition was to open my first store at 25, launching my own brand, Raishma in 1998. By fusing my knowledge of couture design with my multicultural background, I drew inspiration from the East’s vibrant colours and hand embroidery, blending them seamlessly with Western cuts and tailoring,” explains Raishma Islam, Founder of Raishma.
She launched her own ready-to-wear collection, Raishma London in 2013 with the aim of allowing everyone to experience the style and essence of couture in every garment. To complement the ready-to-wear, bridal and couture offerings, she launched Raishma Studio in 2021 where she focused on creating a wide range of stunning, affordable printed dresses.
“With over two decades of experience, as both designer and creative director of my own independent fashion business, I remain intricately involved in every aspect of my brand, from sketching each piece to hand-selecting fabrics and meticulously overseeing each style to ensure perfect quality and fit. My aim with the brand is to create affordable luxury pieces with a couture flair and my mission is to empower women to feel more inspired, confident, and beautiful,” Raishma explains.
The luxurious Raishma flagship store is situated in the heart of Marylebone, London. On the lower floor is the Bridal and Couture Studio where bespoke gowns are created for brides and VIP clients. Meanwhile on the ground floor, the curated ready-to-wear collections, from Raishma London beaded dresses to the Raishma Studio printed collection are showcased. An in-house alteration service is available along with personal shopping experiences and the store provides accessories including jewellery and shoes to complete the perfect look.
“We are looking to grow and develop the Raishma brand with strategic partners in the UK and internationally. In addition, there is a focus on America, Australia and India. The UAE is an important market for us and we are already enjoying great success with Ounass.com,” Raishma highlights.
Raishma pieces are made to treasure but are contemporary and timeless. Her collections take inspiration from art, history and nature. Raishma London offers affordable luxury, with exquisitely designed hand beaded and embellished gowns, whilst Raishma Studio is known for its distinctive prints and approach to colour with a unique point of view. Her bridal collections focus from the base fabric to the silhouette, to then the hand embellishment, to make each bride feel fabulous on her special day.
As we discuss the brand experience, Raishma explains that the client is the centre of the business, and she has brides who come back to her and are now mother of the bride. “I get such pleasure to be able to look after the bride, mother of the bride and the wedding guests. Raishma Bridal is by appointment only, in order to offer a truly personalised experience. We enjoy both Royal and celebrity clientele, so absolute privacy and discretion is key.”
Social media is a pivotal avenue in order for the Raishma brand to grow. As a female-led business, she wanted to create a space where women could feel safe, see her dresses and understand how to style themselves to feel truly confident. The Raishma Instagram page is a place where women can feel part of a community and as a result, they have campaigns highlighting issues for women such as our collaboration with Breast Cancer Now for 2024.
“I am also very excited to be launching our new podcast: Women 4 Women with Raishma, in the New Year that celebrates the strength, resilience and inspiring stores of women from all walks of life.”
In today’s ever-evolving retail world, sustainability is a major factor in how retail businesses are run and this company is no exception. Raishma creates slow fashion garments that you can wear again and again, season after season. She has also moved into more sustainable fabrics like cottons and viscose for her Raishma Studio collection and has started using more recycled materials for her packaging. In addition to all this, the brand is also participating in the British Fashion Council’s Low Carbon Transition Programme next year.
The unique selling point (USP) of the Raishma brand has always been to create a fusion look. This is the company signature across all three collections, focusing on embroidery, colour and print with fit being integral to each design. The company also offers incredible value for the ready to wear pieces that they produce for their customers.
As the conversation and our time with the world-renowned designer nears its end, Raishma discusses the ethos of the company, explaining that it is for women to feel fabulous and confident whatever ethnicity, size or shape in a Raishma dress and that being a female-led business, she is driven to empower women through their global workforce.
“As we look to the future, there are very exciting times ahead for the brand as we begin our journey to expand both domestically and internationally. Through exploring new routes to market, my objective is to spread the magic of the Raishma brand and make many more women feel unique and special. There are always economic challenges, but women always want to feel confident and beautiful, and our goal is to deliver this,” Raishma concludes.