BUILDING A BRAND: Anam Mirza

Talkative, popular and sporty – were her distinctive traits in her growing up days. Anam Mirza ended up being the sports captain of the school and today has bloomed into a graceful, fashion conscious, young lady! She’s now a stylist and curator of a national lifestyle exhibition. Anam, with her baby – The Label Bazaar, that is already a talking point on the national fashion front. RITZ Magazine in conversation with Anam on what goes behind curating an event like this, its pros and cons and more.

Text: ANAHITA AHUJA 

How was The Label Bazaar born? 

It way in February, 2016, when my best friend and I extremely upset about not having enough options to shop from. So the basic thought process behind it was to curate designers that we loved, and who hadn’t come to Hyderabad before. Even today, that is what we aim at – to sell things that we relate to. You’ll see that the clothes we showcase, are those which I would wear myself. We truly believe that you can’t sell something that you personally don’t like or wouldn’t wear.

How have you grown?

In our first year, we weren’t seasoned, but now we are eight seasons down and have more experience. We learnt from each show. People think that it is very easy to organise a lifestyle exhibition but it really isn’t. I do a lot of other events as well, but nothing comes close to being this difficult.

So, what all goes into organizing a show? 

Oh! A lot! Everyone who has come to The Label Bazaar will agree on how it isn’t like the other exhibitions. We pay a lot of emphasis on the complete experience and not just the shopping part. We have nice, peppy music going on with a pretty decor around – things that add to the experience of shopping. Apart from what you buy, the feel is what also stays with you. In order to have the right decor and feel to the place, we need a venue that is spacious and allows us that freedom. We try and choose a high roof to give a nice breathing space. And of course, the accessibility of the venue.

Your sister Sania Mirza, is the brand ambassador of the Label Bazaar. How did that happen?

Apart from being my sister, I have also been working with her. I style her, so having her as our ambassador was my first obvious choice. She endorses us because she has been with us since the beginning, and believes in our work. She isn’t the kind of person who would just do it without having faith in something.

What was her first reaction when you approached her to be the face for it?

I come from a media background and wanted to be a journalist. But when, one fine morning I woke up and told her that I was planning to curate this, her reaction was, “what exactly are you doing”. When she heard the entire thing is when she was more at ease about it and the rest then followed.

How is it working with her?

I have been working with for some time now and it has always been very professional. That is exactly how it is even now. When we are working, we are very different from otherwise. Work is work, after all.

What is your way of defining a successful show? 

As the show starts, I sit at the entrance of the venue and watch people coming in. For me, a successful show is the one where the first 100 people walk out with bags in their hands. Nothing else gives me more pleasure than that!

How do you do the profiling of designers? 

Initially we used to approach all our designers – we still approach some of them because we want them to come into the Hyderabad market. But besides that we get a lot of calls to be a part of The Label Bazaar, and then we ask them to send in a lookbook before we bring them on board. It is very important to scan through to be able to maintain a certain level of standard.

Do you see online shopping as a threat to a live event?

For me, personally, I don’t think there is anything bigger than online shopping. It is very big. But isn’t a threat. I am a huge online shopper but even today, when I want to buy good clothes, I would never buy them without touching and feeling them. So, as much as the online market is growing, live will always remain live.

You host shows in Hyderabad, Dubai, Chennai and Mumbai – how would you rate the respective markets?

I love Hyderabad the most because it’s my own city and we do get our best responses here, and then in Chennai. We did a show in Dubai last year, and were amazed at the response we got. But Mumbai is Mumbai – with it being the hub of designers, it is a little difficult as a market – but we are getting there slowly. This year, we are also looking at Bengaluru. 

What is that one thing which is common in all these cities? 

One would think that a person living in Hyderabad or Chennai would not be as up-to-date as the one living in Mumbai, but that’s not true. Each and every shopper who walks in, knows exactly what they are looking for. So that’s one thing in common -their love for fashion. 

What is your marketing strategy for promoting these exhibitions?

We are trying to strategize to get our target audience from the younger age group – which is from the ages of 18-35. So we try and have designers that cater to the younger lot with designs that engage our clients. Even our hoardings and collaterals are all very young and youth appealing.

What should one do before coming to your show?

Save up and not shop at the other exhibitions! (laughs) Especially this season, as we have a lot of good festive collections coming in.

How do you handle competition?

I think competition is something that exists everywhere – from school to college, to offices and life. One needs to just deal with it as it is a part and parcel of life. So have we, we know that there will be competition and that is okay. I actually go to each and every exhibition in the city and see what they put together.

What is the best and worst thing about organising an exhibition? 

There are plenty of good things about doing what I do. One of which is the fact that I am always so close to fashion! Second would be to be able to bring these designers under a roof. Thirdly, the adrenaline rush you get before a show.The worst thing would be the pressure, but since I like the pressure so it isn’t really a bad thing for me either. internationally, I think nothing comes close to my love for Dior and Gucci – I can pick up everything they have! 

What is fashion to you?

Fashion is literally everything to me. Don’t judge me, but the first thing I notice about a person is their clothes. They don’t have to be branded, but I look at who has worn what and how. Thankfully I ended up making my passion my profession.

On a very stressed day, you like to… 

Eat. Eat desserts especially.

What gets you angry?

Nothing in this world gets me angrier than a person being late. Punctuality is extremely underrated in a person’s character.