Soft lavenders, deep purples and rich magentas swirl together on a computer screen, creating a psychedelic pattern. Combining creative coding and digital illustration, McCormick junior Sahibzada Mayed experiments with design patterns for future fashion brand Naranji.
Naranji aims to redefine the future of fashion and tech, disrupt the gender binary and reclaim cultural fashion, according to the startup instagram.
“The brand is people-centric, and I try to center that as much as possible. Who is wearing these (clothes)? What is their background?” said Mayed, the founder of Naranji. fashion is for everyone.”
During the winter, Mayed worked on her engineering capstone project, which focused on fashion and its roots in colonialism. Although they’ve always been interested in fashion, Mayed said the project helped lay the foundation for the brand’s launch.
Coming from an engineering background, Mayed said he sees how technology and fashion design can intersect. For Naranji, Mayed uses generative art, a design process that uses code to create computer-generated patterns.
“(Generative art) helps me expand creative possibilities,” Mayed said. “I might not have found these color combinations if I hadn’t seen them. I might not have found these patterns if I hadn’t coded them.
Although the computer helps inform the design process, the computer is not the designer, it is Mayed. They said the design involved many iterations and they often manipulated the computer-generated models to create the end result.
McCormick models junior Jazmyn Lu for Naranji. She said watching Mayed take engineering in an artistic direction is exciting.
“The coding has (is thought of) to be like, ‘You’re just going to plot things or you’re going to fake this,'” Lu said. “It’s not…very creative, so I think it’s cool that (Mayed) adds creativity.”
Mayed said fashion has traditionally been Euro-centric. Growing up in Pakistan, he said he noticed a cultural desirability surrounding whiteness.
Mayed said Naranji is inspired by “liberating fashion”, which uses design to liberate people from intersecting forms of oppression and marginalization.
“I’ve thought deeply and critically about skin color and beauty standards…It’s been integral to my understanding of who’s fashionable and what fashion is,” he said. he declares. “These are important frameworks that I have focused on because historically there has been a disconnect.”
Mayed said Naranji also aims to disrupt the size and gender expectations of fashion brands. As an ethically sourced, inventory-free brand, Naranji works with a Montreal-based manufacturer to create bespoke clothing.
In Pakistan, Mayed’s mother ran a fashion boutique, which exposed Mayed to bespoke tailoring. He said custom-made clothes are made to fit the customer, which makes them feel better.
In their first two collections, Mayed said she was drawn to fluidity. Naranji seeks to design gender-specific clothing to affirm people’s diverse gender representations, he said.
“The goal is to think about how people’s gender identities intersect,” Mayed said. “You can’t put people in this gender binary… There’s no good way to put labels on gender representation, because (gender) is so fluid.”
Mayed said that in the future, the brand hopes to integrate co-design, so that more voices are involved in the design process. If a customer likes a pattern, the brand plans to work with them to customize patterns, colors and silhouettes, they said.
Ysa Quiballo, freshman at Medill and Naranji’s social media director, said the Naranji team works together to form the brand’s vision. Ultimately, Naranji’s message goes beyond expressing individuality, Quiballo said.
“(Naranji is) about breaking down barriers for people and providing a means for people to create change in their own lives and in the lives of others,” Quiballo said.
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