From training in London fashion school to becoming Malaysia’s celebrated bridalwear designer, Nurita Harith carves her name with soft layers and silhouettes to define her unique sense of style.
Photography courtesy of Nurita Harith
How did you get into fashion?
I have always been that kid who loved drawing, and somehow it developed into drawing female figures and silhouettes, which then started my passion for fashion in high school. I took fine arts for my foundation and pursued fashion for my diploma and degree in London.
The fashion industry is a cutthroat world. How do you differentiate yourself from the other local designers? From where do you draw your inspiration?
I started off like any new designers returning from London with no business knowledge. We just did what we wanted to, but with years of experience now, I have learned that we need to be balanced. I learned to develop my signature, which is draping, but slowly tweaked it to be subtle so that it can sell. My inspiration usually comes from developing shapes from new materials that we find or even colours that can spark excitement in me. Most importantly, I will always stick to my shapes to define our mark for the brand.
How did you feel when you started your own line? Were you afraid?
Very afraid as we started with very little budget and with no business background, but I knew it was now or never. I took that leap of faith.
What are some of the challenges you face as a fashion designer in Malaysia? It’s not as glamorous as it seems, is it?
The biggest challenge we had to go through when we first started was to establish the brand. At that time, there was no social media as part of the platform. Secondly, we had to understand running the seasons in Malaysia. I learned how we are mostly based on bespoke, so I embraced it and it became our bread and butter, which helped us grow and expand to ready-to-wear (RTW). It is not glamorous, aside from attending events and that final walk after the collection, as it takes six months to prepare in between completing clients’ orders and preparing for upcoming collections. It requires a lot of multitasking and schedules! It is the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before I sleep.
You have made a name for yourself in the bridalwear industry. How did this come about?
I started off wanting to do RTW as that is what I was taught in London, but it is a different market here in Malaysia. I really doubted myself in bridal, but I did my first bride and started understanding how bridalwear is all about details and understanding the bride too. I used that as a medium to learn what our Malaysian market wants for the other collections. Once the brand grew, I finally went for RTW again. Both have different ways of approaching and preparing for it. I’m a firm believer of the saying ‘when the time is right, it will happen’.
What is the biggest mistake that brides tend to make when deciding on their wedding gowns or looks? Should they adopt the “less is more” approach?
I always believe in less is more and would advise that brides pictured in magazines may not look like that when the gown is on you. It is best to keep it elegant as you would want to look back at your wedding pictures later and not cringe!
What is your aspiration as a fashion designer? What do you hope to achieve?
To be able to expand RTW and maintain our quality. I am very fussy in making sure that regardless of the price, I want to offer good-quality fashionwear for our clients. I want to explore different collections in RTW and grow our in-house studio for bespoke fashion.
Tell us about your biggest achievement so far. Is there a specific person you owe your success to?
My biggest achievement will always be that time we shot our bridal campaign in Budapest, Hungary, as it was an amazing experience. There have been many people who have been supportive of me throughout my journey, but my biggest supporter would be my mother. I am very blessed to have a mother who trusts that I’m able to carve my own path, and she has always been open to me making my own decisions in life and career.
How do you style yourself? What kind of wear can we find you in daily?
I am a very practical dresser, in my denim and trainers unless I have appointments or meetings.
In view of Eid celebrations in June, can you tell us about Raya fashion through the years? How has it evolved and what can we expect to see this year?
The biggest season for Malaysia is our Raya season. It has been a good challenge for all local brands to come up with their own Raya collection. With campaign shoots and fashion shows, it has become the most exciting and intense part of the year. For our brand, we usually come up with two Raya collections, which are the Lebaran Luxe (bespoke) for clients who want more exclusive designs that would be made to measure and the Lebaran RTW (under the ‘NH by Nurita Harith’ brand), which would be sold via the Zalora online platform, at Robinsons Kuala Lumpur at Shoppes at Four Seasons Place and ShoesShoesShoes. The style for our main line this year has more detailed work on beadwork, but the silhouette is classic, with a mix of draping to elevate the collection.
Whereas in RTW, we are finally having prints injected into the collection. We will still have the plain customised colours with draping and lace as part of the main collection because we know that is what our ladies love from the brand, but we will have prints of peonies injected into the design. For a touch of femininity, I wanted the layering petals of the peonies highlighted in different subtle shades and placed uniquely in each design. The draping technique this time is elevated to create a unique touch for the collection.
What is the greatest life advice you have received and what advice would you give to young designers hoping to make it in the industry?
Work hard and embrace both good and bad experiences as the tool to move forward.
- Who is your favourite designer? Ann Demeulemeester.
- Who is your style icon? Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz.
- Your staple clothing item is …My black sharp pants.
- The one thing you never leave home without? My phone and bank card.
- The one makeup item you always have in your purse/clutch. My eyebrow pencil.
- The one thing you will let yourself splurge on. Shoes!
- Your one guilty pleasure. Coffee while listening to my old-school R&B alone every morning before I start work.
- The one person you would love to meet. Kourtney Kardashian. Would love to dress her!
- Favourite part about being a designer. Seeing my clothes on ladies and them coming up to me saying how they love my work!
- Dress or pants? Pants!
- Heels or flats? Flats!
- Satin or lace? Lace.
- Instagram or Snapchat? Instagram.
- Coffee or tea? Coffee.