The Height of Plus-Sized Fashion

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Navabi are a premium plus-size fashion brand based in Germany, and they are one of the global leaders in this field.  It’s no wonder: their designs ooze style and class. We had the pleasure of talking to the co-founders, Bahman Nedaei and Zahir Dehnadi, who gave us an insight into their entrepreneurial world.  

1) Why did you decide to start the company?

As Entrepreneurs, founding a company was our a dream. We both have an entrepreneurial spirit and fashion is something we have always taken a keen interest in. We decided to found navabi after noticing that there was a disconnect between the fashion showcased on the catwalk and the needs of women in the real world. We wanted to give women across the world access to the fashion they deserve and navabi is the perfect way for us to do this. We are helping to solve a big global problem while enriching the lives of millions of people.

2) Why does catering to the plus size woman appeal to you?

Our primary objective as entrepreneurs is to provide a solution to a problem that will make millions happier. This is why many entrepreneurs dedicate their life to establishing something new. Our research shows that the typical plus size customer would rather clean a “toilet with a tooth-brush” than go shopping offline. Although for these shoppers the online experience is better, there is no premium offer globally. This is where we have taken our cue to step in and creatively destroy an old market and establish navabi as the leader in premium plus size fashion. From day one, the feedback we have received from our customers has been unbelievable. We do not get normal feedback such as: “thanks all good” or “everything was lovely”. The feedback we get is emotional and can often be heart-warming. Our customers tell us that we have changed their lives. They no longer have to settle for cheap clothes. We have the feeling that we are doing something truly meaningful. We do not see ourselves as just another e-commerce company. Or in the words of a good friend from silicon valley: “Unlike all e-commerce companies who offer vitamins, navabi offers “aspirin”. We are the solution to a pain many have. navabi enables our customers to talk fashion.

3) Do any particular designers inspire you?

In the past many. Today only a few. Women like Coco Chanel who rebelled to change the life of many are definitely an inspiration.. This is how we see navabi. We are rebels working in the old fashion system in which most things exist with a stigma. We are here to challenge what we perceive as a lot of pre-existing nonsense.

4) Describe your typical working day

Bahman: I wake up early to work out, update my journal and plan my day ahead by defining the most important 3-5 tasks I want to get done. I try to save the first half of the day for the most challenging and important work. I use lunchtime to meet up with a Navabista who I usually don’t have the chance to interact with (we have 180+ navabistas in Aachen and London) – keeps me close to the pulse of the business and the most important people at Navabi.
Zahir: I start with a gym session. I then plan my day by checking what urgent and important things I have to attend to. Following this, I meet with other team members in order to help and support them with their priorities. Having these meetings helps me to feel the pulse of the company and its culture from a different perspective and see how my colleagues are doing. Following this, I usually spend time focusing on the tasks I need to complete that day. During the evening, I’ll tend to work on projects which require less concentration, giving my mind some time to rest. At night, after most of my colleagues have already left the office I tackle the difficult task of trying to get into what I call “the flow”- i.e. the place where I can fully immerse myself in a project and commit my full attention to it.

5) What is your favourite garment from the Navabi range and why?

Every piece is a highlight for us, but if we have to pick only one, it would be the two-tone jumpsuit. It’s sexy and sophisticated and looks great on our friend and model Ashley Graham.

6) What has motivated you the most throughout the process of building Navabi?

The love we get from our customers and the company culture we have built. At Navabi it’s not all about making money. Everyone is here to work for one mission and we have built a friendly and very supportive culture. Many others claim to have great working cultures, but we have been told by everyone that we have a unique culture and that is probably our biggest asset.

7) What fashion trends do you predict for the next year?

In 2016 we’ll see a merge of past and present, a mix of old and new and a subtle return to romance and opulence. Also, pop culture will be a source of inspiration for the designers. That means a focus on soft colours and texture, cartoon-like influences and updated colour-blocking. Global cultures will also have an influence, creating a modern mix of heritages. We’ll see a lot of natural fabrics with light and functional layering.

8) What are your plans for the company’s future?

On the one hand , we are the global leader in premium plus size fashion yet on a daily basis we get many inquiries from customers in countries that we do not yet focus on. They want Navabi and hence we are trying our best to expand navabi in order to cater to even more people.
On the other hand in the big fashion world we are still the underdog. We want and will disrupt this market as the first mover and won’t abide to the size zero stigma. Wait and watch us bring Chanel and co to plus!

Photo by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML

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