Out in East London a splash of colour and style

Raishma store in East Shopping Centre, 232 Green Street E7 8LE (supplied pic)
Top: West Ham’s MP (Labour) Lyn Brown gasps delightedly when Raishma Islam shows one of the dresses in her store, above (supplied pix)

WHEN A world-famous fashionista calls your collection breathtaking you know your decision to go into business was probably the right one.

Karen Millen added that Raishma Islam’s work was “beautifully executed and very desirable”.

Islam opened her first shop in the late 1990s in West London.

With funding obtained through Jensons in 2013, she started her online outlet a year ago and later opened a store, above, in Newham’s East Shopping Centre, pictured, which styles itself Europe’s first purpose-built South Asian mall

Just look at the dresses on this page, the colours, the luxuriousness: ready-to-wear pieces, from embellished kaftans to evening gowns glamorous enough to have been bought by Juliet Stevenson, Justine Miliband, Meera Syal and a princess or two.

You don’t get such a client list without hard work. Islam told Loving Dalston: “It is definitely worth studying and understanding the basics of your profession before plunging into your own enterprise.

“I took art at school, then a course at Chelsea School of Art and next a fashion degree at De Montfort University.”

She has also not been too proud to use business advisers, among them Centa in King’s Cross, and DreamStake.co.uk.

Breakthroughs were getting internships with Bella Freud, Bruce Oldfield and Red or Dead, “but,” she says, “Elizabeth Emanuel was my role model when I worked as her assistant designer for a year in 1993-1994”.

2015-opened: East Shopping Centre (supplied pic)
New in 2015: East Shopping Centre, where Raishma this year opened (supplied pic)

All this, plus designing, and she still has only two full-time employees — the days can never be long enough for some entrepreneurs. But she has passion, explaining: “I fell in love with fashion at the age of 10… by then I was using a sewing machine and sketching clothes.”

Her label was recently celebrated when it was named best online retailer at the 2015 English Asian business awards.

It also offers clients a bespoke service that includes evening gowns and bridal outfits with intricate hand-beading.

In Urdu “Raishma” derives from a word meaning silk. How apt that she went into not just the rag trade but an area of it that is lush with colours and fabrics.

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* Raishma, number 33 East Shopping Centre, 232 Green Street E7 8LE (0208 552 6751) 

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