Blazing Her Way To High Fashion
The Realisation That Made Anne Karim
Ever since she was a teenager, blazers were a symbol of comfort and confidence for Anne Karim. Like most of us with extra time on our hands during the pandemic, Anne started sketching blazer designs during the lockdowns in London, where she was living.
She would imagine the different styles and fabrics she could use to create a blazer. At the time it was simply a fun activity for her. She didn’t think of creating a fashion brand, little did she know!
Within a year, she has built her brand from idea to establishing herself in London, Paris, New York and even, being selected for a fashion spread in a magazine.
Curious to find out how this trailblazer (pun unintended) did it in one year?
Anne Karim. Founder of Anne Karim London
It all started during the pandemic. Anne’s parents received a worrying call from the Ministry of Health that stated that they needed to be tested for COVID-19.
Seeing how uncertain life could be, Anne reflected on her own life and realised that she had already accomplished what she wanted to in her corporate career. That moment was the tipping point for Anne.
She knew then that it was time to make a change and pursue something she loved. She wanted to create a legacy, something that she would be remembered for.
“I wanted to create something. Not just for the sake of creating a brand, or to make money or just to make it out there. So, It had to be something that I truly enjoyed doing,” she said.
“I thought that if I tried and failed, at least I would know, rather than constantly thinking about it for the rest of my life and regretting it because I didn’t try. I’m so glad that I made that step. It was scary at first, but I’m glad I took it.”
With the support and encouragement of her husband, she decided to pursue her passion and build an ethical line of luxury women’s blazers that empower women to show up as their best selves, inspired during her years as an in-house counsel.
Mindset Shift: Building Her Brand From The Ground Up
Nefertiti Blazer by Anne Karim
Anne’s mindset to building her brand was very different from the mindset she had working a corporate job. “Especially because it’s my brand, there is a drive to make sure that this works. It’s different when it’s my own investment of time and energy. Working longer hours or even on weekends to build my brand didn’t feel like work to me.”
To get a better understanding of the industry, Anne met with fashion experts and gurus in London to ask for their opinion. “To go and start a business in the industry and be successful at it, you have to speak to someone who knows everything about it.”
She even got to meet and learn the garment production process from a lot of people who are involved in the industry. Anne works with a production team called ‘Great House’ in London that helps produce her blazers.
The fact that Anne did not go to fashion college shocked most people in the fashion industry when she first launched her brand. They were also surprised that she designed everything on her own without hiring anyone to do it for her.
All these efforts paid off when she got to showcase and sell her blazers in New York this year. Anne Karim was also selected by the editor of Weekly Style magazine, for the 2021 fashion spread in May, and her blazer was next to those of Bottega Veneta’s and Victoria Beckham’s!
Redefining Blazers, Empowering Women
Italian Sunset Blazer By Anne Karim
Anne’s vision when she started Anne Karim was to create quality timeless pieces for anyone who wanted to have fun and look great wearing blazers.
“When people think of blazers, the word that comes to mind is official wear. I want to break that stereotype. I don’t want to limit my blazers, I want them to impact and empower people.”
At the start of her career, Anne used to own multiple black blazers to appear corporate and professional at the law firms she was working for in Malaysia. Even when she moved to London and had to meet corporate clients, she realised that most people in her industry were wearing black blazers to appear formal.
Anne loved wearing blazers with bold colours and patterns and viewed them as statement pieces that reflected a person’s personality. “I think that people are naturally fashionable. Just because someone wears a bright pink blazer doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken any less seriously.”
So she wore colourful blazers back when she was working at a corporation, and that inspired more people to start wearing blazers that resonated better with their personalities and that made them feel more confident. “I hope my blazers help boost self-confidence and empower women to be their best selves. I think I think we all could use a little more of that.”
From Lawyer To Fashion Designer
Champagne Blazer by Anne Karim
Before finding her true calling as a fashion designer, Anne was an In-House Counsel for one of Malaysia’s biggest banks in Hyde Park in London. “I took my degree but I never intended to become a lawyer.” shares Anne.
Even though Anne did her major in banking and financial law, she always wanted to go into the banking industry. She even tried working for a few law firms in Malaysia but ultimately didn’t like it. After moving to the UK, an opportunity for her to pursue banking law presented itself and she grabbed it.
To Anne, being part of a small team at the bank was great because it allowed her to learn more about the banking sector from loans to retail and everything in between. Eventually, she worked her way up to become the In House Legal.
Since Anne loved meeting clients, Anne got promoted to become a private client manager and in house legal at the same time, which made her fall even more in love with blazers.
For example, if she was going to a conference in the morning and meeting clients later in the day she would often change into different blazers to suit the occasion. “It’s just my best friend really, it helps me to boost confidence and fit the meeting or even that I am going to.”
If You Never Try, You’ll Never Know
Monaco Blazer by Anne Karim
Even after a wildly successful first launch, Anne believes in continuous learning. These days, when she is not coordinating her next launch or speaking to her teams in London and New York, she is attending online fashion courses.
“For example, learning about the history of fashion, or the different types of fabrics can inspire me and help me decide on the best textile to use for my next collection. Or anything that combines fashion with digital marketing since nowadays everything is on social media.”
Anne is hoping to launch her second collection at the end of this year. In the meantime her initial, ‘The Amaranthine Collection’ is still available on her website.
“I’m hoping that I get to meet the customers and people get to see the blazers in person. Now that I’m in Malaysia, you never know, I might soon be in Singapore. That’d be so cool.”
If she could go back 10 years ago and give her younger self some advice, this is what she would say: “Step out of your comfort zone and do what you feel like, if you never try you’ll never know. Be obsessed with what you can do, you’ll be surprised.”