Dear Imtaz, could you please tell us a little a bit about your professional background?
I started tailoring at an early age and then went on to study tailoring at Jacob Kramer after getting quite a lot of press. At the age on 18, I set up my business in a shop in Yorkshire/Bradford. I tailored suits for the local community and London. So I have decided to move to London and study fashion at the London College of Fashion. During that time, I worked in Harrods and Harvey Nichols in their Personal shopping section with clients such as singer George Michael.
After graduating, I worked for a city start-up and managed the work room. After two years, I have decided to set up my business in a studio in Chelsea Bridge in 1991 and started selling my suits on the Kings Rd. One of the suits was sold to actress Michele Pfiffer and another suit to the Sunday Times Stylist. She used my work in the Sunday Times and for the Face Magazine (an iconic fashion magazine) and for the Corsa supermodel television commercial. After that I started to get a lot of press and moved my studio to the West End in Bond St.
I did a a degree at Westminster and taught there for a few years. The marketing knowledge gained helped me further my business.
I worked for a number of high profile clients and television personalities for weddings and birthdays, featured in Hello Magazine, for names such as Sian Lloyd and Kay Burley weather and news presenters. I continue to get press and have won awards for my business. I moved the business to East London and I am now based in Islington. I gave talks during this time and campaigned for skills in the fashion industry and was awarded an MBE for services to Fashion in 2010.
The teaching studio is a great initiative. How did you decide to start the studio and how do you see it evolving?
I started to pass on the skills of tailoring in 1997 from my studio and still continue to do so – I get clients from around the world. I would like to offer a qualification in the future and have already seen students doing well in business which is very gratifying. I now also offer residential courses in France.
How did the MBA programme help you achieve some of the obstacles in the business world?
I gained a lot from studying at Westminster. Most women don’t seem to build a brand name in tailoring since it has been a male dominated industry. I have enjoyed having celebrity clients such as news reader Mishal Husain and I have taught students who have gone on to be in the press. The obstacles of being a woman in a male dominated industry and an ever changing fashion industry has made me keep reinventing the business and catering to a niche of clients who search out my skill level and experience. I find clients will travel and buy into your brand if they believe in what you do and stand for. Social media helps build the connection with the client and they actively search me out and research my work. You need to keep active and build on your skills. The course at Westminster helped me and I continually teach and learn to keep my skill level up.
During the MBA programme, what has been the most unexpected gain the MBA has given you?
I was taught by some great teachers and my fellow students helped keep me motivated and made the course interesting.
The best advice I was given is look at your skill level and fill any gaps. It’s a good investment in time and money and will pay off in the long term and you will gain through connections made too.
You stay very connected with the Business School, what are some of the best ways to keep in touch with the alumni and the school?
I stay connected through events at the University and teaching and through meeting like-minded people.
You have dressed many celebrities can you name a few ? If you were to ask to dress one celebrity who would be your dream celebrity to dress?
Some highlights of my career have been being interviewed on Radio Four: Women’s Hour and BBC Radio London and for BBC Television News. Also being photographed by Jason Bell for the Sunday Times next big thing page.
I dressed Cherie Blair for the opening Ceremony of the Olympics and made my own suit for meeting Prince Charles at the MBE investiture which was very exciting.
My favourite actress is Kristen Scott Thomas and because of her French background and having set up a studio in France she would be a thrill to tailor for.
What are your future plans?
In the future I would like my studio in France to attract a new client base and build on the classes I offer. This where I am placing my focus. I enjoy meeting people and teaching skills so this meets my personal as well as professional goals.
Imtaz Khaliq MBE has been named by Cosmopolitan as one of the four top tailors in London. She was awarded an MBE for her services to the fashion industry in the 2010 New Years Honours list. Her award-winning tailoring business based in a Georgian town house in Islington, and formerly based in Bond Street, has been established for 20 years. Imtaz creates exclusive garments for both men and women. She has vast experience in designing suits and dresses for special occasions such as weddings. She also holds one on one tailoring classes, which have been featured in Time Out magazine. Check out her website here.
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