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Slow Your Fashion Roll

Jun/07/2024 / by Elizabeth Marglin

Designer Nazia Siddiqui combines sumptuousness with sustainability

While many might prefer the comfort, air conditioning, and the fixed prices of the great American shopping mall, for others, the bazaars of South Asia hold sway. Rare fabrics, hand-crafted embroideries, spirited haggling, expert tailors, the ability to dream into something of your own creation are all fundamental aspects of this kind of immersive soup-to-nuts clothing journey. 

Nazia Siddiqui, founder of clothing line Transcend, always found appeal in the latter. Living in Lucknow, India before she moved to San Diego at age 15, she found the experience seminal. “I was there in my formative years, starting to develop a sense of what fashion is. My mom is a seamstress who makes amazing outfits,” she says. “When we needed clothes, we had to source every little thing from scratch to create that garment. From a young age, I could design the garment in my head, adding lace to go at the bottom hem line or visualizing the type of sleeve.”

The fast fashion blues

Shopping in California, going to stores like Forever 21, H&M, and Zara, in contrast, felt mechanical, she says. “My only involvement was the price tag and how it looked. In India, I had an intimate awareness of every aspect of my outfit,” she says. Siddiqui attended business school, studying administration and built herself a stable career. But in the back of her mind, she kept her passion for fashion alive.

She was heavily impacted ideologically by the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,100 garment workers forced to finish orders despite structural cracks found in the factory the day before. “I felt very complicit in the fast fashion industry because I was part of that whole culture,” she recalls. 

Impelled to research fashion supply chain choices, Siddiqui knew any fashion brand she created would have to source an ethical supply chain. She started dreaming how she would structure her business, what she would do differently and how she could be the change in the industry she so terribly wanted to see. 

Her moment came during her maternity leave with her daughter, when she started reexamining her career trajectory. She decided to start small, slow and with baby steps. She completed her first trade show and then Covid happened. 

Since she no longer had to commute to work or drive her daughter to childcare, she had four extra hours every day. She had a lot of time for self-reflection, thinking carefully of the post-Covid world she wanted to dress for and what heritage crafts she would shine the first spotlight on. 

Transparently transcendent

In 2020, Transcend was launched. She designed its first collection to be vibrant, fun and happy—the perfect antidote to all those months in house-pants. 

Siddiqui knew that she wanted to make deliberate choices for her company that went contrary to the current practices of leveraging supply chains. From the get-go, best practices include plastic free buttons (think coconut shell) and fabrics such as upcycled and handwoven cotton, linen and silk, on demand inventory to reduce waste, biodegradable and recyclable packaging, pays living wages and gives back bonuses directly to the makers and artisans who bring the clothes to life. 

It’s fashion with a big dream behind it, deep respect for the traditional textiles and a South Asian eye for creating a modern, fusion style that will be heirloom pieces for generations to come. 

weartranscend.com

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