‘Dress to impress’: University of Huddersfield students head to the catwalk
A pair of talented entrepreneurs, who just five years ago were selling garments on a Bradford market stall, were named as two of the featured designers at the annual Urban Muslim Fashion Show in London last weekend.
Friends, Sanya Rehman and Zahra Mahmood, along with their award-winning business Sanzaa, unveiled their new designer collection of modest-wear scarves and hijabs on the renowned Mayfair catwalk on Saturday 10th October.
Sanzaa’s ambitious story began on a small market stall in 2010 when the girls were studying for their A-levels at Bradford’s Belle Vue Girl’s School.
Even then, they had a keen entrepreneurial spirit and were selling garments every weekend and after school, whilst studying for their exams.
It was during this time that they first became attracted to buying and selling within the fashion industry.
“We received such a buzz from trading with our clients on the market stall,” Sanya explained.
“We couldn’t wait to work on the stall after school and at the weekends to trade and talk with the customers. We just loved the whole atmosphere.”
After college, Sanya and Zahra enrolled on the University of Huddersfield’s ‘Enterprise Development degree’, and after gaining enough confidence, opened their own business premises in Bradford.
Now operating out of a stylish fashion boutique, the local team are continuously expanding their brands to meet ever-growing demand.
“Sanzaa has grown and evolved with us,” Zahra added.
“Initially, we were selling just basic dresses, then we added scarves and hijabs to the collection. Now, we are designing our own unique pieces and accessories, just to keep up with the demand.”
The inspiration for their style came after the business partners noticed that many of the clothes in the high-street stores were unsuitable for Muslim women to wear and then, of the clothes which were suitable, there wasn’t a varied selection to choose from.
“We noticed a distinct gap in the market,” said Zahra. “The clothes in the high-street stores are gorgeous and really stylish, but they don’t fully meet the needs for modest Muslim women. With our collection, they now have more choice.”