Meet Emesha Nagy, a London College of Fashion, UAL graduate who now lives in Shanghai. Having had an incredibly varied career from setting up her own fashion label, to working for huge brands such as New Look and C&A, Emesha has recently launched Trendeavour Magazine, a magazine for creative entrepreneurs. We met up with her recently to find out more about life in Shanghai, and how the magazine came about.
What first inspired you to come and study BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology Womenswear at London College of Fashion (LCF)?
I was one of those people who knew very early on what I wanted to do. I’ve always been very artsy and enjoyed a lot of drawing and painting growing up, alongside an obsession with clothes – making outfits every single day for my Barbies when I was little.
Unfortunately, my parents had different ideas for me – they wanted me to become a lawyer, so I actually studied law for a few years. But even then I was taking life drawing and portfolio classes in the evenings, as I knew I wanted to end up working in fashion.
One day I decided to apply to the London College of Fashion, as I knew it was one of the best fashion schools in the world. I figured if I was meant to become a fashion designer then I’d get in, otherwise I’d just continue my law studies. But, I was immediately accepted, and that’s where my fashion journey began.
What did you do after graduation?
I did several internships, worked at Vivienne Westwood and Jasper Conran, then decided to set up my own label, Emesha. The timing wasn’t the best, as I set up the company in 2008, just before the economic crash in Europe, but the first few years of business were promising.
I regularly attended London Fashion Week with my label and was invited to showcase at Milan, Paris and Copenhagen Fashion Weeks. My label received a lot of media attention, I was featured in Vogue Italia, InStyle Hungary and Marie Claire Malaysia among others.
What made you make the move to Shanghai?
As the economic crisis progressed into the fashion arena, the orders decreased, and more and more buyers were saying they couldn’t purchase from up-and-coming designers as they had difficulty selling even their established labels.
We tried to get investment, but at the time all the firms we spoke to said fashion was too risky, and they wouldn’t invest, so I had no choice but to draw a line under it all and take a break from my label.
I had previously lived in Tokyo for a little while and also travelled briefly around Asia, so when I started reading about how up-and-coming the fashion industry in China was, I felt like I had to be a part of it.
It was a great decision – I’ve learnt so much over the years and grew both personally and professionally. Working for large organisations such as C&A and New Look equipped me with new skills and made me see fashion more from the consumer’s point of view. I also got to explore and become a specialist in the Chinese market.
What do you love most about living and working in Shanghai?
I like Shanghai for its positive vibe and energy, and the opportunities the city has to offer. It’s a very exciting town, I have never seen such an incredible pace of change anywhere I’ve ever lived before.
People are very open-minded; they learn fast and adapt quickly. Fashion has evolved so much over the past five years I’ve been here, it’s hard not to notice the changes. Shanghai is also a beautiful city. There is a very European looking part of it – the Former French Concession – which is the home to many bars and restaurants.
People are friendly, foreigners help each other out, and I’ve met some very interesting people over the years and made some amazing friends.
Tell us about Trendeavour Magazine
Trendeavour was born in December 2017. I wanted to create a magazine for creative entrepreneurs to provide them with information I’ve learnt throughout my career.
I still remember how little info there was available for entrepreneurs setting up fashion businesses when I started. I was desperately searching for any advice, tips or tricks I could find at various seminars, networking events and by joining organisations such as the UKTI.
Even though you can now find a bit more information on how the industry works, I still don’t think it’s sufficient, there needs to be more transparency.
What are your ambitions for Trendeavour?
I would like Trendeavour to become the go-to magazine for creative entrepreneurs, and those looking to spot the latest trends in the business of fashion and arts.
I’d also like to help those in the early phases of their business, by providing information on the different markets I’ve worked in to help people navigate through the fashion jungle.
Eventually, I’d also like to create a platform connecting creatives from the East and the West, as there are so many talented people in both cultures, it would be nice to see some exciting collaborations come to life.
How can UAL alumni get involved?
I would like to introduce and feature UAL alumni who have created something interesting – in the forms of editorials, or visual work, or those who would like to contribute as writers or illustrators.
I would also love to interview UAL alumni who became entrepreneurs, to give them an opportunity to talk about their projects, share their journeys and the ups-and-downs of their own businesses.