Known for brighter colours, slimming silhouettes, pretty detailing and elegant cuts, Saira Shakira, the designer duo are all set to rule on the fashion industry. These days, this label has become a word-of-mouth phenomenon in Lahore.

Saira Faisal and Shakira Usman both graduated with distinction from the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design.  When they started their label two years ago, it was because no one was designing the sort of clothes that they, themselves, wanted to wear. The label offers contemporary designs over sleek cuts. They form texture in their ensembles by juxtaposing different fabrics and embroideries created in-house.

The brand has built a strong clientele by offering intricate cutwork, lace and unusual cuts and forms in their designs. A signature Saira Shakira outfit is a fusion of eastern and western designs, silhouettes and embellishments with a modern twist. This contemporary twist on eastern wear is one of the factors that makes the Saira Shakira label stand out from the rest and has brought the talented duo on the map in such a short time.

Their debut runway show at the recent PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week in Lahore not only earned them laurels from within the fraternity but their bridal collection was admired and loved by all and sundry for its originality, innovation and creative.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday Plus, the designers shared their inspiration, their work experience and much more about fashion. Have a look:

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and what led you both to set up your own business.

Both of us are graduates of PIFD. We graduated in 2003 and we both taught at the PIFD for a brief period of time and soon after got married. We started a small setup at Shakira's mum’s place, where we would design clothes for ourselves and our friends and family. From there we never looked back.

Q: Where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration can be derived from anywhere and anything. It can be another outfit, a motif, colours.

Q: When you first started this business how difficult was it generating sales and convincing retailers, etc to stock your clothes?

We didn't have any plans of stocking in the beginning, so we didn't even try to approach we were too busy with our orders. Once we hired enough personnel we approached PFDC, presented them with our outfits and got ourselves a rack.

Q: Explain how you manufacture your designs – do you outsource it?

We manufacture nearly all our designs in house. If we have a lot of load, let's say, during season then we outsource heavy outfits which require adda work. All pret is produced in house we try not to outsource.

Q: You deal with bridal, prêt which line you enjoy making most and how would you describe word ‘Couture’?

We enjoy designing both. Bridal dresses take a little longer to put together so the outfit that you've designed on paper gradually comes to life, so to speak. But in pret the transit from paper to reality is much shorter and so a lot more exciting. The word couture literally means "tailor made" or "made to measure". Anything that is made on ones measurements on your specifications is a couture piece.

Q: Who is the quintessential Saira Shakira customer?

Saira Shakira women are modern, classy women who know how to carry themselves well.

Q: Do you use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc, to promote your business? How successful has it been?

We have a Facebook page. Social media put you on the map in the sense that people oversees get to know about your product.

Q: What trends you would suggest in prêt for 2015?

Trends to look out for in 2015 are brighter colours, solids and shorter lengths.

Q: The fashion industry is fiercely competitive – how difficult is it to separate yourself from other brands? How important is differentiation?

Differentiation is very important but not difficult to achieve. We believe that every designer has a sense of style, which becomes their signature. Something they are known for. For example, if one is looking for minimalism you won't go knocking on John Gallianos door you'd probably seek out Calvin Klein or let's say Donna Karen because that's their style.

Q: Striking a balance between the design component and the affordability factor of the garment must be quite a challenge. How do you guys manage this?

It’s not easy because the competition is fierce. As designers you have to keep the price competitive. What we try to do is use good quality fabric, give it a good cut with a little embellishment enough to make the client feel that they're getting their money's worth.

Q: What has been the biggest highlight or most memorable moment since you started working?

The most memorable moment so far is when we first showcased our collection at the PFDC sunsilk fashion week 2014. We were really excited.

Q: What are the dressing essentials that every woman should have in their wardrobe?

Every woman should have a good pair for white and black pants. They go with everything.

Q: What does fashion mean to you? And do you have any other passions besides fashion?

Fashion changes from one year to the next. It's style that remains. With comfort, confidence and the right attitude you can make PJ's fashionable.

 Q: What are your goals with your brand? How do you see yourself progressing?

We plan to step into lawn and prints. We'd love to see the masses wear our outfits. Like any other designer we'd love to be the next big thing to hit Lahore but we're taking it at our own pace, one step at a time.

 Q: As a designer what is your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge to date is production and managing karigars. It's a huge task. Getting work out of karigars, that's the only real problem that we've faced so far.

 Q: What is your ultimate aspiration?

Our ultimate aspiration would be to go international.

 Q: In your experience, what are the three most important attributes which help a new designer become successful in the field of retail?

In order to be successful in retail, we feel, one needs to be one step ahead in terms of production and designs. Keep prices at a minimum so that your brand is accessible to a larger market.