10 Style Questions with NONIE designer Nina Kharey

Canadian fashion brand NONIE rose to fashion-world stardom last summer when Meghan Markle stepped out in the blush NONIE trench dress. Since then NONIE founder and designer Nina Kharey has been taking the fashion world by storm.

This New York Fashion Week I was able to chat with Nina Kharey about the NONIE brand, what it’s like being a Canadian designer in a sea of Americans, and what fashion trends we can expect to see this year.

1. Style Canada: How would you describe the NONIE label?

Nina: I would describe NONIE as being clean and refined. The pieces are designed to be timeless –  something that can be in your closet for a long period of time and even passed down through generations.

2. Style Canada:  What was your first job in fashion and how did it help you get to where you are now?

Nina: My very first job was probably going to my dad’s knitting factory. I would sit there and help out with whatever tasks he needed help with. That’s one of the main reasons I’m doing what I do today.

3. Style Canada: Can you remember what you wore to your first fashion related job interview?

Nina: That’s a tough one!  I think my first job was at Le Chateau; but I can’t remember my outfit.  … It might be a good thing that I can’t remember haha.

4. Style Canada: What challenges, if any, did you find specifically as a Canadian designer trying to break into the fashion industry?

Nina: I’d probably say the support to emerging designers here in Canada is more limited. It seems as though buyers and the industry really start to look at you when you “make it” in the US; but it’s a catch-22 because buyers in the US tend to want to see you getting supported back at home before they are interested. This is probably the biggest challenge as a Canadian in the industry.

5. Style Canada: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Nina: Don’t give up and stay persistent! If you really believe in something, things do take time and you need to stay with it. When I first started I think I was a bit naïve about how long it would really take. The advice to not give up was probably the best thing I was told.

6. Style Canada:  And what’s the worst?

Nina: I guess just a bit of the opposite of the best advice. I did get a fair bit of “just go back to the steady income”. Some urgings to not pursue this more unique and difficult path. That was really frustrating to hear, but it also kept me motivated to continue to pursue my passion.

7. Style Canada: What was your biggest ‘I’ve made it’ moment with NONIE?

Nina: Definitely when Meghan Markle wore the blush trench. That was the trigger. A lot happened because of that. I remember I was in bed sleeping – it was around 5 am here – and I woke up to my phone buzzing. It was my very excited publicist telling me that Meghan Markle had worn one of my pieces and sharing pictures of it.

8. Style Canada:  Where do you see both NONIE and your career heading next?

Nina: Great question. I really like the panel we did this season at New York Fashion Week** I want to do more of that type of presentation where I’m presenting the latest collection and we are talking about NONIE, but it evolves into  so much more than that. It’s much more impactful and positive to spark an intimate conversation with guests in a setting that allows for people to engage more; I hope to do more of that. I also hope to engage more in relation to the anti-bullying side of things with more t-shirts and collaborations in support of that cause. It holds a very special place in my heart and I hope to be able to affect positive change on as many people as possible through these collaborations.

Editor’s note: For more on the type of presentation NONIE had
during New York Fashion Week & the connection to anti-bullying,
see The Canadian Fashion Brand You Need to Know
by LegalLee Blonde.

9. Style Canada: What do you think will be the biggest fashion trend this fall/winter?

Nina: The 90s are really coming back fast and hard, so I can really see a lot of that trending as we move into fall. A lot more color and general 90’s influence.

10. Style Canada: What’s one style ‘rule’ you think every woman should break?

Nina: Don’t dress for your body type or age – try everything and see how you feel in it. I think you’d be surprised. Something you thought you couldn’t wear – perhaps because it’s ‘too young’ or ‘too edgy’ you can definitely wear by styling it with different pieces in your closet.  You’d be surprised how you can tone down pieces based on your personal styling and feel very at home in a look. Don’t be afraid to try things!

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