Naeem Khan aka Naeemuddin Khan is an Indian – American fashion designer, who is known for designing outfits for prominent figures like Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Michelle Obama, Queen Noor of Jordan, Catherine (Duchess of Cambridge), and many more.
Naeem Khan was born on Wednesday, 21 May 1958, (age 63 years; as of 2021) in Mumbai, India. His zodiac sign is Gemini. Naeem Khan completed his schooling at Cumbala Hill High School. At the age of 19, Naeem and his father went to America for some business deal and to enrol Naeem into design school. But meeting fashion designer Roy Halston in America was a turning point in the life of Naeem Khan. Since he spoke good English than his father, he discussed the deal with Halston. Naeem said in an interview,
Halston was impressed with my enthusiasm and expressiveness. He saw a natural instinct for fashion in me and offered to take me under his wing. My father and I came back to India wondering if he was really serious.”
Instead of taking admission into a fashion school, he did a 3-year training under Halston and got lessons in American couture that no school could have given him.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Weight (approx.): 70 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
He belongs to a Muslim family of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Sharfuddin Khan and his mother’s name is Razia Baig. His grandfather, Shansheed Khan, owned a small factory in Bareilly and started India’s first embroidery design workshop back in 1920. The business of fabrics and hand embroidery was expanded by his father, S U Zariwala to the Middle East, Europe and the US. In Colaba, Mumbai, they owned a shop, where they design saris and lehengas for the royal Indian families. His father now sits in a plush office in the Colaba workshop. Naeem is the eldest child and has five younger siblings. Out of three brothers, he was the only one who was interested in fashion. Recalling his childhood days, he said in an interview,
I remember looking at magazines as a five-year-old kid and deciding what looked nice and what didn’t”
Naeem’s younger brother, Azeem, who is a decade younger than Naeem looks after their family business. Also, all the embroidery work of Naeem’s creation is done under the supervision of Azeem.
Naeem Khan started his career in 1977 when he went to the US along with his father to meet Roy Halston, whom Khan considers as one of the biggest names among New York fashion designers. He got his first project at the age of 19. Recalling his initial days in the US, Naeem said in an interview,
It is not enough to be a good designer. I used to work till 2 or 3 in the morning. Not just designing, but socialising. Every day after work, I would hit the world-famous disco, Studio 54, and mingle with stars like Elizabeth Taylor.”
After getting recognition, he designed his first few collections for commercial success. After working for 3 years with Halston, he designed for him for 5 more years as a freelancer. In 1983, he set up his first company, Riazee, named after his mother. The company was a team of 150 people having distribution across the US. He also opened up a store at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. The costumes designed by him were worn by Gregory Peck’s wife Veronica, Frank Sinatra’s wife Barbara and even Betty Ford. Khan struggled for a year because he had no idea about how to run a business. Finally, in 2003, Naeem Khan launched his brand. Describing his emotions on the launch day of his brand, he said in an interview,
They took me in. I was from another country competing with the biggest names of NY fashion. It was tough and it needed a lot of guts. But I have never looked back ever since.”
Soon, his designs were displayed in the stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks 5th Avenue. More than 200 stores all over the globe retail his designs. He had also designed outfits for one of the most powerful women, the then First lady Michelle Obama. Khan had designed more than 20 outfits for Mrs Obama. He shared in an interview about his experience of designing the first dress for Michelle Obama. He said,
One day I got a call from Michelle Obama’s stylist saying Mrs Obama would like to wear Naeem Khan for an event. It was when (the then) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was invited to a state dinner at the White House. I remember thinking, ‘What message do I want to convey with this dress?’ I decided on something that would bring Indian and American culture together. The final outcome was a strapless number covered in a pattern inspired by the poppies that Andy Warhol painted, which I rendered in silver using the ancient Indian tikki work used predominantly in Parsi saris. Mrs Obama loved the outfit and we became fans of one another.”
Other prominent women for whom he designed include Queen Noor, Princess Yasmin Ali Khan, Cameron Diaz, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, and Padma Lakshmi. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, wore Naeem Khan for her tour to Taj Mahal. On this, Naeem Khan said in an interview,
I had provided Kate’s team with three possibilities when they contacted me several months ago but wasn’t told for sure The Duchess would wear my designs. That was my happiest morning. My son got married last night and The Duchess of Cambridge wore Naeem Khan in India. I was in Heaven.”
He had also designed costumes for the movie “Sex and the City” and “Dreamgirls.” Naeem said in an interview that I couldn’t have been more honoured when Sasha Obama and Malia Obama wore my designs to make their first public appearance.
Although the outfits designed by him range from $5,000-$25,000 per piece and were restricted to celebrities and the rich, he had launched a private line for Home Shopping Network (HSN), known as Timeless by Naeem Khan, where the price ranges from $100-$300 per piece. HSN had grown to be a large network with over 90 million customers. Also, hundred of pieces were sold within an hour to women who were crazy for the Naeem Khan label. In 2014, Naeem also designed bridal outfits. Now, more than 94 stores from Singapore to Japan showcase his bridal outfits.
Naeem Khan Studio in Miami
In 2015, Naeem Khan thought to relocate his fashion studios to a grand 50,000 square foot space in Miami. This great move of Naeem Khan would give a hundred high paying jobs to the Miami people and would also make Miami a fashion centre. Carlos Antonio Gimenez, the then-mayor of Miami-Dade County also supported him. Naeem said in an interview,
It was an idea, an idea of how to combine fashion and lifestyle, make this cool place a think-tank of fashion, a space for the meeting of minds. Call it fashion intelligence, if you like.”
In 2017, Naeem Khan fashion studio got a new plan from the Miami River Commission. The new plan included a vocational school at the river site. On the new plan, Khan said in an interview,
The idea of school is introduced to help teach a new generation the art of fashion design and the workings of the fashion industry.”
Naeem Khan on Extending his Business in India
Naeem Khan showcased his collection for the first time in India at the Lakme fashion week in Mumbai. When asked by an interviewer whether he was nervous or not for his first show in India, he replied,
Yes, Ofcourse, because I was presenting in front of my own people. It was also the first time my parents attended my show.”
In his opinion, it is not easy for him to extend his business in India as he does not yet have his pre-standing stores there. Moreover, selling one or two pieces is not a business for him. Naeem shared in an interview that he want to design for the leading actresses in India. He said,
India is poised to become one of the biggest fashion capitals of the world as we have style and all the necessary elements to make the most beautiful things. I have taken a lot from India and I have still not giving back to it. Also, I haven’t found the right partnership in India. It could be beautiful prints, embroideries, lifestyle things, cosmetics or any of the other products that we are working on. Hopefully, we’ll find the right partner but it is my dream and intention to be part of India soon and one day that I will go back and make the most amazing collection for India.”
The only thing that Naeem Khan regret is that despite being such a famous designer in America, no one in India bothered that an India born fashion designer had grown to great heights where very few people get this chance. He shared in an interview,
You know I am surprised and it pains me sometimes to think that your own nation refuses to acknowledge the great work you are doing. There was no designer except me who was making a name outside of India. The fashion industry and the media here in India never noticed me until Michelle Obama happened.”
His Take on Immigration Ban in the US
In 2017, the President of the US, Donald Trump imposed a ban on the immigration of the citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The immigration ban was opposed by almost every citizen of the country.
However, most of the actors, actresses, musicians, and celebrities had raised their voices against the immigration ban but the fashion world was remarkably mum. Naeem Khan was the first designer to speak out on the issue. He shared his views through a post on his Instagram handle.
FGI Dallas honoured Naeem Khan with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021
- Food: Fish
- Fruit: Mango
- Mercedes SLS
- Mercedes G-Wagon
Naeem Khan refused to reveal his net worth but dropped a hint while talking to the reporter of Indian Express. He said,
I am richer several thousand times over from where I started.”
- Naeem Khan’s father shared in an interview about their struggles in expanding the business across the boundary of India. He said,
I didn’t see Naeem, my first child, for two months after he was born because I was too busy to travel.”
- Naeem Khan said in an interview that he loves cooking and he likes to cook Italian, modern American, and Indian dishes. Khan said that he never forgets from where he had come and whatever he does always have an Indian touch but in a very classic way. He further added,
Indian cooking has become such a big thing for me that after doing it for so many years I can whip up a meal in an hour for 20 people.”
- He has a fully functional kitchen in his office with the latest equipment. He said in an interview,
Whenever we want to take a break from work, we cook together and then share the meal.”
- Naeem is an avid sports fan and loves to play polo.
- Naeem shared in an interview that he loves to travel in a car. He said,
“Being in the car gives me time to think, time to reflect, good music, you know all those moments I enjoy.”
- Naeem had also written a coffee table book, Embellished.
- His penthouse showroom in New York’s bustling garment district, a vast 18,000 square feet expanse inspired by 1930s Hollywood, is one of the most vibrant spaces on 7th Avenue.
- In Miami, Khan’s home in the Performing Arts District is an elegant, all-white penthouse on the 50th floor, with its private swimming pool.
- In 2008, the designer became a member of the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
- Michelle Obama calls Khan her favourite designer and she had draped his creations at least a dozen times.
- In 2009, when the news came that the First lady Michelle Obama would be wearing Naeem Khan’s design, he became the third most googled name in the world.
- His designs are mostly inspired by Indian culture, architecture, colours.
- Naeem’s mini-Australian shepherd, Raja stole the show Autumn – Winter 2018 collection.
- Khan said in an interview that he had designed dresses for powerful women and he is more of a classy designer than a trendy one. He said,
I am not a trendy designer. I make classy clothes but these clothes are relevant to today’s time. I meet women who have closets and closets of these clothes, they have been collecting for 10 or 15 years and they still wear them today.”
- The embroidery on Naeem Khan’s garments is done in Mumbai, the fabric comes from Paris, China, and Milan, and the garments are designed in New York. This gives his garments a global veneer.
- In 2020, Naeem Khan paid homage to America with a star-spangled collection in New York fashion week. In an interview backstage, he said,
I started my brand with only $500 and plenty of determination. I am where I am today out of sheer time and hard work and it’s because of this country. This is my homage to thanking America.”
- When Khan was asked about the most valuable thing he possess, he said in an interview,
My mother’s hand-mixed curry powder – a combination of 23 spices which comes freshly ground every two months from India.”