My London: Ainy Naim – Founder of ANZ

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Ainy Naim, is a London based designer who established the ANZ brand, with a design perspective for a global audience. The brand reinvestigates heritage knitwear, fused with a love of the emerging hip-hop scene from 1980-1989 which is given a modern aesthetic through intelligent use of fabric and techniques, to create garments which are both distinctive and practical.

Alongside this, the brand has an informed approach to luxury, looking to create garments with purpose and the ability to be part of a new narrative and stories. Creative Director, Ainy, is inspired by sportswear trends, multi-cultural society and the world around her, which plays an integral role in the ANZ DNA.

ANZ is designed in North London and produced in the UK through cooperation with family run factories. ANZ proudly creates small runs of individual garments, keeping product highly desirable and collectable.

ANZ is stocked in leading boutiques and retailers globally and has received an international fanbase including VIPs and media.


Favourite neighbourhood:

I am a born and bred North London girl and proud of my roots. I grew up in Southgate and have always been inspired by the multi-cultural mix of the communities that make up the area.

Saying that, there are so many amazing neighbourhoods in London that are so much fun to explore, from the buzzy enclaves of Soho where you get to experience hidden design treasures and a somewhat gentrified version of the area that I knew when studying at Central Saint Martins through to the markets of Portobello and East London.

My studio is in King’s Cross and I love the area, it has been transformed with the regeneration of the former industrial wasteland into an area rich with shops, galleries, bars, restaurants. I love the way that the historic buildings have been repurposed into houses, showrooms and am excited to see what the Coal Drops Yard shopping street will bring when it opens at the end of October 2018.


Favourite place for brunch:

I am a huge fan of the Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell. It’s been around for years and does the best alternative brunch to the usual eggs and smoked salmon. The food is really interesting as it’s inspired by New Zealand dishes and so it’s a fusion of lots of different cuisines. I’m fascinated by flavours in general and so it’s always exciting to eat here. The Sugar cured prawn omelette with smoked chilli sambal, spring onion and coriander is one of my favourites. I love that it hasn’t become a chain and so still feels like quite an intimate spot.


Best coffee in London:

I always get my coffee from Caravan in Kings Cross. It’s a restaurant but they make their own coffee and it’s incredible. It’s also a two minute walk from my studio so it’s super convenient! I’ve been going to the restaurant for years but only recently discovered the coffee shop. It’s hidden away at the back of the restaurant so it’s not obvious that it’s there and I found it by accident but so glad I did. I always go for a skinny cappuccino.


Favourite gallery or museum:

I am not sure that I can choose a favourite gallery. There are so many amazing ones in London that I feel are a must visit and so many of them curate inspired exhibitions.

I feel that that the Tate Modern sums up London and is worth a visit, exhibition or not. They also support a lot of emerging creative talent which I like.

Location wise the Tate Modern provides amazing views of the Southbank. I would say that now a lot of the artwork that I am inspired by comes from the street. We have incredible street artists and the works of many can be seen brightening up the city across buildings.


Tell us a secret:

I do have a few secrets but will be keeping them as that for the immediate future. AnZ wise we have a couple of really exciting collaborations that will be released towards the end of 2018, but I won’t tell you who with just yet!


Favourite place to shop:

Concept store Intruders London on D’arbly Street in Soho is my shopping essential and an insiders jewel. The shop has everything streetwear, from collectable Kaws figures to limited edition Nike trainers they have it all and offer something unique to the marketplace.

I also love Selfridges, for me it is the original and best department store and they are visionary from the range of brands that they stock, through to exclusives that you can only buy in store from household brands. I am a beauty hall lover and Selfridges has the best on offer, from MAC through to Nars and everything in between.


Favourite place to find inspiration:

I find inspiration everywhere and in everything I see, from taking a walk through town to street art and nature.

I like pop culture and reference a lot of historical films, musicians, even old brands that had an impact on my personal aesthetic.

Recently I have found that I have been increasingly inspired by politics and used my designs as a platform to express an awareness to what is going on in the world.


Best London destination for a date:

I always think low key dates are more romantic than being taken to a fancy restaurant. One of my favourite things to do is go for a walk along the Embankment followed by drinks and food at one of the pop ups on the Southbank. There’s always something different going on there which makes it more special and memorable.


Favourite park:

Richmond park is beautiful and quite peaceful compared to the Central London parks. There’s a lot of wildlife which makes it feel like you’re really at one with nature and you even see deer roaming around.


Favourite food market:

I always prefer shopping at independent food shops than large chain supermarkets. I think the quality of the produce is often superior and I also like the fact that you’re supporting families and individuals who usually own these types of shops. I have a lot of Turkish supermarkets near me and at the moment I’ve been buying most of my fruit and veg from one called Finos. It’s like shopping at Whole Foods but without the crazy price tag. They sell seasonal fruit and vegetables that seem much fresher and tastier than what I can get at the larger supermarkets. I’m also really conscious about doing my bit for the environment and love the fact that they don’t use an unnecessary amount of packaging.

There is also an amazing pick your own farm in Enfield called Parkside Farm. This isn’t too far from me so if I have time, I always try to make a trip as there’s nothing fresher than eating vegetables that you’ve picked yourself! They have the most incredible range of fruit and veg too.


Your sanctuary in the city:

Most recently it has been the King’s Cross Canal, which is fairly serene and with the regeneration there are several really nice wildlife filled walk trails and breakout spaces that you can relax, breathe and watch the world go by.


What inspires you?

Generally, I am inspired by the things that I am exposed to, such as music, art, people.
I like hard working people, ambitious people, people that are unafraid and uncompromising. Donatella Versace has always been a huge inspiration as a person, she is progressive, dynamic and 100% in control whilst being totally likeable. I admire her attitude towards other creatives and the way that the Versace brand is so on the pulse with the world around them, embracing and cultivating new trends whilst staying true to the brand identity.

I also love to research historical knitwear brands, including Coogi, Pringle, Missoni as find inspiration in the construction and techniques that they all developed.


This season I’m loving:

Hedi Slimane at Celine. Rosewater ice cream (perfect in the heatwave that we have experienced recently). The Nike campaign. Empowered women. The big names reinventing the big houses.

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