Most people think of fashion designing as a glamorous career, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it. Just ask women’s ready-to-wear designer Niiamar Felder.
Niiamar wanted people to truly understand what the fashion world is all about–so he created a documentary short called “NIIAMAR… It Is What It Is,” which shows all of the challenges faced by the young NYC designer–from dealing with finances to fabric choices to wardrobe malfunctions to much more. The 26–minute film was executive produced by Niiamar Felder and Marlynn Snyder. The creative team also included Producer Lisa Chance; Director Austin J. Henderson; and Editor Erin Marie Davis.
Niiamar, which means “king” in Sudanese, is truly a designer on the rise. His designs have been worn by celebrities to red carpet events, even the Academy Awards,and he has served as Principal Costume Designer for the off-Broadway productions of August Wilson’s acclaimed Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Cheaters Club, Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, and The Doll Confessions, among others. Niiamar was also a contestant on Lifetime Channel’s “24 Hour Catwalk,” where he impressed celebrity judges.
The Florida native is now also the resident Fashion Design Specialist at the prestigious Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy, instructing and inspiring students with a recognized aptitude in fashion design. And prior to joining the Academy, he served as Assistant Costume Director for five years at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
Inspired by fashion icon Valentino, Niiamar had a love of design early on. He attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, where he realized he had a talent and passion for fashion design. He went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in design from Florida A&M University (FAMU) in 2007. And during his undergraduate studies, he worked as a design assistant to established designer Kevan Hall.
Niiamar tells TNJ.com more about his career.
TNJ.com: How did you get into fashion?
Niiamar Felder: I started designing when I was 19. I wanted to learn everything about design, so I requested an apprenticeship with the Costume Designer in Resident Jerry Johnson at the Florida A&M University Essential Theatre.
TNJ.com: Was it difficult to enter the fashion industry?
NF: Oh, yes! It has been a task, but faith in God and tenacity have been beneficial to my success.
TNJ.com: What makes your designs so unique?
NF: Quite a few things actually. I am a Black American designer who continues to create designs that are feminine, opulent and chic yet modern. Romanticism! No trends. I am an artist.
TNJ.com: Fashion is a very competitive and expensive business to be in, what has been the key to your success?
NF: I am yet building my business and creating and seeking opportunities to fund the vision. Even now, I am courting sponsors for the next four seasonal collections. Any offers?! The keys to my success have been to apply the pressure, stay consistent and never give up. The YES will overcome the NO.
TNJ.com: How did the documentary come about?
NF: I wanted to create another platform to present my work and my life as a designer. At the time of the film’s conception, several fashion documentaries were getting buzz and I noticed none of these films featured Black designers. So I created my own film. Voila!
TNJ.com: Why did you feel the documentary was a good idea at this time?
NF: I had recently ended a design appointment of five years and I wanted to focus on my personal, creative endeavors. Soul searching and brainstorming birthed the idea for “NIIAMAR…IT IS WHAT IT IS.”
TNJ.com: How would you describe your brand in one word?
TNJ.com: Goals for 2016?
NF: Conquering the Broadway stage, film, and TV design as well continuing to grow the brand and traveling internationally.
TNJ.com: What has been your biggest business lesson?
NF: Invest in your own businesses. Where there is an opportunity of surplus, take that as an opportunity to develop your business. It is as simple as a professional development class or business cards. Invest in what you are presenting to the world.
TNJ.com: What do you enjoy the most about what you do?
NF: Seeing the designs come to life from a sketch to a three-dimensional dress, gown, or what have you…it is the most satisfying feeling.