Ultimately, the goal is to celebrate women any day and everyday of the year. Beyond acknowledging International Women’s month is highlighting our eccentric femininity in an all-year long celebration of strong, passionate and successful women. I had the best time chatting with Desiree Iyama, the fashion designer behind the Desiree Iyama Brand, on what it means to have come this far in the fashion space, her personal views on some fashion dynamics and her hopes for the nearest future. You definitely want to read this!
Desiree Iyama (@desireeiyama, @desireeiyamathelabel, desireeiyamathebridal)
So, tell me about Desiree Iyama. Who is she and what does she do?
Desiree Iyama is a fashion designer with a Masters in Fashion Business who specializes in feminine Ready To Wear and bridal designs for the brands Desiree Iyama the Label and Desiree Iyama the Bridal.
Interesting, what would you say is the story behind the Desiree Iyama brands?
The brand actually launched in 2012 as a Women’s ready to wear line. After 2 years, it went on a mandatory break and came back with full-forced energy during it’s re-launch in 2020. I would say the initial birth of the Desiree Iyama the Label brand was basically inspired by my passion for fashion. The re-birth however, was absolutely inspired by my drive to style other women in such a way that they could express themselves through simple and fun fashion. I actually like to see Desiree Iyama the Label brand as the girl I think I am but I’m not and honestly, the brand is quite the opposite of me. I just think it expresses a part of me that I don’t tend to show off very often. The Bridal brand on the other hand came about when a client insisted that I make her wedding dress and I just thought to create a whole other business centering on bridals. So far, it’s been great!
That’s sweet. Do you see yourself wearing a Desiree Iyama Bridal gown on your wedding day?
I do wear a lot of my pieces – I mean, I make my own clothes so yes, I believe one of my wedding looks will definitely be a piece from the bridal section. 100%!
What top 3 words would you say describe your brand the most?
Well that has to be Feminine, Fun and Functional.
Seeing as you’re flourishing in the Fashion space, what would you describe as the word fashion, and what do you love the most about being a designer?
Fashion is an expression of self, moods, thoughts and you know, just everything. What I love the most has to be how natural the process comes to me. I feel I’m actually so blessed and gifted – Thank God for that. I never got any formal education in fashion designing itself, but it’s something I’ve just always been doing; literally cutting clothes and sewing since I was a child. I just love that it is my identity, it’s what I do, and it’s my source of living. It’s so wonderful to do what you’re passionate about, and to watch it grow.
That is such a flex! What is that one fashion piece you just can’t live without?
That’s a tricky one actually. For me it’s fabrics, which is not a fashion piece really, but it’s fabrics – because I can’t live without fabrics. I think jewelries and statement earrings too.
The fashion industry is becoming such a dynamic space and there are so many views on what is stylish and what isn’t. What fashion trend(s) do you think need to die immediately?
Another tricky question, because I don’t quite follow trends – but one thing I’ve never really been about is Ripped Jeans. I just don’t get it and some are actually quite confusing. Another is Denim on Denim if that is still a thing. Asides that I think the others can pass because at the end of the day, you can really do anything you want. It can go wrong yes, but it still is fashion, It’s you expressing yourself. If anything has to die it has to be societal trends on the idea of being okay with copying products and taking it to a tailor to make it for you, just because you can.
You mentioned not being obsessed with following trends. How then do you stay updated in the fashion industry?
Well, I read a lot. Magazines, blogs, news and stuff like that. I just happen to have such a good brand recall that doesn’t necessarily go with trends. The way the brand process usually works is with me making a dress for myself, putting up a picture and getting a ”yessss – I want this” from a couple of clients and somehow, it becomes a bestseller. At the end of the day, it’s just me making causal clothes for Women based on what I would love to see in a wardrobe. However, I’ll say a lot of my pieces have puffy sleeves. For me, puff sleeves are liberating. There are also a couple of bows and open-backs on some of my dresses.
What would you say is your favorite Desiree Iyama the Label Piece?
My favorite is “Desiree” which is kind of selfish, but I feel it’s about to be “The Shirley” which is the new one to be released on Sunday! For me, the Shirley is me evolving from the woman I was in January to the woman I am in March.
I’m definitely looking forward to that one. Has fashion always been a first choice for you, and what would you be doing if you were not into fashion?
Yes! Background story. My mom is a designer and her mom was also a designer. Growing up was a lot of cutting and sewing pieces so I’ll say it definitely was a first choice. If I wasn’t doing fashion, I’ll be an architect. I was actually willing to do architecture in UNI, but long story – I moved to sociology. I would most likely be using my sociology degree for something, like helping women or maybe a career in interior design.
Quick trick question; Choose one color that describes the Desiree Iyama Brand the most.
Pistachio!!! – because it’s such a soft, warm and a rare color.
Great choice! Now you have to describe the color Pistachio to a blind woman in one minute. She has been blind all her life, and you have to make her understand this color. Go!
Okay, I might give her some really green leaves and tell her to imagine a realm where what she holds is in the warmest and lightest of colors. I’ll tell her to think of something warm and light and imagine a rare diamond or just make her feel the leaves and think of it in its lightest form.
Nice! good answer. What would you say has been your highlight and lowlight as a woman in the fashion space, and what are some incoming plans for the brand?
My highlight would definitely be the people who cheer me up, watch me grow and their constant affirmations of belief in me. My lowlight will be some other category of people who would say things like, what I do isn’t enough to financially build or sustain myself, pay the bills or earn a living, as much as a 9 to 5 job. My incoming plans are centered around my audience growth and opening a showroom/physical space soon!
Well, we know better than the other category of people because we think you’re doing amazing.
So, where can we purchase some lovely Desiree Iyama dresses?
Definitely on the website! – Right here!
We’re heading over to check it out right now! But just before we go, do you have any self-love and confidence tips for this community of young and powerful African women?
I would say to truly believe in yourself, be confident in your work, embrace a strong support system that you cheer and cheers you up and be passionate about what you do. Be ageless, don’t give room for comparison – it takes you steps back on your race, and do not ever stop learning.