The aspiring fashion designer turned down offers from local universities to pursue her passion.
She fell in love with fashion when she was just 12 years old.
Siti Amira Asrori, better known as Camira Asrori, felt inspired after seeing her cousin wearing a self-made dress.
“I thought it was amazing that someone could create a dress from scratch. I saw my cousin transform loose fabric to something wearable, and she did it all by herself,” said Camira, her face lighting up with admiration as she recalled her childhood memory.
It was this memory that fuelled her to launch her own fashion label, CAMIRA ASRORI, in April this year.
The 23-year-old is no stranger to fashion. Her experience with fashion styling put her on the map and Camira has since been invited to attend fashion shows – front row seats, no less – by Asian designers Fizi Woo and Rico Rinaldi. She has also held styling sessions with Malaysian online fashion retailer FashionValet.
When Youth.SG visited Camira in her four-room flat in Bukit Batok, it was clear she loves colours. Pairing a mustard dress from her own label with green feathered earrings, the spunky fashionista completed her look with bright pink lipstick.
The fashion stylist-turned-designer is popular on Instagram too. She regularly documents her work and creative outfits for her 15,000 followers on Instagram.
She has secured styling gigs with local and international clients such as Disney, Pomelo and En-Pointe, and has dressed a handful of local celebrities and influencers, including Sheiryn Asiqa, Lydia Asyiqin and Azura Goh.
But while Camira enjoys styling, her dream was always to start her own fashion label.
What finally pushed her to take that step?
The go-getter said: “My followers on Instagram were interested in what I would put out as a fashion designer, so I decided to go for it!”
For her pre-launch, Camira released two dresses and a pantsuit, costing between $90 and $127, which sold out in 10 days.
She has come a long way since her first foray into the industry six years ago, packing goodie bags as a volunteer for the Audi Fashion Festival (AFF). This was followed by an internship at Harper’s Bazaar in 2013.
“My time at Harper’s Bazaar [as a fashion intern] wasn’t any more glamourous than my experience with AFF since I did a lot of menial tasks. It was expected, especially since I didn’t have a background in fashion.
“But I learnt a lot from following my supervisor around stores, and it’s where I first picked up styling,” explained Camira.
Unknown to many, Camira, who graduated in fashion media and industries from LASALLE College of the Arts, almost didn’t get to pursue fashion as a career.
It took her some time to persuade her parents that her passion for the industry would lead to a full-time job – especially since she had no background in fashion.
It did not help either that she was offered placements in both National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.
“I was from a junior college, and I had no experience with fashion besides being interested in it. It goes without saying that they weren’t supportive of me wanting to study at LASALLE after junior college.
“I had to work hard to show my parents I was determined to make a career out of my passion,” said Camira, whose parents eventually allowed her to pursue fashion after she completed her internship at Harper’s Bazaar.
Camira, who still works as a freelance stylist, said: “Part of my degree taught fashion styling, so I didn’t see my career as a stylist and my life as a student as two separate things. I definitely lost a lot of sleep while juggling both aspects at the same time, but I think they went hand in hand.”
In early 2017, during her last year at LASALLE, she starting working on illustrating her designs for her label. Beside tapping on her Instagram followers’ interests and suggestions, Camira also drew references from her own closet.
“The style that my followers are interested in aligns with what I wear on a daily basis, so I just had to design what I wanted to wear, but couldn’t find in stores,” said Camira, who took three months to prepare for her label’s pre-order launch.
This time, her parents were supportive about her fashion label.
She said: “They have always wanted me to go into business, and by the time I told them I was starting my own label, I had done enough to show that I’m serious about pursuing fashion as a full-time job.”
The biggest challenge she has faced is the language barrier while sourcing for materials and potential factories to work with in China.
“Every time I try to explain a design to the factory, the struggle is super real. Besides them not understanding English, they don’t really understand my illustrations, which can get quite complex.
“I’m going to start taking Mandarin classes,” laughed Camira, who has been travelling to Guangzhou once a month to work on her label.
Camira also makes a point to visit each potential factory herself to ensure that they provide fair working conditions for the employees working on her garments.
“People have asked me why my label is so expensive despite only being in its first launch.
“I need them to know that my items are priced a certain way because the people who are making the clothes are being treated and paid fairly,” said the bold designer who believes in ethical fashion.
Besides tapping on her personal style, who else inspires her designs?
Camira, who hopes to dress international pop star Rihanna one day, replied: “CAMIRA ASRORI is for the modern woman who is independent and always on the move. She has her own beliefs and stands strong by them.”
Camira is now gathering feedback from her followers in preparation for her label’s full launch in April this year.
“Comments on how the photos [of my clothes from my Instagram] turn out are important as well. I want my followers to be able to see what they’re buying, so that they won’t be disappointed when their orders arrive,” said Camira.
Camira, who currently manages her label herself, also has plans to hire at least two more people to help her with the label.
She said: “I’ll need [help with] things like marketing and photography, so I can focus on designing. If not, it’ll be too much for me to handle by myself.”
What is the most important thing to Camira as a fashion designer?
“It’s important that I stay true to myself and my style. The label is self-titled and people will, by default, relate the clothes back to me.
“CAMIRA ASRORI represents my fashion style. I wouldn’t change it just because it’s different from everyone else’s,” added Camira.
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