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Jakarta Post

Peter Nyg̴rd: Top name in women'۪s fashion

  • Novia D. Rulistia

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, June 26, 2013   /  12:24 pm
Peter Nyg̴rd: Top name in women'۪s fashion (JP/Novia D. Rulistia) (JP/Novia D. Rulistia)

(JP/Novia D. Rulistia)

Canadian fashion designer Peter Nygård walked into the room at LaSalle College International in Jakarta confidently, ready to share with the students his years of experience in the world he loves profoundly.

'€œIt'€™s probably the fastest moving industry [...] the fact that it changes very quickly comes as a challenge and an opportunity '€” it'€™s a risky business but it also presents a lot of opportunities. That'€™s the industry you'€™re getting into,'€ NygÃ¥rd told the students about the fashion business.

The founder and chairman of the Canada'€™s leading women'€™s fashion house, NYGÅRD, was recently in town to share his experience and expertise with students at LaSalle during a two-hour fashion clinic at the campus.

In addition, he was also in the capital to attend the grand opening of the first flagship store Galeries Lafayette Jakarta to feature NYGÅRD brands.

NYGÅRD brands have been around for decades. His involvement started when he bought shares in Jacob'€™s Ladies Wear, a women'€™s garment manufacturer in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1967 and named it NYGÅRD International a few years later.

His hard work and passion for fashion has made it one of the largest women'€™s clothing manufacturers and suppliers in the world generating around US$1 billion in annual sales.

But his success was not built in a day. Being creative, different and tough are among his ways to survive in the competitive business.

'€œIt'€™s a tough industry because a lot of people are interested in it, a lot of competition. I knew nothing about the industry, I didn'€™t go to fashion school, but I was brave enough to do things in a different way,'€ the 70-year-old said.

He said that back in the day there was a sentiment that it was not possible for someone who did not live in Montreal or New York to succeed in the fashion business.

But he refused to accept this and decided to find his own way to always move forward.

As he was not a fashion school graduate, he was in the dark as to where he would direct the business. Then he came up with the idea of drawing up a questionnaire aimed at understanding what his customers really wanted from fashion.

'€œThe key thing was that I asked my customers so I knew who I was designing for. I wanted to find out about my customers, I wanted to find who she was, what size she was, what she liked and what she didn'€™t about the clothing,'€ he said.

To his surprise, his method worked well and he received a lot of feedback from his customers about their needs.

From then on he believed that fashion was the career he wanted to pursue, and wished to stay in it for a long time.

'€œThe business makes us all very happy because women love clothes, love to have new fashions,'€ he said.

Nygård moved to Deloraine, Manitoba, from Helsinki in Finland, with his family in 1952, before they moved to Winnipeg.

There, the young Nygård actively took part in athletics and was athlete of the year. He went to the University of North Dakota in the United States, taking a business program.

But the athletic Nygård did not go with sports because he thought that back then, sports people did not get paid well, so he chose to apply his business skills to fashion.

'€œI actually ended up in fashion as opposed to sport because I needed the money. And it turned out that it tapped all my skills,'€ he said.

He said that in the fashion business, one had to have a lot of energy, a lot of analytical business ability and he had all that.

'€œAnd then you have to have the creativity, I didn'€™t know I had it until I started getting into it, and that became my real love,'€ NygÃ¥rd said.

'€œWhen I'€™m creating, that'€™s my heaven. If I haven'€™t designed something every day it is a failed day '€”that'€™s how much I love fashion.'€

Today, Nygård International has three separate divisions: Peter Nygård Signature, the bridge line; Bianca Nygård; and the Nygård Collection, the mid-range assortment. In Canada, Nygård International is based in Toronto, while its world headquarter is in Times Square, New York, which opened in 2009.

The company also has manufacturing facilities in Shanghai, Tianjin, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Nyg̴rd has not only been successful in making his company one of the world'۪s leading fashion houses, he has also made a great contribution to the development of Canada'۪s fashion industry.

He is the founder of the Manitoba Fashion Industry, he was an executive member of the Canadian Apparel Manufacturers Institute, became the president of the Canadian Ladies'€™ Fashion Committee whose mandate was to develop and coordinate policy for the women'€™s fashion industry, and more.

The Canadian government also awarded him the Commemorative Medal Award, which is given to Canadians who have made a significant contribution to the community and the country.

He has achieved so much but he never wants to slow down and just sit back and relax.

'€œEvery day seems like you just get started; so much to do, you never get to the end of it, and I think that'€™s good, that'€™s what keeps this interesting,'€ he said.

Currently, he is busy working on his health, trying to lose weight and get into shape through good dietary habits and regular exercise.

'€œOnce you get to 40, 50 or 60, you start thinking about it more, and you start thinking of your own demise at the end of the day, and then you start to do something about it,'€ he said.

'€œAnd if in sports you have a life cycle for 10 or 15 years, in fashion, you have no cycle; you'€™re in it forever as long as you stay healthy. And I want to be in it forever.'€

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