Student-run fashion brand Naranji aims to liberate people through clothing

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Soft lavender, deep violet, and rich magenta swirl together on the computer screen, creating a psychedelic pattern. Combining creative coding and digital illustration, McCormick junior Sahibzada Mayed is experimenting with design patterns for the upcoming fashion brand Naranji.

Naranji aims to redefine the future of fashion and technology, disrupt the gender binary, and reclaim cultural fashion, according to the startup. Instagram.
“This brand is people-focused, and I try to center it as much as possible. Who is wearing this (clothing)? What was their experience?” said Mayed, founder of Naranji. “I wanted to give the impression that fashion is for everyone.”

During the winter, Mayed worked on her engineering capstone project, which was centered on fashion and its roots in colonialism. While they’ve always been interested in fashion, Mayed says the project helped lay the groundwork for the brand to start.

Coming from an engineering background, Mayed says he sees how technology and fashion design can intersect. For Naranji, Mayed used generative art, a design process that uses code to create computer-generated patterns.

“(Generative art) helps me expand my creative possibilities,” says Mayed. “I probably wouldn’t have come across this color combination if I hadn’t seen one. I probably wouldn’t have found these patterns if I hadn’t coded them.”

While computers help inform the design process, computers are not the designers — Mayed is. They say designing involves many iterations, and they often manipulate computer-generated patterns to create the final result.

McCormick junior Jazmyn Lu modeled for Naranji. He said watching Mayed take the technique in an artistic direction was exciting.

“Coding is (considered) like, ‘You’re just going to plan something or you’re going to simulate this,'” Lu said. “It’s not… very creative, so I think it’s cool (Mayed) adds to the creativity.”

Mayed says fashion has traditionally been Euro-centric. Growing up in Pakistan, she says she saw cultural desire around whites.
Mayed said Naranji took inspiration from “liberatory fashion,” which uses design to liberate people from intersecting forms of oppression and marginalization. They say Naranji seeks to empower individuals to embrace their identities, helping them break away from these Euro-centric norms.

“I have thought deeply and critically about skin tone and beauty standards … It is an integral part of my understanding of who owns fashion and what fashion is,” she said. “That is an important framework that I focus on, because historically, there have been disconnects.”

Mayed said Naranji also aims to disrupt the size of fashion labels and gender expectations. As an ethically sourced and stock-free brand, Naranji works with a Montreal manufacturer to create made-to-order clothing.

In Pakistan, Mayed’s mother runs a fashion boutique, which introduces Mayed to specialty tailoring. She says custom-designed clothes are made to the customer’s size, which makes them feel their best.

In their first two collections, Mayed said they were attracted to fluidity. Naranji sought to design gender clothing to emphasize the diverse gender representation of society, he said.

“The goal is to think about how people’s gender identities intersect,” Mayed said. “You can’t put people into this gender binary … There’s no good way to label gender representation, because (gender) is very fluid.”

Mayed said in the future, the brand hopes to combine designs together, so that more voices are involved in the design process. If a customer likes a pattern, the brand plans to collaborate with them to customize the pattern, color and silhouette, they said.

Medill freshman and Naranji Director of Social Media Ysa Quiballo said the Naranji team worked together to shape the brand’s vision. Ultimately, Naranji’s message is rooted deeper than expressing individuality, Quiballo said.

“(Naranji is) about breaking barriers for people and providing avenues for people to create change in their own lives and the lives of others,” Quiballo said.

Email: [email protected]

Indonesia: @JessicaMa2025

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