There aren’t many places in Kathmandu that sell or tailor formal wear for women. And a few years ago, when Shrija Shrestha went out shopping for a formal blazer to wear to her workplace, she had to roam around half the town before she found one she could make do with. As someone who has always enjoyed dressing up in formal wear, this frustrated Shrestha and right then, she planned to launch her own formal wear store for women in the future. So now, Shrestha has finally gotten around to this plan of hers and launched Ambassador—a formal wear hub for women.
Located in Jhamsikhel, opposite Cafe Soma, Ambassador has only been running for about a month but the store already has a steady footfall of customers every day. This might partly be because Shrestha has been promoting the store on Instagram for over two months and because she operated an online clothing store previously, she knows what catches the attention of customers online.
Ambassador is mainly focusing on creating customized pieces right now. Although the store does create and sell standard and classic formal wear items, they are also open to creating pieces according to the requirement and preferences of their customers and curating unique and one-of-a-kind pieces for them.
Besides that, Ambassador is also incorporating intricate thread work into a lot of their pieces. Shrestha mentions that she personally really likes thread work and thinks that when done right, it can bring a whole new aesthetics to formal items of clothing.
When questioned why she picked the name Ambassador for her store, Shrestha explains that it’s because she wanted a bold and memorable name to represent her belief about how clothing and fashion should empower the wearer while making him/her look good.
“It’s also short for ‘ambassador of fashion’ which is the motto of the store,” says Shrestha. Additionally, because she also intends to add formal wear for men next year, Shrestha picked a name that isn’t gender specific.
The allure of formal wear
Shrestha mentions that she has seen a lot of people embracing formal wear these days. Although formal wear isn’t as big in Nepal’s fashion scene as it is in other countries yet, she believes it will only grow bigger in the future as Nepalis are good at adapting with the ever changing fashion scene. She states that because a lot of celebrities and influencers have already incorporated formal wear into their wardrobe, she thinks other Nepali fashion enthusiasts will take inspiration from that and do the same.
For people who are new to formal wear or have never tried it out before, Shrestha suggests starting out with just a blazer first and then moving on to other formal wear items once you are used to that. You can simply don a blazer over jeans and a t-shirt or a camisole and style the whole look with a pair of sneakers for a casual vibe. Alternatively, if you are more of a skirt or dresses over jeans or pants kind of person, you could try out blazer dresses to ease yourself into formal wear.
The ARC project
At a time when the whole world is concerned about and thus focused on reducing environment pollution and global warming with people taking active measures to do whatever little they can to lessen its effects, Shrestha wants her own brand to help the cause as well. This is why she is launching the ARC—Ambassador Rental Closet—project, which is possibly the first formal wear for women rental service in Nepal.
“I’ve learned that fast fashion takes a massive negative toll on the environment, so through the ARC project I aim to encourage people to rent formal (and party) wear clothing that most people use only once or twice before discarding it,” says Shrestha. She adds that since she knows customized formal wear can be expensive, the Ambassador Rental Closet can be a good way for people to save money they would otherwise end up spending on single wear clothing and utilize it for something far more important.
Shrestha intends to launch new collections for this project every few months or so to always have a stack of classic as well as trendy formal wear clothing ready for clients to borrow at the drop of a hat. All of these pieces will initially be made in a standard size so that anyone who wishes to borrow them can wear them with just a few minor adjustments. However, Shrestha is still working on the designs for the first collection of the rental closet so Ambassador will only be launching the ARC project sometime next month.
This brown suit set is perfect for hard working ladies in the corporate field who never fail to look fashionable when they show up at the office. This is a pretty standard suit but instead of letting the formal blazer hang loosely around your frame, Ambassador has added a wide belt to cinch the waist and give you a more flattering figure. The suit isn’t in the usual grey or black color but it’s still neutral and manages to fit into the serious vibe of a corporate office space.
This bold blazer is inspired from American style formals that are designed to be very versatile—enabling you to go from work to party mode without having to change into something else. The blazer is also versatile in terms of styling as it can be worn with jeans, skirts and formal trousers or over dresses without anything looking mismatched or out of place. It’s color is also neutral meaning you can pair the blazer with anything of any color.
Shrestha reveals that she took inspiration from the outfits worn by the British Queen for this blazer. Unlike a typical blazer, this one is cropped and is meant to be worn with high waisted bottoms. It is also made of tweed which is more appropriate for winter but the blazer can also be worn during summer as well because the material is pretty light and breathable. This is a versatile piece that can be worn with pants or skirts and dresses, and can give you both a formal vibe and a more casual vibe, depending on how you style it.
These checkered overcoats are for people who love vintage aesthetics or vintage inspired clothing. They are classic pieces that never really go out of style and what’s more, they are very warm. They are also meant to be worn pretty loose so they give a lot of mobility unlike most formal clothing. Again, these pieces are very versatile and you can wear them at almost any occassion. Although they can be worn by themselves too, Ambassador has belted the coats around the waist to give it a more streamlined silhouette.
This peach set consisting of a long embroidered overcoat and a pair of high waisted parallel pants is an Ambassador original. The color of this piece alongside the embroidery highlight makes it appropriate to be worn at cultural events. This is a unique set that has a standard formal silhouette but it will make you look stylishly and fiercely feminine.