The Interview: Partow
Champion boxer Nellie Partow trains her eye on her impeccable fall collection, now at Nordstrom.
By Britt Burritt
At 27 years and 106 pounds, Nellie Partow boxed at Madison Square Garden. That night, the Parsons grad won the 2007 New York Daily News Golden Gloves title for Light Flyweight. "That was a highlight for me from my boxing career," Partow says about the national amateur competition. "It was a big title to win and something that I worked really hard for."
A designer for Calvin Klein at the time, Partow was cheered on by friends from the fashion world. "I had my whole CK team and my former colleagues from John Varvatos there," Partow recounts. "Usually, when you're in an arena like that, you don't see people you know because you're so focused. But that night I saw this little sea of very well-dressed, chic people."
Today she's winning accolades for her well-edited and refined fashion line, Partow, which she founded in 2011. "When it comes to being a boxer, there's a level of discipline that has really informed how I approach the business and design," she explains. "Boxing is about training, identifying specific opponents' strengths and weaknesses, having a game plan and going in and staying focused. You have to be very calm in the ring to be able to see punches and move well."
Focus and training are evident in Partow's designs, like flattering tailored coats and outsized cable-knit sweaters. Her trousers, especially, have developed a fan base. "It's very hard to find a pant for women that fits well," she says. "It's something that I didn't even realize we were doing well in the beginning until I kept having clients in stores constantly wanting to reorder them. Or when I was getting the feedback myself at events."
This fall, slim-fit trousers, pleated wide-leg styles and jaunty crops give her fans options. "In each collection, there's something that's quite flattering, whether you're a size 0 or 14," says Partow. She attributes her success in this area to her training in menswear at John Varvatos and her own penchant for pants. "It's something that I personally wear every day," she says. "I love trousers, I love tailoring, I've been inspired by menswear most of my career."
Although she no longer competes, Partow still spars with other boxers at Mendez Boxing Gym in New York City. "I don't think I'll ever stop. It's so technical, and there's so much strategy. That's similar to my approach to business."