Baizid Haque Joarder speaks to Rahemur Rahman, the first designer of Bangladeshi heritage to debut at London Fashion Week Men's, as he talks about his experiences, heritage and style.
How do you feel about debuting at the prestigious London Fashion Week Men's?
Immensely proud to be able to showcase Bangladeshi heritage textiles and techniques to the international fashion scene. Collaborating with Aranya on my debut is a highlight for me, I learned so much about natural dyes and processes. Learning from Aranya and this exchange of skills was a delight -- I was able to take the naturally dyed khadi and nakshi kantha and repurpose it for designers garments that can tell a story of identities about being Bangladeshi and British like myself. London Fashion Week Men’s gave me a platform to be able to discuss Bangladesh in a much better light rather than the discussion of RMG industry but the heritage textiles that sit in the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to now my Autumn Winter 2019 collection.
Who is Rahemur Rahman? What inspires him and what does he wish to project through his designs?
Rahemur Rahman is a brand ‘for people who dream in colour,’ the spectrum of people who have since my debut, shown interest in my bespoke service cross genders and sexualities. For me, it is important that I design collections with a character in mind, a lifestyle, rather than a gender, in hopes of working towards a future where fashion is not split by women’s fashion week and men’s. Tailoring is open to both women and men, colourful clothing and vibrant graphic patterns also. What inspires me is the eclectic mix of people surrounding me, the way people showcase their heritage and identities through fashion inspire me. Especially my father, a tailor, and my mother, a housewife. Both mixing their Bangladeshi culture with modern dress and showing me visually that cultures can mix and we can create new versions of age old practices and visuals.
South Asian themes have been a huge part of your designs, is that indicative of your longing to reminisce about your heritage?
I was shown my heritage through my maternal grandmother, my mother, and my incredible aunts, which has been filtered through the lens of my British eye. This ignited a fire in me to learn about my South Asian roots and it’s many layers of history and especially it’s International resonance. As I learn, as will how I design evolve, understanding the past and how it’s grown into the world we live in will allow me to design for the modern community. South Asia now is very different to the South Asia I research constantly, the heritage textiles in archival banks, re - imagining a new definition for what ‘made in Bangladesh’ means.
How do you feel about incorporating Bangladeshi motifs, fabrics and techniques? How big is it in the UK fashion scene?
Once we understand that Bangladeshi textiles are not exclusive from innovation and design, we will allow ourselves to understand what they stand for and are so that we can push this amazing textile for the future and the international eye. We were once one of the worlds biggest exports for hand made ethical sustainable textiles and fashion, but sadly we are now known for very unethical practices using outstandingly unsustainable ways to produce cheap clothing for mass production. Once we help build and grow the amazing different weaving techniques and fabrics, we will hopefully be known for a new modern wave of ethically sourced textiles that is sustainable. I am trying to help build a platform internationally for this narrative to allow a wave of Bangladeshi talents to follow.
Do you feel strongly about infusing different styles in your lines?
I like to design for the people I believe can appreciate the clothing and the hand made elements that go into it, infusing different styles to attract a broader market isn’t interesting for me. That just makes me part of the problem of over producing clothing for people who won’t appreciate the clothing.
I am working on my next collection for showcase during London Fashion Week in June. Having just represented Bangladesh at the International Fashion Showcase at Somerset House, I can stand proud that I have shown what makes Bangladesh amazing with the help of Aranya. My next collection and show will be bigger than this one, and every season I hope to grow, and as I grow so will the amount of people I can help through fashion.
Any plans of coming to Bangladesh and perhaps making a dent in the scene here?
I have every plan to come to Bangladesh and showcase my work, but honestly, being an emerging designer in London is very expensive and makes it quite impossible for me to think internationally. At the moment, I will try to showcase through London, in hopes I can grow to be able to show in Bangladesh and share this moment with my people.
Stylist: Kamran Rajput
Casting: Zaf Shabir - The Cactus Agency
Set Designer: Sumera Ashraf
MUA: Tasnim Nahar
Look book photography: Chris Beldain
Presentation Photography: Jahied Ahmed
Design Team: Sindy Nguyen and Maria Cuji
Models: Yusuf Ahmad, Abdul Raouf, Navraj Hunjan, Ayush Sahota, Rajvatan Singh Rathour, Nader Chaudhury, Shareef Ali, Ryan Lanji and Leo Kalyan
Words: Rosie Byers
Support: Hannah Irshad, Yousuf Hussein, Sarbjit Natt, Jill Fullbrook, ‘A’ Team Arts, Fokrul Hoque, British Bangladesh Fashion Council, Nawshin Khair, Aranya, Berni Yates, Ben Smith, Modus BPCM, Tony Gill, Jasmine Ruparelia, Media House, Maria London, Alim Latif, British Council, British Fashion Council, Somerset House, University of the Arts London.
Special thanks to: Sarah Mower OBE