Dhaka Through The Eyes Of A Bangladeshi Designer

Gerard Ortiz

Rokaiya Ahmed Purna is regarded just one of South Asia’s primary fashion designers from Bangladesh. The Dhaka resident specializes in native textiles and expresses her cultural history all over her collections, exemplified in her individual “RAP” label that has grow to be a great deal extra than a destination for timeless Bangladeshi tradition fusion and couture. Immediately after demonstrating her spectacular collection at Russia’s Fashion Week in 2019, the designer was discovered for redefining Bangladeshi fashion on the entire world phase, with her cultural materials, folks motifs and textiles that exude her country’s heritage and intriguing ethnicity.

Rokaiya has also produced it her life’s mission to assist empower ethnic and minority women by way of skill growth coaching, in an work to encourage other people from her homeland who might like to observe in her footsteps when pursuing a career in manner or the visible arts.

In an energy to flip the script on the style world’s unethical tactics in the Worldwide South, Rokaiya has collaborated with ekn, a sustainable footwear brand name from Germany, to structure a ‘vegan sneaker’ recognized as the “ekn Kamthala,” designed with inspiration taken from Bangladesh’s nationwide fruit, the jackfruit (Kamthala interprets as jackfruit in Bengali).

Final week, the ekn Kamthala was introduced as the world’s initial sustainable shoe “designed in Bangladesh and produced in Europe,” as a collaborative assertion by the designer and Frankfurt-primarily based eco-sneaker brand. Their function is to highlight talented fashion designers in ethnic international locations and areas that are usually exploited by the vogue world’s unethical practices and inhumane get the job done environments.

ekn has observed a talent in Rokaiya inside of a subculture exactly where talent is seldomly appeared for, creating a classy unisex sneaker encouraged by her homeland, its countrywide fruit, and created with vegan materials. The ekn Kamthala is now out there around the world at www.eknfootwear.com

We caught up with the Bangladeshi designer on her lifetime and appreciate for her country’s cash.

What do you most adore about dwelling in Bangladesh?

The nature and the omnipresent rural flavor, the heritage, our bustling, energetic society, our foodstuff, and how we rejoice our festivals, which are really vibrant. Here individuals have the energy of togetherness given that we fought collectively for our liberation in 1971, and we also fought to retain our language. Considering the fact that 1952 we have celebrated Language Martyr’s Working day on February 21st, which is a superb case in point of real togetherness for me. I have so considerably adore and respect for this nation.

What is your most loved concealed gem in Dhaka for some ‘me-time’ or to check out with pals?

Lalbagh Fort is a person of the essential tourist points of interest of Dhaka City. Positioned in Aged Dhaka, it is a really preferred and renowned fort and a terrific architectural legacy from the Mughal Empire. It is also known as Fort Aurangabad, and is positioned by the financial institution of the river Buriganga. It has loaded red soil, and I really feel so relaxed there. I would advise a excursion there to any one visiting Bangladesh.

But for me the most treasured position is often my hometown, Faridpur, it is my greatest me-time area, and somewhere I’d like to display to everyone. It’s my peace, my luxury time, it is section of my story, and it flavored my daily life. I get in touch with it my diamond put.

Tell us a single thing about the funds that even locals would not know.

Previously Dhaka was termed Jahangir Nagar, and Mughal Subedar named the town Dhaka. Legend has it that the metropolis is named Dhaka due to the truth that the instrument termed the Dhak was heard enjoying in the Dhakeshwari temple just one working day by Mughal Subedar and that determined the identify of the city.

When you’re not working all hours of the working day, what is your favourite pastime in the town?

I adore to go to Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed Park, due to the fact the nature and the trees there remind me of my hometown, and my childhood. There I can just be myself and replicate on my lifetime so significantly, and the truth of being what I am right now.

How would you explain the manner sense in Dhaka for people of your age?

The Dhaka locals of my age team are actually into trend, but not each individual new model, and mostly they are inclined in direction of completely ready-to-put on clothing. Generally, they wear a mix of area and worldwide makes, apart from when it comes to our festivals and national celebration days, when all people goes with nearby, native designs. Also, at times individuals like to dress in a fusion of present-day and native designs.

Why did you choose inspiration for the ekn Kamthala sneaker from your country’s individual jackfruit?

The jackfruit is our country’s national fruit, but there’s so significantly additional to say about it. This is not only a fruit tree, it is a source of inspiration that will come from my roots, my existence and the place I spent most of my childhood. It is also a reminder of my hometown, where the trees and character built me who I am these days.

What is your favourite Bangladeshi dish?

So a lot of, but primarily my mom’s dishes as she is a seriously an remarkable cook. But one food items I appreciate most is Fuchka. Also known as Panipuri, Fuchka is a deep-fried crisp flatbread loaded with a combination of flavored drinking water (recognized as imli pani), tamarind chutney, chilli powder, chaat masala, potato mash, and onion, or chickpeas

You are regarded for empowering local females in the manner industry. Describe your operate in that region.

I do social do the job as a volunteer, supporting to empower ethnic, minority group females, by ability advancement training. Also, for the duration of my trend display, I labored with them on fabric development, typically adding my modern flavor to make them style and design pieces.

For future style and design learners, I just take part in conferences and seminars, occasionally getting lessons to offer you my ideas about style and creative progress skills. I also share my possess journey of finding into the style industry in the hope that it will encourage them. To aid women for the duration of COVID, I designed a selection of little scarves to aid to guidance female heritage textile weavers, and to assistance them to be a lot more monetarily solvent through a really hard instant.

Which trend designer do you most admire and take into consideration an inspiration or function model?

When it will come to who I admire the most, vogue is not a consistent in how I get my inspiration. I choose inspiration from several unique items from other innovative persons and the various methods they contribute positively to modern society by their tricky get the job done aiming at optimistic improve. I like Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri and lots of additional designers from the existing and the previous. But my finest admiration is for my grandfather. He is not a designer, but he has a powerful ideology, management attributes and a strong identity.

What attracted you most about doing the job with ekn on coming up with the sustainable ‘vegan sneaker’?

It was the way that they just accepted me, and were so authentic and eager to give me a probability to be a section of their initiative, it felt a lot more like a celebration of the human spirit than a position option. And which is what really moved and amazed me. Also doing the job with vegan leather-based is a new option for me to start out discovering a complete chapter in my inventive lifetime. We have been talking about sustainability for a lengthy time, but the probability to be component of a genuinely sustainable venture was also hugely beautiful and inspiring to me. It is a beautiful partnership.

Ekn gave me the prospect to believe otherwise as a designer, and to clearly show the earth that talent can be identified everywhere, it is really not about preconceived suggestions about what can be performed wherever. It truly is about how we believe about many others. Bangladesh is primarily regarded as an exporter of products for the North, but we have a massive quantity of talent as perfectly, which warrants to be respected, celebrated and explored.

Enjoy a short online video on Rokaiya and her inspiration for collaborating with ekn footwear.

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