Khadija Rahman, creative director, mother, wanderer, free spirit…
While you may know Khadija as few or many of these adjectives, on the occasion of Generation’s 35th Anniversary, we’ve decided to delve deeper and give you a more thorough insight into the musings of one of Pakistani fashion’s most prominent names.
Khadija, the second of three sisters, grew up at the Generation factory playing with looms of thread, piles of buttons and sandwiches of fabric, where she pleasantly recalls Beghum Aftab, the head of the stitching teaching her the Koran and, the chowkidaar Gul Mohammad being her childhood soul mate, so to speak, to put a date on when Khadija actually joined Generation wouldn’t be possible since she was raised not only playing in the factory, but also being an integral part of the decision making. Much like how she involves her four year old son in the process, indulging him to express his opinions during design selection and giving him insights into the various techniques and procedures the garments go through.
Having always been inclined towards art, the idea of being a fashion designer, a term which to this date is heaved upon with elitist rhetoric didn’t really appeal to her. This perspective however changed completely when she began her undergraduate degree from London College of Fashion, discovering how in the UK fashion rose from the streets, where the everyday folk served to be the inspiration for luxury tastemakers, the power of democratic fashion had her in awe. Soon after graduating in 2005, she officially joined Generation and instilled the same ideology into the bloodlines of the brand’s design philosophy; innovation and creation of trends at the high street level, instead of following the luxury bandwagon.
Soon after joining the company, Rahman realised that she still had alot to learn, especially on the business side of things, hence she went on to pursue her MBA from Boston University, returning soon after and taking the reins, almost instantaneously catapulting Generation back to its former glory, winning accolades, awards, and a new league of loyal customers.
During her tenure at Generation as the Director, Rahman has already lead the team to over three back to back awards and even a nomination for the prestiged International Woolmark Prize ,while also winning the label a whole new league of loyal customers locally and a cult following amongst the fashion circles abroad.
When asked to breakdown her design process, she recalls returning to designing a full collection quite recently, with ‘A dot that went for a walk’ A collection that almost everyone fell in love with instantaneously, she compares the process to giving birth to a baby, its slow, and adhered to with the same excitement and joy. She likes to gather images of things that inspire her, photography she may have done herself, during her travels. From there on, she transcends into silhouette development, designing shapes and forms, exploring her love for fabrics on her own body, a size medium, which she finds quite interesting, aiding her to imagine the silhouette on various sizes. The process involves thoroughly challenging herself, exploring territories that make her uncomfortable while discovering newer aspects to her aesthetic. With ‘Dot’ she focused on the free flowing liquid movement of fabric while with ‘Bring Basant Back’ her second collection she explored structure and juxtaposition of colour. Every collection serves to be a discovery of the self, an internalised process that results into a complex, well designed and progressive selection of fashion garments.
Generation’s marketing campaigns have also seen a complete overhaul since Khadija has taken over; she is fearless and intuitive, pushing her team to think out of the box, to think genuinely, to think from the heart. Taking the plunge with campaigns such as ‘Step Outside’ a rebellious call for Pakistani women to reclaim public spaces, that have helped to recently redefine the visual language of Pakistani fashion, ‘Greater than fear’ that opened up an entire conversation on inclusivity ‘Shahnaz ki Shadi’ that challenged social norms and even ‘Nairang’ an utter visual splendour celebrating the beauty of the human skin. She strives on working with visionaries such as Abdullah Haris, Umar Riaz, Usman Saeed and Shehzil Malik who have not just created images that sell but real art that speaks to the soul.
A culmination of Khadija’s vision for the brand is quite vividly portrayed in the campaign video of “Greater than fear.’ Shot by filmmaker Umar Riaz, Watch this video in the link below
The year 2018 is turning out to be grand, not just for Generation but for Khadija as well, apart from celebrating the brand’s landmark 35 years of success, Khadija, currently expecting her second child, is also very excited for taking the brand language forward towards a subject that is very close to her heart. To find out more, keep following Generation’s social media handles and watch out for the autumn campaigns to come rolling in!