Read on about Khadija Rahman, our Creative Head, in conversation with Paperazzi Magazine on our A/W’17 campaign, her personal style and overcoming challenges.
When and how did you decide to join Generation?
I joined Generation right after completing my Bachelors in Fashion Design (Woman wear) in 2005 from the London College of Fashion. My parents founded this business, and I joined it for the love of design.
Congratulations on wining an award this year as the “best retail brand” at Hum Style Awards. How does it feel?
It feels wonderful to be appreciated as a brand that does its own thing and does not follow the pack. We at the Generation HQ have a grand time experimenting with new concepts, trying new looks, exploring silhouettes and indigenous crafts and toying with new colour palettes. We really love our jobs and to get an award on top of that is truly humbling.
Umar Riaz’s video for Generation Woman has been making waves on the social media. Tell us more about it?
I have known Umar for many years and so his work making waves is only evidence of his talent, something that many of us have admired for a while. Ever since we have launched this film, we have seen other brands in the industry taking inspiration from this idea of depicting women through a wider, more holistic and inclusive lens. That idea of inspiring a conversation and spurring others to add their contribution makes us feel invigorated, because this video is beautiful in its sense of openness, lack of pretense, its sensitivity and in how poetic and absolutely moving as well as how simple it is.
What or who was the main inspiration behind it?
This idea was born a long time ago when we interacted with our customers and they shared what the brand Generation meant to them. They said it meant ‘from generation to generation’. They spoke about how they used to visit the store with their mothers and then they themselves started shopping from there, followed later by their daughters. We thought that was such a powerful idea and gave the brand as well as the brand name so much soul. Today we have a range of lines catering to different body types and aesthetics based exactly on this idea, and have entire families across different age groups shopping from us. This video pays homage to all those diverse, independent and incredibly smart women who challenge and influence our ways of seeing the world.
Generation always comes up with socially responsible marketing campaigns, whether it was “bring back basant” or now “greater than fear” campaign. How do you come up with these interesting concepts?
We believe we have a voice and feel very strongly about what happens around us, as do a lot of other people. It only seems like common sense to marry the two. We don’t design visuals. We design ideas. Ideas are not pink with frilly edges, but they have shape, meaning, colour, form, history, connotation, and political as well as social depth.
What’s been the biggest creative challenge in your career to date?
To create a jama (called an angarkha by many) with the just the right neck depth while maintaining a graceful overlap below (without a titch button of course) Can someone teach us, please?
How has Generation evolved over the years?
Generation has evolved into a stable business with a strong culture of ingenuity and innovation.
How do you deal with the competition in the Pret market?
We’re generally quite lazy, so competition is good for us. It helps us stay on our toes, and come up with better results, which our customers appreciate. Plus if we work harder and make better stuff we feel better about ourselves too. So it’s a win-win situation.
Where do you see Generation in 5 years?
Innovating and serving the Generation woman for years to come with something, which would always be made with love.
How does Generation’s aesthetic reflect your personal style?
I have a bohemian sense of style, so I’ve been told, and that over the years has come to encapsulate Generation’s collections. Also, I am very desi. I love ghararas, chooridars, the mughal booti, the gulab, the romance of the dupatta, the hand embroidered muslin kurta and the cotton shalwar as well as the local colour palette – the scarlet red, the emerald green and the aatshigulaabi.
How influenced are you by current trends?
You need to take trends with a pinch of salt. Trends help you understand the pulse of the market. You should have your finger on the pulse and then do something where you are really honest with yourself. The result, I believe, would always be successful.
Describe your creative process?
Create lots of independent, fun, beautiful ideas and objects. Throw them in the air. When they land, start putting them in order. And ta da!
*This interview was published in Paperazzi Magazine(issue no.220) on 19th November’17, Pages 26-29.