5 things she wants you to know
With her delicate, fine-boned features that makes one recall a young Sussane Khan (the former MrsHrithik Roshan), Tasfia Ahmed doesn’t need bells and whistles to stand out. For our first IRL meeting at the Cityscape North End, she’s paired her oversized white smock with large cat-eye frames, looking like she stepped out of the pages of a magazine. This comfortable, minimalist elegance is something she brings into her work, as is revealed in a friendly chat with Avenue T.
One for all
The Raffles Bangkok graduate, who cites Dries Van Noten as a style influence, has enjoyed a stint at Klubhaus and as a lead designer for Deligram’s online fashion retail. When asked to describe her aesthetic, she says ‘oversized, comfortable, and androgynous’. “I don’t want to confine my designs to a specific gender or body type,” she says. “Anyone should be able to pick up [one of my outfits] and wear it with confidence.
An alchemy of interpretation
When recalling her collection for BFW19, which prominently featured a neural print on a variety of outfits and silhouettes, she talked about looking at the medical reports of her father, who had been battling serious health complications, she wanted to take the motifs of the neurons, which were a source of stress, and transmute it into art, thereby taking the fear out of it. “What I learned from the experience of the fashion show, and the reception to it is that I need to be more obvious when working with concepts. Bangladeshi consumers tend to play it safe with fashion and don’t take well to perceived ambiguity.”
A brand concern
Ahmed’s concern about Bangladesh’s position in the global fashion industry involved its brand image. “We have all the resources; we need to promote them better,” she states. She goes on to explain that countries like India and the US take a lot of fashion cues from their entertainment industry. “When a Hollywood or Bollywood star wears something in a film, it becomes trendy or cool. We need more deshi icons that we can take pride in, and want to emulate,” adding that these icons could do a lot to promote our rich cultural heritage through their style.
Don’t follow the piper
Elaborating on the vicious cycle created by the consumers’ conservatism and the designers’ dilemma, she comes back to how a stronger brand image in our fashion would give the consumers the confidence to try something new and different, and thus give the designers more room to experiment and create unique work. “I could make something that my friends and I find exciting, but at the end of the day, I also have a business to run, and if the buyers are afraid to step off the beaten path to try something new, I’ll have to revert back to tried-and-true formulaic designs that will sell better” she explains, frustrated. She also echoes a sentiment expressed by some of the international designers present at this year’s BFW by stating “The trend of copying has to stop! We need to stop trying to do something just because someone else is doing it. Just because I think I can be an influencer-actor-fashion designer-author-beauty guru doesn’t mean I should. How am I different, then, from every other mid-range restaurant in Dhaka that puts Indian-Thai-Chinese-Continental on the menu?”
Tasfia Ahmed’s collection for BFW 2020 featured Royal Bengal Tiger stripes rendered in Nakshi Katha stitch in bold SS20 hues on pants, jackets, pant saris and other fusion wear. An identifiably Bangladeshi motif, fusing an age-old craft technique with contemporary silhouettes and colours, it embodies the locally conscious global outlook of the urban millennial.