For many people, fashion in Afghanistan means women in burqas and men with full-length beards, not dynamic young fashion designers. Yet in 2015 two young designers in Kabul launched a high-end, ready-to-wear fashion line, which has blossomed, despite both criticism and threats towards their staff.
Laman is the word for “skirt” in ancient Persian. It’s also the name of the brand launched two years ago by two Afghans in their twenties – Rahiba Rahimi, a law student at Kabul University, and Khaled Wardak, who studied fashion design in London.
In Afghanistan, men traditionally wear loose trousers and a kurti, a long shirt, in simple colours like white, black or beige. Many Afghan women wear a full covering the burqa in public spaces. Yet Rahimi and Wardak noticed a growing demand for fresh style with more Western cuts, especially from young Afghans.
The two designers think that fashion in Afghanistan is being influenced by the foreign TV series that have found success in Afghanistan, including the American show “Prison Break” and the Turkish series “The Valley of Wolves”. In both series, the protagonists wear Western-style clothes, which are often much more form-fitting than traditional Afghan clothes.
Rahiba and Khaled invested their own money to start their business. They’ve been so successful that now, two years after launching, they employ 30 people.
“Our style is modern, but inspired by traditional Afghan patterns and clothing styles.”
“In 2015, we partnered with Afghan Star [a TV talent show]. We were responsible for dressing both the contestants and the jury. It really helped us make a name for ourselves right from the beginning.
I’ve always loved to design clothes. I’m self-taught. I am responsible for designing the women’s collection and Khaled takes care of the men’s collection.
For me, the cut of the dress is extremely important. So is the quality of the material. I’ve always wondered why we don’t have a wider selection of designs for sale here. Traditional Afghan clothes are very colourful and decorated with bright patterns and I’ve also always wondered why we stopped dressing this way.”
Initially published on France24 on 08/15/2017
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