DESIGNER Q+A MEET KAZNA ASKER FROM MANCHESTER TO LONDON | BEIJING
Manchester School of Art graduate Kazna Asker debuted her stunning collection of Menswear garments at GFW | London. A Hotbed for emerging talent, GFW has launched many successful design labels and provides a vital catwalk often leading to International Acclaim.
First London, the next stop for Kazna is Beijing | China where her work has been selected for the International Youth Design Competition (IYDC). Working with Digital, Sublimation, Transfer and Hand techniques her work is not restricted by technicalities. Kazna has created a stunning collection that blends the best of traditional and Digital technologies…
We caught up with Kazna to find out more>>
When did you realise that you wanted to follow a creative career?
As a child I would always draw on the walls and as a teenager I always had an interest in Art GCSE and A- Level so I always knew I wanted to work in the creative industry. However, I didnʼt figure out that I was interested in Fashion until Art Foundation where I was able to explore the idea of Fine Art (painting, storytelling etc.)on garments to create Fashion.
Why did you choose Manchester College of Art?
I chose Manchester College of Art because of the open space building and the promotion of collaboration between different courses throughout the years. I also really liked the course because of the one on one tutor time and the hands on approach as well as the friendly atmosphere compared to other Fashion departments.
Tell us about the inspiration for your graduate collection.
My graduate collection focuses on the journey of an immigrant by focusing on my familyʼs particular journey from Yemen to Britain. I explored my dadʼs journey as an immigrant from third world poverty to Britain and how the next generation (me and my siblings, with my brother being my muse) have adapted our Yemeni heritage to our British upbringing. I also explored the idea of community and togetherness amongst ethnic minorities in Britain which I really tried to show throughout my collection by making the base colour of each look black. Considering Yemen is currently facing the worldʼs largest humanitarian crisis, I thought it was important to showcase this through a positive perspective by changing the narrative of Muslims in Britain and emphasising how my Yemeni heritage has influenced my identity.
Why did you choose Menswear?
I have always been interested in baggy and oversized clothes and the idea of layering garments since I was young. I am a huge hip hop fan and I was obsessed with the 90s tomboy style. Since I always wear baggy garments, tracksuits and go for tomboy looks, the gradual approach into Menswear was very natural.
Which software did you use alongside your hand drawn sketches?
To design, I would always hand draw the silhouette first and then experiment different prints on the drawings using Photoshop.
Tell us about the fabrics you chose to use, and how did you source them.
I chose to use all black fabrics for my collection as I was aware each look would be layered with textiles, colour and print designs so I thought focusing on black fabrics would be more powerful. I mostly used ‘streetwearʼ fabrics that inspire tracksuit bottoms, waterproof coats and jersey hoodies. However, I did also use some denim and cotton canvas which I hand dyed black. I would either buy my fabrics whilst shopping in London or Manchester.
Youʼve used multi-media print in your garments, tell us more about the techniques youʼve combined??
Print was very important to me as I used it as a form of storytelling on the contemporary cut garments. As I created propaganda print inspired graphics, I would paint acrylic paint onto the poster and stick it to the garment. Once it was dry, I would wet and peel of the paper and heat press it into place so the print looked like propaganda posters. Alongside this image transfer technique, I also layered images of sublimation print, graphics of digital print and screen print. I would mostly use screen print to flock Arabic calligraphy over other methods of print.
How important was sustainability in your choice?
Sustainability was extremely important as I didnʼt want to waste any fabric. When I would digitally print my garments, I would scan my pattern pieces, using the large scale scanner, into Photoshop and use the software to place the print image on to save as much fabric as possible, rather than create a repeat on 3 meters of fabric, with wasted fabric at the end.
What was your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was to find a print method that would work for me with the story I was trying to portray. At first, my samples mostly consisted of screen print, which wasnʼt effective enough as I kept layering imagery over each other until the story was lost. Also, I thought the digital print samples by themselves were too flat to be effective. It took a long time, but I realised that I had to combine several different methods to have the effect that I wanted, which was extremely time consuming and stressful as I had to prioritise the prints before I was able to start the sewing.
Tell us about the Highlight for GFW?
GFW was amazing platform to showcase my collection and network with industry. A main highlight was that I was able to gather interest in my work, which was really inspiring to know that people warmed to my ideas and designs.
Whatʼs next? Do you want to work for a big Brand or develop your own?
I would like to gain experience in the Fashion industry as well as continue to work ethnic minorities and refugees. Currently, I am looking for a job in industry so I am able to broaden my skills and experience. However, eventually I would like to combine the two (Fashion and community work), by doing a masters or creating my own project.