She is young, charming, entrepreneurial and very well grounded. We sat down with Khadija Rahman, Creative Director of GENERATION who is one dynamic business woman and a hands on mom!
SS: How old is GENERATION?
KR: It started off in 1983, so its about 32 years old!
SS: How did it start all these years ago and what was it like in the beginning?
KR: My parents Saad and Nosheen Rahman started the brand! At first they stocked the brand in multi-label stores but soon after they opened the first store in liberty! My father was into garment export, so he knew the textile and fabric market very well. Which is why one of the signature things which is making our own fabric has always been a USP. It was the 80’s and a lot of young people were attracted to the brand since it was quite ground breaking with stylists flying in from Paris to style the collections, so GENERATION was a happening brand and every IT girl back in the day was wearing it.
SS: How has the brand evolved?
KR: Over the years we have maintained our creativity and tried to stay ahead of trends in the local market. The fashion in 80’s was very out there and then with time and changing trends we always tried to maintain a balance between creativity and relevance! From the pathar shalwars which had stones tied to its corners so it draped in a particular way, to a lot of different cuts and zips and pockets we were quite experimental and daring and we still are. We don’t hold back our creative expression which is why with the years the evolution has been smooth whilst staying true to the nature of our brand!
SS: How has GENERATIONS design philosophy changed over the years?
KR: The philopsohy hasn’t changed so much since we do not believe in doing heavy productions of one design, so we like to keep it limited, which has been so since the inception of the brand. We have many lines and many designs, which is also one of the biggest challenges since we need to work twice as much and maintain a huge team so we can fill our stores without being repetitive!
Also since we still make our own fabric, that is one thing intrinsic to GENERATION, so the philosophy has almost remained the same.
SS: How do you differentiate from competitors?
KR: Our process is a lot about innovation, we take out collections not just pieces, and I don’t think that’s what other high street brands are doing. Also, mostly the brands are based around making prints, we try to make use more of more than one medium when we design something. We have multi layered designing and we put a lot of effort behind each design.
SS: How would you define GENERATION?
KR: Generation is innovation. We have always been trend setters, we don’t want to be a high street brand in the sense that it copies trends, but a high street brand which innovates!
SS: So when did you become actively involved in GENERATION. How did you get here?
KR: Since 2005, I was always interested in art but never in fashion. However I still decided to do an undergrad in fashion from London. It was a great experience since fashion in London rises from the streets rather than being aristocratic. You could take inspiration from anything, so the artist in me was very happy since I felt free to express and that’s when I started loving fashion.
In 2011 I went back to college to do my MBA from Boston Univeristy. It was quite useful because I felt sometimes artists can be very left sided. I took a course ‘design innovation’ which was about managing creativity. I came back and tried to implement what I had learnt in my MBA.
SS: How has being a design student yourself helped the business?
KR: Being both a design and business student has helped immensely. As a designer I understand how important it is for one to feel empowered and free to design. As a management student I understand how to manage such a big design team and a fast paced, multi layered design process without many glitches! Our design team feels its a really creative atmosphere which is a win for me!
SS: Where do you see the brand in 5 years?
KR: There are some stores in pipeline. We have a web-store up recently, so yes we are looking at more presence on ground. I would love to maintain the creativity, the variety, the limited runs-so everyone is not wearing the same stuff, so there are plans of expanding without becoming mass and losing our essence!