Informed by her British upbringing and Yemeni heritage, Central Saint Martins graduate Kazna Asker has created a clothing collection that combines sportswear design with traditional Middle Eastern fabrics and silhouettes.
Called Watered by One Water, the collection was presented at the Central Saint Martins MA Fashion Show 2022 and was the school’s first MA show to feature hijab-wearing models.
“I feel very grateful that we were able to show the diversity of Britain and introduce Islamic fashion and Middle Eastern fabrics to the West through a minority perspective,” Asker told Dezeen.
Asker, who grew up in Sheffield, designed traditional Islamic clothing such as the jilbab, abaya and thobe from waterproof nylon fabric and added sportswear details including laces, zips and pockets.
The collection also includes cargo pants, jackets and sweatshirts decorated with traditional Middle Eastern weaves.
“I was always a tomboy and I remember all my childhood seeing and wearing only Nike and Adidas tracksuits and sneakers,” Asker said. “That’s why I think sportswear has always come naturally to me!”
Asker designed the collection in pairs of matching male and female looks to represent the brotherhood and sisterhood of her local community.
“I was really inspired by the local community in Sheffield and how we adapted our culture and traditions while still designing and empowering the Muslim community,” Asker said.
“I think there are a lot of negative connotations associated with the hijab, Islamic modesty and the Muslim community, so I purposely designed matching menswear and womenswear to show the brotherhood and sisterhood of our community and that we are all drenched in one water.”
To better represent Muslims in Sheffield, Asker invited people from her local community to describe what “community” means to them and what inspires them.
The answers are compiled into a graphic design and printed on the back of a hijab robe.
Asker was awarded the Debut Talent Award at the 2022 Fashion Trust Arabia Awards for her fashion collection Watered by One Water, which was praised for her work with the community.
“I hope more Muslim girls apply to Central Saint Martins and see themselves in my collection and feel empowered to be there,” Asker said.
“I hope that the small door has been broken down to show more diverse fashion and represent people in a true and fair way,” the designer continued.
Other creative designs made by Central Saint Martins graduates include a solar-powered blanket and a printer that projects light onto algae to create images on fabric, ceramics or paper.
Photo courtesy of Central Saint Martins unless otherwise noted.