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.
Named Watered by One Water, the collection was presented at the Central Saint Martins MA 2022 fashion show and was the first MA show at the school to feature models wearing hijabs.
“I feel very grateful we were able to showcase the diversity of Britain and introduce Islamic fashion and Middle Eastern fabrics to the west through a minority’s perspective,” Asker told Dezeen.
Asker, who grew up in Sheffield, designed traditional Islamic garments such as a jilbab, abaya and thobe from waterproof nylon fabric and added sportswear details including cording, zips and pockets.
The collection also includes cargo trousers, jackets and tracksuits decorated with traditional Middle Eastern woven fabrics.
“I was always a tomboy and I remember my whole childhood I would only see and wear Nike and Adidas tracksuits and trainers,” Asker said. “So I think the sportswear always came natural to me!”
Asker designed the collection in pairs of corresponding menswear and womenswear 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 whilst still designing and empowering the Muslim community,” said Asker.
“I think there are a lot of negative connotations associated with the hijab, Islamic modesty and the Muslim community, so I purposefully designed matching menswear and womenswear to show the brother-and-sisterhood of our community and that we are all watered by 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 were collated into a graphic design and printed onto the back of a hijab cloak.
Asker was awarded the debut talent prize in the 2022 Fashion Trust Arabia awards for her Watered by One Water fashion collection, which was commended for its community collaboration.
“I hope for more Muslim girls to apply to Central Saint Martins and to see themselves in my collection and feel empowered to be there,” said Asker.
“I hope a small door has been broken to showcase more diverse fashion and represent people in a truthful honest way,” the designer continued.
Photography is courtesy of Central Saint Martins unless stated.