Interview: Qasimi’s LC:M Comeback

Qasimi-aw16-10In the Emirate state of Sharjah, Khalid Al Qasimi’s royal family name may precede his label QASIMI, but in London Qasimi has established a reputation of his own. Re-launching his menswear label for SS16, he is currently anticipating London Collections Men, where on June 11 he will showcase his SS17 collection for his on-schedule digital presentation.

Re-visiting this season, SS16 is detailed, yet simple – grey, black, beige and white monotone tailored looks are set apart against the mustard yellow pieces or subtle beige stripped pattern – with apparent Eastern influences. Following the relaunch, AW16 pushed the boundaries further. Qasimi experimented with prints and fabrics, featuring trousers cut like a sailors uniform or from emerald coloured fur, and fabrics decorated with Yemini florals and rope designs (in collaboration with print artist Petra Börner).

With an education in architecture – prior to studying at Central Saint Martins – and an interest in social and political affairs, Qasimi commonly sources his inspiration in societal affairs. For example, AW16’s fur trousers were about creating a shield for the body and that spiralled from the concept of assimilation and immigration specifically in the Yemeni community South Shields.

Working between London and Sharjah he keeps both the British and Emirati customer in mind. Aspiring to make QASIMI a lifestyle brand, Qasimi will be one step closer to establishing this with SS17. In the meantime, take a peak at the QASIMI AW16 collection below.

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When you started in 2008 you began with womenswear. Then you introduced menswear and discontinued womenswear. Please walk us through QASIMI ‘s journey and how even the aesthetic has developed.

I was designing menswear collections at the same time as the women’s collections and showing both in London and then Paris. We had several very successful seasons but I wanted to take some time out to re-structure the business and we relaunched for SS16 at LCM. In terms of the Qasimi aesthetic I wanted to create collections that invite people to discover the brand and the story behind each piece for themselves. SS16 was designed in a very stripped back way, but with lots of details for the customer to discover each time the pieces are worn. We developed on this for the AW16 collection, introducing new finishes and fabrics.

Working and living between London and the UAE? How do the two cultures influence your brand?

I’m from the UAE, but I grew up in London so the combination of the two cultures has always been second nature to me. I love the contrast of traditional Middle Eastern dress in an urban setting.

Would you say you design more for the London or the Emirati customer – or is the Emirates dress code still too traditional to wear QASIMI?

I would say there are pieces in the collection for everyone and it’s about how you wear them.

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Dubai is striving to push local designers with the Dubai Design District. What are your views on the Emirates growing presence and recognition in the fashion industry?

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I think the development of local designers can only be a good thing and it’s highlighting the incredible design talent that exists in the region.

In the past, your collections have been informed by social and political issues. What is inspiring your collections at the moment? 

The collections are always inspired by so many different things including social and political issues. I think modern society is too engrained in popular culture and that this distraction has sadly has lead us in losing discourse over important societal themes. Issues like Occupation, war on terror and immigration etc.

What is the story behind AW16?

The Yemeni community of the South Shields was the starting point for the whole of the AW16 collection; the idea of immigration and assimilation into a new community. From that point I went into a further study of the sea and the elements and protection of the body from those elements. I designed some hybrid coats based on this idea of protection and a version of a sailors trouser in an exclusive ‘sea motion’ wool. We worked with Petra Börner on our prints, which feature “Yemeni” florals and rope designs.Qasimi-aw16-6

Your AW16 had beautiful fur trousers. What specifically sparked this piece in the collection?

The shearling pieces are all inspired by the idea of protecting the body from the elements.

I understand Qasimi is on schedule for LC:M this coming season. Can you tell me what this means for your brand now?

It’s the next step for us in the relaunching of the brand and it will allow us to create a unique and beautiful environment to showcase the SS17 collection.

What’s next for Qasimi? 

I still have a long way to go but I have always envisioned QASIMI to be a lifestyle brand encompassing fashion, product design, furniture and homewares.

INTERVIEW: Janine Leah Bartels

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