As the fashion industry continues to bombard us with new styles every season, August by Ambreen tries to break the monotony by striving to create a new line of sophisticated and good quality ready-to-wear designs for each season that reflect the natural colours and aesthetic of that particular season.
Bangladesh-based home-grown fashion label August was founded in 2018 by Ambreen Morshed with an aim to create conventional fashion pieces that are modern yet sober and offer comfortable clothing solutions for the women of today.
With a background in Accounting and Finance, Ambreen started out her dream venture with a small amount given to her by her mother to help her start her own clothing brand – since then, there has been no looking back!
“My mother saw the passion with which I designed some of my own dresses. She gave me confidence to do something big,” Ambreen Morshed told Apparel Resources, in an exclusive interview. “I named my brand ‘August’, signifying grandeur. I focus on creating modern yet sober and comfy outfits for women– a piece which I myself would definitely make a part of my wardrobe.”
As a kid, Ambreen observed how her mother would delicately design a fabric into a piece worthy of being called art. “With every minute detail– from tracing to sewing, she would turn her imagination into reality. My mother has been a master class of arts and design and has inspired me immensely. She is the ‘force’ behind me, wanting me to pursue my path in designing,” Ambreen said.
Ambreen then further stated, “I believe in adding a personal element to each piece I design and try to limit the number of each of my design so that when someone buys from ‘August’, they know that it is exclusive to them.”
Through these inspirations and gradual learning processes, Ambreen started creating sophisticated and good quality ready-to-wear designer pieces which observe a huge demand in Bangladesh’s booming fashion market.
PRODUCT ASSORTMENT, PRICING AND COLLECTION CALENDARS
Priced at 4,000 BDT (US $ 50) for their daily and officewear selections to 12,000 BDT (US $ 140) for their eveningwear pieces, August aims to cater to women of all ages.
“I categorise my pieces mainly based on the garment quality, rarity of the item and how many hours of work go into producing it,” Ambreen explained, adding, “There are highly professional individuals who have unique needs and choices, and every time I design an item, I ask myself: Who am I designing this piece for and for what occasion? I believe every piece of well-designed clothing you wear enhances your confidence to some extent.”
“Each of August’s pieces are different in style and colour from each other, which creates a unique market for the brand.”
As the fashion industry continues to bombard us with new styles every season, Ambreen tries to break the monotony by striving to create a new line of designs for each season that reflects the natural colours and aesthetic of that particular season. Sales are maximum during the period of the two Eids, Pujas, Bangla New Year, Victory Day (observed on 16th December) and Ambreen’s in-house team of tailors and master craftsmen put in extra hours of work to meet up with the market demands.
At present, August comes through two collections per year, namely, the Eid collection and the Winter collection. Ambreen also participates in various exhibitions twice each year and at each exhibition, she creates over 80 to 100 garments under August.
What stands out in these collections is that each piece is different in style and colour, which creates a unique market for August. This in turn aids August to stand in the market as it places the label ahead of the game when it comes to other existing brands in the market.
MANUFACTURING AND SOURCING
One of the pre-dominant materials that go into creating August’s pieces are Bangladesh’s traditional fabric of muslin, which the brand outsources from a manufacturer based 270 kms north of the capital in Rajshahi.
Ambreen incorporates some of the finest materials within her collections, such as zardozi and dobka, as embellishments. She also uses fabrics such as pure cotton, handmade silk and varieties of georgette. The finished item could be anything from officewear, partywear to informalwear– you pick your style and the label allows you the flexibility to customise your piece accordingly, without delay.
“Dhaka is a megacity that is lacking in infrastructure, so the hubs that we are talking about are scattered around the city in such a way that not every hub is accessible easily,” Ambreen highlighted, adding, “I work mainly from the Dhanmondi area, where we also stock our inventory. One of the nearest hubs for sourcing raw materials for the label is Islampur– a bustling core of the old Dhaka city where hundreds of fabric traders are hustled into a very small area.”
“To build up this capacity of instant expertise I had to work very hard,” Ambreen said, adding, “Headhunting skilled people is a tough challenge in the Bangladeshi society. I had to spend a lot of time in order to find out responsibly skilled people.”
These skilled kaarigars hail from humble backgrounds. Ambreen’s company provides them with medical and other related support in addition to their wages. “What I get from them in return is immeasurable sincerity. Our team is made up of 10 people in my workforce, working for the company. Among the 10 people, we have two female workers, who are in-charge of embroidery and needle work; four men who are engaged in tracing, cutting and sewing; and three young riders who do our deliveries within the city. For the distant places in the country, we use national courier services,” Ambreen explained.
Ambreen’s small but efficient factory is situated on the bank of the river Buriganga, a 10-minute drive from her house situated in Dhanmondi, Dhaka. Currently, all of August’s production is based entirely in-house and the label does not have any retail outlets other than its own online portal and its partner online portals that it collaborates with.
GOING THE DIGITAL WAY
Commenting on her designing and post-production process, Ambreen told Apparel Resources, “I start doing indoor/outdoor photoshoots before publishing the collections on the internet as our main goal is to reach out to our customers and audience on Instagram and Facebook. I mainly started using digital platforms in order to enhance my business and expand the horizon of my designs to mass public.”
Social media is the easiest way to breakthrough into the fashion market as it’s a highly competitive and saturated field. One sees women entrepreneurs who are benefiting from e-commerce that allows businesses such as August’s to have flexibility to reach out to the public.
“During my experience in this sector, I have met younger school-going students selling cakes, university kids selling gadgets, women selling handicrafts online and I would say that the online space is an exceptionally good arena to promote and make a name for yourself. It’s inspiring how women are rising in their careers in today’s day and age,” Ambreen stated.
THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE LABEL
COVID-19 attacked humanity so suddenly that no one was prepared for this deadly virus and the ramifications it brought with it. The lockdown in Dhaka was intense.
Corroborating the same, Ambreen said: “My workers fled the city in the dark of the night, but as soon as they arrived at their villages, they phoned me back to say how villages were much safer than the cities. One of them was even ready to travel to Dhaka to carry all the raw materials back to the village and complete the orders that had piled up during the Eid. Locked down at home, I remember I was in constant touch with my workers working from the comfort of their villages. We never missed a single order.”
All finished goods were brought back for delivery in the city prior to the biggest Islamic holiday. The delivery men also did a marvellous job during the height of the pandemic.
Currently, August merchandise is available for purchase via the label’s social media handles on Instagram and Facebook, and via Grand Boulevard’s e-commerce retail platform.
Owing to the label’s success in the Bangladesh market, Ambreen has received several knocks from different international platforms based in Sydney, New York, Geneva and Toronto.
Ambreen is currently working on plans to open her own store in the near future.