With a flair for fashion and an eye for detail, Sahar Rahman, Director and Designer at Bangladesh’s immensely successful fashion house Sahar Rahman™ Couture, has always had a knack for all things stylish.
Spending their childhood years growing up in Pakistan, exposed Sahar and her younger sister (also, Managing Director of the label Amana Rahman) to diverse fashion sensibilities – a trait that has aided their label’s aesthetics in a positive manner. Raised by parents who displayed an exceptional taste in personal style, the sister duo realised at a very young age that styling came very naturally to them and that they both had a knack for designing.
“Influences on my creativity and my love for fashion began to stem from an early age of 9 as I was very fond of mixing and matching different styles together, especially the ones that stood out the most and created a statement,” Sahar told Apparel Online Bangladesh in an exclusive interaction. “I am the artistic type, tilting mostly towards abstract art and my wardrobe was very different from others. I would never really stick to the trends and would always go the other way. I remember one day at a party, I decided to pair up capris with a kameez just because I thought it looked good. This got people asking me ‘Why are you wearing that?’… A few years later, this actually became a trend.”
After majoring in Fashion Merchandising and Production Technology from Pearl Fashion Institute, Sahar interned under the Fashion Merchandising Department at H&M. This stunt proved to be her make or break moment where at the end of it when she was offered a permanent role with the brand, she realised that fashion merchandising isn’t truly what her heart yearned for. “The decision of not taking the job was the turning point for me. That’s when I and Amana took the decision of starting our own clothing line where we aimed to design every intricate detail and meticulously source lavish fabrics,” Sahar explained.
What started off as a small home-run business quickly escalated through word of mouth and in 2014, the designer duo opened their first store as a quaint shop in Gulshan. The day of the opening saw an overwhelming response as women from Dhaka queued up in front of the store just to get a glimpse of Sahar Rahman Couture’s gorgeous offerings.
Product Offering, Pricing And Target Market
Sahar Rahman Couture projects itself as a Designer Label which aims to provide high-end customisation services along with an exclusive boutique experience to its clients. Commenting on the same, Sahar said, “We provide a highly personalised service that adds a memorable experience for our clientele who value the intricacy, craftsmanship and the creative hard work that goes on behind the creation of our couture.”
Sahar Rahman Couture offers a unique range of Asian and fusionwear ensembles to fashionable Dhakaites with luxury prêt, heavy formals and bridal couture being their forte. Their off-the-rack or luxury prêt outfits comprise of diversely cut tunics with pants, kimonos, kaftans, etc., which display minimal artful embroideries and are priced at Taka 6,500 going up to Taka 18,000. Their eveningwear or heavy formal line include pleated gowns, heavily embellished tunics with pants, kameez paired with wide leg pants, shararas or ghararas and are priced between Taka 25,000 and Taka 46,000. The label’s holud, mehendi or engagement outfits are priced at Taka 75,000 onwards whilst Sahar Rahman™ bridal couture starts at Taka 1,30,000.
“The label caters to a diverse client base – starting with a casual line for work/office, a luxury prêt line for young girls and an eveningwear line, which also happens to be one of our most popular lines. The wedding and couture line is where Amana and I get to exercise and display most of our creativity ranging from intricate handwork embroidery and detailing,” Sahar elucidated.
“People are so scared of change. When we started out, the market was still heavily inclined towards a more vibrant palette which consisted of flamboyant colours such as fuchsia, red and yellow. We come from a family who love wearing light, soothing and breezy colours – an aspect which now serves as a signature of the brand. But getting people introduced to such a light colour palette was quite a challenge back then,” Sahar highlighted, adding, “Over the years, people started to put more faith in the Sahar Rahman™ brand as we never failed to impress, and soon, business started thriving.”
Today, the label’s soft, soothing signature pastel palette and enchanting colour combinations which feature over a collection of exquisitely detailed pieces with intricate craftsmanship is something one won’t find anywhere else. With a monumental colour palette ranging from shades like tiffany blue, off-whites, lavender, ash rose and sea green, etc., the label communicates up a whimsical dreamlike fantasy through its clothes, all the while standing out in a market otherwise flooded with bold colours.
Sahar Rahman™– the label, is known to embody intricate craftsmanship and elaborate detailing that is complemented by their genius take on colour contrasts. Immaculate fabric quality, unique cuts and finesse in embroidery further set the label apart from its counterparts.“Our elaborate detailing and use of extensive variety of embellishments on our embroidered garments is envisioned to flaunt elegance, royalty, heritage and culture. Even the smallest of motif is weaved with love using techniques such as zari work, zardozi, dabka, multiple-shaded threads, pearls, stones, sequins as well as eclectic prints so that every detail of our vision behind the outfit comes to life,” Sahar elucidated.
The label employs the use of techniques that date way back, but Sahar and Amana give them a contemporary spin to appease the audience of today.
It is to be noted here that Sahar Rahman™ was the first Bangladeshi clothing brand to be a part of Numaish Winter Show 2016 in Dubai, UAE – an exclusive exhibition which saw a curated mix of fashion week designers from Bangladesh and Dubai. The label showcased their latest collections alongside British trendsetters’ labels at Bangladesh Fashion Week London 2017.
Manufacturing And Sourcing
In a manufacturing hub like Dhaka, it can be extremely challenging to find the right people to make clothes with a massive pool of skilled craftsmen to choose from. It took Sahar and Amana a while before they could finally employ adequately skilled kaarigars who understood their unique take on techniques. Dhaka is also a place where most people working in the fashion and apparel industry know each other. Hence, if you do not have everything in-house, it is very likely that some brands/designers will end making the same thing as yours.
Keeping the same in mind, all of Sahar Rahman clothing is manufactured completely in-house by skilled masters and kaarigars in the label’s own-run factories. Commenting on the same, Sahar said, “All our kaarigars have inherited their craftsmanship expertise from their forefathers and their community is mainly based around the Mirpur area in our country. Not manufacturing the garments entirely in-house might lead to duplication of our designs. This also allows us to closely monitor our design process along every step of the construction process.”
To achieve an international quality of craftsmanship, Sahar Rahman utilises imported materials such as zari , zardosi, dabka, volume, sequins, variety of stones and pearls, kamdani, gotapatti,resham thread, etc. from places such as Dubai, Pakistan and China. Working with special fabrics such as pure French chiffon, net, jamawar and a signature pastel palette, has helped the dynamic sister-duo to carve out a niche in the market for their creative and unique range of clothing.
“For our prêt outfits, we mostly use high quality georgette and for our luxury prêt, bridals or heavy formals, we use mostly work with jamawar and chiffon,” Sahar highlighted, adding, “All our fabrics are sourced internationally from Dubai, Pakistan or China since these international hubs perform better than the local hubs for the kind of finesse, quality and look we want for our outfits. Most clients admire these very aspects in our outfits that in turn make them stand out in the crowd.”
Collection Planning And Replenishments
The label mainly works on 4 collections per year which is season based, consisting of two Eids or their Festive Collection, accompanied by a summer collection, bridal and cocktail collection for the winter season.
“We ensure that our stock is replenished in-store and online every 2-3 months. Since we have a huge customer base purchasing from our store, we like to hang fresh pieces in every 2 months’ time,” Sahar said, and further stated, “We also like to put a stop to a specific design after a certain time has elapsed, so that people do not run into each other wearing the same outfit.”
Store Concept And Stockists
Amana Rahman is actively involved in the decision making process for every piece that is designed under the label name. Also a make-up enthusiast, Amana has dedicated one section within the store as her own make-up studio ‘Amana Rahman Artistry’, rendering the store as a one-stop solution for a bride to choose the best attire and also to get the best make-up done on her event day.
“We are still blooming as a business and are open to creative collaborations. We have also dived into products and accessories that complement bridal and partywear, by collaborating with my best friend Badria, Owner of Monroe, a brand that offers nagras, potlis, accessories and the likes,” Sahar revealed.