Gone Too Soon

By MWB Desk

Fashion icon Emdad Hoque leaves behind a glowing legacy

Renowned fashion designer and Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh (FDCB) Vice President Emdad Hoque passed away at a city hospital last month. He was 57.
A lifelong advocate for local handicraft-based fashion in Bangladesh, Emdad Hoque was the founder of Fashion Pathshala, a school of fashion and art. He was also the managing director of Studio Emdad, the director of Banglar Mela Limited, and a consultant for Raspberry Textile. He also worked as a jury board member in many fashion contests and was respectfully recognized for his contribution to the fashion industry of Bangladesh.

Emdad Hoque was born in 1968 at Old Dhaka’s Urdu Road. He wasn’t just a witness to the emergence and rise of Bangladeshi fashion industry, but an active companion of it. His engagement with this industry dates back to 1985, when he started out as a fashion columnist for the now-defunct Bichitra magazine. After completing his Master’s in Marketing, Hoque joined BRAC as a Program Officer in 1992 in a development program to monitor and develop rural sericulture in Bangladesh, going on to became the manager of BRAC’s textile department in 1993. He was especially involved in the production of cotton check fabrics for the RMG industry as well as developing silk fabrics for Aarong.

Hoque later joined Grameen Udyog as Chief Product Development Officer. He formed Banglar Mela, a rural craft store in Bangladesh in 2001. Leaving the designer’s position at Banglar Mela, he launched his own company Studio Emdad later. Although he had an outlet at first, he worked out of his home towards the end. He has relentlessly worked with the handloom industry of Bangladesh, to develop fine jute yarn, and has also served as the Vice President of the Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh.

In recognition of his contributions to putting Bangladeshi fashion on the map, Hoque received a lifetime achievement award from the Designers Forum of Chittagong. He also received awards from the Bangladesh Cine Journalists Association, RTV, and Persona Bangladesh for his work as an eminent designer and fashion entrepreneur.
Messages from friends

“It’s very hard to talk about a close friend. Particularly a dear close friend. Emdad and I go back for a long time. In this fashion world, he was one of my closest friends. If anybody asks me what is the one thing you remember about Emdad, I would say his big huge laughter. Full of life and love. I personally got close to Emdad when I was doing a show for the British council celebrating 200 years of Tagore, and we clicked right away. He was so warm. Emdad was the kind of human being who is always ready to help others. He was the first one I called whenever I fell into a jam. Emdad had solutions and answers to all my little fashion problems. He was a great friend, great confidante and a very loving person. He used to love my dahi boras and I used to take great pleasure in making them for him. A sweet, kind, family man and definitely one of the pioneers in the history of fashion. Emdad will always be remembered as a fashion figure, a TV personality, and a host.” ~ Kuhu Plamondon, artist and designer

“Emdad was a people person. He was hard working, resourceful, very connected, persistent where it counted, and so helpful. Us designers, or other creatives often struggle with communication. I know I am often said to be unapproachable, but Emdad was not like that. He loved people. He started his journey into our industry as a journalist for Bichitra magazine, and then got involved at the grassroots level, working to develop our weaving arts from the ground level up, which gave him a keen insight. I met him in 1994, when he was working with Brac. I’ve seen his journey from close quarters, how he went from Brac to Grameen, before founding Banglar Mela and then his own studio. He was so committed, always innovating, always working hard to promote our local crafts. He never gave up. I remember the last time we spoke, he was already unwell, but so excited about a prospective collaboration with BGMEA. I don’t know if we’ll get another designer like Emdad Hoque with this much passion, and this level of grassroots involvement.”
~ Maheen Khan, Founder, Studio Mayasir/President of Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh

“Emdad was a kind, genuine, generous human being. He was a good friend of my wife’s, and I remember that whenever we met other people, he would always introduce us as ‘Tazeen, and her husband Afzal Bhai.” He wasn’t dazzled by the fact that I was an actor; he put his friendship first, and I liked that. The last time we spoke, he had sent me an outfit, and I wore it abroad, and sent him photos, telling him that his design was very appreciated. There are people who are good to you because of a value you can bring to them; there are others who are your friend without expecting any favors. Those are genuine friends, and Emdad was one of them. A good human being, who loved what he did. It is truly a loss.”
~ Afzal Hossain, actor, writer, artist and Ekushey Padak recipient

“Emdad Bhai was one of the originals, an indispensable mainstay of the local fashion industry. I have a profound and deep respect for his contributions to its growth, and his tireless efforts in preserving and upholding our textile heritage. We last spoke when he proposed working with MWB on a heritage project. Our messages were filled with photos he sent from the site. It hurts to remember how excited he was about the project. Bangladesh has lost a real stalwart.”
~ Rumana Chowdhury, Founder, Warah/Editor, MW Bangladesh

“I have known Emdad Hoque since 2009 because of Dhaka Fashion Week, and later in 2013 I attended Islamabad Fashion Week with him. I had the privilege of working closely with Emdad bhai, and had the opportunity of learning in detail his style and method of working. Also, we spoke together often over the phone, and always, the discussion was very positive. He was a wonderful, humble human being. He never let anyone feel like they were junior to him. We all knew Emdad Hoque was ill for a long time, but we were not quite prepared for him to leave us all of a sudden.”
~ Mahmudul Hasan Mukul, Art Director, MW Bangladesh

+ posts

Preserving Heritage in a Modern World

Lost in Language

Q/A with Golam Sohrab Dodul

Monument to Sustainability