A Stylish Reunion

Samuel Hoque teams up with old friends at MW Bangladesh for a stylish conflab about challenging gendered notions of fashion

By Sabrina Fatma Ahmad

Interesting things happen when UK-based textile designer Samuel Hoque blows into town. He introduced Dhaka to the concept of designer bespoke menswear when he first unveiled his capsule collection in 2008. His work was showcased by Dhaka’s first exclusive multi-brand outlet Etc Fashion Exclusives, alongside Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra and Deepak Perwaini, before making it to the Dia Asiana ramp. He would join the short-lived earlier iteration of MW Bangladesh as their fashion editor.

“Textile is the belly of any designer’s vision, to work, and train. Understanding the importance of a simple fabric in its primary stage, is necessary, as only then can you take it beyond”
When he swung by Bangladesh in 2016, the menswear scene had grown exponentially, but so had he. He dazzled with original prints and such textile innovations as the T-cos, which took the traditional band-collared waist-coat, but made it “cazh” by rendering it in jersey fabric in his fun prints, as well as the wild fabrications of jamdani. Perhaps his most striking innovation, unveiled on the International Weaver’s Festival runway the same year would be the Mujib coats rendered in muslin, a style that local fashion houses would be quick to pick up on.

For the most part, he has been introducing his clientele in the UK to the beauty of Bangladeshi styles, be it the Panjabi-inspired mid-layer garments with gun-flap inspired detailing, or boxer shorts rendered in gorgeous Benarasi brocade.

“Men these days are far less threatened by colour and print.”

While he’s used men’s fashion as a canvas for his textile innovations, Sam’s main focus has always been to spark conversations around identity and self-expression. Giving men the sartorial armor to feel confident about being their true authentic selves, and to use this confidence to tackle issues of self-esteem and mental health is the big picture plan. So, when hype for the Barbie movie brought the spotlight on another British Bangladeshi Ramzan Miah, Samuel was only too happy to reunite with old friends at the new MW Bangladesh to play dress-up.

While the local hype for the Barbie movie put Ramzan Miah in blinding shades of pink, we decided to zhuzh up the “Mojo Dojo Casa House” aesthetic in sleek, dark shades of black and dark metallic shades. Ramzan sparkles in the Glitter Me bomber, with bronzy sequins that is equal parts fun and danger. A more deshi nod to our South Asian Ken comes with a sleek black Panjabi with a gold coatie, a traditional look that is sure to be a hit at any wedding or Eid hangout. And finally, since you can’t do Barbie without at least a little pink, there is the best-selling Pink Me Up lounge set, which features a boxy top and comfy lounge pants in sleek black with shocks of pink on the sides.

Without major spoilers, those who saw the Barbie movie would be very familiar with the Kens grappling with conflicting messaging about masculinity. Samuel’s look-book provides a subtle way to bring more play into menswear while keeping it appropriate for every situation. And that for us, for this shoot, is more than “Ken-ough”.

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