Originally from Sharjah in United Arab Emirates, Khalid Al Qasimi is a graduate of Hispanic Studies and French literature at UCL. He then went on to study architecture at the Architectural Association followed by fashion studies at Central Saint Martins. After having shown QASIMI womenswear in London for several seasons since February 2008, the designer debuted QASIMI HOMME in June 2009 in Paris.
You’ve had a pretty interesting academic background, studying Hispanic studies and French Literature followed by architecture at the Architectural Association – how did you decide that you eventually wanted to become a designer?
Fashion has interested me from such a young age, and i had always sketched and researched fashion throughout school. I used to help on fashion shoots on the weekends. It was only after my Architectural education that I decided to take it up as a career.
Fashion has always tended towards an American/European aesthetic. Being labelled an Emirati Designer, why do you think fashion has opened itself up so well to a more cultural diverse aesthetic in recent years?
I think emerging markets have a lot do with it. The middle eastern and Asian customer are more aware of international brands, and ultimately will support designers from their region. Paris haute couture is a great example, where we now see a lot of middle east designers presenting.
Your recent collections have been labelled as a type of rebellion chic, do socio-political issues actively inspire your work?
Yes, Im constantly looking at my surroundings for inspiration. The London streets, Politics, Religion, Architecture, Art, Music, and Cinema.
Ultimately its about creating a story and vision that talks about the moment we are in.
Who is the Qasimi man/woman? What do you hope for someone to feel when wearing Qasimi labelled clothing?
Qasimi is all about strength and confidence, and being an individual. I like to offer my client something unique, whilst still making sure that both the finishing and quality is impeccable.
You recently put womenswear on hold – is this to focus more on your menswear line?
Yes. As it is an emerging market, I felt it was wise to establish the brand within menswear first and the re-introduce the women’s label once I felt ready.
Who would you like to see wearing Qasimi now?
We have worked with a lot of celebrities, both for red carpet and live performances, but what really excites me is seeing people on the street wearing my clothes.
What is the most difficult aspect of running your own label? What do you hope to achieve with the label?
There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, people think its an easy career. There are a lot of sleepless nights and sacrifices that you have to make. Qasimi is still growing and ultimately would like the brand to encompass all aspects of design. A lifestyle brand which includes Fashion,Homewares and Furniture.
What else do you get up to in any spare time that you manage to have? Is there anything other than designing that you like to immerse yourself in?
Art, Photography and Ceramics.
Where can one purchase a Qasimi original?
I am currently stocked in Harrods, Dover street Market and Hervia Bazzar in the UK,”ARRT” collection in Beijing, Swank in Beijing and Hong Kong. Boutique one in Dubai, Tom Greyhound Downstairs and Space Mui in Korea, Societe anonime in Florence and Iealist Moscow.
What do you have to say to those hoping to follow in your footsteps? What skills do you need to be a fashion designer?
I think firstly a knowledge of fashion history and art history is important, technical skills and a keen eye. Being obssesive, bold and always striving to create and produce better pieces.
WORDS: NICOLA ROYLE
ILLUSTRATION: EUGENIA ALEJOS GARRIDO