Designer’s DiaryFashionGlobal Bangladeshi

Sami Alam’s Fashion Multiverse: Storytelling through Design

In an exclusive interview with Colors magazine, fashion designer Sami Alam delves into into the enchanting stories woven into his 'Made in Bangladesh' collection, his intricate design process, and how he transformed Parisian inspiration into global fashion recognition

Sami Alam has been making headlines for all the right reasons. Following the historic fashion show by this young Bangladeshi designer that thrust him into the limelight, he has been roped in by the French Embassy in Bangladesh to feature in the ongoing global nation-branding campaign, “Make It Iconic. Choose France.” This campaign boasts notable ambassadors such as footballer Kylian Mbappé, astronaut Thomas Pesquet, designer Philippe Starck, and renowned chef Mory Sacko, aiming to highlight the inventiveness and audacity inherent in the French spirit. It urges talents, allies, and partners worldwide to contribute to France’s iconic status across various domains, from business and innovation to education, culture, and science. Being part of such a prominent campaign is undeniably inspiring. Yet, Sami Alam remains remarkably humble. Below is an interview where he shares insights into his creative process, sustainability efforts, and storytelling through design.

Sami Alam on the “Make It Iconic” poster by the French Embassy

What pivotal experience during your initial visit to France motivated your transition from business studies to the world of fashion, marking a significant turning point in your career?

During my visit to Paris in 2010, two things infused in me a newfound courage to follow my creativity and a strong determination to shape the future I envisioned. Winning the “Allons en France,” a French government program encouraging students to immerse in the language and culture, marked the first recognition of my creativity. Despite enjoying art, music, and writing since childhood, it was this blog writing and design competition that instilled faith in my creative abilities at a young age. In the ancient land of cultural growth that is France, I felt liberated to dream through my creativity, igniting my pursuit of fashion design. This wasn’t merely a career turning point but an embrace of the enchanting realm of creativity.

Sami Alam with the French Ambassador Marie Masdupuy (in the middle)

What drove your decision to choose fashion as the medium to represent your country on a global scale, and what specific inspirations guided this impactful choice?

Clothing serves as a canvas to express our self-image, reflecting identity, emotions, connections, and the zeitgeist. It not only starts with design but narrates multifaceted stories, sometimes enduring through time. Fashion’s borderless language made it a potent tool to showcase Bangladesh globally. While no singular inspiration guides my design journey, it continuously evolves, resonating with diverse reflections. I endeavor to intertwine my collections with Bangladeshi roots, ensuring continual growth through learning, experience, and introspection.

In the backstage of Sami Alam’s fashion spectacle in Paris, a model proudly showcases the “Made in Bangladesh” label

Throughout your fashion education in France, were there cultural hurdles you encountered, and how did you navigate and surmount these challenges to succeed?

Learning French at Alliance Française and my cultural exposure in 2010 facilitated my initial transition into fashion education in 2019. However, it was Paris itself that exposed me to diverse hardships, transforming its dreamy facade into a practical yet nurturing environment offering ample opportunities. Navigating these hurdles felt divinely guided, leading me to see the sun despite the challenges. There was no specific strategy, but a belief in embracing challenges guided me. Embracing difficulties aligns with the journey, and true dedication often unveils the path ahead.

A guest revels in Sami Alam’s assortment amidst the buzz of Paris Fashion Week

Could you share the story behind being selected to present your ‘Made in Bangladesh’ collection in Paris? Delve into the details that might inspire budding designers seeking similar breakthrough opportunities.

My ‘Made in Bangladesh’ collection drew inspiration from the simple yet rich village cultures often overlooked as a style element. This collection wasn’t about mere clothing; it was a narrative, uniting garments, poetry, styling, music, and choreography into a singular universe by Sami Alam. Titled “Made in Bangladesh,” it comprised 20 looks divided into two phases— “Weaver’s Prophesy” and “Culture & Love.” The collection was an homage, blending Bangladeshi roots, literature, and culture with French heritage and style.

The show commenced with verses from “Nakshi Kanthar Maath” by Jasimuddin, leading into the first phase reflecting the rural Bengali culture. The garments incorporated Dhakai Muslin, Jamdani, Nakshi Kantha, and Tangail Tant Saree, bridging Bengali culture into the French realm. The second phase, “Culture & Love,” invoked inspiration from French literature and iconic figures like “Le Petit Prince,” Victor Hugo, Charles de Gaulle, and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The show’s pinnacle moment featured a red Jamdani gown adorned with Nakshi Kantha, revealing the phrase “Made in Bangladesh” in shining gold and white, akin to stars.

Sami Alam’s collection serves as a tribute to the garment workers whose dedication upheld our economy

Could you elaborate on your meticulous design process, starting from conception through to packaging and the ultimate presentation via photo or videography? How do you ensure excellence at each stage?

As a designer, I consider myself a storyteller with fashion as my language. Designing a collection involves immersing myself in known and unknown narratives, weaving tales with textiles, colors, silhouettes, shapes, and movements. The process initiates ambiguously but gradually unfolds into a living creation, rewarding me when the concept materializes. My design style evolves, often blending versatile textiles, Bangladeshi craftsmanship, and raw elements. It’s a theatrical journey where every stage of cohesion feeds into the experience, nurturing changes and improvisations that breathe life into the collection.

Sami Alam’s evolving design style fuses diverse textiles, Bangladeshi craftsmanship, and raw elements

How do you plan to carve a niche in the sustainable fashion landscape, and what strategies do you aim to implement in your pursuit of making a substantial impact in this domain?

Sustainability should not be a niche; it should be a collective effort. As a designer, I focus on sustainable materials, upcycling, zero-waste experimentation, and ethical supply chains. However, the quest for sustainability demands continuous learning, understanding, experimenting, collaborating, and exchanging ideas with local and global communities. It’s a collective journey where the entire fashion industry and its supply chain must unite to drive change. I am committed to playing my part in this collective quest for a greener world.

Photographs: Courtesy

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