ASA SADAN.
ASA SADAN.
Image: Supplied

Tradition and modernity come together in the contemporary conceptual offerings of ASA SADAN. The luxury label, released in November 2021, combines heritage and discourse with cutting-edge tailoring, high-end fabrication, and versatile silhouettes to deliver a range of wardrobe essentials.

Imran Mohamed founded the brand as an extension of his MBA at Central Saint Martins in London. The lived experience of South Africans, the historical movements to reach this point, and the diversity of modern living is at the heart of the label; high fashion that is as considered as it is conscious. ASA SADAN rewrites the aesthetics of gorp-core and tech-infused outerwear with indigenous techniques, craftsmanship and classic silhouettes.

Mohamed says: “ASA SADAN is one-part autobiography and one-part historical analysis; many people have had the same experience as me, where our grandparents and great grandparents have built the SA rag trade, with knowledge and skills passed down through generations. I channel that narrative through various cultural and historical motifs, making sure that representation is continuous from the design process to the garments themselves.”

The name, ASA SADAN comes from his grandmother, with the pillars of the label firmly rooted within the generational structures, stories and experiences of the Asian-African diasporic communities. Mohamed has a rich and diverse experience in academia, property, design and fashion and his understanding of liminal spaces, politics of land and identity, and innate sartorial flair has granted his label extraordinary depth within each thread. ASA SADAN lies at the intersection of form and function, and Mohamed says that “in this post-pandemic climate, there are various formats [for which] garments are utilised — for comfort, leisure, activity or suiting, or somewhere in between.”

ASA SADAN.
ASA SADAN.
ASA SADAN.
ASA SADAN.
Image: Supplied

The tailoring techniques deployed within the design process, skills that have been handed down through generations, references the strong influence of the historical contribution of peripheral groups, while the designs themselves are imbued with references to the Apartheid struggle, identity, and contemporary discourse. Commonalities between communities in the past and present are juxtaposed with the tension of now and then, as well as within the complexities of contemporary life.

The concept of the brand is focused on the increasing the representation of Asian-African communities within the luxury space

At the heart of the brand is a deep appreciation for design and fashion, all within the context of Mohamed’s own perspective and experiences. In a time of 52 fashion weeks, mass production and over-exploitation, ASA SADAN is focused on delivering a story in accessible and bite-sized pieces, rather than overarching into the mainstream and delineating the brand’s message.

“I don't agree with the fast-paced consumption in the fashion world, obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but this promotes a cycle of new trends and new ranges every few weeks or months. I believe this pace of consumerism preys on people’s insecurities, coercing us to equate our validation with consumption,” Mohamed says.

Elaborating on the brand’s process of design, he says, “we have created a stable offering of essential garments, evolving, and iterating rather than making new. ASA SADAN is guided by the dialogue between us and the consumer, allowing that discourse to inform where we go next.

“The concept of the brand is focused on the increasing the representation of Asian-African communities within the luxury space, while proposing a conscientious, yet inclusive and progressive, solution-generation framework. Tailoring plays a key role in securing the elevated nature of the brand and leaning into cultural identities. Through this reference point, I believe we are transcending identities. It is a brand for everyone who thinks along the same pathways that we do. We are allowing the brand to evolve naturally, in an organic and representative manner,” says Mohamed.

ASA SADAN.
ASA SADAN.
Image: Supplied
ASA SADAN.
ASA SADAN.
Image: Supplied

Designs, silhouettes, materials and details reference brutalist and militaristic designs, yet do not compromise aesthetics and versatility. Mohamed’s rich experience in various industries has given ASA SADAN enduring relevance, despite the brand’s youth. He says that “my background in engineering, real-estate and spatial design has made architecture quite a big influence on my design process. I think the subject could be reframed as a social science as it is all about spatial design and how we live within spaces. Translating architecture into a garment is essential to how we frame things; how we relate to each other.”

One example he mentions is his Border War interpretation of the notorious Vietnam War-era M-65 jacket, which “reflects on the military institution, and represents structured discipline and military hardware. We have translated that into a boxy, not necessarily oversized, but a structured cut. The strong water-resistant shell adds a sort of rigidity allowing durability and usability.”

ASA SADAN.
ASA SADAN.
Image: Supplied

ASA SADAN is available to purchase from the Pot Plant Club, duckduckgoose and AKJP Studio in Cape Town.

In Loving Memory, a film by Asa Sadan: 

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