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“Consumers Becoming Increasingly Aware & Sensitive to the Negative Environmental Impact Caused by the Fashion Industry” – Afsana Ferdousi, Fashion Designer & Activist

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afsana-fedousiAfsana Ferdousi is the name of a young, promising, international, and rising Fashion Designer of Bangladesh who takes inspiration from tradition and incorporates modernism in her design. She is nonetheless an expert in Fashion Technology, also a fashion activist based in Bangladesh. This bright young designer established her independent clothing brand, named “AF” (Afsana Ferdousi) in 2010. In the last 11 years of her dazzling career as a designer, she worked as a Lead Fashion Designer in the country’s leading buying Company Team Sourcing over 6 years. Adding more feathers to her hat, she has been working with NSDA as PMO Skill Master Trainer, Chief Expert, and Mentor for Worldskills BD, Fashion Expert, Associate Member of Worldskills Experts Faculty at WorldSkills in Fashion Technology since 2018, and also an active member of Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh (FDCB). Currently, she is working with NEXT, a leading British fashion brand. And actively serving as a Country Coordinator of SDC (society of dyers & Colorists) International student design Competition since 2016. This Young talented designer, Afsana, has taken part in several fashion competitions & won multiple prestigious awards such as Regional Winner and Globally First Runner-Up in SDC international Design Competition and Winner of Euro-Bangla Fashion Show. She has also been decorated with esteemed awards including The President’s Award from BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology and The Designer of the day in the International Weaver’s Festival and many more. Besides that, she has also been invited as an expert, judge to several fashion competitions. In 2018-2019, she had attended two international fashion competitions; SDC international design competition which was held in London, and the other “World skills 2019” in Russia.

Recently Textile Focus’s Editorial Assistant, Farzana Alam Piya, had a conversation with Afsana Ferdousi, Fashion Designer-Product Developer at NEXT Sourcing Limited and Country Coordinator (Bangladesh) of SDC (Society of Dyers & Colorists) International Student Design Competition while she shared her more than 11 years of experience working in multiple clothing brands & Fashion Institutes. Here is the summary of the conversation-

Textile Focus: As a fashion designer, currently how do you see the Fashion Industry of Bangladesh?  

Afsana Ferdousi: As we all know, today Bangladesh is one of the world’s largest garment exporters, with the RMG sector accounting for 84% of Bangladesh’s exports. Simultaneously, our local fashion industry is also booming significantly and creating employment for local people and artisans. 

I consider myself a lucky person who has both local and RMG fashion and lifestyle market experiences. I would to like say, both areas are doing great and creating opportunities for designers. The local fashion market is booming in regards to the increment of per capita purchasing power. In RMG there are several fashion designers working for the US and European markets. If we just look back, Bangladesh started its journey as an RMG manufacturing country, but now the picture is changing exponentially- we are working in the field of designing. There are significant numbers of designers working superbly and contributing to the change of the world market.

As we know, the fashion industry is not about fashion designers. There’s a whole gamut of other roles in the industry that makes up what we see on the runways and in Shop. So in each sector, people are growing.

Textile Focus: Sustainability is being the tittle-tattle of the Textile Industry. On the other hand, managing the cost with sustainability is quite tough. What would be suggestions on this topic?  

Afsana Ferdousi: There is no denying that the textile industry has a great impact on world pollution but where there is pollution there is a solution as well. That doesn’t mean we will keep polluting our world; no- not that. Almost every renowned brands are at the fore of making the attire more sustainable than another time. And this process is happening from raw materials sourcing to sewing, and from transshipment to selling. Most of the brands are now trying to develop products that have less harmful material used. The interesting part is, nowadays, our consumer group is very educated about ethical fashion, environmental degradation, and how this RMG sector is used to contribute to carbon footprint emission.  While buying any dress, they make sure that the product is sourced and made ethically. Over time, consumers are becoming increasingly aware and sensitive to the negative environmental impact caused by the fashion industry. 

But, for the fast fashion industry sustainability has its cost involved and it is quite high actually. I believe there is nothing more expensive than saving the world. If we don’t give a better world to our generation then what would be the meaning of making so much money in an unsustainable way.

Textile Focus: Women Empowerment in Fashion Industry & facing the everyday challenges- what would you like to say about this to the young women ?  

Afsana Ferdousi: Women have to face more hardship than men to build their careers while maintaining family life. And after all that, women are being promoted at lower rates than men. A very personal experience, at the same position a man gets more wages than a woman and it comes from official settings. There are policies at workplaces to pay women less keeping in mind they might need to go on maternity leave and the company considers this as a loss. What do you expect from these people who take maternity for granted? And sadly where women are leading the country we are still here arguing on the facts like women get fewer wages. What an irony!

In our country, people recognize a man’s contribution way more than they do for a woman. This social perspective is still existent while there is a significant number of bread earner women out there. However, I am optimistic that changes are coming, and if not all, at least some are recognizing the contribution of women to society.

But I would love to say to our young women, women have the courage to fight against all odds and there are so many women out there who have broken the stigma and hold a very good position in this fashion industry.

Textile Focus: What would be your suggestions for the future representatives of the Fashion Industry of Bangladesh?   

Afsana Ferdousi:  We should understand that cheap garments are only possible because of a constant reduction of production costs. This, in turn, has serious consequences on our health, our planet, and garment workers’ lives. So, it’s us who can take the step first to a better world where our world will not suffer by making clothes.

Let’s create a better future for garment manufacturing and local textile artisan in Bangladesh. Let’s break the fast fashion trend and encourage people to go with circular fashion. Let’s breathe new life into fashion by changing the way it’s done. Choose ethically made fibers and natural fibers that do not require chemicals to be produced.

It’s our duty to encourage people to value their products. Buy less, buy better quality and recycle this mantra should spread through the next generation.

Textile Focus: Any Message for Textile Focus Magazine?

Afsana Ferdousi: Our Fashion and Textile industry needs a spokesperson or any medium like this magazine that can be vocal for the wellbeing of stakeholders associated with this sector. A magazine is related and necessary information is well disseminated. This way people from other sectors and people from other parts of the world are becoming aware of what is happening in this industry. That way people in this sector will get inspired. 

I believe Textile Focus has already accomplished this part. So, I really appreciate their efforts of making people connected and providing adequate information.