By Niala Mohammad
Although his first collection was named “Culture Clash”, Nawed Zazai does quite the opposite. He harmoniously blends Western cuts and Eastern patterns and proudly displays the combination of his two worlds on one palette.
Nawed Zazai is an ethnic Pashtun from Paktia province in Afghanistan. He moved to the Netherlands from Kabul at the age of 14 and has not returned since. Amsterdam is his home, but it is the memories of his homeland and his people that are the root of his creativity.
The fashion designer told VOA Deewa, “I’ve always loved fashion and having unique style”, his distinctive style alone is evidence of this statement. Nawed is one of those designers that you want to copy. His style is so edgy and unique that it captures your attention instantaneously.
Zazai’s western men’s fashion line showcases distinct features of his traditional Afghan background. He reinvents the traditional shamal (turban), pakool (wool hat) and saadar/paatu (shawl) in a way that makes the Western world want to “rock Afghan wear”.
Nawed learned how to make clothes himself (sew, stitch and cut patterns) via the internet by watching videos. He stated, “I don’t like sewing, and I’m not a tailor by trade but I had to learn in order to create the specific look I wanted.” He also admitted, “Yes, I have messed up and ruined my clothes several times” in the trial and error process. But that didn’t stop this innovative young designer from reaching his goal, which is to portray the softer side of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is often linked to several negative conceptions such as war, extremism, poverty, etc. Hardly anyone thinks to link Afghanistan and fashion together, but Nawed Zazai intends to change that.
Nawed’s aim is to revamp the image of Afghanistan and Afghans in the world through his bold designs. Zazai states, “instead of automatically associating us with war and the Taliban, people will start to link us with something more positive.”
The designer will be featuring his new line at Paris Fashion Week on July 6th, where he intends to send a powerful message about Afghanistan.
Photos courtesy of Nawed Zazai & Zazai Design