The unmistakable identity of this Generation

March 15, 2020

The brand collaborates with Harsakhiyan and Jamal Rehman for its latest campaign, ‘100 ways of using a dupatta,’ which taps into a culturally appropriate ethos, making it trendy at the same time.

Instead of a traditional still campaign, this year Generation has released an original soundtrack, in collaboration with folk singers Harsakhiyan and producer Jamal Rahman, that celebrates femininity, heritage and local fashion with a gusto.

There is much to be said about authenticity in the world of art, especially wearable art. Fashion is inspired by the old and existing but also has to offer something new, something that imbues mere clothes with meaning. In today’s digital world and the popularity of fast fashion, the line between inspiration and imitation has become even more blurred. How does a brand maintain integrity, originality and imagery that is true to their ethos?

There are plenty of brands that stand cheek by jowl in brightly lit malls, advertising beautiful, young, desirable women frolicking carelessly or staring with smouldering eyes, seemingly offering you the ability to become a part of their exclusive clique by dressing as they do. Yet things don’t seem to work out that way. They’re selling unattainable ideals and we love buying into them.

However, when a brand/designer isn’t attempting to pander to stereotypes and is willing to embrace their ethos, heritage and culture and incorporates this ideological richness into the colours, textures and embroideries of their creations, the buyer is treated to clothes that fulfil more than a utilitarian purpose.

Generation is a brand that has managed to retain authenticity in frantic, mercurial times where heroes and villains exchange places overnight. It isn’t a small feat when many other brands that started out with the boom of fast fashion in this country are struggling to find footing, expanding into lifestyle, interiors, food etc. to stay relevant. Generation has weathered plenty of haute upheavals since its inception, standing taller and prouder now than ever before.

Under the helm of Khadija Rehman’s stewardship, the brand is thriving where most other companies with bigger budgets have faltered and it isn’t hard to discern why. Their clothes have a strong, unmistakable identity and their designs stand out in a throng of pret that is either too pretty, too populist or simply plain boring. Their solid outfits in sorbet shades provide a welcome reprive from the over-embellished and over- printed lawn joras that emerge every spring, brighter and more garish than each past year.

It isn’t just their clothes that catch the eye. Generation has developed a name for itself with thoughtful campaigns that focus on social issues they care about. From their collaboration with feminist artist Shehzil Malik to one that focused on plastic pollution, it isn’t just about pretty girls posing for Generation; they use their platform to shine light on issues that are close to the heart.

For Spring/Summer 2020 however, the atelier has outdone itself by producing something that doesn’t have a local precedent. Instead of a traditional still campaign, this year they released an original soundtrack, in collaboration with folk singers Harsakhiyan and producer Jamal Rahman, that celebrates femininity, heritage and local fashion with a gusto.

The campaign “100 ways of using a dupatta”, centered around the oft forgotten but much discussed item of clothing, is bright, dreamy and nostalgic and the accompanying song and video are equally enchanting.

Speaking to Rehman reveals that the behemoth project presented unprecedented challenges but surmounting them was rewarding.

“We made an entire set and it was gorgeous but a) we were really running behind on time and had to focus on getting essential shots which left a very small window for photography and b) Mahoor (their brilliant in-house photographer/illustrator) found that the video lights didn’t work too well for her camera. We dismantled the whole set, packed it and brought it back to the factory, re-setup on the roof of our units by constructing a bamboo structure and arranging these wonderful shades and gradients of dupattas in a maze formation. It looked gorgeous.

“The day we had to shoot though, it was extremely windy and cloudy, the exact opposite of the forecast we were expecting. We had to shoot and when the images actually came out, the result was amazing and we wanted incorporate them into the book that we’ve also compiled from the campaign,” she relates.

As a brand that is vocal about social issues and tends to feature them regularly on their blog, campaigns and on their social media platforms, how deeply do they engage though with the issues that they bring to the fore? Do you see the movements proceed beyond seasonal campaigns or are they limited to them?

“We’ve been working on reducing plastic waste and were the first brand to switch to cloth bags made from scrap materials. We’ve also recently managed to go plastic free in shipping our consignments, which accounts for a major use of plastic within the operation. We now have clothing bags that can be reused and recycled,” says Rehman, also adding that the brand has always looked at using their platform to give to issues that are close to their heart.

“I think starting a conversation about social issues is a big step in acknowledging them and helping bring about change. We believe in working with themes, collaborators and muses that represent our values and are inclusive rather than elitist and inaccessible,” she adds.

It is perhaps this ethos that sets not only their clothes but also the brand apart as a whole.

Photography: Mahoor Jamal

Art Direction: Jamal
Rahman and Ifrah Khan

Makeup and Hair: Shoaib Khan and Fatima Nasir

Jewellery courtesy: Zohra Rahman

Styling: Harris Masood

Production: Naima Gilani and Sara Mannan

The unmistakable identity of this Generation