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ASA SADAN – the newly launched luxury label using garments as a medium to channel heritage and identity.

The name ‘Asa’ (pronounced ‘ay’ – ‘sah’) is a Malaysian/Indonesian adaptation of the Persian name ‘Asa’ (pronounced ‘ah’ – ‘sah’), with a multitude of meanings including ‘beautification’, ‘adornment’, ‘might’, ‘power’ and ‘capability’.

The brand is named after Creative Director, Imran Mohamed’s grandmother, referencing his heritage and delineation of the South African-Asian diaspora. The brand’s name also serves as an ode to a generation who challenged colonial oppression at its highest form. Through the struggles and achievements of previous generations, we are now able to enjoy opportunities and freedoms not experienced by our forefathers.

Photographer: Hishaam Abrahams

It is our responsibility to adopt this generational adaptation to our creative practice, to open doors and leave them ajar for those who come after us

Imran Mohamed, ASA SADAN Founder and Creative Director

Mohamed’s extensive career moving between the realms of business and creativity led to him pursuing a Masters in Business Administration at renowned art and design school Central Saint Martins in London, UK. The purpose of this was to bridge the gap between economic systems and practice with the creative process.

For his final dissertation, Mohamed presented ASA SADAN as one of three art projects articulating cultural representation through multidisciplinary art practice.

ASA SADAN, strongly focuses on local procurement and manufacture, with a particular focus on supporting businesses, procurement, and manufacturing partners owned by persons of colour, as well as those providing jobs for women.

Localization forms a large part of the creative process at ASA SADAN. Mohamed chose to return to South Africa to begin the process of inception of the brand concept, as the story could only be told from ‘home’. This extends to the core components of the business, with all procurement taking place within South Africa. All raw materials are procured locally. Almost all the garments are locally manufactured, while those that are manufactured internationally are procured through local agents.

Sustainable practice is also integral to ASA SADAN. The brand classifies ‘sustainability’ as ethical practice and waste reduction. The focus on local manufacture allows the brand to ensure labourers are treated ethically and fairly by local manufacturers – i.e. are paid a fair wage and work in an acceptable environment – ensuring labour market exploitation is non-existent within the ASA SADAN supply chain.

The ecological impact is reduced by producing as few garments as possible. With higher-priced, slower-moving items, only one of each size is produced per stockist and replaced once sold (for the duration of that item’s availability). Faster moving items are also produced in small numbers in order to reduce stock on hand. However, manufacturing waste cannot be eradicated completely without access to recycling infrastructure, not
yet widely available in South Africa.

Mohamed’s position on circular practice is that the ecological impact of manufacturing is far greater with larger corporates and that these companies should invest in developing these technologies, and adopt an opensource ethos in granting access to this infrastructure for smaller brands and companies.

Supporting local fashion is not only important from an economic perspective (highlighted above) but is also integral in supporting the stories that local brands have to tell, thereby creating a movement of representation of our own people. South African designers are making waves internationally, and have proven ability to produce at the highest levels of creativity. These brands and creatives have crossed borders and generated massive international interest.

However, this would not have been possible without the support of local communities. South Africa is fast becoming one of the strongest producers of creative products, and the support of the local community is imperative to continue the growth of our creative industries.

ASA SADAN is currently exclusively available for purchase at Duck Duck Goose, both online
duckduckgoosestore.com and in-store on 120 Bree Street, Cape Town.

Photographer: Imran Mohamed

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