For S/S 21, the Qasimi brand looked to unity and craftsmanship with a collection titled We Are The People which also officially introduced womenswear to the brand. Named after Jamaican-born artist Nari Ward's 2018 work, which subverts the opening phrase of the first lines to the US Constitution using hundreds of shoelaces, the words in Arabic are found woven across garments throughout the S/S 21 collection. Collaborating with Ward on the collection, and the likes of art director Nicolas Santos and JLJR Studio on a film, Qasimi creative director Hoor Al-Qasimi explains: 'That contrast [in the garments] opens an interesting debate as to who exactly is “We”. It was the perfect chance of presenting the collection in all its depth, and we felt that collaborating with different artists throughout the process was the right way of igniting this creative discussion.' Also drawing on Audre Lorde's 2017 text Your Silence Won't Protect You in the visuals created for this season's digital launch, Qasimi hammers home the power of using our voices for activism.
In the film, we follow members of the Qasimi community through tent like structures and swathes of fabric broken up by the odd concrete beam. 'The starting point for the set, discussed with Boum Studio, was revisiting the temporary architectures of travellers across the Middle Eastern and North African trade routes, which was one of the inspirations for the collection. These structures were also used as screens where we projected animations developed by Nikita Zhukovskiy, which explore the duality of nature and technology as a new way of understanding human and social structures' Santos and Al-Qasimi tell me. Each season, looking to four pillars of architecture, colour, military and messaging, Qasimi takes their nomad somewhere new. This season he was looking inwards, but found himself in the company of a female counterpart. Although we've seen a peppering of female looks across the past two seasons, not until now has Qasimi done womenswear so extensively. The Qasimi man and woman are intended to share in the same values and clothes felt interchangeable, easily born from the same source and etched out in Qasimi's typical palette of desert tones. The pair hold a bond like Qasimi's late founder Khalid Al-Qasimi and his twin sister, Hoor Al-Qasimi, who took over at the helm last year. S/S 21 is Hoor Al-Qasimi's first standalone collection as she continues the legacy of her brother. 'Solidarity and unity' are words of intent moving forward Hoor Al-Qasimi explains, as is the notion of cultural exchange established by her brother. She goes on: 'Much [like] nomadic explorers, we trade goods, ideas and emotions in a virtual realm but we don't forget about our physical borders and routes. The set [in the film] was intended to highlight the importance of this exchange, and how goods and ideas are inherently connected. This is a fundamental part of Qasimi’s DNA.'
The S/S 21 collection also looks to the traditional Bedouin weaving technique Al Sadu, jacquard and stripe weave are worked into Qasimi's staple tailored utilitarian silhouettes, which this season appear light yet protectively encase the wearer via jackets, shirting and silky cargo pants fit for a desert exploration.
Watch the extended teaser by REMEMBERYOUWEREMADETOBEUSED to explore the collection further.
'The film is understood as a part of a multilayered presentation, where each [piece of] content is tailored to a different need. Hoor, myself and the team had many talks where we tried to understand what was the right way of approaching this [especially] given the current situation- and after many different options it came back to taking the format of a show but deconstructing it to the point where all the content is maximised and is its own entity. The film is then the message in its purest form, with FREEK's track serving as an emotional and narrative cue, and the collection and models being the visual and personal representation of the Qasimi values' Nicolas Santos, art director
Here, also listen to the S/S 21 commissioned soundtrack by Somali-born, UAE-based hip-hop artist, FREEK. Combining spoken-word in Arabic and English, FREEK narrates the first line to the US Constitution as in Ward's work, with the soundtrack also featuring traditional Arabic instruments. Since Qasimi was founded in 2008, designs have woven politics and poetry, exercising cultural exchange and commentary.