Rina Latif is an icon of the Bangladeshi fashion industry, representing the rich textile heritage of the country internationally, as well as being a household name locally. She is a celebrated designer, but her acumen for business counts her in the list of top entrepreneurs too. She would describe herself as an artist, a dreamer and most importantly, a mother. The care she puts into her family is also visible in every piece that flows out from under her creative fingers. Latif’s signature – tapestry on muslin – too, is a craft requiring excruciating patience and attention to detail as it combines a thousand odd threads into one comprehensive design. The inspiration behind her work is quite evidently nature, as floral, leafy motifs are abundant in her creations. She recently celebrated 30 years in the industry with a fantastic fashion show, An Odyssey into Imagination, where she exhibited 120 designs that were exquisitely unique yet quintessentially Rina Latif. Despite Latif’s many successes at home and abroad, she remains humble and keeps out of the spotlight. ICE Today speaks to the woman behind the name to hear how she manages to keep private yet relevant, while she accounts the experience of being one of the sole representatives of Bangladeshi fashion on the world stage.
Q: We’ve all admired and enjoyed your famed work in the field of fashion. What contributes to your passion for it? What keeps driving you after all these years?
A: My love for life, and fashion is the truest form of my expression of that.
Q: In this day and age, social media plays a huge role in a lead designer’s label or image, which is a major marketing tool. And it seems as if you’ve never yearned for the spotlight. So how do you cope, how do you remain relevant?
A: For me it’s always been about the commitment I have with my work, as it’s my love affair. I have a huge responsibility towards staying true to my craft, the people I work with and those who admire, appreciate and understand my work.I firmly believe this speaks volumes, just like each flower has its own significant notes. However, in this digital age of course, social media has a huge role to play in the marketing world and every day the world is becoming more competitive. So even though I am not heavily dependent on social media, Rina Latif as a brand does have an online presence through our website, Instagram and Facebook pages. I’d also like to mention how platforms like ICE Today magazine have been an incredibly powerful marketing tool for my brand and I like the fact that when reading a magazine, the reader is fully engaged with the content and the experience of knowledge absorption is a bit more personal.
Q: You’ve garnered many plaudits over the years and there’s more to come, but what do you think has significantly changed in the business of fashion? How have you changed your approach?
A: Hmm…good question! Fashion changes by the minute; we no longer hold our creativity back and that freedom is what has helped change the fashion business. An unapologetic approach of expression, touching the heart and soul through my creations has always been the approach for me since the beginning.
Q: You’ve done so much for Bangladeshi fashion and its creative drive. How important is your legacy? What would you want people to remember most about you?
A: My legacy is everything. I’ve always strove and continue to strive to establish my country’s beautiful culture and my rich Bangladeshi heritage on an international platform. I want the world to always recognise, realise and acknowledge that Bangladesh has so much to offer in terms of textiles and the precious gems, we all know as the Bangladeshi weavers and craftsmen. My romance with Muslin and my signature tapestry work is no secret either.
Q: You recently took part in a show in Paris. With recognition comes curiosity, how has your work been received by the international stage?
A: My London show was a huge success for the nation because people became aware of how fashion forward Bangladesh actually is and can be.
Q: As a Bangladeshi woman, how would you like to be perceived by the rest of the world?
A: I don’t see a difference between a Bangladeshi woman and any other woman representing a different nation and culture because we are all strong and beautiful.
Q: And what are the best parts of being a Bengali woman?
A: Having such a rich heritage to embrace, our strong traditions and cultural values and the power of being able to speak and comprehend such a beautiful, romantic and deep language.
Q: Any lasting words or advice for young women who passionately pursue a career in this field?
A: Be fierce, and most importantly, be unapologetically you.