In The Business of Fashion

Korban is set to groom the youth of the country to represent Bangladesh on an international platform. Asif Tarafdar & Marjiya Baktyer Ahmed speak to Kim James to discover what he believes are the merits of developing Bangladesh’s fashion potential.

Since when have you worked in Bangladesh?
I started in 2013.

Did you begin your career here in Korban?
I have been working in Korban from 2014.

Do you like working in Bangladesh?
Yes! Of course, it has been a pleasure.

What are the pros and cons of working here?
The most significant advantage of working in Bangladesh is that there is room for development and the opportunity to do something new. Back in Korea, everything is already at a very advanced stage. There is minimal opportunity to do something new. The promise of doing something out of the box is a significant reason I have come to Bangladesh. Given that my areas of interest are fashion, modeling, and beauty, there are lot of opportunities in such fields in Bangladesh.

What do you think of the current modeling scenario in Bangladesh?
This field is still underdeveloped in Bangladesh; the same goes for fashion. There is not a lot of fan following. As Bangladesh is a growing economic power, fashion has a bright future.

Where do you think is the opportunity for improvement? (In the modeling and fashion industry)
South American countries, who were big players in RMG export, went through a fashion boom because of the push from the industry. Concurrently, fashion companies from all over the world are flocking to Bangladesh, hoping to replicate that success.

South Asia is slowly becoming a fashion hot spot. Consequently, we want to produce fashion designers and promote international standard fashion shows in Bangladesh. The biggest fashion brands in the world are already available in Bangladesh, which makes it easier to secure high profile global models for fashion shows here (Bangladesh)

What made you organize the Face of Bangladesh?
“ASIA Model Festival” has been successfully held in Korea for 14 years as an international platform. It consists of 3-day program and “Face of Asia” is one of them. From more than 20 Asian countries, models compete to get an opportunity for participating in “Face of Asia”. Fortunately, with help from Asia Model Festival Organizing Committee (AMFOC), I could bring the format “Face of Bangladesh”. Initially, I wanted to make people know how attractive what Bangladesh has. I thought it would be a good chance to introduce people and fashion of Bangladesh to other countries through this format.

Would you say, “Face of Bangladesh” was successful?
Yes! More than we hoped for. A guy from Bangladesh secured the first position for male models in “Face of Asia” among 27 countries. It is probably the first time a Bangladeshi national has earned a top spot in an international fashion event; it is truly a matter of great pride.

From “Face of Bangladesh” to “Face of Asia” how far do you think the event has come?
In the “Asia Model Festival,” there are three distinct categories; they include Face of Asia, Asia Me Festival and Asia Model Awards.

“Face of Asia” is selected from individual winners from their respective countries. This year we had participants from 27 countries; there are multiple entrants from each nation. On average, there are four from each nation, but China and India had five as they have a larger population. In total, the event had 80 contestants.

In your opinion, which Bangladeshi model is going towards success?
Bangladeshi models face some issues internationally, mostly with their height and weight. For female models, we prefer a minimum height of 5’9,” but they are scarce. We are hoping that through “Face of Bangladesh” we can develop international quality models in Bangladesh.

We had very high hopes from Shila as she is 5’10”; unfortunately, she couldn’t make it to the top 10 due to some skin problem.

It’s not only about height; entrants have to be talented and have to be able to impress the judges. They must demonstrate other talents such as singing and dancing, to set themselves apart from the competition.

What was the biggest challenge of organizing this event?
Korban is a Korean company; it is a big deal to organize such an event for a foreign company. We got many helps from various field for organizing this event but I feel still there is some uneasiness among the local entities who feel they would be left out.
Korban is dedicated to giving local models and designers an international exposure. Therefore, you can expect to see more events like this in the future.

Is there any possibility of collaboration with any local company in the future?
We have had several local partners in the first event. As it was a huge success, we are expecting more partners and sponsors in the upcoming events. We are trying to host this from 2016 but had to postpone due to the unavailability of good partners and sponsors. This year, our hard work paid off, and it was an astounding success. We are planning to make collaboration between local fashion / garment companies and foreign designers as a good business partnership. Ice Today would be our media partner for our upcoming events.

Where do you see “Face of Bangladesh” in the future?
“Face of Bangladesh” will be the stairway to an international platform that allows youth of this country to dream big. It is the launchpad for an international modeling career. Most modeling competitions in Bangladesh are comprised of female models; “Face of Bangladesh” provides opportunities for both male and female models to compete at an international level.

An increasing number of clothes are being designed by fashion houses all over Bangladesh, and they require international quality models to represent their products at an international level. The mission of “Face of Bangladesh” is to groom the youth of this country so that they can represent their country at an international level.

Euisig Yang, the president of Asia Model Festival Organizing Committee and Sangcheol Shin, chairman of EDGC, the global sponsor of Asia Model Festival, are also supporting us with big interest.

Bangladesh has world-class supermodel Bibi Russel. I believe Bangladesh has DNA of giving birth to other supermodels. We are going to do our best to make it happen throughout “Face of Bangladesh”.

Thanks a lot to Crosswalk communications, Nagorik TV and Prothom Alo which were partners of first “Face of Bangladesh”.