Due to take place between 26-28th October 2023, ARKA Fashion Week is set to launch for the first time ever. ARKA Fashion Week was conceived to serve as a platform to democratise fashion. Oftentimes the smaller brands and designers do not have the same resources as their larger counterparts. ARKA Fashion Week is all about giving equitable opportunities to all kinds of designers and brands.
ARKA Fashion Week welcomes everyone in Bangladesh and urges them to soak in fashion in its entirety. It is an event that seeks to explore the potential of fashion and celebrate our nation’s journey of evolving from a mere garments manufacturing country to becoming a fashion conscious society nurturing talented designers with their own unique styles. The ultimate objective of ARKA Fashion Week is to one day see Bangladesh not only export garments, but to export fashion – brands and retail labels which will add tremendous value in terms of culture export, and help raise our GDP and improve our economy as well. This event, which aims to take place bi-annually, is dead set on discovering the best new designers and brands out there and bringing them to the centre stage.
There are 6 segments in the event, each targeting different facets of fashion and culture, so ARKA Fashion Week is curated to attract a diverse group of people.
With around 50 participants in the mix, the Marketplace in ARKA Fashion Week will host entrepreneurs and brands that work with fashion, fashion accessories, and fashion related products. The only criteria – it has to be made in Bangladesh.
If you want to better envision what to expect, think of the local brands or boutiques that aren’t too large, those that do not have multiple stores. Think of smaller brands, smaller designers, as well as a lot of e-commerce brands as they tend to have a certain disadvantage when it comes to physically showcasing their products. ARKA Fashion Week hopes to be that bridge and give a platform to these e-commerce brands as well. Another core philosophy to expect among the brands to be found in the Marketplace is sustainability, for instance, brands that don’t produce new fabrics or new clothing, but instead, create something from something that would otherwise might have been wasted.
A total of 8 shows will take place across 2 days – 4 on Friday, 27th October, and 4 on Saturday, 28th October, where there will be two cues per show. The show will be split into 3 categories; youth-centric, experimentalism, and sustainability. These are also facets that will be present across the brands in the marketplace. Expect the unexpected – twists, performances and unconventional elements within the shows that most fashion events in Bangladesh have yet not showcased.
The aim of the fashion show is to highlight upcoming young designers who have immense talent, but have never gotten that exposure or the opportunity to showcase their skills. Designers with Bangladeshi roots who are now based in the US or Europe are also taking part in this show. Typical traditional couture will not be in focus during ARKA Fashion Week; rather the designers selected for the ramp are those whose products are expressions of our unique culture and their experiences on Western styles of clothing.
The ultimate objective of ARKA Fashion Week is to one day see Bangladesh not only export garments, but to export fashion
This will be a very interactive space – a DIY space where you can come into and create your own designs. The concept is to walk in and purchase a ‘canvas’ i.e. products like a plain t-shirt, hat, tote bag or even a hoodie, which you can then take to any of the ten different design stations laid out to customise yourself. The stations will be set up for you to work with different types of design techniques such as block printing, screen printing, hand embroidery, hand-paint, patchwork, different forms of embellishments and appliques, etc. This is a segment that any age group will enjoy participating in and can use to channel their creativity. Since it’s a design lab and not a workshop, anyone can come in at any time, buy a product and head over to the station to work on their design.
Offering a diverse variety of food and a choice of different cuisines, the Food Zone will be more of a hangout space rather than a typical food court. The presentation and the seating of the area will reflect that idea, so expect to experience something different here as well.
In this event, the Art Gallery is more than just a place to exhibit artwork by talented artists. The theme of the section is ‘analogue to digital’ and that concept is very much tied to the heart of the event. Aloki was once home to a garments factory and now it will be the birthplace of ARKA Fashion Week. From a sewing line to a fashion runway – Aloki, the space itself exemplifies how Bangladesh has evolved from being just a manufacturer to creating its own fashion and trends. The evolution from producing garments to fashion. In this segment, 6 different artists – 3 analogue and 3 digital, have exhibited their work to create a story around this concept. The Art Gallery is meant to be an experience through the amalgamation of the artwork curated especially for this event.
Before it is time to call it a night, it would be remiss to not have music. With one opening act and one headliner per day, the genre of the musical entertainment will be different for each of the three nights of the event.
Photograph: Courtesy of ARKA Studio