Project 01_ First Youth
Exploring a Mughal Punk Aesthetic
First Youth is a visual exploration of the cultural melting pot that was Asim Khan’s childhood growing up first generation British-South Asian in the north of England during the 1980’s. Born and raised in West Yorkshire, his parents created a warm, welcoming home enriched by the stories, rituals and symbology of their ancestral homeland. Throughout his youth he was surrounded by floral imagery. From the rich paintings and intricate mosaics of the Mughal empire to the ceremonial embroidered dress and rituals of his community. That combined with kitsch 70’s floral print wallpaper and furniture in the family home served to leave a long lasting impression. This was in stark contrast to what was was going on in the streets where a myriad of different youth tribes and subcultures vied for his attention. Punks, skinheads, goths, casuals and B-boys all had strong identities and had developed their own unique styles. Khan was fascinated by these tribal codes and aesthetics.You were what you wore.
The flower is the thread that binds this inaugural collection together, influencing not only the look and feel, but just as importantly, the production process too. Adopting a hands on approach, Khan worked in tandem with Dutch Tannery, Ecco Leather using actual flowers to print directly on to his canvas of organic leather. The collections floral theme was further developed at the secondary stage through his work with experimental embroidery house Aleph Studio in Pakistan. Together they have developed a unique technique to apply hand embroidery on to transparent leather. A process which pays homage to Zardozi and Resham hand embroidery techniques used to embellish the ancient royal family’s of India. The intermarriage of his British-South Asian heritage is reflected in the next stage of the process as these leathers are then integrated or bonded to materials such as handwoven organic cotton from India and Harris Tweed from Scotland. Khan then transforms these unique materials into garment archetypes that are inspired by his interpretation of the tribal dress codes of the British Youth culture of the 1980’s. Along with footwear and accessories ‘First Youth’ is a mix and blend of culture, material and aesthetics.