Zain Ahmad’s fashion label, Rastah, has made a name for itself. This earned him a spot on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list and has been worn by a number of international celebrities including Anil KapoorRiz Ahmed and Iman Vellani in the Disney+ show Ms. Marvel. The brand has become a favorite with many, drawing attention to unique designs as well as “unique” price tags. Ahmad has now spoken about his brand and how it took off.
Speaking to Bilal Khan on his podcast Curfew, Ahmad began with his inclusion in the 30 Under 30 list and what it meant to him. For him, the hype died down within days even though people continued to praise him, as it was a “fleeting moment of happiness” as he struggled to find what success really meant.
When asked if he would be happy if his brand was doing well when as the owner he was not making a profit, Ahmad said no. “It’s one of those things where money isn’t the end of everything, but it’s definitely something that completes that package. It’s the icing on the cake, but to take it even further, to me, what makes me inherently happy is the success of my team and the well-being of their lives and they progress in their careers.If we don’t make money, we should lay off employees, if we don’t don’t make money, that means our work hasn’t impacted customers, you can’t grow because we live in a capitalist economy.”
Ahmad said he had “enough” money to start Rastah, but it wasn’t a lot. “I had about $4,000 to $5,000 in crypto and that was 2018. I had Ethereum, Bitcoin, Litecoin, and a few other smaller coins. I sold some of it and then invested it in Rastah. My father helped me a little. Initially he gave Rs800,000 to Rs1 million which was really helpful. But not like the absurd amounts of money people think you need to start a business.
He revealed that when he started he was still finishing his last semester in college so all the inventory had to be shipped to his apartment in Canada because at that time he had no employees and had to do everything by himself.
“When I moved to Pakistan, I really wanted to sell my products here. But our price was quite controversial in the Pakistani market in the sense that it didn’t really generate a lot of sales. But we are doing well in the US and Canada. But what has happened in the last 12 to 16 months is that sales in Pakistan have started to skyrocket,” he explained.
“I have a theory behind it. We’re still stuck in this postcolonial hangover where if we get’goray ka thappa [a stamp of approval by a white person]’ we need it. So for me to sell in Pakistan at that price, I don’t really need to market in Pakistan, and then all of this media will be distributed and consumed in Pakistan and it will become this high-value content.
Ahmad spoke about being featured in vogue and storage at hypebeast but especially Moroccan-American rapper French Montana representing the brand in his sweatpants and outerwear. The business owner claims the “Unforgettable” singer discovered the brand through a mutual who happens to be one of the singer’s team members and a fellow Pakistani. He revealed that they tried to send a package to The Weeknd but failed. They hope to send him back to see the Canadian singer wearing Rastah.
“When I design my collections, I don’t draw them first, I write my collections as if it were a short film or a film. I don’t have a background in design but I taught myself how to draw and now I’m pretty good at it. But my first step is always to write everything as a story, and then what happens is that that copy of the story or that write-up goes to every member of the design team. I create my sketches, my team creates theirs and once they’ve read that they’re able to feel a certain way and then hopefully project it into the clothes.
Ahmad was also asked about his views on the current marketing system of paying influencers to promote brands, which he partially accepted. The designer said: “There are certain celebrities and influencers who maybe paying them would make a kind of big difference in terms of brand and sales. We only paid two influencers and they weren’t in Pakistan. They were micro-influencers in the US when we started as a brand. Other than that, we have never paid any influencers or celebrities.
With most products starting at $85, Ahmad also gets DMs saying the prices are high. He shared, “I once got this message on a jacket that ‘excuse me it says $450 I think you made a mistake it should show up in rupees’ and I was like no and I got a response from the same person who read, ‘are you crazy.’ Yeah, you get these kind of very titled messages.
Ahmad was asked if he would like a sub-brand of Rastah, to which he revealed he was interested in “reinterpreting” the brand by bringing the traditional shalwar kameez and styling and designing it in different ways as a way to blend it into the street. wear.
Speaking of appropriation and how Ahmad wanted Rastah to mark the map for his unique designs and Pakistani-made label, he confessed that there was a time when he flew to Los Angeles just to hand over a parcel to The sound of metal actor Ahmed because he gave him a deadline until Wednesday.
“We messaged Riz about this jacket and of course we had it done before so he said if I could get the package by Wednesday maybe he could put it in the diary clothes. It was Monday morning and we released our volume on Sunday. Monday morning, these parts cannot reach him in Los Angeles by Wednesday. So my business partner called me and said let’s go to LA and hand-deliver this jacket and pants to Riz.
The creator also revealed he had no idea Kapoor was wearing Rastah in his recent film. JugJugg Jeeyo and described it as a “total surprise” as the denim jacket he was wearing was an old Rastah piece that Ahmad had given to Kapoor’s son, Harshvardhan. “I think he may have passed it on to his dad and wore it in the movie. I had no idea. People who went to see the movie started sending me clips about it.
Concluding on style advice, Ahmad has just one suggestion for men – stop wearing the “typical Lahori” look of skinny jeans that are triple folded at the hem, polo shirts and loafers.