Rastah’s VOLUME IX Is an Exploration of Human’s Fractured Relationship With Their Material Surroundings

Envisioned, sourced, and crafted in Pakistan.

Fashion
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Pakistani streetwear label Rastah has recently unveiled its VOLUME IX collection during London Fashion Week. With an ongoing mission to decontextualize and reinterpret its South Asian heritage, the latest lineup continues to showcase Rastah’s unique take on urban wear with artisanal practice with a penchant for sustainability. Every look plays with the juxtaposition of various patterns, textures, and colors with dramatic silhouettes, all strung together to present a complex yet memorable collection.

In conversation with Zain Ahmed, the co-founder and creative director of Rastah, Ahmed dived into details about the deeply personal message of the collection, as well as the ideas behind the lookbook’s art direction.

What is the theme behind VOLUME IX?
The theme for this collection is inspired by an examination of the human condition’s relationship with a largely material world that serves little to no purpose for our spirituality and deeper existence at large. Despite knowing this, we choose to find happiness in material things that we know won’t make us truly happy. It is this scary realization that led to the creation of VOLUME IX, which aims to explore the rather fractured relationship between human and their material surroundings.

Every piece from the collection seems to embody a character of its own.
Yes, every piece is a rather radical extension of the collection, with an emphasis on traditional artisanal practices that are native to South Asia. Although the pieces are made using traditional techniques, the outcome doesn’t have to be.

Any personal highlights from the collection?
Every piece from the collection also consists of various black and white patches deriving from famous Pakistani artist, Sadeqaun’s work, who unfortunately died before he could complete this specific art piece.

In my opinion, the Sadeqaun jacquard embroidery jacket is probably the standout piece from the collection. It’s made from a handwoven fabric with upcycled yarn — just the fabric for the jacket alone takes about three to four days to produce. It also features various sporadic and vivid hand-embroidered embellishments that take over a week to complete. The intention for this was to juxtapose various textures and elements together that would normally be deemed as ”contradictory”, thus tying the piece together with the broader theme of the collection.

What inspired the creative direction for this lookbook?
With the art direction and the styling, we wanted to put these characters that all look very different, each with their own unique vibes, where they’re united in an old abandoned house. This was a subtle play at the dysfunctional relationship that various members of the same South Asian families can have. No matter how different everyone is from each other, there’s still something that holds them all together.

I wanted the viewer to feel a sense of confusion and uncertainty whilst looking at the images with all the different characters placed in this house. The art director for the shoot, Mustafa Yazdani, is a real genius when it comes to bringing this kind of narrative to life with his playful vision and set production expertise.

Through Rastah’s VOLUME IX, what do you wish to convey to the world?
I want the world to see a very different perspective of Pakistan. One that is radical to its core, but also incredibly emotional and narrative in the way that it’s projected. I just want us to be included in dialogue and discourse in the world of fashion. It’s all about storytelling really.

Take a closer look at Rastah’s VOLUME IX collection in the gallery above.

Elsewhere in fashion, JiyongKim’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection unveils cold weather outfitting.

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