As she stood in front of this empty derelict small room top of a Banani garage, Rumana Chowdhury could feel her heart pump fast. Just two years ago the she had graduated from the BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology and had, while looking after her infant son, started designing outfits from her home. Today she was going to take a bold new step. She had decided she will start her own label and have her own boutique.
The steady stream orders from family and friends had turned into a deluge of orders from friends of friends and from complete strangers. These were her pre-e-commerce days. People kept asking where they can come and see her collections. Where they could try out her outfits. So, after grappling with a lot of hesitation and thought Rumana gathered the courage to dream big. With the help, support and
encouragement from her family she signed on the lease to a small outlet in Banani. And soon after she was invited to the first ever Dhaka Fashion Week where she won the prestigious Best Designer award.
That was now a decade ago.
Today Warah is a much-loved name in the designer circles in Bangladesh. And beyond one can say, as her clothes have been shipped to USA, UK, Australia, Korea, Romania, Hungry, Italy and Cambodia to
name but a few. Warah’s outfit are often featured in newspapers and fashion magazines. And has even won Rumana the first ‘City Alo Colors Magazine’s Platinum Woman of the Year’ last year.
But the journey was not a smooth one. Within a few years of opening her first outlet, the tragedy of Holy Artisan happened. And she was forced to shut down the outlet. But Rumana did not let this setback defeat her. Soon she had re-opened in a slightly smaller but quaint showroom. And the demand for her clothes came back. At beginning of last year, she moved Warah into its current location. Still in Banani, the new outlet gives the space that is in line with the luxury of her products.
“I love working with natural materials,” says Rumana. “Moisturized cotton is the base of most of my
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designs.” This along with natural dyes, makes her outfits not only perfect for our summers, but also environmentally friendly. Working with vulnerable artisans and craftspeople, her trendy designs are a
fusion between traditions of eastern wear and the comforts of western ones. She says her affordable luxury is suited at both, the everyday work environment and the parties in the evening. Some of her hand
printed sarees and bespoke outfits have adorned television advertisements, red carpets and celebrity weddings.
“I’ve always had the love of my clients to help be keep churning out a regular stream of collections. We do about 4 a year.” Rumana told us. Her Boishakhi and Eid Collections are ones that the whole industry looks forward to. So of course, we were curious to know how they fared during the lockdown that saw the two most important fashion occasions of the year fall.
“We had great sales. Though we have not been able to open our outlets or even ready the complete collection, we had tremendous response online.” Rumana confessed. Reflecting back on the “General
Holiday” closure has made Warah rethink their short-term objectives. Instead of opening new outlets both locally and internationally (She was in talk of outlets in UK, Cambodia and Vietnam), Warah is now
getting their online store ready to be launched. “I believe that the pandemic has given people a taste of the ease of shopping online. It has accelerated our efforts to take Warah digital.” she said confidently.
“While we look back at so much success we have had over the last decade, I can’t but be overwhelmed by the constant support I’ve received from my patrons and from the fashion media and industry. I am ever so grateful.”
Rumana Chowdhury and Warah stand at the threshold of greater glory. We can’t wait to see what they give us next.