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Adil Iqbal
Jessica Heggie talks to Scottish Pakistani designer Adil Iqbal about the challenges of addressing social and cultural issues through fashion and having been awarded the Dewar’s Art scholarship to study at Central St Martins
Wednesday, 18 January, 2012 | 10:00

Having graduated from Herriot-Watt in 2006 with a BSc in Clothing Design and Manufacture, Adil Iqbal, a Scottish Pakistani womenswear designer from Edinburgh, has been awarded the Dewar’s Art scholarship to study for an MA at Central Saint Martins beginning in 2012. He has shown at Alternative Fashion Week in London and also had the opportunity to show at New York Fashion week.

Adil Iqbal takes his inspiration from politics, social issues and traditional arts and crafts. “My work is about combing cultures internationally, tapping into the fabric of people’s lives and creating pieces that truly blur the lines between art and craft.”

In 2010 he received an Arts Trust Scotland award to be put toward a short research project in traditional methods of embroidery and textiles, carried out during summer 2011 in Chitral Valley, located in Northern Pakistan.

The research trip explored the artistic imagination and cultural heritage of the artisans living in this remote region. The Project collected traditional folklore stories, embroidery and textiles to shed more light on, and share memories of their indigenous culture. It is this unique understanding of culture and heritage that allows Iqbal to create such interesting designs and one-off pieces.

Taking a unique stance within the fashion industry, Adil Iqbal tries to combine his understanding of cultures and also address social issues. Using textiles and embroidery he aims to “push the boundaries of art and craft discipline to address social and cultural issues through collaboration, which can give a more profound and peaceful dialogue between the two countries”.

Iqbal believes that it is his hard-working nature and willingness to carry out work placements that has led to his current success. “Like other industries it’s tough to get yourself established, you need to remain persistent and seek opportunities at all times.” He has worked on many short-term assignments around Europe, including working with Hugo Boss in Germany.

His current collection aims to “take a stand against this modern, digital, disposable age of mass-production and consumption that is leading the world into environmental and economic ruin”.

He hopes to further this principle next year whilst studying for his MA at Central Saint Martins in London, where he hopes to work on an exciting project between Scotland and Pakistan. Iqbal described his aims for future collections:

“Through immersing myself in different cultures and encountering broad artistic thinking I hope to discover innovative ways of creating a bridge between western and indigenous craft culture. I wish to study how artistic barriers can be broken down between cultures.” He also wants to promote Fair Trade practices and encourage sustainable fashion by using contemporary techniques.

His advice to current fashion students is to “get as much work experience as possible. That’s the only way you can grow as a designer.” Adil Iqbal seems to be going from success to success. Who knows what the future will hold? Watch this space.

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