Khalid Al QasimiLong-distance calling: Meet the designer balancing two jobs in two countries.

Khalid Al QasimiLong-distance calling: Meet the designer balancing two jobs in two countries.

Khalid Al Qasimi leads a dual career: In his hometown of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, he is chairman of the local government’s urban planning council. But when in London, he is creative director of Qasimi—a rising menswear label whose collections make baby-pink overcoats and Bedouin striped linen trousers look not only tasteful, but ready-to-wear.

You have two very different jobs. Does one ever inform the other? I studied architecture because I felt it was the pinnacle of a design education. Once you learn about structure, proportion and construction, you can view the body as a landscape.

Sharjah must be an interesting place for an urbanist. It can often be frustrating. Some of the architecture could be much better, but there’s a lot of opportunity. There are also existing buildings that people just don’t see. I love the modernist architecture that was built in the 1940s and 1950s—it’s completely hidden. One of the projects I’m working on at the moment is a new Sharjah Architecture Triennial to reinforce the importance of these places.

Does Sharjah influence your work at Qasimi? I’m influenced by politics and society. Politics is always discussed at the dinner table in the Middle East—it’s completely embedded in our culture. In the past, I felt like it was my duty to raise these issues in the West, where people often have a one-sided view of the Middle East. I was proud of that and felt that it was needed, but I don’t think the industry appreciated it. Now, I take a broader approach.

Do you wear your own clothes? More and more. But it can be sad to put so much effort into them, for them only to sit in the studio for such a long time. At some point you just don’t see them anymore. I do keep an archive, though.

Who brings out your best qualities? My sisters. They always call me out if need be, or else they’ll champion me when I feel down or a bit unsure.

What are you like to work with? I like to take more of a democratic approach in the studio and hear everyone’s opinions. I can be difficult sometimes, but it’s just because I know exactly what I want.

You are reading a complimentary story from Issue 27

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