If you look through your wardrobe, odds are high that you will come across a tag that reads “Made in Bangladesh.” The South Asian country is one of the largest garment manufacturers in the world, with decades of industry experience, and now there’s a new brand looking to merge this expertise with a distinct “designed in Toronto” sensibility. The team behind Ahiri—co-founders and Bangladeshi-Canadians Ahnaf Ali and Sheetu Latif as well as head designer Michael Jafine—is on a mission to bring a new option to the market: high-quality pieces designed here and made in Bangladesh with the North American consumer in mind.

Focused on essentials with a twist, Ahiri fuses contemporary flair and classic styles to create seasonless staples. Its square-neck knit dress, which was an instant bestseller and is the brand’s most recognizable piece, was dubbed “the butterfly dress” on social media for its eye-catching symmetrical pattern. The company has also prioritized its production and manufacturing processes by partnering with factories in Bangladesh that maintain a high standard when it comes to sustainability, safety and working conditions. “Having one of our co-founders as the owner of the factories [we use] gives us a lot of control to ensure our production is ethical,” says Jafine.

Although it has been less than a year since its debut collection launched, the brand already has devoted fans and a successful retail pop-up in Toronto. Jafine, who cut his teeth interning for The Row and Proenza Schouler in New York, believes the line has resonated with consumers precisely because of its ability to push beyond trends and instinctively know what people are searching for to fill the gaps in their closet. With two collections under its belt and two more in the works, Ahiri is poised to make a mark that goes beyond our borders. We spoke with Jafine about the brand. 

Courtesy of Ahiri (A. Ali And M. Jafine)

Suitable for all seasons

“For our second drop, we focused on disrupting the norms of dressing [up] and how our consumer can be bolder. I’m most excited about the introduction of our suits. We designed them without shoulder pads to emphasize a casual and comfortable fit. Sometimes, shoulder pads can be read as uptight and can dramatically change a silhouette. By removing them, we allow for [both] the natural figure and more personality to come through those pieces.”

Touch base

“I try to disseminate my own emotional and artistic ideas into accessible ready-to-wear pieces. The intention is for those ideas to become a core part of [our customers’] wardrobe. My goal is to have our customers experience those emotions with me so that when they’re buying from the brand, they feel like they have something to connect to.”

Made for you

“In all the areas I’ve worked in—from styling to production—in the fashion industry, it comes down to how your customers feel and how you involve them in your brand. We are creating to serve our customers, not ourselves. Ahiri is in service of giving something fresh and new to the community while taking people one step further in the development of their personal style.” 

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