Name of the designers
Babak, Farhan and Haman Golkar.
Name of the brand, city where is based and year of creation
The Emperor 1688, Brand based in Dubai and created in 2009.
Where do you sell your creations
"We have two stand alone boutiques in Dubai, A shop in shop in Galleries Lafayette, Dubai Mall, we sell with Saks Fifth Avenue regionally, and with Kitson in Los Angeles."
Three words to describe your style
"Tailored, contemporary, retrospective."
What is wool for you?
"Wool for us is movement."
Inspirations for this project?
"Wool for us is something that has movement and is never static from the moments the fibre is on the sheep to the time it is woven and eventually cut into a garment, its always in transition and change. We looked at this sense of movement and compared to tribal movements of Central Asian tribes."
How much from your Country you will bring into the capsule collection you will design?
"Dubai is on constant change and evolution, it is a place that yearns for the new but still respects the heritage on which it was founded. This is what we brought to this capsule collection, looking at traditional tribal silhouettes and concepts of movement and translating it to a contemporary style and vision."
PUBLISHED: 12/02/2014 - 06:30
How Three Dubai-based Brothers Changed The Face Of Middle Eastern Menswear
They’re the Dubai-based triple threat responsible for dressing A-listers including Robin Thicke and Timbaland. Apart from their two mono-brand boutiques located in the most populous UAE emirate, their designs are stocked by prominent international retailers including New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue and Paris’ Galeries Lafayette. Babak, Farhan and Haman Golkar, are the brothers behind The Emperor 1688, establishing themselves as one of the Middle East’s most celebrated menswear designers within five years of the brand its 2009 inception.
When I visit the The Emperor 1688 headquarters in Dubai, Babak Golkar – a London University of the Arts fashion design graduate, who used to work for Ittiere between Milan and Dubai, handling the visual merchandising of Gianfranco Ferré and Just Cavalli in the region – demonstrates me the progress he’s made in knitting, as he’s in the middle of tailoring a Merino wool suit. It has everything to do with the brand its victory back in April, at the regional International Woolmark Prize final. In January 2015 they’ll compete against five other brands at the world finals, where the brothers will represent the Middle East & India region. “Despite the achievements our brand has enjoyed so far, it’s important to still participate in these contests for the sake of international exposure. It’s a great thing to be linked to the prestigious Woolmark brand, as there will be many high-profile people from the industry at the London final. The fact that greats including Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent have won this prize in the past, makes us feel like we’ve achieved something,” says 28-year-old Golkar brother Farhan, who has studied graphic design at the London University of the Arts, prior to moving to Dubai with his family in 2007. The year 2015 will mark the first time that the contest aimed at emerging designers and highlighting the diverse use of Merino wool, will see a brand from the Middle East compete at the world finals.
Ever since they started making dress shirts from their parents’ kitchen, the journey to success hasn’t been an easy one for the brothers, and the fact that they work out of Dubai didn’t facilitate things. “First of all, there’s lots of competition here in Dubai, as we’re also competing with the major European menswear brands who have their mono-brand stores here. Then, though Dubai is a great retail hub, it is not at par with Italy or France in terms of production and required infrastructure for a fashion brand – so there’s a lot of travelling to Europe involved,” Babak says. His brother Haman further elaborates on the difficulties a new local brand faces, due to the Dubai consumer’s love for established luxury brands hailing from abroad: “The Dubai market is very much brand-orientated, so in the beginning it was hard for us to get any retail space. We then started to understand the importance of presentation, labelling and packaging. We have our own identity and regular clientèle now. I think that many new designers don’t get that you’re forced to think of your designs as more than a runway piece. It should really be a well-marketed product basically in order to survive.” As far as price point is concerned, the brothers are positioning themselves at the level of brands such as McQ by Alexander McQueen and Marc by Marc Jacobs. “It’s basically for the young professional who just got promoted to a better paying job, but still isn’t there yet,” the Golkars say.
So far The Emperor 1688 is doing a good job at surviving, which has led to the brothers opening two strategically located downtown Dubai stores. One of these boutiques is located in the world-renowned Dubai Mall – which happens to be world’s largest shopping mall. The other one is located amid the spacious 5-star Madinat Jumeirah resort. And since the local men can’t get enough of it, the Golkars are catering to a female audience as well, as of recently. “We did a small capsule collection for women in our fall/winter 2014/2015 line. For spring/summer 2015 we’ve created a full women’s collection for the first time. Since the concept of retail for womenswear is different from that of menswear, we’re opening a new boutique soon, plus we’ll establish a shop-in-shop inside Galerie Lafayette, entirely dedicated to women.”
The brothers describe The Emperor 1688 brand - known for its tailoring - as a contemporary yet timeless British-style brand. “Contemporary British” and “timeless”, seem to be two phrases in contrast with the stereotype surrounding the Dubai consumer, which insinuates only the most flashy type of ready-to-wear meets the glamour-craving UAE costumer’s demands. But it is not about glamour, the brothers who are of Iranian heritage explain. “Being well presented in Middle Eastern culture is super fundamental – it’s not about glamour. Our uncles for example, can wear regular shirts with regular trousers, but then they’ll never leave the house without being perfectly groomed. The idea of presentation and being judged by what you’re wearing is an important part of our culture.”
The brand is now looking at other markets to venture into, besides the Middle East. Topping the list is China, followed by Hong Kong, India and the USA. If their American celebrity following is an indicator of their potential within the US market, it shouldn’t take too long before a NYC flagship boutique is in the works. “We’ve dressed Timbaland for a concert here in Dubai, in addition to The Game and Jay-Z. Robin Thicke wore our clothes during a TV performance at The Voice, as well as in his Feel Good music video. We’ve never had to pay a PR agency for these type of things. The celebrities their teams always get in touch with us – not the other way around.”
Since it was launched in 1953, the International Woolmark Prize has been one of the most prestigious awards in the fashion world. Indeed the first two winners in 1954 were two unknowns called Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, picked by a panel that included Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain. I wonder what ever happened to all of them?
Since then it has gone from strength to strength and today the judges for the 2014/15 menswear award were announced, including the great British designer Sir Paul Smith will sit alongside Dylan Jones, Editor-in-Chief, British GQ; Tim Blanks, Editor-at-Large, Style.com; and the American fashion legend Nick Wooster.
The finalists have been chosen from a number of regional competitions and the overall winner will be announced on January 9, the first day of London Collections: Men. The finalists include the Danish Asger Juel; the New York design duo behind Public School, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, as well as The Emperor 1688 from Dubai (gratifyingly for London, Juel and all three of the designers behind Emperor 1688 were trained in the Capital).
The panel will decide the winner of the men's award to be announced on 9 January 2015, day one of London Collections: Men. The ultimate winner will be awarded a cash prize of $100,000 and the resulting capsule Merino wool collection will be available in more than a dozen of the world's most prestigious fashion stores. May the best man (or men) win.
Read more on www.gq-magazine.co.uk
The Golkar brothers founders and designers of The Emperor 1688 brand, are the menswear finalist for the International Woolmark Prize 2015
The Golkar brothers have huge hopes that their Emperor 1688 brand will, one day, conquer the world’s fashion industry.
Ambitious? Maybe. However there is a unique story behind Babek, Farhan and Haman’s rise, which suggests that the Golkar’s have found the perfect recipe for success; in which the sky is the limit.
It starts with their passion for creating which goes back to their toddler days. “As far as I remember” Babek, the elder brother, recalls “Farhan and Haman just used to run around with scissors and paper, they didn’t really have toys. We’ve always been creative in that respect.”
Naturally, the brothers supplemented their passions with academic achievements by completing their degrees in various arts, design and fashion colleges across the UK.
However, the dream really came to light when the trio, encouraged by their parents, realised that by pooling their interests and talents together, they could really make an impact on the fashion world. “We thought the best way to take things further would be to create a lifestyle brand, where we can put all our ideas and design inspirations into clothing,” comments Haman.
With the goals firmly set, the family dynamic behind Emperor 1688 would prove vital in establishing the unique style which defines the brand. Haman continues: “we all have very different characteristics when it comes to designing. Babek is very fashion-forward, Farhan is very contemporary and I have a very classic taste. So when you put these three categories together we always end up with a product which is both commercial and a fashion piece also.”
And while the brothers’ dream to break through the region’s fashion industry was still lacking necessary financial backing, the family spirit once again proved crucial in getting them on their way.
“We started as basic as designing and making our shirts from our parent’s kitchen, and we just grew from there onwards,” says Farhan. And indeed, recognising their drive and talents, their father stepped in with a much-needed investment to help them expand to where they are today, with five points of sale in Dubai alone, but also in the US, Europe and across the middle-east.
Today, the Golkar Brothers dream that Emperor 1688 can become an all-round luxury and lifestyle brand, covering clothing, watches, art and even hotels. Armed with their achievements so far and their strong family spirit, you wouldn’t put it past them!
Read and view full article & video here: http://www.experiencelincoln.me
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