Founded by RaniahDowla Ahmed, RÂNOW is a Bangladesh-based clothing and lifestyle brand with a diversified product range designed and curated specifically for the people of Bangladesh, representing the values of being strong, bold, fearless and expressive. At the same time, the brand consists of many metaphorical references to Raniah’s life and her experiences that come alive through the vivid prints she uses over her timeless designs.
“I developed and started RÂNOWall by myself, by working on it throughout 2018 and launching it during February of 2019,” Raniah, Founder and Designer of RÂNOW told Apparel Resources (AR) in an exclusive interview.
Having studied in Scholastica, a well-known English medium school in Dhaka, Rania headed to the University of Toronto in August 2017, along with a few years of limited experience in the fashion industry as a model. Being a part of the fashion world comes naturally to her, something Rania has always felt has been her calling deep down in her heart.
Still in college, Rania is simultaneously spearheading design at RÂNOW and developing various products that she feels Bangladesh should have access to, people should see and use, and get inspired by in some way.
Product categories, USP and sizing
Currently, RÂNOW primarily focuses on providing its own take on western designerwear for women. Priced between 2,000 BDT to 4,000 BDT, the unique selling point of the label is ‘the very fact that RÂNOW can never be put in a box or limited to one kind of product. With RÂNOW, you never know what to expect because I make sure every single launch offers a completely different theme all together,’ Raniah stated.
Catering to a niche set of women from all age groups who are interested in bold, powerful fashion statements and feel empowered within, RÂNOW offers size ranges that also differ depending on the launch.
“RÂNOW can never be put in a box or limited to one kind of product. With RÂNOW, you never know what to expect because I make sure every single launch offers a completely different theme all together,” – RaniahDowla Ahmed, Founder and Designer of RÂNOW
“For our silk products, every product is customised, and we take our individual orders and measurements very seriously. On the other hand, for our activewear launch, our sizes start from XS and go up to XXL,” Raniah explained, adding, “We believe in body positivity and hope to make everyone feel confident and beautiful in our clothes.”
One look at RÂNOW’s pieces and you’d be hooked onto the prints that come alive over the pieces – one of the main reasons why Raniah’s products stand out from others in the market.
“I spend months on the graphic designing process behind each print I make, and I get countless inquiries about them,” Raniah said. She then further stated, “I pay close attention to every tiny detail that goes into my prints, and once you look close enough, you’ll find layers to my prints which symbolise a lot of things that work as a direct reflection of my own personality. Most of the inspiration behind my themes come from my real life experiences.”
Manufacturing and sourcing
The story behind RÂNOW’s launch goes back to when Raniah was living in her dorm room in Toronto around mid-2018. “I started drawing sketches and visualising the launch of my brand, and it wasn’t long after that I quit and went back to Dhaka not knowing what would come next,” Raniah corroborated, adding, “I always looked at education as something that has absolutely nothing to do with age. I knew that I would apply for university again when the time was right, and it all worked out just as planned. After having saved enough money from my modelling career which took off once I came back to Dhaka.”
Having taken the bold step, Raniah was intensely focused on how she wanted the launch of RÂNOW to be, so she put all of her efforts into it and made her dream launch in February 2019.
“Currently, I work alone with my manufacturing team and have an in-house manager in charge of all the orders and deliveries anywhere inside Bangladesh. Our main manufacturing unit is located in a factory inside Mirpur, Dhaka,” Raniah asserted. The brand has a separate storage space/warehouse for all the products that need to be stocked and kept safe and secure.
In terms of fabrics, RÂNOW’s customised charmeuse silk robe orders are all manufactured in-house, while other than that, the products made in the factory have a mixture of fabrics that are sourced from both local and international sources.
Since most of RÂNOW’s launches so far have been mass produced, Raniah hasn’t yet tapped into working with Bangladeshi craftsmen, but already has plans underway to do so in the near future.
“I use a very high-quality local charmeuse silk source that I spent days looking for and is of exceptional quality and feel. On the other hand, most of our other products made in the factory are a mixture of my handpicked fabrics and a specific fabric that I discovered which goes by the name of Pal Fabric,” Raniah told AR and gave further information, “This fabric has become very important to me as it ensures buttery smoothness on the inside for the comfort of my customers even if there is digital work done on the surface of the fabric.”
Raniah feels that even though Bangladesh is known for the fabrics found in its local markets and hubs, you’d be surprised by how hard it can be to find very high-quality flawless fabrics for a brand like RÂNOW. After months of looking, Raniah has been able to identify specific spots for specific products, a key one being Mahbub Fabrics that she found nearby in Banani.
“They bring the best quality charmeuse silk from international sources and I have been working with them since Day-1. While that sounded very easy, the other products we make are a bit more complicated to source fabrics for, mostly because I’m very particular about their feel,” Raniah explained, adding, “A lot of my fabrics are also brought in from China straight to the factory that go into production right away and it has been worth it for years now.”
Assortment planning and bestselling styles
“Our most famous product has been a neon sweat-set with a cropped sweatshirt that features an adjustable string around the waist that allows any customer to tighten or loosen it as per their wish,” Raniah said. She then further stated, “It sold out extremely fast because of the graphic print on the sweatshirt which I hold very close to my heart. I believe people appreciated the rawness of the print and the objects and symbols you can see on it.”
In terms of collections, Raniah aims to drop up to two big launches every year, but since the collections are so different from one another and require months of brainstorming and designing, she emphasised, “I base the launches purely on the drop itself because the drop is what holds the most weight and shakes things up in the market.”
Also, most of RÂNOW’s collections are dropped only once. This means that, once a certain product is sold out, you may never find another piece again.
Raniah explained, “I knew from the start that as I grow older, my brand will evolve with me and that includes never looking back. I believe in experimenting with something new every time I give back to the fashion community.”
Currently, RÂNOW is available to shop online via Instagram shopping and Facebook, and plans for launching an exclusive store is in the pipeline.
“I knew from the start that as I grow older, my brand will evolve with me and that includes never looking back. I believe in experimenting with something new every time I give back to the fashion community.” – RaniahDowla Ahmed
“A lot of people assume my label will stick to making clothing for women. That’s very untrue. I have a lot of big plans for the future of RÂNOW and the fashion industry in Bangladesh. I want to break boundaries and create a lifestyle brand where you can have access to high quality, unique pieces which will add value to your collections. I will be exploring home decor as well as day-to-day products outside of just fashion alone,” Raniah revealed.
In terms of sustainability, RÂNOW is supremely mindful about the impact it can have over the planet, as well as the people associated with it.
“Being ethical to me is very important. When I run my brand, we make sure any excess fabric is used even if that means one design may have more products in stock than the others,” Raniah said, adding, “I make sure to go to the factory myself and check the production process, look out for wastages and make sure that there are none, and it will always be that way. Sustainable fashion is the future of fashion because without it, we may not even have enough resources to grow into our highest potential as an industry.”
“It’s undeniable that the youth in Bangladesh have been doing massive things for the fashion industry. More than anything, I deeply feel that the masses look up to young, influential people who are known for their artistic choices and how they carry themselves.” – Raniah Dowla Ahmed
An overview of the Bangladesh market and consumer
Bangladesh as a country has seen a massive shift in the recent past, especially when it comes down to fashion. A country that has since ages been associated with and labelled as one of the biggest manufacturing hubs for the international fashion world, is finally changing the definition by taking control in its own hands – thanks to the young adults namely, the millennials and the Gen Z who have been launching their own homegrown labels in the country.
Commenting on the fashion and design market in Bangladesh, Raniah said, “In recent years, it’s undeniable that the youth in Bangladesh have been doing massive things for the fashion industry. More than anything, I deeply feel that the masses look upto young, influential people who are known for their artistic choices and how they carry themselves. Hence, with the growing number of influencers and fashion bloggers in Dhaka, it’s been very clear to me as a designer that most customers are driven from these factors, at least for now.”