ASA SADAN | The Cape Town Based Fashion Label Speaking To Luxury, Heritage, Tradition and Modernity

Named after founder and creative director, Imran Mohamed‘s grandmother, the recently launched luxury label with a focus on heritage, tradition and modernity, references his own heritage and delineation of the South African-Asian diaspora, as well as serving as an ode to previous generations’ role in dismantling systems of oppression. The name ‘Asa’ (pronounced ‘ay’ – ‘sah’) is a Malaysian/Indonesian adaptation of the Persian name ‘Asa’ (pronounced ‘ah’ – ‘sah’), with a multitude of meanings including ‘beautification’, ‘adornment’, ‘might’, ‘power’ and ‘capability’.

ASA SADAN is a luxury, heritage apparel concept that is currently being developed into a commercial brand venture. The brand seeks to reference themes, motifs and iconography of South African heritage, with particular focus on the culture and experience of fifth and sixth generation Asian-African diaspora in Cape Town. This eastern ancestral lineage has preserved artisanal techniques such as tailoring and couturier, referenced at various levels in the identity and designs of the brand.

The notion that the efforts of our forefathers have resulted in the opportunities that we are able to realise today lies at the heart of the brand’s manifesto. On a more personal level, the apparel concept references various levels of my own culture, tradition and lived experience. At a macro level, various influences and inferences of a broader South African context lie within the designs and brand identity.‘ – Imran Mohamed

Presented here in partial is the brand’s inaugural collection, ‘Dissertation Study’ (as an extension of Mohamed’s studies at art and design school, Central Saint Martins); with a womenswear offering currently in development:

The M-65 military jacket, tac vest & artillery, is representative of South Africa’s violent history, from the highly disciplined military resistance of uMkhonto we Sizswe (‘The Spear of the Nation’), to the violence experienced across the country in contemporary South Africa as a result of critical levels of inequality and poverty. The tailoring techniques deployed within the construction of the garments are referential of the generational artisanal skill in traditional garment creation, commonly found in the South African-Asian diaspora communities. The tapestry and accessories, such as the ‘fez’ hat, references the strong presence of Islam within the Cape, as well as in broader South African society.

Creative Journey

Inspired by the challenges of his parents and grandparents in order to provide opportunities for the next generation, founder and creative director of ASA SADAN, Imran Mohamed, began his creative journey through studies in engineering and real estate sciences, which taught design from a financial, product and spatial perspective, before expanding into the art, fashion and design fields.

Fees/Rhodes Must Fall prompted an immediate solution generation, which led to Mohamed co-founding the Youth In Property Association (at executive level), aimed at tackling land reform in SA. This led to his acquiring of independent real estate consultancy roles working with various corporates around innovative commercial real estate, such as manufacturing of new building materials and waste recycling facilities, while simultaneously pursuing his passion for art  and design through various attempts at developing accessories and apparel brands. However, a lack of formal training and knowledge led to a costly failure and prompted Mohamed to seek formal training, but without full time study.

After graduating with Honours (2017), he joined local label i&i as design intern. Mohamed subsequently joined local travel goods & accessories company Research Unit as design intern, where he eventually become a bags and accessories designer. Alongside these various design roles, Imran went on to study fashion part time concurrently at Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion Design. With the ultimate vision of building the corporate infrastructure to facilitate the growth of local creative businesses outside the realms of trend-based, high consumption product, Mohamed went on to do his Master of Business Administration at art and design school Central Saint Martins’ in London, which challenges the traditional MBA by focusing on creative process, art and design thinking and practice to analyse problems and develop innovative and disruptive solutions. Despite being one of the youngest in the cohort, Mohamed was team lead on all group projects and ultimately graduated with cum laude. 

ASA SADAN is the first of three projects presented for Mohamed’s dissertation at Central Saint Martins’, exploring the intersection of art and geopolitics, with a focus on South African history through a contemporary lens, with garment as the primary medium. His other works look to moving image and object design as alternative mediums in altering the social consciousness. The broader positioning of Mohamed’s work offers insight into how multidisciplinary art practice can facilitate the change in the historical narrative as well as serve as the foundational thinking for a solution generation.

Dissertation Study Lookbook:

Creative Director: Imran Mohamed

Photographer: Hishaam Abrahams

Model: Yaeesh Dollie

Assistance: Zainab Abrahams


Written & Directed: Bathandwa Ngwendu 

DOP & Photography: Tshireletso Calvin Dithipe 

Editor: Bathandwa Ngwendu & Tshireletso Calvin Dithipe 

Styling: Bathandwa Ngwendu 

Models: Bathandwa Ngwendu, Tshenolo Mohlahli, Ndzalama Shiburi

Assistance: Thato Bokote, Tiisetso Khaudi Moreki

Commercial offering to follow shortly.

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