Rokeya Khanum is the founder and head designer of slow fashion brand Khanum's and an ambassador for the UK Bangladesh Education Trust. Though no path to building a successful clothing brand is linear, her journey to creating a business, which is set to turnover £1.5m this year, is perhaps like no other.
"My parents were Bangladeshi immigrants who came to London in the late 1970’s. They both worked as garment makers, so growing up I learned the meaning of craftsmanship first-hand," she explains. Rokeya herself became a single parent aged 17 and found herself living in hostels. It was sheer hard work and perseverance that led to her obtaining a BA and an MA degree in law, and starting Khanum's as a side hustle with the capital she raised from her 9-5.
Rokeya defines her personal aesthetic as "pretty sleek and clean" - a style agenda that is reflected in the luxurious designs of her eponymous brand. She also loves, "a minimal look but with statement accessories to finish it off."
"I love shopping from high street and vintage stores and mix it up with timeless bags and shoes from luxury brands," she tells Hello! Fashion, "My intent for my own personal style always considers cost per wear and if it will offer transitional, timeless styling. I’ve always loved fashion, and presentation as a designer in the industry is a must. It feels natural to me as I love getting dressed up and styling pieces."
Rokeya shared a week's worth of outfits with us and answered all of our burning fashion questions...
Wearing: Zara bomber jacket, Zara jeans, Topshop cropped t-shirt, Chanel bag and Chanel mules
This is an easy outfit to throw on, and it's comfortable which is always a must on a Monday. I spend most of Monday at my desk so the sling back mules are a must as I can kick them off under my desk.
Reviewing fabrics and samples
Wearing: Remain Birger Christensen jumper, Topshop leather trousers, Golden Goose sneakers, Miu Miu cap, Etsy bag
Again, another comfortable look. I knew I’d be running errands after work, so I wanted something cool but comfortable and easy to run around in.
Admin and legal work
Wearing: Vintage Blazer, Mango Top, Topshop Leather Trousers, Vintage Chanel Bag, Manolo Blahnik Shoes
It was an admin day, along with Zoom meetings with accountants and solicitors so I thought I’d dress the part for them.
Wearing: Mango Top, Zara Skirt, Bottega Bag, Cos Boots
I love this skirt and these boots. They elevate an everyday look that easily transitions into the evening.
Planning Paris photoshoots
Wearing: Vintage Blazer, Frankie Shop Top & Pleated Mini Skirt, Alaia Bag, Cos Boots
I wanted to go for casj-cool vibes with the oversized blazer, boots and the current it-bag. I went for dinner with my partner so again, it's a cute transitional look from day to night.
The Fashion Insider Low-Down:
How do you balance comfort and style?
My COS boots are so comfortable, I could run in them all day and still feel like they add a stylish touch to any look.
What are your go-to brands?
My go-to brands would be Reformation, Zara, Mango, Rokit Vintage and Chanel.
Do you have any fashion icons or inspirations that influence your style choices?
I currently love Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's style. I’m in my mid 30’s and sometimes I feel slightly confused about what to wear. Her style is very versatile. She presents casual or evening looks with so much sophistication and in an effortless nature - that's the look I aspire to have. I’m also loving Sofia Richie's accessorising on TikTok. Obsessed.
What is your weekday workwear wardrobe like, and how does it differ from your weekend attire?
My weekday and weekend outfits are actually pretty much the same depending on what I’m up to. During the week, Saturday night out or a Sunday lunch, I always try to make an effort. However, at home, comfies are of course a must. You’ll find me in PJs or sweats with my hair clipped back and no makeup. It has to be my favourite outfit.
What are your must-have accessories, and how do you use them to elevate your look?
This year, I have definitely maxed out chunky bangles and statement rings. I have them in every colour and will continue to invest in more. I also just love a chic bag. I have a mini Lady Dior in chrome silver and it easily elevates any look.
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest fashion trends, and do you incorporate them into your wardrobe?
I don’t always follow all the fashion trends. I can be slightly frugal and will find ways to recycle or upwork current pieces I have in my wardrobe to fit current styles. I only purchase current trend pieces if I know I’ll get my cost per wear and if I can potentially rent the pieces on ByRotation to get a return on investment.
Can you share some of your styling tips for mixing and matching pieces?
Accessorising is a must. Be it a simple pair of earrings or rings, a bag, shoes or even a belt! I think any basic piece of clothing can be worn in a way that presents forms of simplicity yet style.
What's your strategy for creating memorable looks for evening parties?
I wear my own brand, Khanum's. Our designs are statement pieces that ooze elegance. I would wear one of our embellished blazers or any of our floor-length dresses to create a look that is guaranteed to have people asking, “Where did you get that from?"
How do you balance comfort and style when you have long days of meetings and appointments?
Luckily enough, comfort in fashion is currently quite trendy. You can throw on an oversized blazer on top of a baggy t-shirt, mom jeans and some sneakers and still look cool. That's how I balance comfort, knowing how to mix comfortable pieces to still maintain a stylish look.