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Asim Khandker

Putting social and environmental responsibility at the core of his business, Asim Khandker, Founder & CEO of the cap brand Stiksen and BSc and MSc alum thinks digital fashion will become more powerful in the coming years. His team have already developed a virtual fitting room in the form of an Instagram filter, where one can try various cap models and switch between colors.

Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.

I’m the CEO and Founder of the cap brand Stiksen. Our take is that big logotypes don’t make great caps - excellent quality does. Running a small company, my time is spent across various tasks, ranging from high-level strategic decision-making to operational routine errands. I do everything from compiling pitch decks for fundraising to replying to customers on the website chat. Basically, you can say that I’m the one doing everything that’s not solely related to branding and communication, as that’s my co-founder’s responsibility.


What motivated you to start Stiksen?

I grew up in a Stockholm suburb with tons of influence from a certain subculture, since I played basketball and listened to a lot of hip hop music. For me, the cap has always represented a lifestyle and been a vital part of my fashion. Though, looking back at my track record and counting how many times I’ve been asked to take off my cap, I regret to say that it is a garment that traditionally hasn’t been accepted everywhere. With that said, I’m here to elevate the cap and bring it into all different kinds of settings!


Why is it important to you to make garments that are socially and environmentally responsible?

I think that at this point of time there’s no need to explain why environmental responsibility is important. The fashion industry accounts for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, so actions need to be taken. At Stiksen, we are really far from where we want to be, but we’re actively trying to improve step by step, e.g. by working with organic and recycled fabrics whilst having that sustainability mindset in every decision we make.

It’s interesting that you bring up the aspect of social responsibility and not only environmental. Many Western companies produce in Southern Europe where it is considered to be good working conditions, in the eyes of the Western consumer. However, a simple “made in Italy” label doesn’t give an actual guarantee on good circumstances rather, it only eases the Western consumer’s conscience and an imaginary perceived higher quality. Having Bengali parents, I was keen to produce in Bangladesh, a developing country as well as one of the world’s largest textile exporters. I personally think I can make a greater positive impact for a larger number of people by producing in Bangladesh under, good and controlled circumstances, rather than moving production to Europe just for the sake of the general perception.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t want to put those two different responsibilities against each other but just enhance the fact that it is important to consider both.


What excites you about your work? Where do you think the apparel/fashion field is going in the next 5-10 years?

One thing that really excites me is the continuous building of tiny blocks that one day (hopefully) will result in an impactful brand that talks to and inspires people. I think doing something completely from scratch is the actual beauty in my work. If Stiksen someday can enhance inclusion, integrate people and somehow “shrink the world” by cutting cultural distances, I’m satisfied.

Regarding industry trends, I’m expecting to see a couple of major shifts within the next few years.

  • The fashion field will move from being linear towards becoming circular. We have realized that we only have one planet and that we are accountable for our children’s future.
  • A few large marketplaces will replace small retailers since they have the budget to drive traffic. Brands will become more and more dependent on these marketplaces.
  • Digital fashion will become more powerful. Before web3, the metaverse and avatar fashion take off, I think there is a bit more to explore on the augmented reality (AR) side of fashion. I believe virtual fitting rooms is the next big thing. As a matter of fact, we have just developed and launched our own Instagram filter where one can try our cap models and switch between colors (try it here).


What appealed to you about SSE or the BSc in Business and Economics program when you were considering where to study?

Honestly speaking, I had no idea of what to do after my studies but I knew a graduation would benefit me at least in the start of my career. So Business and Economics was kind of a broad (and good) program that let me to postpone my choice of career path.


How has your time/education at SSE help guide you in your career so far?

SSE enabled me to try a lot of different jobs, leading me to realize what I both appreciated and disliked. The corporate network that SSE has is just fantastic and something one should utilize.


Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current students?

The student period is one of the best times in life to create great memories. Having genuine fun will create lifelong relationships. My biggest takeaway from my study period is the strong bonds I still have to my former classmates, not what I learned in the second Marketing course.


What are three words that sum up your time at SSE?

Challenges, friendships, guidance.