Teem Khan (he/him) is a fashion designer.
The clothing Teem designs is an expression of him, of his story, of his dreams;
Teem never studied fashion; he was raised by it. His mother was a wedding dress designer. The lace, beading and delicate fabrics she used still work their way into his collections.
He started stitching at the age of 6, fastening elastics in trousers, applying buttons and snaps whenever his mother would let him.
He wanted to be a fashion designer, following in the footsteps of his mum. But as he grew older, he was relentlessly bullied for being “too girly,” and this dream faded away.
By the time he arrived in the UK to attend university in 2003, he had convinced himself that his calling was Travel Tourism and Care Management. But to support himself through university, he gravitated towards work in fashion retail.
After 10 years of living as a Londoner, Teem applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
He was refused. He was treated as a criminal: he was even detained.
When he was finally released, Teem was forced to claim asylum. The asylum process took over three years, during which he was not allowed to work to support himself. He was asked to survive on just 105 pounds per month. Despite the support of his friends, he ended up homeless and dependent on Home Office temporary accommodation-- where the bullying he’d endured as a kid flared up again.
Obviously, he did not have money to buy clothes during that time- so he started stitching again. He bought fabric on credit at Walthamstow Market, made clothes, and paid the merchants back when he could.
The Teem Khan label was born!
In the midst of this adversity, Teem had to create a safe space for himself in which to live his most authentic life. And his brand offers the same thing to his customers.
His Queer customers know adversity. They have been forced to live in the closet-- or even when living out, many are pressured to fit into cariacatures of what Queer people should look like, sound like, or be like. Gender nonconformity and the growing rejection of the binary in our culture is born from generations of hardship faced by Queer people; our experience being marginalised, our existence being criminalised, our dreams being crushed by discrimination and prejudice.
But we are moving past all that. Teem was granted refugee status in 2019. As a person whose rights are now recognised in the UK, Teem’s dream is to break barriers in the fashion industry:
- Barriers to his own success: they tried to crush him, but he got up every day, shook himself out and worked to achieve his goals, because he deserved that.
- Barriers to accessibility and affordability of bespoke, gender-fluid fashion; but Teem is working to ensure his customers are able to leave the boxes that society tries to put them in, and express themselves to the fullest, because they deserve that.
We all deserve to feel as unique and special as each of us are; and Teem Khan is here to serve the habillements!!!