Pakistan Fashion Week 6: Fashion Designers 2014 in Karachi & Lahore
KARACHI: With each passing year, as fashion weeks increased in number and scope, what we saw was the successive regimen of designers, whether they hailed from Karachi or Lahore, remaining glued to their respective stations and promoting the cultural norms of the city they resided in. For Karachi-based designers it was FPW, and for Lahoris it was always, always meant to be PFDC.
This year however, fashionistas will witness history in the making, as many of the Lahore-based designers are putting their best step forward, and showcasing their collections on the ramp at the upcoming FPW6.
We spoke to some of these designers to ascertain the thought-process behind their arrival at the city of Karachi.
Entry point: Who’s coming?
Kamiar Rokni, one of the designers coming to Karachi to showcase his collection, recalls, “Last time we showed at FPW was in their second year. We debuted our diffusion line Tia 1 there.” Why did it take so long for him to show at FPW again? He asserts, “The opportunity did not arise. It is difficult to show at two fashion weeks. This time around, Tapu asked us to do a segment for his Tapulicious show, and it sounded like a blast. We are very excited to be doing this segment for Tapu Javeri. He is Tia’s uncle, and the prints have been inspired by his aunt Mariam Seedullah, who is Tia’s grandmother, as well. We had fun designing the pieces.”
This is Ali Xeeshan’s FPW debut, a decision he has taken keeping business in mind. He says, “We are opening the Ali Xeeshan Theater Studio in Karachi. FPW would be an amazing platform to enter the market. Hopes are high from FPW6 as I have been getting a great response and appreciation from Karachi!” Why didn’t he opt to show at FPW earlier on? “Honestly, I wasn’t too comfortable with the old management!” comes his candid reply. The dynamic new management of FPW now consists of Sanam Chaudhri, Wardha Saleem and Maheen Karim, and this will be the first fashion week that the new council will be spearheading.
Xeeshan’s view remains that one should welcome the collaboration between councils that is taking place, and quite aptly says, “I think we should stop using labels of Lahore-based designers or Karachi-based designers. Let’s call them Pakistani designers and be glad that the fashion industry is growing in the country.”
Rokni also sees FPW6, as an opportunity, saying “It’s nice to see everyone get along. There’s always strength in unity. Other than that, I don’t like making predictions. The fashion industry on the whole is doing well with retail business booming.”
Progressive step forward?
Another designer showing at FPW6 is Lahore-based Faraz Manan. This is his very first FPW appearance in Karachi, and he believes both councils have a similar modus operandi as far as fashion weeks are concerned. “I think both Councils are working towards the same thing, with PFDC’s strength being consistency, and FPW’s strength lying in their very liberal approach and open-mindedness, which is visible in the inclusion of younger designers in running the Council.”
From the council’s perspective, Saleem, CEO Fashion Pakistan Council (FPC) when asked where the industry is headed, said, she was of the opinion: “The industry is heading towards a progressive side. If you look at it from the business point of view, it’s very good in a way. So many designers are coming here to exhibit their collections. Councils are here to facilitate designers, and more so to explore opportunities for these designers.” Saleem adds, “[Through this] platform, we help them showcase at the ramp side by side, so they can avail an opportunity to stock these off — the-ramp collections on the shelves of Ensemble and Labels E-store, too.”
Manan has a similar view, “I think fashion is headed in the right direction, because this is probably one of the only industries in the country which is growing despite glitches. With Karachi designers showing in Lahore’s PFDC and opening stores there, to Lahori designers showing at FPW and opening studios in this city, I think both Councils are headed down the same path of progress and sharing.”
The underlying politics
On a bittersweet note, Manan adds, “I think the politics is definitely diminishing, because it’s the order of the day. Favouritism and biased reviews can only take you so far. It is business at the end of the day. Consistency is the only thing that makes you big. Anyone who will accept it, will grow, and the rest will fail.” For Xeeshan, the assertion that politics have disappeared altogether is an erroneous one. “Politics will always be there, with highs and lows!” says the designer, emphatically.
Nomi Ansari, who has always made it a point to show at fashion weeks in Karachi as well as Lahore, says, “I wonder why the boundaries have been made. It’s wonderful that Lahore-based designers are coming here. Unity is one thing which can conquer anything. It is a great step ahead. We are super excited they are coming to Karachi, and the industry can grow bigger and better through this togetherness.”
The final verdict comes from Saleem, who says, “There is no politics. Designers are more than willing to participate in these fashion weeks. It’s not about that, it’s all about the benefits for the designers. It’s one big happy fashion family. I haven’t experienced any politics so far.”