With the introduction of Fashion Pakistan Week in 2009, Pakistani designers have managed to beam their work worldwide. But if they are to compete on an international level, an enhanced knowledge of past and present styles from foreign cultures, global trends and increased exposure to larger sources of inspiration is essential.
Local designers need to move beyond the notion of “pretty clothing”, and add layers of meaning to their work; add some proverbial meat to the bones!
Styling for shows and shoots is also in need of a massive update (feathers, Afghan jewellery headdresses and paranda pom poms should not be the standard go to!). That is not to say that everyone was behind on current trends at Fashion Pakistan Week 2010. Sanam Chaudhri’s collection was an interesting mix of modern Pakistani fashion, infused with tribal elements and 1980s bright colours. The Flashdance inspired cut-out neon socks were a particularly nice touch. Rizwanullah’s black-and-white collection picked up on the architectural clothing trend. The tailoring was clean and structured and the panelling was futuristic. He introduced a Pakistani element through the notion of veiling and unveiling by using the burqa as outerwear.
In the US and Europe, fashion works almost 18 to 24 months in advance. Designers are expected to be professors of the past and predictors of the future and conduct extensive research.
How do they do this?
Evergreen: Visiting museums and art galleries, gathering copious cuttings from magazines, and watching films and plays for costume inspiration.
Online: While Style.com and Who WhatWear.com are industry staples, the rising trend is towards blogs like The Sartorialist, StreetPeeper, or Fashion Rookie.com (the writer of this one is only 13!). These independently-run blogs creatively cover stylish street wear around the world and current movements in fashion and art.
Vintage: Shopping the local and international market for current or vintage samples is an intrinsic part of an international designer’s job. With an uncanny eye, designers look for patterns, identifying two and five-year trends. They pick up vintage or current samples with details, styles or tailoring techniques to support them.
Tradeshows: Designers also visit industry tradeshows and vendors for the latest material and trim samples. Premiere Vision and Lineapelle are the larger trade shows, geared to reflect future trends in technology within their categories.
Forecasting: The most useful and expensive tool for providing creative intelligence is the forecasting house. Pantone, Trend Union and WGSN specialise in trend tracking, fashion analysis and colour forecasting. Trend Union and Pantone regularly publish trend and colour forecasting reports (some of which are free) on their websites and through books. WGSN also has city by city in-store pictures of the latest fashions. For a designer unable to travel, it is a service well worth the money.
In-house: Large brands like Liz Claiborne prefer to conduct trend analysis in-house for its subsidiary brands. An entire floor is devoted to housing inspirational material for designers. Swatches, fabrics, samples, magazines, audio visual presentations, books and photographs etc are sourced from all over the world as creative fodder for designers.
Through adopting international methods of trend research, Pakistani designers can broaden the scope of their exposure and break the entrapments of the desi visual vocabulary. After all, now that Pakistan is on the global fashion map, designers should cast their creative nets a little wider and use whatever tools necessary to stay tapped in.
www.Nymetro.com (fashion section)
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Published in the Express Tribune, June 16th, 2010.