If there’s one thing Asad Tareen of The Designers is good at, it’s taking risks on young blood, fresh out of fashion schools that razzle dazzle on the ramp. Last year, he took a chance with newbies like Akif Mahmood and Mohsin Ali, who many assumed would be nothing more than one-hit wonders. Yet, Tareen not only stocked but ‘bought’ their collections for his store, effectively transforming his role from a mere stocker to a full on fashion buyer.
Taking this new role up a notch, Tareen, this year, intends on launching a collaborative pret line with the kitschy Mohsin Ali that he will stock not only at his store but other fashion retail avenues as well. “We want to create new partnerships with young, talented designers who have the capability but not the resources to branch out in a mutually beneficial manner,” said Tareen.
In keeping with his desire to launch exciting new names, Tareen got Wardha Saleem, this season’s hottest name at fashion weeks, along with the highly reputed Yahsir Waheed and Sania Maskatiya as well as lesser known labels Nida Ali and Umsha, who unfortunately took a back seat due to their extremely commercial fashion sense. Ali, however, experimented with metallics and peacock feathers, but her overall look seemed a bit too Maskatiya-inspired.
The all-important fashion weeks
Pairing these lesser known names with those that created their brand’s awareness through fashion weeks brought to the fore the importance of a fashion platform. There was a clear bifurcation between those whose work was shown at fashion weeks and those who hadn’t. The difference was obvious not only in their popularity, but also their aesthetics, finish and brand identity.
While Maskatiya is a name that has been riding high on the Oscar fame which she has supplemented with one creative collection after another and retail presence at all the major fashion avenues in the country — Ensemble and Labels as well as her own store — Saleem had yet to cash in on her fashion week hysteria and Waheed, despite his popularity in lawn, had not yet begun to play the fashion retail game as effectively as he pioneered and disseminated the concept of ‘designer lawn’.
In his first-ever pret collection, Waheed wowed everyone with derivatives of his organic ajrak line which he had showcased at last year’s PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week. And with the price range starting from Rs2,500 for his cottons and going up to a maximum of Rs12,000 for chiffons, Waheed offered serious competition to other designers. Even Tareen agreed,“These youngsters with nominal experience and high price tags should learn from Waheed. If someone like him can control price without compromising on quality and creativity, they can as well.”
However, the attraction that night was Saleem who catapulted into fashion fame with her vibrant rilli and chundhri collection.“I really like Wardha’s silhouette, it’s loose but international to the point that you can see this look in Milan and New York,” pointed out Nomi Ansari, a designer known for his love affair with colour. “Her look is trendy with an ethnic twist and it’s always something that relates to your roots,” he added. Even Faraz Salehjee of Chester Bernard fame couldn’t resist praising Saleem gloriously: “This is what clothes these days should be: fresh and fun. This is the ‘now’ of shalwar kameez.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.
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