LAHORE: The year 2010 in Pakistan has been the year for fashion. Although to give credit where credit is due, the country’s first ever fashion week took off in November 2009 and set a precedent whereby a series of fashion weeks followed along with a deluge of independent and corporate shows.
From near oblivion to sudden ubiquity, the esoteric design community was soon suffering from a fashion fatigue when a couture show and the announcements to yet two more impending fashion weeks made its way before the year 2010 comes to a close. But what have we achieved, apart from of course, the ‘defying the Taliban’ syndrome, ‘soft power’ and entertainment for voyeurs in this one intense year of fashion, is a precious awareness that fashion not only exists but has come out in a big way.
The year also saw the country’s two, often warring, fashion councils from Karachi as Fashion Pakistan (FP) and from Lahore as Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) come to the fore. While the former initiated the trend of fashion weeks in the country by launching its first ever ‘credible’ fashion week in November 2009 in Karachi immediately after its key members, Maheen Khan, Rizwan Beyg and Deepak Perwani showcased at Milan.
PFDC followed suit in February 2010 in their hometown with a glamorous and efficiently organised fashion week replete with foreign buyers and press to up the ante.
Both councils made significant strides in their own way. Shamaeel Ansari, the spokesperson for FP said, “We were the pioneers of fashion weeks in the country, having the bravado to actually go ahead and do it in spite of the security threats and thereby set a precedent for others to follow.” CEO of FP, Amir Adnan expounded, “Constant publicity of the event on television created mass awareness that talent exists and these designers can be approached.”
Thus while FP created the hype needed to set fashion rolling, PFDC took the business of fashion forward by ensuring that the vital signs of a fashion week were in check with local and foreign press and buyers, and most crucially a VIP lounge where these two groups could liaison.
The fortuitous outcome of which was the alliance between a local and international fashion retail store as Labels opened at Dubai’s veritable Studio 8. Fifteen designers, both established and new, got the exposure and experience of stocking in an international market and diversifying the Pakistani market abroad. There was also much talk of designer wares being stocked at 42 Hang Ten stores across Pakistan that has yet to see light. Since the spokesperson for the PFDC was unavailable for comment there can be no follow up to this statement.
A significant move on FP’s part however was to demonstrate their seriousness for the business was to establish Fashion Pakistan Lounge (FPL), a retail space for designers from the council to stock in Lahore. It is was an astute business move that brought Karachi’s design aesthetic to Lahore and served as a counter response to PFDC’s own store. Till FPL’s opening, there had hardly been any presence of the council let alone any Karachi designer in Lahore except for Deepak Perwani who has his own outlet and Rizwan Beyg who stocks at Ensemble.
The next round of fashion weeks from both councils were rather lacklustre affairs. And despite the American Vogue featuring the event in its covetable September issue, by its second showing it was apparent that FP’s organisational structure needed tightening and stringent quality control and editing of collections was needed.
Consequently major restructuring took place within the council with new people appointed as heads. Former CEO Tammy Haq resigned with designer Amir Adnan, also a successful retail brand in itself, assuming responsibility. “What these fashion weeks from both councils has done is that it has raised the bar for fashion production,” he said. “Earlier there would be independent shows by designers so there was no comparison. Now with everyone showing collectively, there is an inherent yardstick and a sense of competition to do better.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2010.
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