With the sudden explosion in the fashion and lifestyle niche on a retail level, one can see how every second woman, who is working from home, has also delved into these fields. It has become a joke in society that literally everyone is a ‘designer’ of some kind (the term being used rather loosely and often abused as well). But while we poke fun at these home-based designers, it is also a healthy sign that a whole new market has emerged from these home-based workers.
Now that we can observe some economic activity in the life and style sphere, what we need next is someone to aesthetically hone this activity and talent into larger commercially viable ventures. With a severe dearth of avenues for vocational training, these home-based workers and even fresh graduates from design colleges, have no ‘go to’ place that can guide and polish their skills for the market. Fashion journalist Aamna Haider Isani has taken a much-needed step by initiating a course entitled ‘Fashion Media 101’ that she holds regularly at her residence in Karachi.
Taking cue from this lapse, Lahore-based initiative The Knowledge Factory (TKF) held a small panel examination of sorts whereby amateur designers presented their work for a panel of interior and fashion designers, along with a fashion retailer and journalist to review and critique their work.
The fashion showcase is spearheaded by Farhat Ahmed of the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design (PIFD), Zain Ali, whose family operates Fashion Pakistan Lounge, and Ayesha Alam, who is a partner at TKF. The impetus for the exhibit came from Alam’s desire to create liaison opportunities between the market and young talent. “You don’t get training on how to survive in the real world at colleges and universities,” says Alam. “Therefore, we wanted these young people to get to meet, interact and get advice from professionals.”
The applicants register for a very nominal fee and are first selected by the TKF team before they are presented to the panelists. Since the project is its initial stages, the team relied on word of mouth to shortlist applicants, but it has been said that a proper process will be formulated in the days to come. “We will hold this event three times a year. Once before the graduation of design students, once in midsummer and once in midwinter,” states Ali.
For the event’s inaugural round, seven people made the cut, out of which four young women stood out for their extraordinary work. These were Hayyah Ahmed, for her use of suzani motifs in accessories and interiors, Redah Habib, for her interpretation of Mughal miniature prints on lamps, Ammara Javed for introducing delicious pop art interiors and Zoya Butt adapting current colour blocking trend to create funky militaryesque kurtas. What was remarkable about the first three girls was that all of them came from University of the Punjab (PU) and effectively managed to crush the stereotype that only private art schools are capable of generating creative progeny.
While Ahmed and Habib were advised and showed the desire to work under an established lifestyle label, one could see Javed (the distinction holder at PU) easily create her own pop art brand, as she experimented with products ranging from fabric, furniture, wall installations to even crockery.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2011.
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