Women shop for Eid and dress up in colourful garments but what is it that the men seek? A good kurta shalwar and footwear to go with it.
Eid is a celebration which is truly symbolic of Pakistan’s most loved activities: eating and dressing up. In recent days, the push and shove of consumerism has ignited this passion even further as people flock to shopping malls, grocery marts and meat shops to stock up so everyone can indulge in three days of a gastronomical overdose, all dressed up in elaborate clothing. One may wish to avoid family gatherings, pretty blingy clothes and meetha but when it comes to Eid, there is no way you can do it. Everybody must eventually be a part of the celebration that Eid is.
Women love to step out during Ramazan, a passion that is evident by the sheer number of them seen shopping endlessly in bazaars and running around to tailors. Some opt to pick one outfit off the rack and with the choices which are now available in the market, it is anything but easy to pick a ready-to-wear outfit. And it is not just dressing up; they prepare and supervise preparation of endless quantities of sweet treats. In all this, one ponders how it fares for men. All they need is a kurta shalwar and shoes or slippers to go with it. Or at least that’s what I think.
Men too have to shop, even if it is just for kurtas and slippers. For years, my staple shopping would be a Khaadi kurta. Almost like a ritual, I would wear it with slippers or sandals. However, this time, I thought I would experiment a little and try something new so I walked into Koel — a brand by artist/gallery owner Noorjehan Bilgrami who has been working with reviving natural looms and dye techniques for decades. A handloomed cotton ivory kurta with dull thin stripes probably done from a natural dye was my pick, which I paired with a cotton pant from Khaadi. But for most men, a simple Khaadi kurta would still work, and for even a larger group of people a J. (Junaid Jamshed’s brand) would be the brand of choice. Some pockets of people also visit designer brands like Amir Adnan — who set the stage for many to follow. Munib Nawaz, Ismail Farid, Abdul Samad, Ahmed Bham and many others cater to their niche of customers.
Then there are those who like to stick to their custom-made outfits, for which Moosajees and other such brands are the Eid stops. And for the not-so-particular, tailors putting together the national dress are aplenty. A well-stitched white cotton shalwar kameez still beats everything else and the ‘awaami dress’, as popularised in the 70s by the likes of Bhutto, remains to be a classic. Similarly, a black shalwar kameez has its appeal too but the summers which keep it at bay.
Talking about feet, there is a whole array of choice out there. To make the affair more formal, one looks at buying a good pair of loafers or shoes in black or brown. However, a good pair of leather slippers is still something that would be best paired with the shalwar kameez. There are a number of classic styles one can opt for, starting from the kohla puris which have a significant Indian influence to the Peshawaris from the North. Where the former has a soft, elegant appeal, the latter is famous for its rough feel and mass appeal. And then you obviously have the regular slippers (slip-ons) which you can get in various shapes. The sandals made by sportswear brands like Adidas and Nike are popular with the younger generation and so is a pair of Crocs — but I dare not touch them!
The writer is a former print and broadcast journalist who has worked at The News and Geo TV.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2012.