Karachista: Fashion Pakistan Council answers its critics

Fashion weeks reflect the ethos of the city.

Salima Feerasta May 28, 2013
FPW Maheen Khan


Fashion Pakistan Council has been under fire recently, with former CEO Amir Adnan joining PFDC and unfavourable comparisons between Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW) and PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week (PSFW). So are designers disillusioned with FPC and is the council a spent force? Nothing could be further from the truth.

The self-same designers from Karachi who contributed to making PSFW such a success this year confirmed that they have had very positive experiences showing at FPW. Shamaeel Ansari says that it’s ridiculous for people to talk about the demise of the council. “You have to consider all our events over the years,” says Ansari. “In April last year our fashion week was by far the strongest of the season. It makes business sense for our members who have already shown here [Karachi] to go to Lahore this time round and we encouraged it.” Designers Nida Azwer and Shehla Chatoor confirmed that they would have shown at FPW if it had not been so close to PSFW.

“From a business point of view, it’s very important to show in Lahore and Karachi,” says Umair Tabani of Sania Maskatiya. “They are both huge target markets.”

With Karachi as its home ground, FPC is the natural choice for shows in Karachi. We should expect different things from fashion weeks in Lahore and Karachi, as they will always reflect the ethos of the city. After all New York Fashion Week is very different from London Fashion Week.

Models with Maheen Khan, Deepak Perwani, Shehla Chatoor at FPW4

This time around FPC suffered because of the unsettled security situation in Karachi. In spite of this background, FPC put together a very creditable event that was covered by the Wall Street Journal and Vogue India. Their partnership with Hum TV ensures excellent coverage for designers within Pakistan. Adding to that, FPC’s hook-up with the Style 360-Labels e-store opened up international markets for designers who showed at FPW.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the line-up at FPW this time was not as good as it should have been. Designer Maheen Khan concedes that the content editing should have been tighter at FPW and that perhaps some of those selected were not ready for the ramp. However, as Ansari points out, there is a learning curve for new designers and even good designers sometimes fall flat on their faces at fashion weeks. It’s necessary to give talented new designers a chance at high-end platforms and inevitably some will not manage to rise to the occasion. They will, however, learn from the process and come back stronger if they are genuinely talented. There is some truth in this observation by Ansari, but FPC needs to strike a better balance between emerging talent and established designers.

Both Khan and Ansari insist they have very cordial relationships with Sehyr Saigol and are happy to collaborate with PFDC at any time. They encourage their members to show at PFDC and welcome members of PFDC to show at their events. They have even proposed that the two councils work together to promote fashion weeks, one in Karachi and one in Lahore — providing each other with logistical and other support.

“It’s time to stop this petty Lahore-Karachi comparison,” says Maheen Khan. “We need to think nationally as an industry. We are one nation and I feel these divisive reports are detrimental to the fashion industry as a whole.” She also stresses, “FPC has always, first and foremost, been about the business of fashion.”

FPC undoubtedly works hard for its members in this respect. Twice a year it takes contingents of designers for a show at the Panglian Club in Singapore, which has helped many of its members develop a client base in Singapore. It collaborated with the Pakistan Trade Development Authority to send members to the Pakistan Expo in Delhi. Similarly, the council also collaborated with Pakistan Fashion Week in London, getting concessional rates for its designers to participate.

In the last few years Ansari has revamped and properly structured the business and legal side of the council. Meanwhile a stellar generation of designers has come of age. Designers like Nida Azwer and Sania Maskatiya have immense affection for and commitment towards FPC.

“I have had a lot of support from council members and have learnt a lot from them,” says designer Maheen Karim. Ansari reveals that she has confirmations from Tabani, Chatoor and Karim that they will be extended board members for the next event. This new generation has the potential to add fresh skills that will complement those of the original team. The future looks very bright indeed for FPC.

Top Recommendations from designers for Fashion Pakistan Week

*  FPW should be in autumn. Spring is already crowded with lawn launches and PSFW

*  The presence of regional stockists from India, Dubai and Singapore is highly desirable from a sales point of view.

*  Content editing needs to improve. Newer designers should be better mentored and their collections edited into capsule collections if necessary

*  There needs to be clear delegation of tasks so that each member of the board has well-defined areas of responsibility.

*  FPW needs a high-end, long-term major sponsor

Oxford-grad Salima Feerasta is a social commentator and lover of style in any form or fashion. She blogs at karachista.blogspot.com and tweets @karachista

Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2013.

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Shaista | 9 years ago | Reply

FPW needs a high-end, long-term major sponsor- this answers all, as SPFW has it in terms of branding partner and hospitality sponsor for venue.

A.M.Khan | 9 years ago | Reply

Karachi-Lahore comparison is the most sucky topic I know!

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