LAHORE: After giving up a career in finance, Zahra Saeed, a Pakistani American embarked on her journey in the realms of fashion and design. She tried her hand at designing from a studio in New Jersey. Over the next couple of years, the reach of her brand encompassed Pakistan, Europe and the Middle East apart from the United States.
After solidifying her ground in designing urban, chic, western wear, the designer ventured into Eastern wear, which was more suited for her Pakistani and Middle Eastern clientele. “It had been a challenge understanding the market here and designing outfits that can be sold,” says Saeed, “I returned to Pakistan after 12 years to visit and see what the market here was like.” With her production units set up in New Delhi, Zahra Saeed found production in Pakistan to be cheaper. “It took some time to get people here to work the way I wanted them to work and to maintain the standard my brand is used to,” adds the designer.
As the retail boom hit Pakistan, retailers have been entering the market, to not only provide, but also produce affordable fashion. Design houses have partnered up with these conglomerates to enter the prêt–à–porter and high street market. Enem stores have been around in Pakistan for decades and with their new expansion underway, they too have realised the importance of high quality affordable ready — to-wear line of clothing.
“There are more and more working women in Pakistan and it has become a hassle to hunt down tailors and get bespoke cottons stitched,” continues Saeed, “for this reason Enem approached me to design casual RTW for their stores that is no fuss and yet chic.”
This is where the concept for her latest project Ivy stemmed from. “It is an affordable fusion line of women’s fashion and accessories,” she says, “the new labels philosophy encapsulates the revival of timeless techniques such as block printing, chicken kari, screen printing and embroidery on cottons and silks within a more innovative context.”
“I love block printing and it is something I am very excited about and want to introduce it to the American market also,” says an enthused Saeed, “we are creating the blocks in house at my factory and then using them on cottons. It has been really fun working with them and understanding the concept since block print can only be done on untreated fabric and it has to be pure for the dye and colours to come out right.”
Along with introducing Ivy by Zahra Saeed, the designer is currently sampling fabrics for a collection she is doing for Nordstrom.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2014.
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