Fashion discourse redefined

Experts discussed the growth of Pakistani fashion and the significance of the country’s economic relations with UK.

Photo: AYSHA SALEEM/saadia Qamar February 01, 2015
Peter Upton, country director, British Council Pakistan, Rabiya Javeri, secretary Trade and Development Authority of Pakistan, Nafisa Shah, MNA-Pakistan and Craig Speller, an entrepreneur gave statements. PHOTO CREDITS: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS


The talk titled, “Talking Fashion: Policy, Infrastructure and Sustainability”, was held at the BM Mural Room, at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture on Friday morning.

Commencing the discussion, Robin Davies, Director Sindh and Baluchistan, British Council coherently made clear three features that are of importance to British Council’s relationship with Pakistan: higher education, equity and finance and public support.

Ciaran Devane, CEO British Council initiated, “Pakistan is an important country for us and we are really interested in fostering a good relationship with its culture and arts.” Further delving into the subject, he said, “People to people interaction leads to the world becoming a better place. Pakistan is a country which has a very vibrant fashion industry. It’s where talent and creativity truly shine.”

Speaking on the subject of fashion from Pakistan’s end, Wardha Saleem, CEO of the Council said, “The progress of Fashion Pakistan remains the high point of the British council, which is here to promote fashion.” The designer further stated, “Fashion is a developing industry in the country. Our vision is to build Pakistan fashion locally as well as internationally.”

Later, Peter Upton, Country Director, British Council Pakistan introduced the panellist on the floor to touch base on issues facing the local fashion industry. Rabiya Javeri, Secretary Trade and Development Authority of Pakistan, Nafisa Shah, an MNA, and Craig Speller, an entrepreneur gave statements. Upton emphasised it was time the Pakistani voices be heard on the fashion front.

Beginning her discussion Javeri said, “One needs to realise the hard-work done by creative people of the Pakistani fashion fraternity - we cannot afford to neglect that.” Delving on a business note, she added, “With United Kingdom being our sixth strongest economic partner with zero per cent of rated duty on goods, we have a 90 per cent capacity to grow our business. The timings to grow this bond couldn’t have been more opportune.” She said she hoped to take the indigenous truck art and two truck artists from Pakistan to draw on the double decker buses in the UK.

Shah said, “Local women from our rural backgrounds need to be taken to policy-making forums. Women artisans in the rural community have little connectedness to the outside world. The beautiful worlds of colours need to be as much a part of cultural industries. There are stakeholders involved.” She mentioned Tuk, the Sindhi embroidery stitch which was specially introduced into the hot fashion scene of the world, today.

Appreciating the originality of Pakistani fashion, Speller alleged, “I have come across wonderful people in Pakistan, who are willing to understand the importance of creativity and are building on it.” He further went on to say, “There are many different areas of fashion that need to be understood. Also, this is about partnership and we are taking two steps at a time.”

Javeri reasserted that on regional lines, Pakistan has traded with Vietnam, Cambodia and China, but the nation cannot ignore the European Union. Also, small and medium enterprises have no appropriate work access to the EU. “Generally, it is all about branding and productivity,” she stressed.

 Designer Wardha Saleem

When Speller was asked on how small and medium enterprises can penetrate into a known British brand, he responded, “A retailer will take you on if you do a lot of convincing and represent and promote your brand right. But one needs to take one out to replace the other.”

Shah said, “Politics is tied up with economics. Even regional trade is a challenge for us, if we talk about it across the border. Emphasis must be laid on strengthening the bond and EU has taken that step for us.” She asserted that a liberal politician like herself would want to push for trade across the fence.

Speller said, “Finance is essential, it kind of changes the route map of a basic business model.”

Where Javeri stressed on brand sustainability for growth, Shah called for ethical fashion to come from Pakistan. But Speller was realistic to the core saying, “The consumer is more than aware. Corporations are well aware and know how to grow their money.”

On the theme of unison, Speller said, “One needs to work well with peers, a collective voice can have a major impact on the world.”

The British Council panel believed that three sectors are necessary to be targeted in Pakistan, namely, “films, fashion and digital world.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd,  2015.

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xyz | 6 years ago | Reply

OK so a discourse on fashion was held and not one big name from the fashion industry was amongst the panelists??? I can just imagine would a failure of a discussion it would have been.

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