(Published in Instep, The News on Dec 31st, 2012)
Like each preceding year, 2012 was another year when the fashion industry experienced tremendous evolution and grew from strength to strength. New players emerged while old ones upped their game; in a bird’s eye view it was a happening year.
Fashion Pakistan Week made a comeback:
2012 marked the return of Fashion Pakistan Council endorsed Fashion PakistanWeek after a hiatus of two years. FPC, which prides itself for organizing the first ever council sponsored fashion week back in 2009, went a bit astray since then. Departures of several CEOs, lack of organizational structure and the shaky climate of the country pushed the council into hibernation but it finally regrouped this year, brought some order into council business and held a fashion week in April featuring all the bigwigs from Sana Safinaz and Umer Sayeed to Nomi Ansari and Deepak Perwani. The council under its new CEO, Shamaeel Ansari had a second coming in October with the Autumn/Winter edition of the fashion week.
PFDC opens the gateway to India:
One of the major happenings of the year was the opening of a PFDC store in Delhi, India. Pakistan Fashion Design Council expanded their PFDC-The Boulevard franchise to India after opening stores in Karachi and Lahore.
The store conceived in collaboration with Indian fashion entrepreneur Mini Bandra was inaugurated in September with a fashion showcase featuring 18 Pakistani designers. The store not only features PFDC affiliated designers but offers up names like Rizwan Beyg, Sana Safinaz and Ayesha Hashwani as well. Fashion show held at the opening featured Mahira Khan, Qurat-ul-Ain Baloch and Sonya Jehan to bring in the glamour and prestige.
PFDC Boulevard, Delhi is a first of its kind venture which has taken Pakistani fashion to a foreign shore and who better to execute this project than PFDC and its super savvy head Sehyr Saigol. The store will present the perfect medium for local designers to present the Pakistani aesthetic that is marginally distinctive from the Indian one in its use of colours, silhouettes and embroideries. And one has to commend the swiftness with which PFDC moved to get a step in as soon as trade avenues opened up.
Sania Maskatiya shows how it’s done:
While 2011 was the year that saw Sania Maskatiya make an impactful entry into the fashion world with her Dilkash collection, that led to her being labeled as a most promising upcoming designer, 2012 was the year she substantiated her position, took home the Lux Style Award for Luxury Pret and proved she means nothing but business. With collection after collection, despite having a newborn to care for, Sania Maskatiya and her team cracked the perfect formula of fusing signature artistic aesthetic with commercialism. Her fashion forward prints and cutting edge drapes were not only critics’ favourite but her designs were an equally hot retail commodity too.
Sania Maskatiya – with the aid of her very business savvy brother Umair Tabani, who oversees the business side of her design house – accomplished what not even the established old guns can boast of: she sold what she showcased at fashion weeks. Fashion week collections always made their way onto racks and red carpets, and she achieved mass availability via multi-designer boutiques. All above attributes are very seldom spotted in our fashion industry where more than 50 per cent of the fashion week collections never make their way into retail.
Feeha Jamshed’s gears up for a massive attack:
Feeha Jamshed was touted as one of the brightest new name on fashion’s horizon when she first emerged back in 2009. Daughter of Tanveer Jamshed of Teejays, Feeha’s unique fusion pieces, her drapes and cuts could never receive their due appraise and exposure as her work was marred by inconsistency.
Her sister’s tragic death in 2011 came as a shocking setback; she had to turn down a golden opportunity to show at Pret-A-Porter in Paris. 2012 was the year of return for her, and a sense of melancholy ran deep in the collections she showed at various showcases.
She emerged out of the tragedy stronger than ever and launched her own eponymous label compromising of couture, pret and an affordable FJ Mass line. FJ Mass, consisting of extremely affordable pieces under 5000 rupees, has branched out her creativity on a potentially bigger and commercial scale letting a more varied customer enjoy her designs. Will she keep up this consistency in 2013?
Online retailing makes a powerful entry:
While the phenomenon of online shopping is a decade old idea, it wasn’t until 2012 that Pakistan got its very own version of net-a-porter in the form of Labels eStore. It brought all the mainstream big names just a few clicks away from the reach of consumers from North America to Far East.
One of the biggest hitch that designers faced up until now was the problem of mass availability, it is just not financially feasible for a designer to have a flagship store in more than one or at most two cities of the country, advent of multi-designer houses solved the issue to some extent but even their presence is limited to major cities. Thanks to the digital accession of Labels eStore, designer wear is available to everyone even if they don’t have access to a physical outlet.
Labels eStore is a first of its kind initiative in Pakistan that offers all kinds of designer wear from fresh off the runway collections to made to order bridal pieces in every corner of the country and abroad via home delivery. Powered by fashion entrepreneur Zahir Rahimtoola – the man behind the multi designer store Labels – the idea of fashion accessibility was brought to a whole new level with Labels eStore.
Fashion blogging becomes the new rage:
2012 was the year when fashion bloggers became a force as they tweeted, blogged and made Facebook pages. They covered fashion weeks live from the venues, spotted red carpet trends, updated us minute by minute and made their presence felt loud and clear. From Fashion Pakistan Week to PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week and PFDC L’Oreal Bridal Week to product launches and collection displays, bloggers were an intrinsic part of fashion affairs as PR agencies realized their online clout and kept them in the loop. It’s a whole new dynamic and one that will get more influential with time as Pakistan catches up with the world.