Fashion is not frivolous. It can thaw boundaries and create a genial atmosphere. A proof of that is the coming of the Pakistan Fashion Design Council to India
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: October 20, 2012
Fashion is not frivolous. It can thaw boundaries and create a genial atmosphere. A proof of that is the coming of Pakistan Fashion Design Council to India.
“India is not their big problem. The younger generation in Pakistan, in fact, wants to be friends with Indians and genuinely want a better relationship with us,” said one of my university professors, who had just come back from a visit to Pakistan. To be sure he did meet a lot of distrust and got a barrage of raised eyebrows from security personnels in Pakistan. But the general population welcomed him better.
Having only heard of stories on Lahore and Pakistani traditions from my grandparents, my only idea of Pakistan comes from the delectable meal I had at Singh Sahib, a restaurant at Eros Hotel (previously Intercontinental Eros), which serves the cuisine when India and Pakistan were one.
So when I heard about the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) launching a store in India, I was quite excited to see how the Pakistani designers will like India, what their creations will be like, and more importantly, how India will receive them.
On reaching the store, in the buzzing South Extension market of Delhi, I found many people running around, hanging up the clothes last minute and sweeping the tables of all the clutter. Eighteen Pakistani designers are being stocked here, there was bound to be a flurry of activity.
“I am very excited to be here even though I have showcased at Bridal Asia thrice,” said a very prettily smiling, Maheen Kardar Ali, design director at Karma. That excitement and willingness to do well in the Indian market showed on the face of every designer present.
But the PFDC fraternity was not clueless or abashed about coming to India. They know the Indian market and what they are dealing with. Designer Nida Azwer says, “We have been catering to clients in India. They call us or order through our website and we send it via Dubai. But it’s always better to give an option to clients to see, touch and feel a creation before buying.” Chairman of PFDC, the stately Mrs Sehyr Saigol, also echoed the same thought. “You may not be aware about our market, but we know your market very well. We are very confident. We have always had very good response for our fusion wear from here,” she said.
With not much of a price difference, it makes sense to indulge in these fashion creations from across the border, also because of the novelty they provide. Despite having similarities in trends and culture of fashion, both Ms Kardar Ali and Ms Azwer reiterated that their silhouettes are very different from those available in India. The long kurtas and farshi gararas (made very popular by Kareena Kapoor’s wedding recently) are indeed seeing a lot of interest from India. Apart from that, the craftsmanship is also very unique to Pakistan. “According to research, the embroideries relevant in Pakistan are only in Pakistan. Some stitches are indigenous to our region only,” said Mrs Saigol. Indeed, PFDC has also been involved in reviving old Pakistani crafts in collaboration with ‘Aik Hunar Aik Nagar’ (One Skill One Region). Mrs Mini Bindra, the franchisee of PFDC in India, who also has her own fashion label called Rubaaiyat, concurs that the “workmanship of Pakistani designers is very fine, intricate”, which will eventually make them sell to the discerning Indian audience.
But considering the political strife between India and Pakistan, how difficult was it to set up PFDC in India? “All kinds of businesses pose a challenge to the businessman, our challenges were no different from those,” Mrs Bindra said. As for future plans, the South Ex store is the only one as of moment, with no decisions been made regarding expansion. And from Mrs Saigol’s side, she is more than willing to welcome Indian designers to their stores in Pakistan.
Our fashion sensibilities and discerning attitude might be the same as Pakistanis, but their creations have a distinct flavour which no other country can match, much like our saris. So let’s extend a friendly hand and exchange fashion notes, shall we?
Coordinates: M-4, South Extension, Part 2, New Delhi, India