Business lagged at Pakistan fashion week

Lahore: The third-edition of the PFDC-Sunsilk Fashion Week here definitely had a few shining stars, but lagged on the business-to-business element as wearability is always an issue for the local market and international buyers don`t purchase in bulk.

The four-day event, organised by the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC), concluded Friday. It saw 26 designers showcasing their collections at the Expo centre. What impressed audiences the most was the artistic aesthetics and creative imagination of the young designers.

Designers like Mohsin, Akif Mahmood, Omar Farooq (with his label Republic), Moeed Yousaf`s and Faryal Aftab`s label Muse, Burhan Khan, Fahad Hussayn, Zaheer Abbas, Teejays by Feeha Jamshed, Ammar Belal, and Fnk Asia by Huma Adnan, stood out for their excellent young, chic lines.

Others like Sadaf Malaterre, Adnan Pardesy, designer duo Nikki-Nina, Khaadi Khaas by Shamoom Sultan, and Sublime by Sara too fared well with their well-structured garments.

Pakistan being a market where short dresses, jumpsuits, asymmetrical gowns or dresses for women don`t cater to the masses, designers like Rizwanullah and Zaheer Abbas will have to think of ways to convert their tight-fitting designs for the local market.

According to Zahir Rahimtoola, chief executive officer of retail chain Labels, the first and the biggest one of the country, the issue one faces with fashion weeks is how the designers manage to convert their ramp creativity into rack designs.

"I must admit that these fashion weeks have put the country on the global map and the exposure is very good for the designers, but at the end of it, if one looks at it, the sole purpose of the event is to generate business," Rahimtoola told reporters from Karachi, as he skipped the fashion event.

"As I was travelling, I couldn`t attend, but again, I didn`t miss out on anything because the fashion week is still at a nascent stage and designers are taking all creative liberties to woo the international media and buyers. But if they are not able to convert the same line to street fashion, the sole purpose is defeated," he added.

With around 50-55 designers stocked at Labels, Rahimtoola said that at the end of the day, any retail store wants delivery and what Pakistani designers are lagging behind in is delivering the product and converting it into street fashion.

"At present, for local buyers, the fashion week-hopping is not working, because all these designers who showcase here, stock at my store and they will be sending their lines according to what sells.

"Apart from designer Kamair Rokni, none of the designers stock what they showcase on ramp. So may be one image-building process is done, the fashion week will start focusing on local market," he said.

But this is not the end of it. The designs of Nikki-Nina, Akif, Sadaf Malaterre, Republic and Zaheer Abbas have been appreciated by the international buyers. They have met them and are chalking out the logistics and the process of placing orders is still on.

"I loved Sadaf here. The breezy pastel shades line will be liked in my country and will go well with the sensibilities. As of now, I haven`t placed orders, but after we figure out costs and other things, I will do that," Nalini Aubeeluck, a buyer from Mauritius, told reporters.

In fact, Kuwait-based buyer Mehone Tahair from store Anotah will be placing orders with FnkAsia, Sublime and would be taking around 200 pieces each.

Though the fashion week saw just a handful of international buyers, PFDC executive chairperson Sehyr Saigol is optimistic about the future.

"We are a growing market and a lot many international buyers don`t know about us. Hence, to gain their confidence and spread the word around, we are inviting international media. So this is like a baby step that we are taking to reach on the top of the mountain.

"Once people around the world know about this event, we will get to see more international buyers," she added.

Saigol also insisted on the fact that the council is trying its best to help young designers to establish their brands, hence they are tying them up either with bigger designers or retail labels.

With each passing season, PFDC-Sunsilk Fashion week is getting better and hence business too will soon start building up once things fell in place, she added.


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