By  on July 26, 2011

LAHORE, Pakistan — In the spotlight at Paris-based salon Atmosphère's in September will be eight popular Pakistani brands featuring women’s wear collections geared to compete in the international marketplace.

The labels combine their culture’s colors, aesthetics, craftsmanship and embroideries with contemporary Western cuts and tailoring.

The brands are Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, one the country’s most successful and prolific designers, whose garments have a regal glamour; Kamiar Rokni, known for his embroidery motifs and clean lines; Adnan Pardesy, who favors Western silhouettes and cuts; Khaadi, a design house that specializes in hand-woven textiles; Muse, a cleaner contemporary line offering day and eveningwear; Nickie Nina, by design duo Aliya Ali and Nabila Junaid, favoring a traditional Pakistani design ethos; Teejays, an established ready-to-wear brand with women’s and men’s lines, and Zaheer Abbas, a relative newcomer whose clothes appeal to a younger segment.

The brands will participate in dedicated daily fashion shows alongside the event’s Trendswash trend shows organized by Alexandra Senes.

The initiative reflects the ongoing modernization and standardization of Pakistan’s fashion industry alongside the fast-paced growth of the country’s textile and garment industry.

Considering that until recently, tailor-made indigenous outfits and bridal couture were the extent of the country’s fashion business, the industry has come a long way. However, designer Rokni, while acknowledging tremendous progress, said the synergy between the country’s textile sector and the design community has yet to happen, especially regarding value-added designer product.

Designers there face several challenges. Despite the existence of large apparel mills in Pakistan, the scale of the local ready-to-wear business remains limited and underdeveloped. Instead of garments being made in factories, they are mainly produced in smaller workshops. Hence, there is less standardization and with limited economies of scale, manufacturing costs are high. Most of the design studios and manufacturing capacities are located here and in Karachi, the country’s largest and most affluent cities.

Several initiatives are in place to help develop the sector, however. Since there’s a dearth of trained professionals to develop the country’s fashion industry, in 1995 the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design was set up to train fashion and textile designers, as well as marketing and merchandising professionals. The school is affiliated with Les Ecoles de la Chambre Syndicale Parisienne in Paris.

In 2006, an agreement was signed between the PIFD and the French Federation of Women’s Ready-to-Wear to develop Pakistan’s garment industry for the international market, with links between the Pakistan and French garment industries.

In the same year, the Pakistan Fashion Design Council was established to help organize designers and offer a platform for showcasing ready-to-wear collections through biannual fashion weeks. Due to the security issues in the country, however, buyers have not been attending the events in large numbers.

Pakistan’s design ethos is similar to that of neighboring India. But according to the PFDC, 90 percent of the embroideries of the subcontinent have their origins in Pakistan. The country’s cotton and silk textiles are also of a high quality. As well as helping designers shape their collections to appeal to the global market, the PFDC is actively promoting the country’s embroidery crafts sector as a means of providing livelihood to workers as well passing the skill on to a new generation of craftsmen.

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