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Friday, 27 December 2013

fashion went digital

KARACHI:  Fashion-wise, 2013 has been a great year with store launches, fashion weeks and plenty of design excellence. As year-end parties and weddings showcase the best of Pakistani fashion, here’s a look back at the milestones of this industry in 2013.
Fashion weeks

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The year 2013 saw runway shows by Fashion Pakistan Council in Karachi and Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) in Lahore. The two fashion weeks were far too close together, but overall, most of the big names in the industry took part at one of the two events. Deepak Perwani, Élan, Sania Maskatiya, Shehla Chatoor and Shamaeel showed some of the strongest collections. Karma, Rizwan Beyg, Sana Safinaz and Maheen Karim also shone and, in general, standards were very high. There was perhaps too much of a skew towards Western wear by many designers, but overall both fashion weeks were proud moments for Pakistani fashion.
This year also saw two Bridal Couture Weeks by Hum TV and a Bridal week by PFDC, the latter being much more credible from a purely fashion point of view. The Trade & Development Authority (TDAP) also put together a fashion showcase that was much better than previous years, and included several senior designers.
Lawn madness
Designer lawn hit new levels of insanity with more labels launching collections than ever before. One mill even enlisted a top Indian designer, J J Valaya, to design their lawn collection. In the rush to be the first on the market, there were lawn exhibitions as early as first week of February – before most Karachiites had even stowed away their shawls. The most sought after joras on the circuit were by Sana Safinaz, Sania Maskatiya, Élan and Nida Azwer. Some newcomers like Farah Leghari also sold well, but there are whispers in the market that some mills got their fingers burnt on designer lawn. However, overall sales remained steady – the versatility and ease of designer lawn has made it popular with customers. Lawn season looks set to be a major feature of the fashion circuit for the forseeable future.
Multi-brand stores flourish
While the big name designers have opened dedicated retail outlets, multi-brand stores have also flourished. The big three i.e. Labels, Ensemble and PFDC went from strength to strength, but many others also offered a great selection of designer labels. This year stores like Fashion Central joined the likes of Kaarigar, Just Brands, Showstopper, L’Atelier and Fashion Pakistan Lounge, offering customers a wide choice of designer wear.
The international connection
Pakistani designers have shown their collections all over the world. To name a few, HSY showed in Paris, Layla Chatoor showed in London, while Sania Maskatiya showed all over the US. Places as far flung as Singapore and Toronto have seen exhibitions and shows by Pakistani designers. Meanwhile, Pakistan hosted its first international trunk show with Bottega scion Corto Moltedo, who brought his collection of clutches to Labels, Karachi.
It’s been great to see creative passion underpinning a shift to a more professional approach within the industry as a whole. Today’s designers may be all about the business of fashion but they are hanging on to their artistic integrity too. The fashion industry has had a brilliant year and is set to reach new heights in 2014.
Online shopping
This year will be remembered as the year Pakistani fashion embraced the web market. In 2013, many renowned designers began to take online retail seriously. Labels e-store, which launched late last year, has become the industry leader, stocking Pakistan’s best designers online. Other multi-brand stores such as Showstopper and Fashion Central have also gone digital, delivering Pakistani fashion worldwide. Meanwhile Ayesha Farook Hashwani became one of the first Pakistani designers with a dedicated e-store. Other designers, such as SanaSafinaz, are on the brink of launching their own dedicated e-stores.
Retail prêt revolution
The way we shop changed  during this year. Sana safinaz, Nida Azwer and Sonya Battla all launched retail prêt outlets. Maheen Karim and Sanam Chaudhri chose to collaborate with high street giant Bonanza for retail prêt. Sania Maskatiya, who sparked a renaissance in fashion retail, expanded her operation with new stores in Lahore and Karachi. Ayesha Farook Hashwani’s retail outlet is all set to open its doors. In Lahore, Zara Shahjahan and Sara Shahid expanded and moved to new showrooms.  Even stores such as Threads & Motifs have realised the lure of ready-made outfits and now stock a wide range of ready-to-wear. Dolmen Mall in Karachi and MM Alam Road in Lahore have become symbols of our passion for prêt wear with multiple stores by many top designers.
Digital bandwagon
Digital prints were ‘the’ trend of 2013. Everyone from Shehla Chatoor to Nadia Ellahi embraced digital prints; we saw prints inspired by everything from William Morgan’s  pottery (Nida Azwer) to the Zodiac (Ayesha-Somaya). There are signs that the trend may fizzle out by next year, but 2013 was undisputedly all about digital.

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