Pakistan woos the West with fashion week

Daring denims and micro miniskirts are not typical on Pakistan catwalks, but at the capital's first ever fashion week, designers have turned to risque Western styles to lure foreign buyers back.

With the national economy hit by crippling debts and a torrid political scene, fashion industry insiders hope the modern designs can capitalise on the country's long-standing reputation as a global textile capital.

Islambad's glitterati, a niche group of fashion-forward entrepreneurs in the largely poor nation, held a four-day design showcase to encourage international business - scared off by the threat of Taliban bombs - to return.

"One reason for doing this is to bring the buying power of the world back to Pakistan," said organiser Tariq Amin, the country's best known stylist.

"Because of the current situation and the political situation, it's difficult for them (buyers) to want to come to Lahore and Karachi, so Islamabad... the embassies are here, there's a lot more security."

Security was indeed tight at Islamabad's luxury Serena Hotel, as models picked from the streets of Pakistan's main cities sashayed down the runway, showcasing the country's talent for colourful ornate and sheer fabrics.

Edgy and bold off-the-shoulder cuts hit the runway alongside more familiar long floating dresses, less likely to offend sensibilities in the devout Muslim nation.

Designers hope that by slashing hemlines they can maximise foreign profits.

"You can't sell shalwar kameez in the West," said Amin, referring to the plain cotton tunic most commonly worn by men in Pakistan.

Pakistan's textile and clothing industry brings in 60 percent of the country's export revenues, according to official data, making it critical to reviving economic fortunes, made worse by devastating floods last year.

While other Pakistani cities such as Karachi are used to holding fashion shows, Islamabad is new to the scene. A total of 32 designers put on catwalk shows from Thursday to Sunday.

But the audience was largely Pakistani, with few foreign buyers seen milling around outside the hotel's large conference hall where new and more established designers staged their shows.

One buyer, Iranian Soheil Mazinani, of fashion house Asmaneh, said the event's success would be judged by future business, not by its popularity this time around.

Likening the show now to a "baby", Mazinani said: "I think after one or two years it can grow and you will see a lot of buyers."

But he admitted he would not be making any purchases on this trip, and that the Western styles would be equally out of place on the streets of Iran.

"We are just getting familiar with the different designers and manufacturers," he said, adding: "Ladies can wear them for celebrations, in parties or private events - underground."

Fashion is a key engine for growth for countries such as Pakistan, said Paco De Jaimes, founder of the not-for-profit World Fashion Association, which aims to foster poor nations' participation in the lucrative fashion business.

"(Fashion is) one of the main sectors (in Pakistan) and this helps very much countries to recover their economies," said De Jaimes.

"People don't realise how fashion industries contribute to the eradication of poverty, to social integration, to empowerment of women," he said.

"Any kind of initiative that can promote that foreign step is always good."

Zohra Khokhar, a 25-year-old designer who works with her mother for their label Deeba & Zoe, said they came to Pakistan from Scotland six years ago to capitalise on the availability of good materials.

"You can do everything here from start to finish, from the dyeing of the material to the finishing of the beads and everything," she said.

But breaking into the market is now harder than ever because of global inflation pushing up manufacturing costs, she added.

"What people need to understand is that Pakistan's not as cheap as they think. All over the world prices have gone up... so materials are dearer, labour's dearer, you can't expect to get a massive profit out of it."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

    £300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

    Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

    Newly Qualified Teachers

    £90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently looking fo...

    Year 3/4 Teacher

    £120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Job Share Year 3/4 Teacher...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments