Sana Safinaz and Maheen Karim’s flair

March 27, 2016 9:11 pm0 commentsViews: 6

Pakistan’s glitzy fashion weeks have evolved into highly professional affairs that are more than just a gathering of fashion moguls. The designers showcase their clothes with the principal goal of exhibiting their evolving design aesthetic in order to push for a greater market reach. These events are a platform for serious business. Late last year, as another fashion week in Karachi came to a close, I caught up with a few of the designers, who have reigned over the Pakistani fashion scene for a long time. We discussed their views about this forum which essentially furthers their sales and also briefly spoke about their future plans of expanding their brands.

Sana Safinaz

The uber chic fashion label of Sana Safinaz caters to fashionistas such as the designers themselves: youthful, desiring to embrace the couture from the West while espousing the Eastern mindset. This start up which may have appeared as an indulgence of the rich and famous – launched by two young ladies from elite backgrounds – in reality proved to be a well laid out business plan. The designer duo have built on it brick by brick and today this coveted brand can proudly claim a fast growing presence in 13 cities in Pakistan.

Sana Hashwani, spokesperson for the design house Sana Safinaz , claims that fashion weeks are a valuable opportunity for young designers who do not have the market-reach as advertising is very expensive. This platform allows them to get exposure through media, facilitating buyers all over the country to view their designs. Fashion weeks also give senior designers a chance to showcase their seasonal trends encouraging buyers viewing these shows to book orders on the current season’s collections.

Sana Safinaz Sana Safinaz

Over the decades the niche label has evolved into a brand that has across the board accessibility: the brand caters to a clientele from the middle class with their eminently desirable lawn suits, to the youth with prêt lines and the yuppies and fashionable older patrons with their couture and haute couture studio.
Hashwani explains that her brand works in tandem with the textile industry, using 99 per cent indigenous fabric since their largest production is lawn — everything else follows on the heels of this production line. For this reason, she proposes that more textile mills sponsor fashion weeks since many of the designers use home-grown fabrics, and textile mills could offer the younger designers a launch pad.

The fashion house has signed up with a textile mill in India, and further down the road Hashwani says she would like to see their studios open in the East and possibly even the Far-East. In efforts of supporting indigenous crafts, Sana Safinaz is working towards reviving chikankari in their future collections.

Proud to be one of the leaders in creating employment in the fashion industry, Sana Safinaz has ambitions of proving to be a lucrative foreign exchange earner for Pakistan, one day.

Maheen Karim
The elegant Maheen Karim started her career in Pakistan with the multi brand designer retail store labels in 2006. She is strongly influenced by her years at Armani working in the PR/ Press department and at Escada as the PR head in the United Kingdom. Khan, who studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, translates her years of learning into designs and silhouettes that appeal to her stylish Pakistani clientele: sharp, current yet timeless.

At the The Pakistan Fashion Week 2015 (TPFW15) themed in Karachi, Karim showcased a collection of luxuriously draped dresses, culottes with embellished flowing capes and finely structured jumpsuits.

For her, fashion weeks mostly play the role of displaying seasonal collections to attract buyers in Pakistan and abroad. She supports the fact that designers, old and new alike, now have this platform to showcase their work on a biannual basis, forcing them to stay current.

Karim’s goal is to emancipate women through design, making them feel elegant, confident and self assured.
Karim does not wish to develop the business further at the moment as she maintains a niche clientele and believes this to be her forte. However, catering to such an exclusive market, her atelier runs into many production problems that larger design houses do not face: she does not have too many back up teams for the specifically trained personnel. The workers in Karachi face daunting law and order situations, power cuts, strikes, delaying timely deliveries.

Specialty operations such as hers encounter additional problems with the sourcing of fabric, as most of the fabrics her brand uses are imported and sometimes it is difficult to attain the same bale due scarcity. This consequently affects her output and, in turn, her ability to supply internationally. She wishes that there were proper channels open for the import of fabrics as this would help facilitate smaller design operations.

However, Karim applauds Pakistan’s fashion industry for its persistent efforts in reviving and sustaining the dying hand crafts, as embroidery is fading out in most Western couture and finely embellished hand embroidery is now only available in Pakistan and India. Moreover, the fashion industry’s commitment to sustain hand embroidery in turn creates employment and sustains the livelihood for traditional artisans.

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