Fashion Pakistan Council announces an exciting year of fashion events

Fashion Pakistan Council press conference
Deepak Perwani with members of Fashion Pakistan Council’s New Board
Fashion Pakistan Council’s new board announced an exciting year of fashion events at their press conference on Tuesday. Over the next year the council plans a Fashion’s Day Out, two fashion weeks and a Fashion Expo with FPCCI along with various initiatives to support and expand the fashion industry. They also announced a GENEX event in May of next year where new graduates from all over Pakistan will present collections, mentored by senior designers. They specifically mentioned building bridges with other councils and focusing on the business of fashion.
Fashion Pakistan designer  Maheen Khan with board members Nauman Arfeen, Obaid Sheikh and Mahin Hussain with CEO Wardha Saleem and Chairperson Sanam Chaudri
Maheen Khan with board members Nauman Arfeen, Obaid Sheikh and Mahin Hussain with CEO Wardha Saleem and Chairperson Sanam Chaudri

This was the first chance the press has had to interact with the new board of the Fashion Pakistan Council. The new chairperson Sanam Chaudri was articulate and assured and handled difficult questions with aplomb. CEO Wardha Saleem announced the calendar while the rest of the board Mahin Hussain, Nauman Arfeen, Obaid Sheikh and Sania Maskatiya provided additional support. Secretary Maheen Karim was absent due to a back injury.

FPC Chairperson Sanam Chaudri with models at the launch of her pret line for Bonanza
FPC Chairperson Sanam Chaudri with models at the launch of her pret line for Bonanza

The incoming board reflects a complete change in strategy by Fashion Pakistan Council. There are no senior designers on the board, which consists entirely of some of our best young fashion designers. Despite their youth, they have an impressive amount of designer clout with rave reviews, retail outlets and collaborations with industry under their collective belts.

Salim Chatoor and Tapu Javeri are on the advisory committee
Chairperson Sanam Chaudri also introduced the new advisory committee, which includes senior designers, representatives from the business sector and the dean of the Indus Valley School of Architecture and Design, Shahnaz Ismail. This neatly deals with accusations that the new board is too young and inexperienced for the job. The full advisory committee represents a clever mix between industry and fashion experience. The committee includes outgoing board members Shamaeel Ansari and Deepak Perwani who have both done a lot to bring the Council into shape. Shamaeel Ansari in particular set up legal frameworks and systems that are the basis of taking the council to the next level. The committee also includes photographer-designer Tapu Javeri who brings a unique perspective to the table as he has also been on the media side of the picture. The inclusion on Shanaz Ismail acknowledges the role that educators have to play in grooming the next generation of designers and provides an anchor for FPC programs aimed at emerging designers. Retail knowhow is provided by Zahir Rahimtoola of Labels, Taymur Paracha CEO of Gulabo and Salim Chatoor managing partner at Threads & Motifs, Renaissance & Van Louis. Feri Rawanian provides her experience in garment export while Iqbal Telli of Orient Textiles brings business and manufacturing knowledge to the table.

Zahir Rahimtoola speaks on behalf of the advisory committee
Zahir Rahimtoola gave a speech that illustrated how beneficial the advisory committee could be. He spoke of the importance of e-commerce and disclosed how the Council will now also be focusing more on the business of fashion than it has. One welcome initiative he revealed was the establishment of industry standards – standards in sizing, quality control, packaging and more. Since many of our fashion designers fail to generate exports because of their inability to manufacture in bulk, this is a welcome step. Pakistan’s textile industry is one of the strongest in the world and there should be more support to the fashion industry from the textile sector to take Pakistani fashion to the next level. Members of the advisory committee with manufacturing experience such as Salim Chatoor and Iqbal Telli can have great influence in this direction.
Outgoing Chairperson Shamaeel Ansari at FPW 5
This board’s approach is refreshing. These young turks of fashion have always shown they aren’t afraid to take risks and they have set an ambitious and appealing agenda. A lot of what they plan, such as setting industry standards and building export markets particularly within our region, is necessary but not exactly glamorous. However they also have some glitzy, modern and prestigious events planned.
Legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour was one of the brains behind the original Fashion’s Night Out
Fashion’s Day Out is one of the most exciting initiatives. It’s based on a concept called Fashion’s Night Out that started in the US under aegis of Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. For one night of the year everyone from high-end brands like Gucci to high-street ones like Guess would stay open late. Shoppers would be offered free drinks and goodie bags while shops would lay on deejays or celebrities for entertainment. The idea was to get shoppers into stores on one night of the year in the hopes that they would continue coming the rest of the year. The idea spread quickly to other fashion capitals of the world and even made it to India, where it’s become a popular part of the fashion calendar. However, America cancelled its Fashion’s Night Out this year because it had become something of a circus with huge crowds turning out for free champagne. Brands were spending huge amounts to get noticed and finding the expenditure did not translate into sales. Nevertheless, Fashion’s Night Out is still a fixture in many countries including England with special discounts and the chance to meet designers pulling in shoppers. Many brands participate in FNO online as happened in India this year. If done right it’s a great way to boost sales and get publicity for the fashion industry as a whole.
Juicy Couture store on Fashion’s Night Out
The Millenium Trunk show aka GENEX planned in May is also a wonderful idea. It will provide great exposure for new graduates and the mentoring by senior designers is an important way for fashion’s success stories to give back to the community. Including graduates from all over Pakistan will do much to build bridges and dispel the ridiculous Lahore/Karachi divide that plagues Pakistani fashion.

Fashion Pakistan Council board member Nauman Arfeen's FPW 5 collection
FPC board member Nauman Arfeen’s FPW 5 collection
Finally, it’s heartening to see both of next year’s fashion weeks by FPC announced at this early stage. This gives designers a chance to plan their collections accordingly, which should means that more of the big names of fashion will participate.

Fashion Pakistan Council Secretary Maheen Karim also has experience in collaborations with industry
FPC Secretary Maheen Karim also has experience in collaborations with industry
Overall, Fashion Pakistan Council’s new board has started its term with a bang. FPC was very much on the back foot due to criticism over the last year but the new board has come out with optimism and a fresh approach. They have shown they can talk the talk but can they walk the walk? All of the board members have labels of their own to run. While most of them have demonstrated they have strong teams and can manage to design on multiple levels, the program they have announced is a very ambitious one. Using the strengths of the board and advisory committee properly will require a great deal of time-consuming coordination. It would perhaps be better if they could raise the funds to hire a dedicated CEO. This should be someone who reports to the board and whose primary job is the council. Having someone dedicated to executing the board’s impressive plans may be the best way to ensure that the council follows through on its ambitions.
Board member Sania Maskatiya has helped changed the face of fashion retailing in Pakistan
Board member Sania Maskatiya has helped changed the face of fashion retailing in Pakistan
It’s probably not necessary to presume to advise the new team. They have already shown that they are determined to take a very professional approach. It would equally be foolish to underestimate this youthful board. People like Sanam Chaudri, Wardha Saleem and Sania Maskatiya have demonstrated that they have business nous as well as design flair. The program they have come up with is far beyond what any fashion council in Pakistan has ever attempted before. It speaks to both fashionistas and business people. It will be interesting to see what the new board manages to achieve with Fashion Pakistan Council.
Copyright 2015 Karachista. All rights reserved
Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerastahttps://karachista.com
Salima Feerasta is chief editor of Karachista.com and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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