Sania Maskatiya is set to show her latest collection at Fashion Pakistan Week tomorrow but she’s already riding on a high in 2019. The talented designer opened a massive new flagship store in Karachi earlier this year and showed a spectacular collection at fashion week in New York. We caught up with Sania at the new store in Karachi.

The new Sania Maskatiya flagship store in Clifton

Sania Maskatiya at New York Fashion Week 2019

This was Sania’s second year at New York Fashion Week and this year she opted to show the Sania Maskatiya label itself rather than her Sania Studio range. The collection featured a pared back monochrome palette and consisted of luxe eveningwear in a range of western and fusion silhouttes.

“We wanted to showcase the main Sania Maskatiya brand this time and bring in a lot of our signature touches: the draping, the pleating, the embroidery… essentially the craftsmanship that we are known for. That is one reason we stayed away from print this time, though that is another forte of the brand. We wanted a very clean canvas to show what we can do,” says Sania.

Cutwork, applique, statement sleeves and draped silhouettes featured heavily in the polished collection that was true to the brand’s aesthetic yet atuned to the NYFW setting. Sania was hand-picked by The Council of Aspiring American Fashion Designers’ (CAAFD), in collaboration with iFashion Network and in partnership with IMG and Pier 59 studios, as part of a long-running tradition of introducing emerging designer showcases.  Her self-assured collection was an accolade to Pakistani fashion.

Showing in New York was an experience in itself.

“It’s great to be in a place that takes fashion so seriously. From the model castings to the hair and makeup trial, it was a seamless process that made it very easy to show away from our home ground. Even though it was literally ‘all hands on deck’ backstage for our team, the professionalism and passion for fashion made showing in New York a pleasure.” – Sania Maskatiya

 

Back home here in Pakistan, the brand finally moved to it’s new flagship store in Block 4, by Cafe Flo. Her previous store in Bukhari commercial was a game-changer for retailing Pakistani fashion when it opened. Sania was the first designer to make luxury pret available in this way and changed the way that designers here in Pakistan approach retail. However as the brand grew, the space in Bukhari began to seem inadequate. Once huge by the fashion retailing standards of the time, in recent years the store could not accommodate the sheer breadth of Sania Maskatiya’s range. Formals and Bridals in particular needed a more apt setting, and with the new store they have it.

The new store is spacious and suitably luxurious. The ground floor currently houses pret and luxury pret, with plenty of space for the various different collections to shine. There is an area for silk tunics, another for western fusion and yet another for eastern luxury pret. Daywear, casual pret and menswear are also currently on the ground floor but these will shortly move to a dedicated space in the basement.

The trial rooms are gorgeously spacious and there are separate trial rooms for men in the basement. The store boasts an on-site tailor and craftsmen for minor alterations. A lot of thought has gone into the customer experience, with sofas to wait on, well-lit mirrors and multiple racks that let you browse with ease. The showroom also boasts the sort of attention to design and detailing that you would expect from Sania Maskatiya. Designed by architect Yusuf Shabaz of Strata, the store is full of luxurious fittings and eclectic touches, opulent but never over-the-top.

The first floor is where you really get the luxury designer experience. There is one section for luxury formals and a separate one for bridal consultations. There is a private room for bridal fittings and ample space for a bride’s entire entourage. The space on the first floor showcases the many different types of formals that Sania excels at – from single-thread silk-embroidered outfits in the Kashmiri style, so vibrant formals embellished with resham, kora, dabka, gota and a range of other artisanal eastern techniques.

“Every bride is special and shopping for your bridal outfit should be a memorable experience. Every bridal we make features delicate hand-embroidery, intricate embellishment and impeccable finishing on the most luxurious fabrics. There’s an incredible amount of craftsmanship in each outfit. We wanted the experience of shopping for a Sania Maskatiya bridal to reflect the luxury and opulence of the pieces themselves.” – Sania

Sania says there are many reasons behind the success of the brand,

“I think I’m incredibly lucky to be able to work in a field that I love. I couldn’t work at this pace if I wasn’t passionate about designing. I’m blessed to have an incredible team with a lot of heart and passion – my brother Umair who looks after the business side of the brand, my design team and the incredible craftsmen that we have trained over the years. We do so much – we print our own designs, we create our own fabrics, and then there are so many different techniques that we use from ari and threadwork to gota or pleating and draping. Having spent so many years developing our signature allows us to explore and experiment within those parameters and that’s what makes working in this field so fascinating and endlessly absorbing.”

Sania is planning to show her NYFW collection at FPW and then something different later this year.

“Having so many different lines, from casuals to luxury pret, formals and semi-formals, as well as bridal wear gives us a room to experiment in so many ways. One season we may focus on print and another it may be all about embroidery. There are so many techniques that we have worked to revive and develop such as resham embroidery or zardozi, and it’s fascinating to explore those further. We do a lot of capsule collections throughout the year to keep the stock in the store fresh. Currently I’m excited about our printed formals with a touch of delicate embellishment. You can dress them up or down and they’re a fresh take on formalwear for the new season.”

Sania continues to take her signature brand from strength to strength. Her customer base spreads across all age groups and she offers everything from gowns to traditional shalwar kameez. It will be interested to see what this talented young designer comes up with next. The new store is located in Block 4, close to Cafe Flo, and is open six days a week.

Salima Feerasta
Author

Salima Feerasta is chief editor of Karachista.com and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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