Why the fashion industry fears the MMA
By Ayesha Javed
Currently Pakistan’s fashion industry is revolving around halters, sleeveless tops and pants with slits up to mid-thigh. Will the coming parliament force women back into the chaddar, is the question that many in the fashion industry are worrying over.
Reports of MMA’s attitude towards co-education have further fuelled fears of Pakistan’s fashion industry and many have already begun to look for opportunities abroad. Others have begun to work on collections that are considerably more Islamic than what they have been showing so far. Are fashion asters overreacting or will their worst nightmares soon be realized?
In the last two decades, Pakistan’s fashion industry has evolved from a decisively darzi culture into a full grown industry, with institutes like the PSFD (Pakistan School of Fashion and Design) turning out fully qualified designers and the EPB (Export Promotion Bureau) sponsoring shows in Greece, Britain and other places. In the last five years Pakistani designers have begun to make a mark on the international scene with designers making appearances at the Bridal Asia week in India and at the illustrious Paris Fashion Week.
In a talk with the Daily Times, some of the industry’s main players shared their fears about the coming future.
At 29, Hassan Sheheryar Yasin is one of the country’s top fashion choreographers and is also immensely successful with the label he launched a few years back by the name of HSY. When asked about any apprehensions he might have about the future, Hassan replied that he did have concerns now that the MMA had managed to make their mark in the recent elections but he felt that the industry had come too far for it to go back now.
“I hope that any government that comes into power realizes that all over the world, fashion is used to bolster the image of a country and in Pakistan too we can use fashion to our advantage.”
Designer Nomi Ansari (a recent graduate of PSFD) agreed with Hassan and went on to add that he felt the fashion industry was the only industry that was blooming in Pakistan and it would be a shame if the coming government would restrict its growth.
“Having said this though I must add that I am apprehensive of the coming government and I feel we will soon be told to adopt a high neckline, full sleeve policy. It is because of these fears that I have completely modified my next collection and am now working with hijabs and scarves.”
Fashion choreographer and stylist Frieha Altaf viewpoint is rather different.
“I was working as a fashion model in the 80’s when Zia was around and I remember that despite all the restrictions levied on the industry at that time, we still managed to do our work. In fact now that I look back I feel as a reaction to Zia’s policies fashion really emerged in the 80’s. Top designers like Maheen Khan, Noorjehan Bilgrami and Rizwan Beyg emerged in the 80’s as did the country’s most dynamic stylists mainly Tariq Amin and Nabila. Thus, if fashion managed to progress during Zia’s time we should be able to do just fine during the MMA’s reign too.”
Stylist Tariq Amin is one of those who are sleeping easy even though all reports state that the first session of the parliament is just around the corner.
“No one can ban fashion for fashion is simply a way of life. As far as the restrictions that the MMA might impose on fashion are concerned, I don’t think Pakistan’s fashion industry is based on the ideology of showing skin and so even if they do stop us from doing so, we won’t be that bad off.”
Another young designer Fayez Agariah feels differently.” I think the fashion industry will probably have to go underground which, will actually be a shame for the industry is really set on the path to progress right now.”
Designer Kamiar Rokni who co-owns the label Karma agrees with Fayez and feels that at the very least, creative freedom will be restricted by the new government.
The rest only time will tell but one fact that is obvious is that the MMA will not be able to ban fashion. The fashion industry has come too far to go back now. If the MMA persist in being unreasonable then the work will continue even if in the dark.