If you’ve ever been up North, even to Muree, you’ll have noticed age-worn pick-ups and wagons wheezing their way up the hilly, windy roads. They speed through and then roll backwards when their momentum dips, letting out gusts of smoky diesel every now and then. They offload passengers and crawl up inclines, unable to handle the weight. Well, no offence, but Fashion Pakistan – as a council – reminds me of these rickety modes of transportation, the obsession with truck art replete. Mind you, they almost always do make it to their destination successfully, but if you’re onboard (as I have been once in Swat), your journey is bound to be frustrating.
Momentum. That’s what Fashion Pakistan has lacked since it’s inception in 2008 and that lack of momentum can be blamed on lack of council organisation, inconsistency, lack of member commitment and what not. Weak leadership has been critical to its failure. The first board allegedly left the accounts in a mess; there had been no audits under their tenure. Amir Adnan stepped in as saviour but he, allegedly, lacked patience and commitment to sort out the mess. Finances kept slipping, sponsors became wary and events/activities or any industry development that the council (under the eventual leadership of Shamaeel and Maheen Khan) was expected to deliver, started wearing thin. Out of the two council-operated stores, Fashion Pakistan Lounge in Karachi shut down and the branch in Lahore (judging by what I saw last season) looked worse than a Jumaa Bazaar of fashion. Fashion Weeks became annual affairs.
That’s a lot of baggage to inherit and I do feel for the newly elected Sanam Chaudhri, Wardha Saleem and Maheen Karim, who will be untangling this mess. This council has an uphill task. All that said, it doesn’t mean they can’t do it and they seem to have put their minds to getting it right. The youth do have more engine power and there are several voices of wisdom and experience on the Advisory Board to help out. I do feel that Shahnaz Ismail can be a valuable asset in linking design and fashion students (the future of fashion) to the industry they’re about to set foot in. As for the rest of the Advisory Board, one hopes to see every individual put council reforms and industry progress above personal gain, fame and glory. I’m a bit of a skeptic, sorry, but history hasn’t proven me wrong.
The 2013-14 Calendar:
TDAP/October: Not a council event by any stretch but listed on the calendar as several members participated.
FNO/December: Fashion’s Night (or rather Day) Out to promote the business of fashion. Execution is crucial to the success of this event.
FPW/February: Fashion Pakistan Week Spring/Summer 2014. Hoping for stricter editing and selection criteria. But then, Obaid Sheikh – who’s never shown a runway worthy collection – is a Board Member, and that’s a bit of a downer. I still don’t understand his value, if any.
GENEX/May: The most exciting activity, targeting students from fashion/design colleges all over Pakistan and offering internships, collaborations and even business deals to talented individuals. Again, idealistic but not impossible.
FPW/September: Fashion Pakistan Week Autumn/Winter 2014.
Conclusively, one would want to see this council succeed, for the sake of all of Karachi’s young talent that is lost without a credible platform. One hopes Fashion Pakistan will be able to rise to a standard, slowly and steadily, on the extra horse power that they have been overhauled with. One hopes this rickety old wagon makes it to Fairy Meadows one day.