No concrete reasons have been made official just as yet. The email from Ms Farhana Arshad, Executive Director Triple E reads as follows:
Dear All Respected Buyers & Designers,
This is to inform you all that Islamabad Fashion Week is POSTPONED due to some unavoidable circumstances. The New Date will be announced SHORTLY.
Please accept our sincere apologies for this inconvenience caused. We hope you will be able to spare your precious time to attend our fashion week in future as well.
This press note came in at exactly 21:37 last night (Feb 27), a few hours after disappointed designers started calling me. Needless to say they were devastated as many of them cannot commit to a new date in March/April and are rightfully concerned about the PKR 150,000 participation fee they have paid, as well as cost cover for the amount they have invested in creating collections for IFW. Also, this eleventh hour postponement casts a very dark shadow on the credibility of IFW, after which the designers may not want to participate in it.
The postponement, as mentioned in the press note, falls into three reasons which I am listing after communicating with members of Triple E as well as foreign buyers etc that were scheduled to come.
1. Sponsorship fall-out.
2. Visa restrictions for foreigners and logistical mismanagement.
3. Threatening/menacing calls from certain establishments in Islamabad regarding Islamabad Fashion Week.
I have been receiving emails from Ms Margaret Rushe Farrell, the Australian fashion consultant who was coordinating with numerous buyers/designers globally and is now personally answerable to them regarding this sudden change of plans. Many of them were ready to board a flight to Pakistan when they were informed.
I have also been receiving emails from numerous buyers and designers who were scheduled to come and are in shock over how casually, untimely and unprofessionally this change was made.
One buyer from Australia writes:
“While my flights out of Brisbane with buyers etc… with whom I consult on a separate level, were not cancelled (Emirates confirmed this just 2.5 hours before flight time), it was due to the lack of feedback from the organiser when I requested confirmation of the cancellation, and a response from the Marriott Hotel when I contacted them, telling me that there was never a Fashion Week at their venue, that were the final reasons we did not make the 2 hour drive to the airport.
I have since heard from the organiser who called me at 12.30am to tell me that a sponsor pulled out and that therefore it was a funding issue that would be rectified by the end of March and asked me to confirm our attendance then. It appears that there are a number of issues going on behind the scenes with the organisers, as shown by the various explanations different people have been given. How unfortunate that they do not realise that although a fashion industry may be worldwide, it is still a small and professional and communicating community who are at the top level of this industry. I can tell you that I have it on very good and very high authority that security was never an issue, so perhaps it was simply an event organisers issue?
It is most unprofessional of the organiser to cancel such a major event only hours before everyone is expected to leave their prospective countries, especially when a confirmation email was sent the evening before from her to me.”
Mr Paco de Jaimes, CEO World Fashion Organization, however is attempting to bring some diplomatic calm to an otherwise turbulent situation, in which the credibility of IFW is most definitely at risk but more importantly, the future of Pakistani designers and their perception in a global market. If damage control is not done by Triple E, this outcome of all this may have very damaging consequences.
In an email Mr Paco de Jaimes writes,
“(It) looks like Ms. Farhana Arshad has being overbooked and over-promising withing (sic) her own financial and production limitations, however, I personally know the challenges that Ms. Arshad has to go over when producing a fashion week in a country such as Pakistan, It is not an easy task, we must support its fashion development.”