Chapter 2 steps in as a savior. Not only is this new brand, opened under the Khaadi umbrella, bringing back the love for hand woven, organic fabric thus keeping the craft alive in Pakistan but it is saving the women of Pakistan from the print-attack that has been inflicted upon them of late. Chapter 2 may be slightly more exclusive, even elitist, catering to a niche market that understands the sophistication of a less is more ideology but then that is what pure fashion is all about. And it’ll put the love for less into motion, hopefully encouraging other brands and designers to step up as well.
The store opened at Karachi’s Dolmen Mall yesterday and it was nothing like anything fashion has seen before in Pakistan. Fruits of the loom were distributed throughout the space dedicated to blocks of colour starting with soft, serene whites to the most vivid of acid yellows, fuchsias and blues. It was zero print, zero embellishment and full on style. This was a collection of separates – tunics, trousers and scarves in both cotton and silk – which were all diverse and yet so coherent; it was as if every single item of clothing blend into the warp and weave of the store.
“This is what I started with, 18 years ago and this is where the passion is,” Shamoon Sultan told me at the launch. “We didn’t have the resources at that time. We can scale it up now.”
How much planning had gone into it, I asked?
“We started 18 months ago and it took it this long to materialize,” he replied, adding that, “this is not going to be like Khaadi. There will be one store in Karachi, one in Lahore and one in Islamabad. Supply will always be a concern because we don’t have that many weavers in Pakistan. But we want to work on training people, training weavers; to introduce vocational programs. But it’s going to be very, very limited because of the limitations of craft.”
One learnt that eventually Chapter 2 would expand to Dubai and then London. It certainly had an international air to its ethos. The aesthetic of a slate and chalk palette was Zen, very Japanese.
This is Khaadi returning to its roots but in a more refined and fashion forward manner. While one remembers loving the woven fabric that was stocked and sold in Khaadi stores a decade ago, one also remembers that the ready to wear was too basic to be regarded as fashion. Chapter 2 comes in as a complete game changer because there is experimentation and innovation in design.
One noticed the diversity of hemlines, which started from midriff high (recommended only for washboard waistlines) and included the classic tunic length, conventional kurta length, pleated pinafore width, flair, and then long and tubular. All colour blocked and all minimal, with just a hint of accent here or there. The lowers were equally trendy, with shalwars and wide leg trousers being stapes. The black and white checkered trousers, also modeled by Anoushey Ashraf at the opening, were most eye catching.
While our eye is firmly on trends being served here, it is most definitely also on the larger picture. An initiative like Chapter 2 serves fashion in more than one way. For starters, it introduces a desperately needed, minimalist aesthetic to ready to wear. Second, it perseveres to keep the craft of hand woven fabric alive. And third, despite the price point being very affordable, a brand like Chapter 2 has longevity, eventually contributing to a trend of sustainable and eco-friendly fashion. This is the antidote (economic and environmental) to the lawn jora that is picked up for around 10,000 and worn for one season or less. The styles at Chapter 2 are classic and would be just as trendy a decade later.
One can safely predict that Chapter 2 will be the beginning of a new chapter in Pakistan’s ready to wear revolution.
This article was first published in Instep on Saturday 26th August.