It was just a matter of time before we heard that Khadijah Shah was ready with her own competitive label; that time has come almost 10 months after her split with Sapphire and it’s come as an independent high street brand.
Zaha is launching on August 4, 2018.
Literally meaning ‘blossom’ in Arabic and also the middle name of her new born baby girl, Taalia Zaha Amin, Zaha is Khadijah’s self-financed venture and is positioned to enrich Pakistan’s high street landscape.
“It’s tougher when you have to do it yourself but it’s the only way you can carry out your own vision,” she said.
“Élan has different lines but they’re all a diffusion of Élan,” Khadijah said when we spoke about the positioning of the brand. “Zaha is not a diffusion line of Élan. It’s a different brand in all entirety. It’ll be priced according to high street, starting at 1200 rupees and going up to 5400 perhaps.”
How different will it be from existing high street brands, if at all?
“It’ll be great aesthetic but affordable,” she replied confidently. “None of the high street brands you see today are design centric; they’re quantity centric. No one is focusing on design. I want to bring the focus back to design. I want to bring design and aesthetic back to the customer. I want people to be able to buy Zaha every day.”
Almost a year ago you parted ways with Sapphire. What was the personal challenge you set for yourself?
“At that point I was thinking…here’s this amazing thing that I had built; it had revitalized the retail industry and I knew this was something I could do. It was something I just had to do. I was so geared and driven. Élan has completely difference dynamics. At Sapphire I was handling the creative side of the brand but not production. This was new territory but I knew this was my thing.”
Zaha will be launching on August 4 with a line of unstitched clothing as a start, which will gradually build into a composite high street brand. It will initially be available online and within a year Khadijah hopes to have Zaha stores across the country.
Why unstitched, I asked, wondering if it was taking high street two steps back.
“Unstitched fabric is actually one of the biggest sellers in Pakistan,” was the practical response. “It is easy to retail and distribute. It was the simplest and quickest to do. You need brick and mortar for pret. Unstitched doesn’t need ground retail; it does just as well online.”
Supplying to the massive demand for unstitched fabric was then the next challenge. Would the production be kept higher for Zaha?
“It’s a designer’s dream to sell out but we’ve planned quantities that should be able to cater to everyone. That said one never knows, till it launches, as to what response it gets.”
The first Zaha collection will have 25 different designs, each in two colour ways. It will be a lawn collection, available in one, two and three-piece units so women can create their own combinations. It’ll also be predominantly modern as opposed to ethnic, Khadijah shared. She described the aesthetic as colourful, funky, young and edgy.
“The line caters to every body; it’s actually how people like to dress. There’s no age barrier either. It’s every woman.”
And that’s not all.
Months into opening a signature store in Karachi and weeks into giving birth to a baby girl, her third child, Khadijah Shah is not only working on Elan and its sub-divisions – that include Essentials, Vitale, Indo-Chine, Luxury Pret and Bridals – as well as launching Zaha, but she is also working on another brand called ‘Afsaaney’ with a textile mill. How does she do it? She says she often wonders but then doesn’t know how notto do it.