Pakistani fashion has witnessed a number of highs and lows of late. One of the more prominent ones being the boom of high street stores, focusing on mass produced retail pieces that hope to take advantage of the demand of insatiable Pakistani shoppers.
As more and more women set out to create a work-life balance in the country, the demand for aesthetically pleasing yet wearable fashion became a necessity. A few brands took full advantage of this need by setting up retail stores that were providing affordable and ready to wear clothes backed by a prominent brand/designer.
In Economics we studied the theory of marginal utility. Our teacher used the example of our favourite chocolate. The first bar will be super satisfying. The second, you savour the taste, enjoying each bite. By the third you’d probably want to take a break. By the 10th you’d probably never want to ever see that chocolate again – too much of something and you cry for change.
That’s what seemed to be happening in the current high street market – too many retail stores, creating large quantities of pretty much similar aesthetics. When you have market leaders such as Sana Safinaz, Khaadi or Sapphire, the other hundred stores providing the same items prove to be an overkill.
Most stories seem to end there. For a few, this is only the beginning.
Khaadi, a brand that can probably be associated with introducing fashion retail to the Pakistani market started off with selling hand-woven fabrics that women were falling over each other to get a hold of. This is partly because the fabric was perfect for our climate and partly because wearable fashion was finally attainable.
Since then, Khaadi has gone on to creating a worldwide mark; they’ve ventured into menswear, kids wear, home wear, unstitched, stitched pret and high end pret. They’ve managed to set up numerous successful stores in Pakistan and abroad and have truly exemplified the term ‘Made in Pakistan’, all while staying true to their brand image (a feat most brands seem to undermine). You’d think this was it, Khaadi is a success story for the books and the man behind it, Shamoon Sultan, can just stop now and live off the undeniable triumph of his brand. Only, he hasn’t stopped. Instead, he has decided to change the game all over again.
And in comes Chapter 2.
Turn to any Pakistani fashion enthusiast and their feelings about Chapter 2 are mutual – it’s excitement. We’re excited to see indigenous fabrics being used in such an appealing way. The aesthetic is minimal, the cuts are clean and the silhouettes are flattering. What’s more is that there’s no embroidery in sight.
The items in store are so much more than clothes – they are investment pieces. Saying that you shop from Chapter 2 should make you feel proud, because not only are you possessing some of the best of what Pakistan has to offer, but these are designs that you can wear for years to come, through a number of different styling options.
As much as Chapter 2 represents Pakistan, it also in some way represents Karachi (where the brand was originated). Like Karachi women, the clothes are free spirited, like Karachi women, the clothes are relaxed yet speak of culture and beauty, like Karachi women, the clothes have an identity of their own – not brought down by social restrictions, but rather celebrating the uniqueness of each being.
Possibly the best thing about Chapter 2 is the concept behind it. Shamoon Sultan probably noticed the outburst of similar and over done clothes in the market and decided to go the opposite route. He went back to his basics, creating an entire new brand on the same ethos that made Khaadi what it is today, i.e. handloom fabric converted into wearable fashion. He has taken his tried-and tested formula and recycled it into something new and fresh, just when the industry needed it the most.
There are people who study trends, follow them and pray for them to become a success and then there are people who study trends and think, ‘how can I stand out?’ Shamoon Sultan stands out.
Chapter 2- the genius has only just begun.