PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week kicks off in Lahore today 2011

Fashion council politics are just so passé. Yes, we have three councils claiming to provide a forum for our burgeoning fashion industry. Yes, if and when these councils have finally organized themselves, we will have about six to seven fashion weeks every year. And yes, this flabbergasts the international media and retailers in attendance. But there’s no point in analyzing, dissecting or criticizing this sad state of affairs. It’s just been done too many times before.

What’s much more interesting, though, is how, despite everything, designers are finally realizing that working together on a single platform – rather than three – is beneficial for them business-wise and also good for Pakistani fashion’s overall image. In the upcoming PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week, a few non-PFDC designers are planning to showcase their collections. Non-member designers have showed at earlier PFDC events but there have never been quite so many outsider participants. Last April, at the Karachi-based council’s Fashion Pakistan Week, Zaheer Abbas, Rizwanullah, Adnan Pardesy and FnkAsia were labels with noticeably outstanding collections. This year, they’re all set to take over the Lahore-based PFDC ramp.

The PFDC, with two fashion weeks per year, has so far been the most dependable fashion council. Fashion Pakistan (FP) had planned to organize a fashion week this March which has now been vaguely postponed to sometime later in the year. On the other hand, the Pakistan Fashion Council, with Tariq Amin at the helm, is still too new right now and only time will tell whether it will remain consistent in its work.

Amir Adnan, the newly appointed CEO of FP, explains that the council has paperwork that hadn’t been dealt with in a long time. He wants to sort out the administrative nitty-gritties and then resume the council’s activities. Hence, the fashion week delays and the general inactivity. In the meantime, he feels that designers wanting to showcase their work shouldn’t have to suffer because of the council. “Mrs Sehyr Saigol, the CEO of the PFDC, very kindly extended the invitation to all Fashion Pakistan designers to take part in the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion week,” he says.  “I am glad that some of them decided to make use of the opportunity. It doesn’t matter what particular council a designer belongs to. All the designers are part of the Pakistani fashion community and the various fashion councils are there to provide a platform for them on the whole. We need to bring in business for our fashion industry through our fashion weeks. Right now, with so many fashion weeks per year, we’re just holding star studded events that rake in money for advertisers, hoteliers and the media – but not for fashion.”

Sehyr Saigol is just as enthusiastic about the inclusion of non-members. “The PFDC is happy to welcome all designers to its platform. We select our fashion week participants according to their talent and not on the basis of them being members or non-members,” she says. “Designers are now beginning to realize how dedicated the PFDC is to its goals. They have observed the international media coverage and foreign retailers we manage to attract to our events and how we have consistently stuck to our schedule and organized two fashion weeks yearly. This is what has made them want to be part of our upcoming fashion week.”

This situation, of course, could have easily instigated a fracas and fray between PFDC-members and the non-member participants. But, strangely enough, according to Mrs. Saigol, things are pretty hunky-dory. “The designers selected for fashion week are some of the best in the country,” she explains. “They are far too confident about their work to feel insecure by the inclusion of a few outsiders.”

Right now, both the PFDC and FP seem to be sharing a general air of camaraderie. Egos and one-upmanship are still at play – old habits die hard and you can’t expect the fashion community to suddenly turn angelic – but tensions have simmered down. Both councils seem to have realized that it is now high time they start bringing in business for fashion rather than focusing on petty internal issues. The PFDC ramp this time looks more like a fashion platform for Pakistan although some of Pakistani fashion’s most talented are still visibly missing. Deepak Perwani, Rizwan Beyg and Sonya Battla, for instance, are all FP members who haven’t ventured onto the PFDC ramp this time.

It would be wonderful to see fashion’s best together on a single platform but that particular dream may still be a bit far off.  It’s only March and with Islamabad Fashion Week this January and PFDC’s fashion week this month, we have already marked off two fashion weeks this year. Who knows, once Fashion Pakistan overcomes its administrative issues and if and when Pakistan Fashion Council continues to deliver, we may still end up having a mind-numbing, exhausting six fashion weeks yearly. Of course, it doesn’t make sense and it’s all very confusing, but Pakistani politics have always been a bit convoluted. Sadly, our fashion politics are no exception.

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