For all its aplomb, Pakistani fashion tends to be a strange kind of monotonous. Yes, there is a lot of vibrant colour, embellishments and bridal. But lately, I’ve been wondering why that is all we tend to see. How many bridal fashion weeks does one need to be satiated?
More pertinent question, where is the elegant simplicity? For a nation that will forever remember the likes of Nazia Hassan as an early style icon, we seem to have forgotten that less is more. Or, do we just have to turn to the page on the same old when it comes to designers?
Hina Mirza launched her namesake brand in 2011. Having studied graphic design and street fashion photography at University of the Arts London, she began by catering to an international clientele. Initially, her customer base was London, where she resided. When she decided to turn towards Pakistan, her international experiences stayed with her. “London being the fashion hub helped me by being my inspiration,” she says, “and after moving to Pakistan I wanted to create a fusion between both worlds.”
This fusion is clearly visible when one browses through her retinue. A long, symmetrical tunic made from denim, a stripped, collard shirt finished with pearl details; the pieces always walk the line between London and Karachi.
But combining local fashion with international trends isn’t new. So, what is about Hina Mirza, and her brand that makes it stand out? It is the panache for simplicity. Of course, you cannot design for a Karachi based woman and not experiment with colour and sparkle. But at Hina Mirza, they also ensure that their pieces are not
“Fashion can be classy yet appeal to all age groups,” she says, “I like to believe my designs are trendy and simple with a bit of a western touch. Basically, they are causal every day wear with a bit of ‘me’ in them.”
Keeping with the Times
However, the simple aesthetic of the brand hides intricate web of tech and management that exists in the backend. Hina combines her love of design and aesthetics with the needs of the hour. She appreciates how frequently contemporary buyers browse the internet, and how easy it is for social media to gain followers for her brand. Also acknowledging that social media and word-of-mouth are the “most affordable types of marketing tools” available for a budding business.
“I like to believe my designs are trendy and simple with a bit of a western touch. Basically, they are causal every day wear with a bit of ‘me’ in them.”
Hina MirzaIn light of this, she and her team came up with an online platform that made the real-time stock available for their audience. This gives customers an accurate idea about what they had on hand, and is, as she explains it, “like shopping at the shop directly.”
Simultaneously, apart from working with local social media agencies, they also have an in-house team that manages the everyday social media needs of the brand. What this has translated to is a never-ending tirade of drool-worthy videos and images on their Facebook page. Their signature simplicity is never compromised. But the intent behind it is business centric. “Fashion is changing with age, as technology is advancing,” she says. And at Hina Mirza at least, they are adapting with the change almost in tandem.
Pakistani Fashion Now
In the span of a few years, the brand has amassed a loyal following. Amongst the tirade of fashion franchises, the name ‘Hina Mirza’ holds its own. But the throwback nature of a lone standing boutique shouldn’t fool anyone; this is contemporary Pakistani fashion.
Hina is perfectly aware that her client is a knowledgeable customer. Someone who takes into account everything that goes into creating a garment. Because of this she takes note of everything that goes into her designs.
Some time ago, we wrote about The Dhurrie Project, who are trying to get ethical fashion the local following it deserves. At Hina Mirza too, the ethics of fashion is a factor that goes into production. To this end they use organic and recycled fabrics for their designs. They also ensure that while their prices are affordable but don’t “undercut” their staff wages. At a time when the environmental impacts of fast fashion are increasingly problematic thinking about the ethics is important. Simultaneously the attention to the economic aspects of her pieces is needed when dealing with modern clients.
Here’s to the Future
But while she is mindful and hopeful when it comes to local fashion, the current shortcomings aren’t lost on her either. Having experienced the full force of the London fashion scene, and the mentorship that makes it possible. “Education quality and accessibility is by far much easier in UK especially for the British designers,” she says. Noting that such an arrangement is exactly what is missing in Pakistan. “Considering the amount of money fashion contributes to our nation,” she says, “our top tier universities should push ahead with fashion and design related degrees and courses.”
Hopefully, the issues she has with the local industry are addressed. At any rate though, her foresight gives her own business more than a fighting chance in the world of Pakistani fashion.