In summer of peace, Pakistani designer wear wows Kashmir
Name any internationally renowned Pakistani designer brand and you'll find it on the tastefully decorated shelves of the Tradition of Finesse exhibition that opened on Tuesday to an enthusiastic response in this Jammu and Kashmir summer capital
On view at a local shopping complex is a Who's Who of the Pakistani fashion world: Junaid Jamshed, Bareeze, Chinyere, Working Woman, Kayseria, Leisure Club, Shahnameh and Urban Culture, to name just a few.
Sheikh Feroz, 44, the managing director of the Alkhuddam Group of Companies under whose aegis the exhibition-cum-sale of Pakistani designer wear has been organised, told IANS: "I used to buy Bareeze for myself in Dubai. I said why can't Kashmiris wear such comfortable and traditional dresses? That was my inspiration. Our USP is the high quality of the brands that we have on display here."
Feroz said Junaid Jamshed and his team of designers had telephoned him from Pakistan Tuesday morning.
"They said they had organised a special prayer meeting at their headquarters for the success of the exhibition," Feroz said.
The exhibition is an affirmation that in spite of differences between India and Pakistan, the people-to-people connect between people on both sides of the frontier, which has been boosted by cross-border bus services and trade, remains strong.
From the traditional shalwar kameez for women to kurta pajamas for men - and a host of other outfits in between - the exhibition is overflowing with brands Kashmiris till now only saw on television channels or read about in fashion magazines.
Interestingly, the exhibition managers did not invite a celebrity to inaugurate it when it was thrown open to public Tuesday afternoon.
"I did not invite a celebrity to inaugurate the exhibition because VVIP movements often inconvenience the public. Our exhibition is exclusively for the public and the power of the brands we have on display should be enough to convey a powerful message," Feroz said.
He said that apart from the brands on display, seven others had also shown interest in coming the next time around.
"I told them let me start with the 12 brands we have now and wait for the local response. I feel the tradition of ethnic wear is immensely popular with Kashmiris and we should have enough lovers for the brands on display here."
Although some dresses at the exhibition are highly priced, there are affordable ones for the middle classes as well.
In the Bareeze cotton collection, for instance, women's dresses are priced up to Rs.10,000 while Junaid Jamshed kurtas and pajamas start at Rs.2,000.
"The Chinyere cotton wear is a riot of floral colours. I have never seen such wonderful women's dresses sold in Kashmir," said a woman who said she had waited eagerly for the exhibition to open.
Besides dresses for men and women, designer Peshawari sandals are also available at the exhibition.