Ra­hat Khan speaks to En­ter­prise

Enterprise - - Contents - - Ra­hat Khan

As a fash­ion de­signer, what was your ex­pe­ri­ence at the Life­Style Pak­istan event held in In­dia?

My ex­pe­ri­ence was over­whelm­ing. Ini­tially, I was re­ally ner­vous get­ting into some­thing ma­jor like this. There were a lot of ques­tions and in­hi­bi­tions. On the thought of go­ing to the In­dian mar­ket, I was con­cerned about how the peo­ple would respond. As you know, you be­come a lit­tle dicey when In­dia is con­cerned.

But my com­pli­ments to TDAP, they ar­ranged ev­ery­thing in a highly or­ga­nized man­ner. The same was the level of or­ga­ni­za­tion by the In­dian Trade or­ga­ni­za­tion. None of the de­sign­ers faced any is­sues. There was also ex­ten­sive cov­er­age of the show by the ac­tive In­dian me­dia. As a de­signer go­ing there for the first time and de­spite the ini­tial ner­vous­ness, I would like to go there again, even if they call me ev­ery three or six months.

How did you get into gar­ment de­sign­ing?

I had al­ways been do­ing it, but just for fam­ily and friends. Pro­fes­sion­ally, I got into it about three years ago. Ba­si­cally I have been a teacher of Dyslexic chil­dren for the past 15 years at READ ( Re­me­dial Ed­u­ca­tion and As­sess­ment of Dyslex­ics). When I took a break of six months, as my chil­dren were set­tling down, one of my friends in Canada asked me to send some clothes. I was a bit hes­i­tant at first but I re­ceived a very good re­sponse in Canada. Then I had ex­hi­bi­tions in Chicago, Dubai and Karachi and they were all suc­cess­ful.

What was the re­sponse to your designs in In­dia?

The In­dian public is very re­spon­sive and they ap­pre­ci­ated my clothes, liked the fin­ish­ing and par­tic­u­larly the cuts. They have a very com­mon style of anarkali, but our cuts are re­ally dif­fer­ent. I even had clients in the age group of 70 to 80. They were so cu­ri­ous about Pak­istan and asked lots of ques­tions. About 80 per­cent of them said they had rel­a­tives in Pak­istan. The In­dian vis­i­tors loved talk­ing to us like a fam­ily. Many were just there to en­joy it, par­tic­u­larly the Pak­istani food at the stalls set up there, to see Pak­istani clothes and par­tic­u­larly our lawns were a ma­jor hit there. Over­all, Life­Style Pak­istan was a great suc­cess.

How do Pak­istani de­sign­ers com­pete with their In­dian coun­ter­parts?

I feel that we have healthy com­pe­ti­tion here in Pak­istan as well. There are so many de­sign­ers, with whom you are al­ways in com­pe­ti­tion. Be­fore go­ing, I wrote to cer­tain In­dian de­sign­ers to in­vite them to our stalls just to have a look and the best part was that they did come and ap­pre­ci­ated our clothes. The com­pe­ti­tion, whether in In­dia or Pak­istan, is healthy. So the ques­tion is why not when it only brings im­prove­ment to the work. Our tex­tile in­dus­try in terms of fab­ric is much bet­ter than In­dia and we have much bet­ter ideas than them.

With the open­ing up of the In­dian mar­ket to Pak­istani prod­ucts, how can the in­dus­try ben­e­fit, par­tic­u­larly in tex­tiles?

I re­ceived a num­ber of or­ders which I am go­ing to courier to my In­dian clients. With such a big scale event and open­ing of trade, there will be more con­fi­dence, trade will im­prove and the in­dus­try will boom. Our big groups like Gul Ahmed and Nishat were present there and re­ceived im­mense re­sponse. The In­di­ans are highly in­ter­ested in Pak­istani fab­rics.

What were your learn­ings from the ex­hi­bi­tion to­wards im­prov­ing your prod­uct in the fu­ture?

I brought back a lot of love, sen­ti­ments and emo­tions. I also got to know what ex­actly the styling is like in the In­dian mar­ket. They are look­ing for new styles and there is a dif­fer­ence in sizes there and here. But as far as our em­broi­dery, ma­chine work and hand­work is con­cerned, I do not think that In­dia can come even close to it.

What dif­fer­ences did you no­tice in the pref­er­ences of In­dian and Pak­istani cus­tomers?

In­ter­est­ingly, peo­ple vis­it­ing our stalls were cu­ri­ous about the mod­ern styling of clothes and asked that do our peo­ple re­ally wear such clothes? So there is still con­fu­sion where Pak­istan’s name is at­tached with fash­ion. But I would say that wher­ever our fash­ion de­sign­ers go, they re­ceive over­whelm­ing re­sponse be­cause of the qual­ity of our clothes. In­dian fash­ion is more ex­posed to the world through their fash­ion shows and, im­por­tantly, through their film in­dus­try. I hope peo­ple will start chang­ing their im­pres­sion of Pak­istan.

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