A point in time saves women

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Before the term “retail” became a buzzword, there was one entity that women saw as a panacea for formal wear: embroidered fabric.

The logic behind the increase in retail and ‘ready-made’ fabric was essentially the same: pre-designed, hassle-free clothes, with the added benefit of being able to style them however you like and your body. Pakistani did not have to subscribe to the prepackaged formats on the racks. Of course, most crucially of all, there was no haggling with the kaam walas.

While Bareeze was a pioneer in the craft of embroidered fabric, a constant stream of retail stores like Threads and Motifs, Motifs, Frills and Needle Impressions made its mark.

A small chic store, Cross Stitch, a subsidiary of the Ayesha group, is joining the train this summer. Cross Stitch’s first flagship store launched on May 2 in Lahore.

A manufacturing company with diverse interests – textiles being just one of them – the Ayesha Group has chosen the perfect time to extend its industrial experience to retail. Their cousins, the Crescent Bahuman Group, recognized the golden value of retail years ago when Shoaib Shafi took a risk with StoneAge. This summer, the company also launched its own lawn, marketed by sultry Sushmita Sen.

“We started with commercial work and then decided to bring our own brand to the market,” said Asad Shafi, CEO of Ayesha Group. As a creative person, Shafi found the usual industrial work tedious, so he took this leap of faith. “It’s fun, lively and trendy,” Shafi said enthusiastically. “It took us two years to create this collection. We recruited inexperienced people and trained them for six months, so that they could understand our vision and execute it.

Why not take a more practical route and employ design graduates? “Design students come with their own experience and understanding of design. We wanted to work with a clean slate, ”explained Shafi, who claims to have over 200 colors and designs on display. This was difficult to verify, as the store was overcrowded with women from its own extended clan.

While the average price of 3,000 rupees per yard is rather steep for fabric, the quality of the material, threads and embroidery are worth it – a fact demonstrated by the greedy women clustered within the modest confines of the store. A stunning peacock-hued piece set among an exquisite blank white piece caught my eye for its impeccable workmanship and craftsmanship, as did a variety of chikankari and optimistic geometric designs. The disparity illustrated how the store has something for every type of woman – the experimental and daring, as well as the traditional and reserved. With manufacturing concerns such as textile groups coming to the fore, it is hoped that the bar for design and finish will certainly be raised. We are, after all, a textile nation and this summer’s turf collections have proven the prowess of our design industry.

Posted in The Express Tribune, May 5e, 2011.


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