Instep Today

Stitches in time

Instep Today
By Rubia Moghees
Sat, 03, 16

The team: Fatima Raja, Kamran Azim, HSY, Roshaneh Zafar, Jalal Salahuddin, Zainab Saeed and Anam Tanweer.

Roshaneh Zafar collaborates with HSY to celebrate 20 successful years of Kashf Foundation.

Lahore

Championing the cause of women empowerment quietly, Kashf Foundation has come a long way from pioneering social entrepreneurship and positively impacting the lives of over 1.7 million low-income women in Pakistan. Its 20-year journey has impacted countless lives and this is what this event was all about.

Roshaneh Zafar, Founder and Managing Director of Kashf Foundation, started Kashf Foundation in 1996 with a concept of empowering women so that they may attain their due worth. “It’s the journey of women where they recognize the challenges and actually overcome them,” she said in her inaugural speech. “Many women come up to me saying that this has given them identity and this is what you see in the exhibition. It is recognition of each woman whose hard work was behind each outfit that tells us a story of her unique craftsmanship and valor.”

Zafar explained that she wanted to share 20 success stories to celebrate 20 years of her foundation. “It suddenly hit me that a 20 year journey should be a part of history so when one talks about history, one thinks of museums, and the idea of an exhibit came about as I approached my dear friend HSY whom I’ve know nforever and shared this idea with him.”

The idea was to show people the richness of our craft and that behind our craft are the women and behind these women is Kashf. “It was like a ‘circle of life’ coming together,” she emphasized.

The 20-piece collection, that HSY also plans to showcase in the upcoming PFDC High-street segment, features couture elements with hand embroidery as its focal strength. “It was refreshing to see hand embroidery come to the forefront as this is the kind of art form that is dying,” said ex-super model and an entrepreneur Vaneeza Ahmad. “These women are given work at home so Kashf has done an amazing job.”

Roshaneh Zafar with HSY, who created a 20-piece collection, with each piece representing the twenty years journey of Kashf.
Roshaneh Zafar with HSY, who created a 20-piece collection, with each piece representing the twenty years journey of Kashf.

“The Kashf initiative has come to a stage where we can be very proud of its achievements,” said Tahira Syed, who was wearing a beautiful handmade jacket.

The story of HSY and this endeavour goes back to the Shergarh project that he began a couple of years ago; while talking to Instep at the event he revealed that the Shergarh experience is a sustainable project. “We still do keep going back to them and give them work. It’s something that we are able to sustain as we are also teaching them.”

When Roshaneh Zafar came to him for Kashf ‘s celebrations he took it as an opportunity to go back to the roots, which he calls “an incredible endeavour as what these women bring to the table is not just embroidery but knowledge of it. I jumped on to the idea when Roshaneh suggested it,” he added.

“We wanted to tell the story of 20 years of Kashf through our clothes, but we also found out about 20 different villages where these embroideries were being done. The most important thing was to be able to revive the crafts that are unbelievably dying at the most rapid pace and bring it back and use it in clothes. Not something like the ‘kurti-numa’ thing but something that has a modern and contemporary feel to it that we can take internationally.”

Will this collection be going to the stores? “Absolutely,” he responded. “We are already working to get the fabric and give them work and sustain their livelihood. There’s no handout; these women are not looking for charity. It’s their income support. I think that these women are far too proud and far too independent to be given charity. They want business and they have the right to be able to increase their business, just like everybody else does, and I have to be the right vendor to be able to give them.”

“These women got so excited when they saw the final version and showed their interest in doing further business with us,” he concluded. “If after 22 years of business I cannot do this then shame on me. I am so excited to be doing this and more so because I was brought up by my mum and my sister so, for me, women empowerment is such an integral part of my life. I am prouder standing here than I am with my other collections,” he beamed as we wrapped up our conversation.

Here’s to another 20 years of successful social work, when we can be prouder of Kashf Foundation and its achievements in empowering the underprivileged women of Pakistan.

- Photography by Imran Farid @ Pinhole Studios