Last week the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC), along with the Trade and Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), partnered on the Textile Exposition (TEXPO), which took place at the Expo Center in Lahore, Pakistan. Subsequently, a total of 363 buyers from 53 countries made their way to the display to look at the business of fashion – which for the first time, the event focused more on.
At the PFDC display, the council curated a design pavilion that, in collaboration with the Pakistan government, attracted close to 400 local and international buyers. Amongst those who showcased their design related merchandise included a list of designers, brands, and wholesalers such as Sana Safinaz, Khaadi, Kamiar Rokni, Sania Maskatiya, Chapter 2, Baji Key Bastey, Indesign, Indus Heritage, and Al Rahim Banarsi, who aimed to closely work with the buyers and the corporate world, in order to promote and generate business for value added goods.
Apart from promoting a fashion friendly environment for value added goods, the PFDC pavilion also managed to raise the question about the need for the business of fashion and retail to become a much-needed reality of the textile business in Pakistan, which until recently, only took textile mills and business tycoons into consideration instead of collaborating with the pret and couture market as well.
Regarding this, a number of buyers and analysts spoke about the need for brands at the TEXPO, commenting on how there are fewer numbers of designers and brands that showcased their displays.
“TEXPO has been amazing and I think we’ve had a very strong showing of a diverse group of manufacturers from ready to wear as well as mills and leather. However, I think what’s very important is that the next one has some of the bigger companies that weren’t available for us to see and we had to leave the site to see them. It’s very important that they participate next time,” said Salman Khokhar, the president of Kollective Moda, who’s also worked with internationally expanding DKNY and Calvin Klein.
Khokhar also added that there’s a need for the ‘best to be shown’ to the buyers.
“The best are what will attract the international buyers, not the other way around,” he said. “They have to take the first step and represent the best of what the country has to offer so that the buyers are impressed and blown away.”
Agreeing to the analysis, Amal Sultan, a Pakistani fashion consultancy maven based in Paris, who largely appeals and caters to consumers hailing from the Middle East and Asia, also spoke about the need for more brands at TEXPO, while also commending the exposition.
“TEXPO has been a great experience for me,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be so well-organised, firstly because I attend trade fairs in Paris, and for me, when I walked in at TEXPO, I saw a lot of foreign delegates and organisers, and could tell it was properly-organised. Having said that, in the future, I would like to see more fashion brands at TEXPO because so far we only saw textile mills in majority, which needs to change.”
Although the event was still dominated by textile industrialists – who were also given more space by TDAP – the fact that PFDC became a center point during the expo proves that retail fashion and garments too, can be considered a value-added export.
Thus, in this regard, one of the highlights of the PFDC pavilion remained that the designers, brands, and retailers were able to have a proper presentation of their collections for the buyers, showcasing their merchandise as samples, with detailed brochures of the company mentioning specifications.
That said, despite having events like TEXPO, it seems the event still needs to realize the importance of having a B2B relation commencing with the brands and designers on the Pakistani fashion industry for such a display of Pakistan’s textile prowess to fully flourish. It is also the need of the hour to understand that fashion retail will only bring in newer audiences and buyers to such spaces, instead of alienating them by the dominance of bigger textile tycoons.