Within the sphere of fashion, there are brands, there are designers, and then there are sartorial legends who emerge at the top. While the former two become the base through which the industry turns into a functional system, it is the latter who spins tales of triumph that resonate globally. In the case of Pakistan, Khaadi holds that revered status.
Standing at the pinnacle of success, the sheer magic of Khaadi over a quarter of a century has provided it an iconic status that hardly any other brand has managed to surpass. However, delving into the origins of this powerhouse reveals a narrative not of instantaneous glory, but rather, a gradual and profound evolution.
But, as the adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Behind all the milestones the Pakistani fashion icon has seen, is a legendary name and his team that has worked night and day to make it all possible – Shamoon Sultan. From his humble beginnings with a single store on Karachi’s Zamzama Boulevard to becoming the flagbearer of reviving craft and constructing an empire, it has been the continuous efforts put in that Khaadi has become what it is today.
What other achievements has the company and the team behind it achieved that make it a Pakistani brand like no other? Diva explores…
1998: The Origins
With the aim to create a new fashion experience in mind, Shamoon Sultan established the first Khaadi store on Zamzama Boulevard, marking the beginning of the brand’s journey. Little had anyone known back then that Khaadi, which was based on the idea of bringing craft and fabric to the clientele, would become a beating heart of the industry. But hard work truly changes everything, doesn’t it?
2002: The RTW Revolution
Bringing the best of what it had to offer and expanding on it, Khaadi saw one of its biggest changes with the launch of their ready-to-wear collection. This was the era when prêt wear stores – known more famously back then as ’boutiques’ – were becoming all the rage and the common Pakistani shopper was turning more shopping-centric. Truly, the right approach at the right time made Khaadi come directly into the fashion spotlight!
2008: The ‘Khaas’ Change
After years of successful growth as one of Pakistan’s most-appreciated and top performing brands, Khaadi chose to expand itself further – and for all the right reasons! Out came the idea of creating luxury formals under the Khaadi Khaas name. The formalwear line, which to this date is one of the most talked about, opened the market up to the idea of luxury prêt that is both cost-effective and craft-forward.
2008: Khaadi gets an International Nomination
In its 10th year, Khaadi did what a lot of Pakistani fashion brands had just dreamed of. It started receiving international recognition for the work they were doing back in the country. Their revival of craft and fashion forwardness won the attention of the International Young Fashion Entrepreneur award by the British Council. Shortlisted for the award, which seeks to champion and celebrate the importance of creative entrepreneurs in the 25 to 35 age category working in the field of fashion, the brand made pure style history!
2010: Marhaba Dubai
At a time when Pakistani brands and designers were largely focused on making their name in the market within the country, Shamoon and Khaadi had different plans in mind. In 2010, the brand saw its first ever international store open in Dubai, UAE, marking the start of a global presence for Pakistani brands. To this date, it comes as no surprise that due to this move, Pakistani brands now have a recognition that goes beyond just our borders!
2012: Fabrics and All That Jazz
Despite the Pakistani market being mostly loose-fabric oriented since the get-go, the consumers rarely had the variety that they required. The idea had always remained to make do with whatever was available in the markets across the country. However, once again Khaadi brought in the revolutionary idea of tapping into the market and changing it all over. Along came, Khaadi Fabrics, a range of quality unstitched fabrics such as lawn amidst other types for customers to design and stitch their own outfits. Today, we can’t think of one major brand which hasn’t gone down the same route!
2013: Home is where Khaadi is
To chart the success of Khaadi without talking about their approach towards home decor would be like telling just half of the story. Giving some of Pakistan’s biggest interior and home decor brands a run for their money, 2013 became the year that the brand made waves by launching Khaadi Home. A one-stop-shop for all of your interior design solutions, the brand showcased a line of home decor products that reflected the brand’s signature aesthetic. We would be lying if we said we didn’t buy each and every bedspread and linen they offered!
2013: The British Invasion
Just when you thought Khaadi was satisfied by their presence in the Middle East alone, they were all ready to change that. Expanding their concept to global proportions once again, the brand saw its first ever store in Europe open up. Located in London at the ‘it’ Westfield Malls, the brand had proudly made its presence felt in a country that hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis have called home for decades!
2014: E-Commerce and Beyond!
Just when Pakistan was turning towards the idea of online shopping, Khaadi became one of the first brands to make it big on the internet. Launching their e-commerce platform in 2014, the brand saw massive success for the wide variety it presented to its customers from the comfort of their homes. Now if that does not showcase foresight, then what does!
2014: The Woolmark Recognition
For anyone who knows fashion or understands the global perspective of it, the term Woolmark would make their heads turn. Thus, when in 2014, it was announced that Khaadi Khaas has been shortlisted and nominated for the prize, it became one of the proudest moments for the brand. Nominated amongst 9 other brands from the region, it became one of the only three Pakistani ones to be on the list. Now that’s recognition worth being proud of.
2016: Khaadi Goes Minimalistic
When brands go beyond their maintained USP and choose a disruptive marketing method, it always creates sparks! In the case of Khaadi, this came with the launch of Chapter 2. Embodying a new idea of minimalistic approach to their design, handwoven craft and woven textiles, Khaadi’s Chapter 2 was all about going against the tide. It was truly pret wear with a twist and for any woman wanting a breather from patterns and prints, this was the revolution they didn’t realize they needed!
2019: The Beloved Gluttony
Ever heard of a Pakistani fashion brand delving into food and making it oh-so-fashionable? We hadn’t! But then it all changed with the advent of Kanteen! Launched by Khaadi at their signature Comm 3 store in Karachi, the restaurant-cum-experience would forever change what a brand could be. Out came dishes that were both traditional and modern, and changed the idea of fusion street food in the metropolis. We for one, couldn’t stop going there for both food and all things Khaadi, around us!
2021: The Turkish Delight
Just when Pakistan was reaching its fever-pitch with Turkish celebrities and TV shows, Khaadi struck while the iron was hot! Bringing the mega-popular Turkish actor Esra Bilgic to the forefront and into the Pakistani pop-culture plane, Khaadi made waves by featuring her in their campaign. Not only did this international approach usher in a new era of Turkish brand ambassadors, but also showed how Khaadi once again started a trend in the market!
2021: The HQ Milestone
Marking more than 20 years in the business and massive success across the country and beyond, it was only natural for Khaadi to make its presence felt. It did so once again in the shape of forming its headquarters at one of Pakistan’s most coveted office spaces. In 2021, Khaadi established its headquarters at Sky Tower Dolmen City, Karachi, Pakistan, as a testament to the brand’s growth and success. The brand has only moved forward since then, truly making them a success story every other name has been looking up to them for.
2021: The ‘Experience’ of Khaadi
There’s a store and then there’s an experience! That’s exactly what Khaadi wanted its customers to know when they revolutionised the idea of what it meant to be in one of their stores in 2021. Starting with their first experience store at Dolmen Mall Clifton, they created a space that was part retail and part magical. From art installations and whimsical art to a space where you could find everything Khaadi, the brand changed concept of shopping once again!
2021: Going The Coke Studio Way
When it comes to music in Pakistan, there’s no other platform which has made its name as big as Coke Studio has for itself. Thus, it came as no surprise when they chose Pakistan’s most popular and beloved fashion brand Khaadi to become its partner in collaboration. Earning the title of the first ever Pakistani fashion brand to make merchandise for Coke Studio, it held a special place for creativity and innovation of epic proportions!
2021: A New Identity
If there’s one fashion brand in the country whose identity has always been its most recognisable asset, it has to be Khaadi. Starting off with the illustration of two hands weaving a fabric in tandem, it narrated a story of craft and revival in Pakistan. In 2021, Khaadi sought to bring more elements of modernity, change and transformation to that mix by evolving that iconic logo. Soon we saw the same hands being turned into a more eclectic logo, showcasing to the world that Khaadi had retained that ideology but made it even bigger and global!
2022: Global Investments
We have all heard of international brands having a massive number of investors back the entity, but in Pakistan it has been rather rare. But, of course, Khaadi had other things in mind and changed that concept too! In 2022, it became the first brand that had signed with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), who invested the equivalent of $25 Million for a minority stake in Khaadi Corporation Limited. This not only proved that the company position stands firm as one the strongest in the country, but also proved just how brilliantly the business acumen of Shamoon Sultan shined behind it all.
2022: Khaadi for the Gentlemen
While Khaadi has always delved into menswear, it was in 2022 when they revolutionised that part of their brand once again. Khaadi played on its strength and created the concept of ready-to-wear ensembles for men which were both fashion-forward and innovative. Truly the Khaadi man is versatile and knows what he wants – something that the brand has quite intricately catered to over the years.
2022: Kreating a Mark
To be a brand loved by millions, you also have to give back to those who stood by you. That is exactly what Khaadi did by creating a programme that had never been done by any other Pakistani fashion brand before. Introducing the Kreate Your Mark concept, the brand chose to become an incubator for small home-based entrepreneurs by giving them space free-of-cost in their experience stores across the country. The coolest thing about it all? They don’t take any percentage in the profits! Now if that isn’t supporting local craft, then what is!
2023: ‘Experience’ Comes to Emporium Mall!
After the massive success of its experience store in Karachi, it was only natural for Khaadi to make Lahore its next major stop. Launching its new store concept at the emporium mall, the brand brought all things Khaadi under one roof and became the talk of the town. Not only did this business idea change the way stores were operating at the mall, but gave their competition a true experience of what it means to be a top-tier brand.
2023: The Y Block Experience
Just when you thought Khaadi had already showcased its magic in Lahore, it had way more in the offing! Launching another Experience store in the same year as the one in Emporium Mall, Khaadi sought a location in the heart of DHA with an Experience store located at Y Block! Consolidating an expression of the brand’s passion for design, art and culture, the new space has proven to be a shining beacon of Khaadi’s success and expansion in the country.
2023: Kanteen Comes to Dolmen
Lightening can strike twice and it can be as good as the first time! That’s exactly what Khaadi planned to prove with the launch of Kanteen at Dolmen Mall Clifton. The beloved name which became the centre of its store earlier, once again saw people wholeheartedly welcoming it. Operating as a stand-alone restaurant, the concept of Kanteen has now become synonymous with Khaadi and its expansion into street food with an oomph!
2023: Khaadi Meets Universe
While the year has been huge of Khaadi, it has also been massive for Pakistan and its global representation. One such example came with the official announcement of Miss Pakistan being represented on the Miss Universe pageant for the first time in the 72 year history of the event! However, things took an even more enthralling turn when this success story entwined with Khaadi. Designing the national costume for Erica Robin, Khaadi created an outfit titled ‘Pechaan’ which represented each and every community in Pakistan. The intricately designed ensemble became one of the most loved at the competition and even went on to put Pakistan in the top 20! Now that’s the power of the right outfit!
2002 – Present: Khaadi Winning It All!
While the story of Khaadi continues, it would never be complete without talking about the awards and recognition it has received from Pakistan’s top awarding platforms. From the Lux Style Awards to Hum Style, we have seen Khaadi ruling the roost. Boasting more than 15 awards to their name in different categories over the years, Khaadi, Shamoon and Saira, and the team behind the brand have proven to be some of Pakistan’s best. Take a bow, Khaadi, you deserve it!