By Haider Maqsood
Pakistani fashion has always maintained an illustrious, progressive image of itself, presenting even its darker sides in a gilded armor that will awe even its most staunch critic. No one can deny that our industry has always been full of hope and prospect, which not too long ago, took on its mantle to project Pakistan for what it truly is. A nation full of hope and resilience. Throughout its lifespan, those blessed with maturity might have picked up on the social commentary offered within the hems and sleeves. But that was a different time, those were different creators.
But now there is another breed, a mindset that is seemingly innocuous, elements of disassociation and ignorance have creeped in like psilocybin that has only enchanted its followers with delusional grandiosity whilst becoming increasingly tone deaf to the harsh realities we all are currently facing. These ‘designers’ now offer less hope and more desperation to relive what once was, the age of fashion.
In a recent runway show in Karachi, we saw fashion coming back. At least that is how it was presented to be. Yet in its conspicuous hiatus, reflection was needed. Fashion is not coming back to the same time and mindfully shouldn’t come back the same also. At the same event we saw a heinous occurrence that felt unbelievable with a fight between two models.
Without getting into the intricacies of who is right and who is wrong, the fact of the matter is that the whole ordeal was gravely mishandled by those responsible for the wellbeing and safety of these models. It is not about who did what or who said what, face the reality that an alleged verbal assault has happened which warrants action. It warrants that instead of saying terms like ‘she was a troublemaker’ or it was a petty ‘cat fight’, a precedent should be set for yourselves and for the onlookers where despite security, a lot of girls that were there to work, were distraught and shaken by the act of another man.
But in this day and age where notions of abuse, harassment and violations are just mere words thrown around for publicity and social media accolade. It was disheartening to witness even the more profound attendees to just shy away from calling it out there and then whilst quietly siding with their social clique. The irony of it all being that women empowerment, feminism and freedom of expression is so highly valued on the runway, alas its use is nothing more than the plastic sequins that adorn the cholis and lehngas parading obtusely down the runway.
With a rapidly changing world and an ever-evolving audience, it seems fashion as an industry is only regressing into its elitist cocoon that might be familiar but nevertheless reeks of the stench of old-world laws formed based on its own resentful history. Those times when plagiarism was normalized by even those claiming to be the masters at this art and models were merely paraded as objects, fetishized by photographers and designers alike.
A certain stage is set to present a revived ‘Gala’ of sorts by three very well-informed, well-acquainted women that have yet once again decided to revive an already thriving industry of fashion. However, it is time that one begs to ask questions from this same team about what this platform stands for? What will it do for fashion? Wasn’t it the same team that crowned and awarded not one but two alleged harassers that caused a very public uproar on social media and resulted in a PR disaster? Or will this stage be set for a round of point proving and to play their favorite game of ‘who’s in and who isn’t’.
In order for Pakistani fashion industry to reclaim its former glory, it must transcend mere appearances and delve deeper into the underlying issues plaguing their industry and society at large. It should embrace a new era of inclusivity, accountability, and genuine empowerment, moving beyond the superficial glitter and towards a more profound engagement with the realities that haunt millions across. Only then can our fashion industry truly become a beacon of hope and resilience, mirroring the spirit of the nation it represents because without such reeducation, all these platforms and their promises are mere vanity and nothing more.