The Karachi-based fashion designer on what drives her.
Maheen Karim is one of the few Pakistani designers who can count Western wear as her forte. Karim regularly shows in Karachi and sometimes in Lahore but has always opted to show at pret fashion weeks and has several memorable luxury pret collections to her credit. With bridal weeks looming in the near future, we chat with the designer about what it actually means for a fashion brand to showcase western wear in Pakistan.
“Each year I promise myself that I’m going t be more savvy and concentrate on bridals or eastern formal wear for fashion week but somehow it never works out,” she explains. “I’m just not passionate about it the way I am about western wear. Even though bridals and eastern couture is much more commercially viable, it’s not what drives me or what the Maheen Karim brand is about.”
Karim is known for her psychedelic prints which get turned into fun, flirty gowns or summer dresses that are perfect resort wears. She also does more bespoke western wear that you can often spot on fashionistas during the winter party circuit.
“What’s really worked out for me in the last few years is that soon after the Karachi fashion week the winter festive season commences and that’s where you can see a lot of people sporting western wear. We get quite a few orders during that time but what works out even better is that girls are willing to buy the sample piece. Previously the sample pieces would be considered a dead cost that couldn’t be recovered because they were made on model sizes but these days girls have become model skinny in real life and can just pick those items off the rack,” she divulges.
The items are of course properly dry cleaned and re-embellished before being put on the rack but Karim mentions that when women come in looking for an outfit for a ball and are in rush, picking up the samples is a great solution that also works out easier on the pocket than a made to order piece would.
Talking about the viability of showcasing western wear, Karim states that it’s mostly the act of putting up a show. “Fashion weeks are an extravaganza but in Pakistan you don’t have actual buyers present at the show. The buyers come via a photo shoot or eventually social media so particularly for eastern wear I feel a shoot published in a magazine is much better publicity than a fashion showcase. Designers here showcase western wear to establish their aesthetic and brand identity,” she remarks.
Whatever the mechanics might be, we’re just glad Karim chooses to showcase and will be looking forward to her presentation this October.