From the production to the purchase and the love of owning a garment, it’s all a process of passion; a grand epic of attachment. In this story, Mohsin Sayeed of The PinkTree Company chronicles a saga of slow and responsible fashion – narrating a tale of craftsmanship and fair trade; a journey from old times to the new; and how a bit of glittering gold can add shine to otherwise dull days – as told through the lives of nine amazing women featured in their latest collection, Zun Zarine.
Label: The PinkTree Company
Photography: Jaffer Hasan
Hair and Make-up: Nabila’s N-Pro
Shoes: Chapter 13
Location: Canvas Gallery
BTS Shoot: Umrat Khan
Digital: Mindmap Communications
“How can a product that needs to be sown, grown, harvested, combed, spun, knitted, cut and stitched, finished, printed, labelled, packaged and transported cost a couple of euros?”
– Li Edelkoort, trend forecaster.
And let’s not forget ‘embellished’ and ‘hand-crushed’ for The PinkTree’s Eid 2017 collection, Zun Zarine, the design process of which is a saga of love all on its own, but let’s skirt around that for a moment.
The construct of a garment is many things – poetry to some, elegance to some others, and a labour of love for many. Whichever side of the creative process one may be on, the craft that has enmeshed our history as a people has a language of its own. And it speaks volumes. The question then is: have we stopped listening? The bold words that resonate from the dexterity of the hands creating the art that embellishes our lives – from weaving to dyeing, printing to embroidery – must be strung together into song that creates the music we must let play on and on.
For Pakistani fashion, our leaning towards craft is undeniable. The rich legacy that we carry and the innovation that is being created today by modern-day craftsmen speak to our ongoing passion. To see the play between the craft of yesteryears and the tingle of new-age embellishment is a thing of beauty parallel to none.
For many, it is the battle to preserve and promote our craft that fires the passion in their everyday lives. The promotion of craft goes beyond the legacy handed down from generation to generation – it is about permeating it throughout the weave of modern-day living. It exists already, this link – when craft gets popular and becomes mainstream, the economic up-thrust carries with it artisans, their families and if we’re lucky, the generations to follow. And a legacy is born. The celebration of this legacy is what establishes the roots of a people, forever written into the annals of tradition. After all, where are we going if we don’t know where we come from?
However, there is a monster in the room and it must be identified – named and shamed. It is born of consumerism, speed and greed, and it is typically called fast fashion. Much drives this feeding frenzy, and while the consumer is (unknowingly) suffering this entrapment, the background narrative of an entire legacy is endangered. Speed, low prices, exploitation of labour and non-sustainable material are aggressors, as is low regard for quality. More money is spent on marketing the product than the product itself! And as all of this snowballs, the brainwashed consumer is hijacked into a whirlwind of fast-changing trends and aggressive marketing. And then the clear and present danger becomes even more imminent – a world where trends overtake individual style and what you see are fashion clones of each other, and the faces fade very quickly. I know now what Karl Lagerfeld meant when he said: “Trendy is the last stage before tacky.”
Did we talk about the environment yet? Let’s just do that for a moment. Think tonnes of material used for production – then the consumption of water, energy, the chemical dyes. And there is cycle after cycle of MORE. Never has the cost of low prices been higher.
I keep going back to Li Edelkoort, the most respected and honoured forecaster in fashion, and these words hit home: “What’s more, these prices imply the clothes are to be thrown away, discarded… before being loved and savoured, teaching young consumers that fashion has no value. We should make legislation to have minimum prices.”
We must learn to love clothes, appreciate the passion, the effort that has gone into making them. We must play our part to ensure that those who make these clothes for us are paid fairly, that they work in a good environment and are respected for their labour.
This is slow fashion. This is responsible fashion. This is how we as consumers can play our part, an important part – in fact, the most important. As consumers and as creators, designers, we must practice slow and responsible fashion and pay our dues.
And this is why The PinkTree, continues to incorporate craft in our design process. Once again, Zun Zarine, our Eid 2017 collection, stands as a glorious testimony to our commitment to responsible fashion. The collection celebrates artisans, women, heritage and craft. Partly created by women artisans in Sindh villages and Bahawalpur, the collection draws inspiration from our cultural heritage and harks back to times when colourful susi and wildly vibrant chheent prints were a norm that added beauty to our daily lives. They were the times when cotton was king; when kaamdani was done by our mothers and grandmothers and a part of daily wardrobe; when glistening gota added shine to otherwise dull days. Zun Zarine celebrates all that and more.
There is such an inexorable bond between craft, Karachi and women. The three have much that binds them together: they are creative, deep, strong, resilient, vibrant, passionate, meaningful, delightful, diverse, survivors; they embody acceptance and are the ultimate torchbearers of a labour of love. Strength and resilience aside, everyone needs love, care, freedom and nurturing to continue to survive, grow and progress.
When it came to presenting Zun Zarine, we struggled with a collective giant mental block. We wanted a face that represents not only the ethos of Zun Zarine but also symbolized Karachi and craft. How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand? The answer came at us fast and hard – never has a Eureka moment been so profound! The women of substance around us, embodied by these 9 strong and resilient souls, capture all. The thread that binds them well is their appreciation of craft, efforts to promote them and their unique relationship with Karachi. And they are all Zun Zarine, our Golden Women.