Freeze Fashion

In the winter monotony, Saima Bhat sees designers and markets unleashing the talent to suit the TV-fed trendy generation, obviously women first

Girls-dancing-at-Bakshi-Stadium-SrinagarIn February 2012 fashion designer Manish Malhotra made a statement when one of his male models turned up on a Delhi ramp wearing pheran with tilla embroidery. He was inspired by Kashmiri colours while shooting for Rockstar in the Valley.

Nobody knows if any of his clients turned up for buying pheran. In valley, however, the statement pushed pheran to get trendy, and innovative.

It is 8:30 am and a group of girls are giggling while coming out of their tuition centre in Parrypora, a locality fast emerging as an address for fashion than education. These girls look like butterflies wearing different hues and tones of clothes. They are in woolens, mostly in jackets and coats. But five of them have donned pherans.

“I don’t feel much cold in pheran. It is warmer than any other attire used for winters,” says Sehar, a 11th class student. She has a diverse collection of embroidered woollen pherans.

Every morning Lubna, a doctor, leaves her home at 8 am. During winters, early mornings are chilling. Raising two kids, she has not much time to focus on her wardrobe.

“Wearing jackets and coats essentially means you have to keep your clothes maintained everyday. But wearing Cashmelon shirts under pherans is bliss for me,” says Dr Lubna.

Akeel Farooq Misger, 30, owner of Pashmilon, a store at Munawarabad, Srinagar, believes the young generation is more fashionable, preferring a blend of traditional and modern.

To keep his client base, Akeel keeps on experimenting with pheran every season. Initially he started with plain needle embroidery pherans and now he has shifted to printed cloth material with needle embroidery and tilla work.

Already in shawls and stoles for 20 years, Pashmilon has recently opened its manufacturing facility in Srinagar. They export to of Europe and Middle East. Earlier, Akeel says, competing in the Kashmir market was easy. Not any more. “Kashmiri girls follow European trends. What ever I export to Europe, I sell here as well,” says Akeel, who prefers stoles with Kashmiri embroidery and lace, which gives it western touch and they sell like hot cakes in Kashmir as well as in Europe.

After sourcing raw material from China, Mangolia, and Italy, Akeel tests from SGS based in Honk Kong. “We test our material because our business is trust based,” Akeel said. He claims lack of raw material locally. Eighty percent of wool produced in Ladakh, he claims, goes to Oswal’s in Ludhiana, the makers of Monte Carlo brand. And their Pashmina is expensive. But products are totally Kashmir made.

Goni Khan, City’s major apparel retail market has shops stuffed with Ludhiana made woolen products. Retailers say almost 95 percent of what they sell comes from Ludhiana and the rest from Amritsar.

Most of the products are copy of Pakistani brands and designs. “Whatever is trending in Pakistan, our Kashmiri clients seek the same style,” says retailer Basharat Ahmad Khan. “This trend is common because Pakistani TV serials are popular here.”

Readymade stocks apart, almost every material for local manufacture comes from Ludhiana. “We get every kind of raw material including Cashmilon and tweed from Ludhiana and even threads to stitch pherans,” insists Khan. “Our pherans are also stitched by non-locals.”

Khan says his market has a demand of more than 30,000 pherans a season but they are not able to supply.

Goni-Khan-StreetBatmaloo’s wholesale market is bustling with activity.“On an average each shop in this market must be having a sale of Rs eight lakhs per day,” says one wholesaler wishing anonymity. The only local manufacture comes from state run Woollen Mills at Bemina. “On an average they supply 500 pieces of Woollen inner trousers per day to this market.”

In summer’s Pakistani designers wear – Anarkali suits and Pallazzos, are ruling the street. Traditional pheran with pants is adding colour to winter fashion.

Pherans for youngsters need to be trendy but for office goers, it is more sophisticated and less gaudy. Off late, men too are opting for classy woollen pherans – blacks, browns, greys are the colours with collar and narrow sleeves generally. Omar Abdullah’s pheran with muffler and cap as his winter get-up, has given the cloak a new respect and life.

This year, girls prefer to woollen embroidered suits in shape of a pheran and with pants. “We can play with pheran design. Girls dislike traditional ones but if  we use tweed with twist like addition of hood, pockets at different places or with piping, they find it trendy,” feels Mehnaz Mir, a fashion designer and co-owner of fashion studio ‘M Akbar’.

Mehnaz says for the year 2015, girls are trying check designs and trench coats (coats with belts) besides wraps, capes, long sweaters with pants. This year she suggests her clients to preferably use tunics made of tweed and wool pants to keep them warm.

Kaftan Craze, who is solely responsible for making Kaftan a fashion statement in Kashmir, has also jumped into the pheran. “I am giving modern touch to pherans,” says Adil Mir. “My pheran collection will look like overcoats and trench coats.” Wait for Kashmir’s fashion czar.


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