Does responsibility trump affordability in fashion? This Pakistani designer thinks so

The Pink Tree Co. fashion brand was established in 2011 and has grown ever since. (Photos supplied)
Updated 29 November 2017
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Does responsibility trump affordability in fashion? This Pakistani designer thinks so

KARACHI: Those who are fashion conscious should look for the responsible, not the affordable, a leading Pakistani fashion expert has said.
“Affordable fashion means that somewhere, at some stage, someone was exploited,” Mohsin Sayeed, creative director of The Pink Tree Company, told Arab News.
He is unapologetic about his brand The Pink Tree being relatively expensive, saying: “Each piece we create carries lots of hard work and creativity. We don’t believe in mass production.”
The Pink Tree Co. was established in 2011 by three friends, including Sayeed, 50, who spent most of his professional life as a journalist before moving to fashion.

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“Our designs come straight from the heart. Our passion is to delve into the rich history of fashion and textiles, bring back something from the past and give it a contemporary feel. That leaves the viewer with a cozy, déjà vu feeling. Our identity is our design diversity,” said Sayeed, adding that the boom in the fashion retail industry comes at the expense of creativity.
“Ready-to-wear fashion can be affordable for many, but it doesn’t cater to the creativity that good fashion should carry,” he said.
“Art is an exclusive form of expression. It can’t be produced in factories like soaps and shampoos. Those who do that aren’t creating art pieces, they’re just making clothes,” he added.
“Responsible fashion means you take care of your costumes for years and, perhaps, for generations. It means all those craftsmen who made this piece have been paid properly and their work has been respected. Affordable fashion means you’re treating your dress as a tissue paper: Use and throw.”
Sayeed, many of whose clients are from the Middle East, said Arab women should not be obsessed with Western fashion trends.
“The new generation of Arab women is very fashion conscious, but unfortunately they consider Western brands as the ultimate fashion word,” he said.
“Asia, particularly South Asia, has more amazing creative fashion designers that can cater for style with a good understanding of their social circumstances. We in South Asia can proudly say we have the best craftsmanship.”
Sayeed said Pakistani craftsmen are among the best. “They’re not mere embroiderers or tailors. They’re like poets who create poetry on a piece of cloth,” he added.
“We have a history of craftsmanship as old as 500 years. We produce best fabric in the world. No one can beat us when it comes to creativity in fashion.”


TheFace: Dr. Lama S. Taher, the successful fashion designer whose one dream was not enough

Dr. Lama S. Taher (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 20 April 2018
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TheFace: Dr. Lama S. Taher, the successful fashion designer whose one dream was not enough

  • Lacking in financial assistance but armed with grit, perseverance and passion, a young Saudi woman fashion designer launches her own brand while pursuing further studies, and succeed in both

I was born and raised in Riyadh and moved to London in 2004 to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree, followed by a Master’s degree in Mental Health.

Eight years ago, when I started on my Ph.D. in Psychology, I felt compelled to go into fashion design. Armed with grit, perseverance and passion, I took the plunge and launched my own brand, LUM, in May 2010.

I had no financial assistance and no fancy business plans — but I believed in it. No one else did, except my older sister who stood by me.

In spite of its humble beginning, the brand was well-received in the Kingdom and the Gulf region. But my father, a physician, was not convinced. I placed a bet with him, vowing to make substantial sales and revenue within one month. On July 1, 2013, I won that bet, making him my number one supporter.  In 2016, I achieved my academic dream, obtaining a Ph.D. in psychology at City University London.  

But it was not easy. Enduring sleepless nights and homesickness, I persevered to meet high academic demands. Meanwhile, the LUM business continued to flourish.

People asked why a successful fashion designer would pursue a doctorate in psychology. I was constantly asked to pick one — but my heart was in one and my mind was in another. 

Few believed I could achieve both. At times, I too doubted myself.

Today, I am an assistant professor at Dar Al Hekma University in Jeddah, supervising award-winning researchers. I am also a Saudi designer and manager of a successful fashion brand sold in the GCC, New York and Los Angeles.  I share my story to empower women to pursue their dreams, to believe in themselves, to fight for what they want.

People still ask: “Why both?” 

I reply, smiling: “Because one dream was not enough.”