Designer Wardha Saleem opens doors to first design studio-slash-flagship store in the metropolis
As the fashion bandwagon continues to proceed with ease, a string of designers continues to gain ground in the industry by establishing footholds at the business end. Taking a leap of faith in her fashion prowess, designer and Fashion Pakistan Council CEO Wardha Saleem has opened doors to her first-ever design studio and flagship store in Karachi. Located near Do Talwar in Clifton, the welcoming space houses an eclectic mix of designs.
Opening the two-in-one outlet, as it serves the purpose of both a studio and a store, Wardha hopes to be easily approachable for her clients. She will be assisted by her design team and entertain clients at the workplace. “It’s a space where people can place their orders as well as view my prêt collection by either appointment or walk-ins. I believe everything evolves from a design house,” she said.
Wardha’s designs range from chicken and cotton fabric tunics with digital prints to outfits featuring dori embroidery. The designer will rack her prêt, luxury prêt, bridal and formal offerings at her store. She will also exhibit her ‘Lotus Song’ collection at the outlet, which features luxury prêt silk kurtas and saris. While also creating customised outfits, Saleem has plans to stock saris from her fashion week collections at the design house.
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As for the upcoming Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW), Saleem is currently deciding a title for her collection. When asked about her design mantra for the collection, she said, “It is freedom. Freedom of design, freedom of speech and it’s blatantly youthful. It’s about the sparrow, a bird travelling through traditional times into the modern world.”
On what pushed her to launch an outlet, she elaborated, “I realised times have changed and need to make my brand more approachable. For that, we needed an outlet.” She further shared, “I heard of clients who would come to [multi-brand stores] to purchase another label’s bridal outfit, but walk out saying ‘We need to take an appointment and come back again for a Wardha Saleem jora’. It took me almost a year-and-a-half to find the right location for the outlet.”
Although the designer took her time to set up a studio of her own, she has showcased her collections at exhibitions and on the ramp, while also previously stocking her clothing line at multi-label stores, such as Ensemble, Labels, The Designers and FP Lounge.
Saleem started off her career by designing lawn, from where she extended her clothing range further. “When I first started in 2008, I was pursuing designing as a passion with exhibitions here and there. In 2011, I launched my first lawn collection, after which I showcased at FPW in 2012. From then on, I only saw my lawn brand growing.” But Saleem started to feel she wasn’t catering to a mass clientele, so the idea of her own space came about with help from her business partner and brother Nubain Ali.
Model Nadia Hussain at the store launch
Juggling between being the CEO of FPC and managing her own outlet is probably no easy feat. “I understand my role and responsibilities as the council’s CEO. It’s been three years that I’ve been at it. Also, I think FPW is now a regular feature and there aren’t any major hiccups in between,” she said. “So, both [jobs] are easily doable. The design studio is my responsibility as much as council affairs and I think I will manage.”
Saleem said her own studio means everything to her, adding, “It’s a gorgeous place to work at. You grow with time but you eventually need to have your own space. One needs to take baby steps rather than giant leaps. Later, I might opt for a store in a mall but not at the moment.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2015.
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