Independence Day every year brings in hopes, renewed ambitions and a yearning for a better future. For pragmatic fashion entrepreneurs, it’s also a day that spells out thematic capsules, sales and throngs of shoppers easily losing their hearts – and money – to all things patriotic.
At any other time of the year, we’d get bored by seeing the same inspirations everywhere. Sartorial mainstays on Independence Day are invariably the same: tunics printed with the Quaid’s mausoleum, the Minar-e-Pakistan and myriad interpretations of the chaand-sitara. And yet, some designers and high-street brands have managed to tweak the underlying theme, give it an edge and make ‘azaadi’-centric wardrobes the coolest way to show your patriotic pride.
Sifting through a growing milieu of brands going ‘green’ here’s how we rate what’s on offer on the 14th of August:
1. Pakistani arm-candy a la Mahin Hussain
Mahin Hussain never fails to put out an Independence Day line of handbags – probably because she’s just so good at making them! This year’s collection includes the jazzy sequined Pakistani flag clutch, also available in a smaller version and as a flag satchel. Other classics make a comeback: the note-clutch and the embroidered flag clutch.
|Bright and sassy bags will make a statement|
In a new range, Mahin turns to the cities of Karachi and Lahore for inspiration. The ‘Karachi’ bag, is printed with an image of the Quaid’s mausoleum and the lyrics of the song ‘Bunder road se Kemari…’ Lahore’s design features the Minar-e-Pakistan and the self-explanatory declaration, ‘Lahore Lahore Aye’.
|These totes can be worn year-round|
In pure leather, with Mahin’s well-honed aesthetics at play, these bags are so much better than the blingy ‘MK’ and ‘LV’ creations that unfathomably remain popular. Why look elsewhere when you’ve got such brilliant local designer creations, mostly available under the Rs 10,000 category? That’s a patriotic point to ponder for accessory aficionados.
2. Ayesha Hashwani’s Independence kurta
In digital print, on a lawn Independence Day kurta, designer Ayesha Hashwani captures the bustle of Empress Market, old architectural details and the Minar-e-Pakistan, looming tall.
|Pakistani landmarks make their presence felt|
There’s nothing new about using national monuments for patriotic inspiration but Ayesha does it with flair, mixing the design with a burst of florals and keeping the palette green in the front and a brighter sepia at the back. The price isn’t too bad either, at Rs 5,000.
3. Desi kaleidoscopia by HSY
The House of HSY reminds us of all things Pakistani that give us joy. His digitally printed capsule focuses on local icons and landmarks, desi truck-art and ‘Pakistan’ written across the hemline, overlapped one over the other in brilliant multi-colors.
|HSY keeps it affordable|
Beginning at Rs 3,800, this limited edition line is absolutely fun and proudly Pakistani without resorting to a predictable green palette.
4. Scarves by Nida Azwer
Time and experience have taught Nida Azwer that thematic scarves are a big hit, come 14th of August. This year, the Nida Azwer Atelier has devised two separate scarf designs, paying ode to the flag, national monuments and historic architecture. Splattered with shades of green, the scarves drift through the Khyber Pass, Lahore Fort, Faisal Mosque, Minar-e-Pakistan, Mazar-e-Quaid and Supreme court of Pakistan.
|Nida Azwer moves away from the typical kurtas|
It’s a nostalgic overview of the country, screen-printed on long, loose scarves that immediately catch the eye. Funky Independence Day statements, certainly – and keepsakes for all time. Nida’s limited edition scarves are priced at Rs 2,800.
5. Luxe Independence-wear by Zainab Chhotani
Zainab Chhotani’s ‘Mera Pakistan’ designs are well-crafted, with slight edgy detailings. Fashioned from silk, cotton-net and cotton, the shirts are embroidered with nationalistic anthems, ‘Pappu yar jang na kar’, ‘Aman Pakistan’ and ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. There’s calligraphy and Urdu poetry on print and original Rs 5 and Rs 1 coins used as buttons!
|In case you have a more formal event to attend...|
Priced between Rs 8,000 and Rs 9,000, this capsule of four kurtas may be too formal for the day, but they’ll fit right in to a 14th August evening soiree.
6. Sonya Battla winds through the G.T. Road
Sonya Battla’s Grand Trunk Road isn’t your typical patriotic collection, which is why it’s rated number 6 on our list. However, for those interested in diligently created, artistic designs that can be used well beyond August 14th, this collection is spot-on.
|Thankfully the clothes aren't all green!|
Stylish and quintessentially subtle, the Grand Trunk Road line is entrenched in historic navigational routes. The collection, initially released close to Eid and inspired by the writings of William Dalrymple, traverses the unexplored regions of the subcontinent, winding its way from Sri Nagar, Calcutta, Kabul to the vivid imagery of Benares.
Silhouettes vary from classic kurtas to kimono capes, off-shoulder shifts and one-shoulder tunics and no, the clothes are not all-green. Instead, they delve into a rich color palette of turquoise and blues, oranges and pinks.
What better, savvier way to salute our patriotic history? Party-wear for Independence Day? Sure. Red carpet showstopper for later in the year? Certainly! Prices range from Rs 9000 to Rs 25000.
7. Azadi mubarak, Gulabo!
Maheen Khan’s Gulabo has always boasted an aesthetic that is proudly, unabashedly Pakistani. It’s a brand that is unmistakably cool; reflecting local traditional art, traffic routes and architecture on silhouettes that are utterly modern. And whenever Gulabo jumps onto the ‘azadi’ bandwagon, it promises to be an interesting ride.
|More of the same at Gulabo|
The Azadi collection this year – a regular for the brand – is similar to the one created last year. There’s the camouflage print, inspired by the Pakistani army uniform, iconic tees imprinted with a Pakistani postage stamp and kurtas in brilliant parrot green, chalking out pathways through Karachi. The Azadi line is priced between Rs 850 and Rs 3,900.
The high-street sojourn: Gul Ahmed, Sapphire, Bonanza and Beech Tree
The fashionable high-street to Pakistani pride is, once again, littered with the national flag and the consistently popular Quaid’s mausoleum and Minar-e-Pakistan. It’s distinctively funky although in some cases, hackneyed.
A major factor that’s makes Independence Day-inspired pret a hit are the phenomenal prices. Brands known that designs are targeted towards a single day and they’re keeping them affordable, attracting in plenty of buyers.
Textile giant Gul Ahmed, for one, is easily drawing in customers with a whopping 25% discount on all stock. But if that’s not enough, the brand has devised a very pretty 14th August-themed line of ready-to-wear. The digitally printed cotton kurtas are predominantly green and gray, featuring ethnic inspirations and landmarks like the Minar-e-Pakistan and Mazar-e-Quaid. Prices begin at Rs 2500 and most of these designs will work well for Independence Day as well as beyond.
|Gul Ahmed pulls shoppers in with a discount|
On a similar vein, patriotic designs are a mainstay every August at Bonanza’s utterly affordable, easy breezy Satrangi. The kurtas priced between Rs 2,080 and Rs 2,650 are printed with the chand-sitara, Minar-e-Pakistan and Pakistan, written in Urdu and dotted about an entire shirt.
There’s also a specialized line of very snazzy silk scarves, priced at Rs 1,780, and digitally printed with zig-zags, truck-art and the Pakistani map.
Sapphire’s Independence line has designs on men that are spot-on, with printed images of the Quaid on the waistcoats and on kurta pockets. The tunics for women stand out for their unique digital prints and occasional spurts of multi-colors. Prices are below Rs 5,000.
|Sapphire’s collection is, complete with Quaid waistcoats|
Beech Tree’s Green Nation capsule line featuring flags and etched sketches of national monuments, mixed in with Ikat prints, are yet another option, priced at Rs 2,700.
|Beech Tree is an affordable option|
Maliha Rehman is a fashion and lifestyle journalist with a penchant for writing, all the time! Log on to Twitter for more updates @maliharehman