Khadijah Shah says all payments cleared as Elan comes under fire on social media for not paying people

Published 28 Jan, 2022 12:17pm

Maliha Rehman

Several models and a former employee called out the brand for not releasing payments for months; Shah says "sincerely sorry".

Photo: Elan.pk
Photo: Elan.pk

Khadijah Shah, the head of two of Pakistan's foremost fashion brands, Elan and Zaha, says all pending payments to models and former employees who worked with her brands have been made. The brands were thrust into the spotlight after a slew of posts on social media that called them out for not paying people on time.

“Yes, the pandemic has been tough for us [...] I have looked into the matter and the pending payments have been cleared," Shah told Images when contacted.

Accounts on social media

Shah is recognised as one of the country’s most successful creative forces and often lauded for her innovations in the realms of bridal design, ready-to-wear and unstitched fabric but her brands were being talked about on social media less for their fashion and more for their business practices on Wednesday and Thursday.

Model Atikah Gardezi on Wednesday posted an image of herself from a past Zaha campaign with the caption, "Mere paise kidher hain? Zaha" [Where is my money, Zaha?]

She later posted an update in the comments section, informing her followers that the brands’ management had called to say that they would transfer the payment and asked her to delete the post. She planned to delete the post only after the payment was made, which she said she would then give away to charity. By Thursday evening, Gardezi updated her post saying that she has been paid.

Abeera Riaz, the model who had initially taken to her Instagram stories over this issue, wrote on social media that while she felt embarrassed about defaming the brand, she had been left with no choice. “It’s not just about money,” she says. “It’s about being disrespectful. Why should I have to beg for money which is rightfully mine? Where are the brand ethics?”

Another model, Mydah Raza, stated that Elan and Zaha hadn’t paid her in three years and that she knew a lot of people who were "in the same boat" and that they should "speak up as well". "We’ve been patient for a little too long," she wrote. "[...] To book them and then make them wait for months/years for what you rightfully owe them and then ignore their messages is disgusting."

“I just felt exhausted by it all,” said Raza. “I asked them for my money countless times but sometimes they wouldn’t respond and at other times, they would say that I would get paid soon. After three years I just lost hope. There are times when models’ payments get delayed. I am accustomed to waiting an extra month for a pending payment. But payments don’t get delayed for three years.”

She did not delete her posts about Elan till the filing of this report and has them up in the highlights section on her Instagram account.

Additionally, an ex-employee of the brand, Hasan Iqbal Rizvi, also spoke out through his Instagram stories. He later posted saying he received his pending payment.

Videographer Moeed Sayyam also came out with details on payments that have allegedly been due for about a year now. He also has his Instagram stories saved in his highlights section.

Elan’s side of the story

Shah is, naturally, upset at the noise on social media. “It is, of course, wrong that these people did not get paid. I am sincerely sorry about that. But the company has been going through major changes and sometimes it has been hard to keep up," she told Images.

"There have been staff changes in our accounting and marketing departments. Right before the pandemic, we had had a major expansion and then, when the lockdown took place, we had to shoulder major liabilities. We’ve just been extremely stretched these last two years and it has been a balancing act keeping it all going,” she said.

“Still, both my brands have always believed in supporting the fashion industry. We don’t ask models to work for us for free when it is normal for so many other brands to do so on the pretext that the campaign will generate mileage for the models. It is a fact that I have handpicked promising new models and once they have appeared in my campaigns, many have gone on to have very successful careers. I have supported bloggers, videographers, photographers and stylists,” the designer explained.

“But yes, the pandemic has been tough for us. It’s difficult staying afloat in these times. I have looked into the matter and the pending payments have been cleared. It’s upsetting that some people who haven’t even worked with my brands have chosen to comment on the matter on social media,” she added.