It’s that time of the year again; when the world turns holier-than-thou, the bearded clergy become TV’s favorite rockstars and starlets trade in their risqué off-shoulder gowns for a beatific dupatta, draped decorously over the head as they host religious shows where they talk ‘holy’ before stepping into game-show mode and giving out an unbelievable number of motorbikes and cars to a voracious audience.
Khaadi, as Pakistan’s biggest high-street heavyweight, understands this and quickly latching onto the market, it’s chosen Ramazan to adroitly go ‘traditional’. In its latest ad campaign, a video and still images floated out primarily on social media, the brand depicts different ways of wrapping Khaadi’s range of digitally-printed and hand-woven scarves on the head.
These are scarves that have always been available at Khaadi stores but the reinvention gives them an all-new look.
In the video, the model, Mahnoor, styles the scarves into variations of the hijab and then, she poses in a few versions of the modern turban. Launched right on time, it is bound to appeal to a large contingent of Pakistani women who cover their heads.
Saira Shamoon, Head of Design at Khaadi, explains, “Islamic fashion is in trend and a lot of young people are covering their heads. We are simply showing alternative ways of wearing the headscarf, looking modest and trendy at the same time.”
Of course, even prior to this campaign, Khaadi has always been a brand with a strong leaning towards the traditional. The Khaadi Khaas showcases at fashion weeks may have their sultry, glamorous moments but step into any Khaadi store and you’ll see clothes that follow more conventional lines.
Undeniably, the color palette and embroideries are brilliant and there is an admirable adherence to quality but silhouette-wise, the sensible kurta reigns supreme, simply because it is what most women want to wear. Similarly, the unstitched fabric characteristically veers away from figurines and birds in print because most women feel that they cannot pray wearing the clothes.
In the Khaadi Khaas luxury-wear section, one sees semblances of fashion week hits transformed into baggy tunics – pretty, certainly, but a far cry from the cutting-edge catwalk showstoppers that the designs originated from.
Even the Khaadi billboards are crowd-pleasers – artistic, eye-catching and boasting some of the country’s top fashion models but with never a plunging neckline in sight. A sleeveless shirt? A slinky off-shoulder? No thanks; Khaadi understands its market and it would rather not rile the sensibilities of a large segment of its customer-base.
Playing it safe brings in artistic limitations to advertising but nevertheless, this is simply marketing acumen at play. It has enabled Khaadi to establish itself as a retail powerhouse over the years.
And while the in-store designs may be mostly ‘safe’, one notices that thankfully the brand is now making an effort to have a small smattering of trendier clothing in offer, for the miniscule segment of women who’d rather experiment than slip into the folds of a baggy, all-purpose kurta.
The ‘head-scarf’ campaign, similarly, has the makings of a success. The world over, Islamic fashion is on the rise. An increasing number of women are covering their heads and luxury hijabs and abayas have become lucrative avenues for fashion. Even international brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger and DKNY have been creating capsule lines to this end.
It’s surprising that it’s taken the Pakistani high-street so long to catch on to this potential money-earner. Khaadi’s taken the initial step, by glamorizing the head-scarf. What next? Designer lawn abayas? Digitally printed ones? Or some good ol' cringe-worthy pastel colored hijabs with pearl embellishments?
You never know. This may just be the next bandwagon to enamor the country.