Muharram was always been a very solemn time in Pakistan, especially for the Shia community. The first 10 days could be said to be the most intense, with daily majlis-es and jaloos-es happening throughout cities and villages all over the country. For the longest time, clothing for Muharram was kept simple, just plain black abayas or kurtas reigned supreme. With the evolution of the fashion industry, Muharram clothing was now destined to be changed forever.
I remember noticing this last year, especially, stores had a wider variety of all black clothes at just the right time to capitalize on the Muharram market.
This time last year, there weren’t as many designers doing this so blatantly, but this year, it was a whole new story.
A representative from one fashion brand agreed to speak with us about the growing trend of Muharram collections on condition of anonymity.
So I asked what provoked this mass level change of designers making the leap to openly advertise clothing during Muharram, a month usually associated with simplicity.
‘There was simply a demand to have black clothes that stood out from the rest. Every year, the company, and I’m guessing other brands too, noticed that the ‘Muharram rush’ was getting higher and higher, and there were just not enough designs to satisfy their demands; this is why last year, our brand, along with a few others, discreetly launched Muharram lines’.
Last year’s lines were not ‘advertised’ or announced as such, however, what was done was that mannequins were changed into black clothes, and the Muharram-centric designs were placed right in front as you entered the store. According to the brand representative, people loved it. These companies are profit-making firms, so, they saw a pattern and they stuck with it; just making it a whole lot grander this year.
It is important to note, however, that last year some smaller, home-based designers called their collections ‘Muharram collections’ and that DID cause some backlash. This was a learning curve for some major brands, which is why wording was the name of the game this year.
There were a handful of brands that openly announced ‘Black and White’ collections for this year’s Muharram “season”
According to the brand representative we spoke to, there was a lot of thought put into this since it was overtly announcing that brands were capitalizing on certain buying habits that come up during the holy month. It’s just the beginning, however, these brands have, to their own surprise, not faced much backlash, and are seeing the same pattern as the last years; more sales and more MONEY!
These brands saw an untapped market in the Pakistani fashion world, and are now filling it up with their designs. Some would say that such commercial activity during a month of piety and simplicity sends the wrong type of message, however, it is important to remember that these brands are responding to their customer’s requirements. This was a point that the brand representative we spoke to repeatedly mentioned- the making and the launch of ‘Black and White’ collections are customer driven, which is why they’re seeing the returns that they’re seeing.