October Issue 2008
Fashion’s New Wonder Boy
There is a fire in Emraan Rajput that drives him despite the odds that haven’t always been in his favour. In fact, it seems that the difficulties he faced at the beginning of his career are what drove him to pit his all and make it in this field. Emraan, at just 24, has carved a niche for himself in the fashion industry.
I caught him at a bad time. His father had fallen ill and he had to rush to Karachi after a brief visit to Lahore. Even then, he agreed to a phone interview and spoke to me on his way to the airport.
Emraan tried his hand at designing haute couture for women three years ago, but found menswear to be his forte. However, being the enterprising person that he is, a couple of years later Emraan decided to venture into the world of womenswear again. The result was a successful collection of western wear for women, which received acclaim after being printed in a style monthly, and fetched him a place among the up-and-coming designers in the fashion industry.
Emraan began his career in 2003, when he was only 20, and had to return abruptly from Dubai, where he was enrolled at a fashion school. He was unable to complete his diploma due to personal reasons: “There were some personal issues, and then there was also family pressure regarding my choice of career. My family was aghast when they found out I wanted to study fashion — they did not want me to step into this business, which made me fight even harder to prove that I could do it. And I have made it on my own steam with very little support.”
Emraan’s work has made it to the covers of several prestigious fashion magazines. He understands the importance of every photo shoot — and hence, the attention to detail. According to the designer, it isn’t just about selling clothes, it’s also about creating a certain ‘look’ and communicating this to customers who are looking to designers to help them dress better. “I have worked with some of the best models, photographers and stylists,” he says, reeling off a list of the bigwigs of the industry. Working with the industry’s best people makes a huge difference to the label. “I know my clothes are beautiful and elegant, but they need to be photographed well in order to make an impact on people who have not seen the clothes personally. It is essential to recreate an image, and a well-taken picture that shows how a person can accessorise and carry a certain ‘look,’ does just that. It gives my client a format to work with.”
Emraan’s current western collection caters to the younger market that comprises teenagers and young professionals. According to the designer, this collection is reasonably priced, and ranges from Rs.3,000 to Rs.7,000. “Customers do not have too many options to chose from and, hence, often end up buying over-priced dresses and shirts,” says Emraan. He also feels that by lowering the price range, he will be able to reach more households, who won’t feel intimidated by the prices. His formal line, which he plans to launch after Eid, is priced between Rs.8,000 to Rs.15,000. Given the huge demand for clothes before Eid, why isn’t Emraan introducing his formals earlier? “I am a stickler for detail,” he confesses, “and I want every outfit to be stylish and unique.”
Talking about designing clothes for men, Emraan says that men’s fashion is still evolving. “This facet of the industry has emerged in the last five or six years. Earlier, there were only a handful of people working on menswear, and few were professional designers.”
He concedes that “men have become more fashion-conscious. They want to dress better and look good. Designers have to show their clients how to put the whole ensemble together to create the ‘look’ that sets them apart.” Men’s fashion trends have changed slowly, but steadily. “Previously, only women would shop for designer-wear and there was the occasional bridegroom who took an interest in his wedding outfit. Now, a lot of men come to designers to buy clothes and accessories for their wardrobes.” Emraan attributes this change to the exposure that people have experienced in recent years, thanks to the media boom.
With an outlet based in Karachi, Emraan plans on expanding his business to other cities. “I am looking into opening a store in Lahore.The city is fast emerging as a designer label-aware metropolis. I’ve also noticed a similar change in other cities in the Punjab.”
A determined young designer, Emraan promises to challenge himself, and the norms of fashion with every collection that he produces.