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Collections with a social cause

Ali Xeeshan and Generation are using fashion to break stigmas attached to marriages and weddings in Pakistan.

Collections with a social cause
Generation: ‘Shahnaz Ki Shaadi’ wants to break the taboo on older women getting married, encouraging the thought that everyone needs and deserves companionship.

People talk about Pakistan enjoying all four seasons but they forget the one season that feels the longest and comes around this time of the year: the wedding season. In Pakistan, the sheer hullabaloo of weddings surpasses any other major life event in an average person’s life…birth and death included. While the nation is caught up in the frenzy of event after event, two fashion brands have chosen the subject to partake in campaigns created to help break stigmas attached to weddings in the country.

Generation, a brand that has come to be known for its compelling and inclusive campaigns, has now launched ‘Shahnaz Ki Shaadi’. Pictures have been pouring in on social media of a middle aged white-haired woman getting married amid her grown-up children, who look immensely happy for her. This is a beautiful concept that breaks many norms. Shahnaz has left her hair white and is marrying in a beautiful and dignified ceremony.

In our part of the world, middle-aged women or single mothers are often ostracized for raising the idea of getting married again. The campaign hopes to make people realize that it’s natural to seek companionship no matter what stage of life you may be in. It is never too late to seek happiness, freedom and the joy of life. It is an extension of their #StepOutside and #GreaterThanFear campaigns that featured people from all walks of life where Shahnaz also made an appearance. The images have received admiration and approval from audiences.

Khadija Rahman shared, “Sometimes we get so carried away with what society thinks that it becomes more important that what our parents’ happiness is and what they need. The best part about the campaign is the positive response it’s gotten and the fact that it’s started dialogue.”

Ali Xeeshan has similarly used fashion as a platform to touch upon uncomfortable topics, some of which have been received well, while others came under fire for various reasons. Xeeshan went against the norm and darkened his models’ skin colour and his PLBW showcase last year brought Pakistan’s child marriage problem to the fore. This year at the Hum Bridal Couture Week showcase, he partnered with UN Women to build on the message. The Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA) has set the legal age for marriage to 16 for women and 18 for men yet 3 percent of girls are married before 15 while 21 percent are married before 18.

In May 2017, the National Assembly rejected the act which would have increased the age to 18. Currently, the Council of Islamic Ideology has declared that Pakistani laws prohibiting child marriage are un-Islamic but these rulings have been criticized.

Ali Xeeshan: His last couture collection ‘Khamoshi’ spoke about the silent suffering of underage brides and now, with ‘Bridal Uniform’ he asks society to allow young girls uniforms instead of pushing them into early, unwanted marriages.

Ali Xeeshan: His last couture collection ‘Khamoshi’ spoke about the silent suffering of underage brides and now, with ‘Bridal Uniform’ he asks society to allow young girls uniforms instead of pushing them into early, unwanted marriages.

As a symbol for all the girls who have suffered because these laws have not yet been implemented, Xeeshan made a female child walk for his show wearing a ‘bridal uniform’. A regular school uniform embellished with motifs that gave onlookers a semblance of the life that’s lost when a child is married off young and is deprived of her basic right to get education at that age.  There is a direct correlation between not attending school and getting married young. According to a study, 53.7 percent of married girls between 15 and 19 in 2012 and 2013 never went to school.

It’s an age old argument about whether brands attach themselves to messages for their own gain or for sincere change in society, but both Generation and Ali Xeeshan have managed to make their brands known for the messages they’re championing. That’s the kind of soft rebellion fashion needs right now; swift moves over a long period of time, rather than forgettable poses or hash tags and selfies.


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