Shawls, shrugs, stoles, wraparounds – they’re the perfect winter accessories. And for textile bigwigs as well as some enterprising designers, they’ve become the ideal way to keep revenues flowing post the money-minting lawn infested summers. And we don’t really mind the commercial aspect of it. It’s great we now have better quality, unique options that can be purchased right off the rack at retail stores as opposed to the dubious shawls available at local bazaars. With designers stepping into the fray with limited edition luxurious shawl lineups and textile mills getting fashion forward there is now a price range that begins at under 5000 rupees for the very basic, rising to a few lakhs for the real McCoys.
The shawls come in different materials too: silk, pashmina or pure wool, wool and viscose blends and exclusive Shatoosh, varying from embroidered to printed, cozy wraps with silken linings to dressier pieces with tassels hanging down the borders. “It just makes sense for shawls to be available as separates,” says Maheen Khan, who spearheads the design team at Nishat Linen, a brand whose yearly lineup of shawls sells like hot cakes. “They work well for the weather we have in Pakistan and often a beautiful shawl is all you need to set off an ordinary outfit.”
Instep takes a closer look at the fashionable way to wrap up for the winter:
Wacky florals, geometric patterns and cozy multicolored checks – with designer doyenne Maheen Khan as consultant, the ‘Nisha’ shawls are standout pieces that are the brand’s best sellers every winter. The prices begin at 2500 rupees and stay well below 5000 rupees. The collections are stocked at Nishat Linen outlets dotted across the country and the shawls, available in printed as well as embroidered versions and can be bought as separates or as part of two- and three-piece suits.
Nishat Linen was, in fact, a veritable pioneer in launching shawl separates. About five years ago, the brand zoned in on the consumer demand and, as one of the country’s mainstream textile manufacturers, quickly brought out a line-up of exclusive shawls to its numerous stores. Launched with a fashion shoot featuring the timeless Zeba Bakhtiar, the collection was an immediate hit.
“The shawls at Nisha vary from Pashmina to pure silk, silk and wool blends and wool and viscose blends,” says Maheen Khan. “They’re always striking and considering their very economical pricing, sell exceptionally well.”
When you’re a textile magnate, it’s relatively easy to launch new lines and produce them in bulk. Two years ago, Gul Ahmed caught on to the trend and followed suit with shawls and woolen scarves as separates. For the eternally three-piece inclined customer, and there are far too many of those in Pakistan, shawls as part of complete ensembles were also made available.
Embroidered as well as printed, the Gul Ahmed shawls have a diverse color palette and a just as varied range of patterns – stripes, florals, paisleys and what-not. Separate shawls are priced below 2,500 rupees and shawls with suits are under 5000 rupees. The Gul Ahmed Ideas outlets are situated virtually everywhere and coupled with the customer loyalty that Gul Ahmed enjoys as one of the oldest brands selling unstitched fabric, these shawls are easy-breezy, economical winter must-haves.
Kayseria steps into the shawl fray
Headed by the youthful, fashion-savvy Waleed Zaman and closely affiliated with established sister-brand Bareeze, Kayseria has a range that caters to the young as well as to the austere. The brand has launched its first shawl line-up this year and while the inevitable florals and geometry are the patterns du jour, the Kayseria line-up dazzles with its predominantly wintry palette.
From smoky grays to earthy browns to toasty blends of bright red and oranges, the printed pure wool and silk wool shawls launched for the first time this year emulate the signature classy elegance mothership Bareeze is so well-known for.
Prices for shawl separates are below 4,500 rupees and shawls with suits are priced between Rs 4,500 and 6,000 rupees. The shawls can be purchased at Kayseria outlets nationwide.
Moving on to high-end luxe, Nida Azwer’s ‘Toosh collection’ features a limited edition of 30 pure Shatoosh shawls, embroidered with minute precision. Each work of embroidery tells a story – hunting scenes, myriad musical instruments, assorted vintage cars and elaborate wedding processions make their way down Nida’s woolen canvas.
Shatoosh is derived from the down hair of the Himalayan ibex and Nida professes that her shawls are created from the purest form found in the market. “I’ve developed different mood boards and color schemes for each shawl, to suit different tastes,” she says. “The shawl with vintage cars embroidered on it, for instance, has been a big hit with men.”
Prices for the ‘Toosh collection’ begin at around 150,000 rupees going on to about 500,000 rupees. “These are one-of-a-kind pieces that can be passed down through generations,” says Nida. “The embroideries are completely handmade and it can take as long as three years for a single shawl to be created.”
Reds, ochres, burnished oranges and deep blues merge down to the tasseled hems of Shamaeel Ansari’s scarves and shawls for the winter. The grand regalia that defines Shamaeel’s design sensibilities is evident in these luxurious wraparounds; the printed woven scarves with silken linings, the shawls created with wool and cotton blends and the embellished statement pieces in pure crepe silk.
Prices begin at 2,800 rupees for stoles and go on up till 30,000 rupees for the heavier pieces. “Some of the more casual scarves have been created as part of my upcoming retail line ‘Tughra’,” says Shamaeel. “Others are timeless, formal pieces that can become family heirlooms.”