Hasina Khanani – The Denim Diva
A special thanks to Ayesha Mahmood for making this interview possible.
She believed in herself and made it happen by saving up her pocket money. She creates exceptional designs and does it with just the right blend of creativity and innovation. She is passionate about art and finds happiness in it. She is Hasina Khanani. An extremely talented designer this country is proud to have. In this interview, Hasina Khanani shares her views with Youth Correspondent.
Don’t forget to check out Hasina Khanani’s collection at her HK Apparel official Facebook page.
Who initiated the idea of Hasina Khanani Apparel and how did the journey start?
I personally never thought of becoming a designer, but since I have always been passionate about art and found happiness in it and dad has always been encouraging me, I decided to give it a shot. So yeah, basically, it was his idea.
What is HK Apparel all about?
Well, HK doesn’t focus on just one thing. It is about respecting each material and imposing my thoughts and creativity into it.
You want to bring denim as part of everyday fashion in Pakistan, what is the reason behind this?
As I mentioned earlier, HK is about respecting the material. Denim has been neglected and pretty much underestimated here in Pakistan. Nazia Hassan was the first to introduce color denim on ramp in Pakistan over a decade ago. I’m just reviving that. The idea actually is to let people know that, like lawn, denim is also a summer material. I am glad something like ‘Color Denim Fashion Parade’ took place, we needed a platform where designers could exhibit Pakistani denim potential to the world. I am glad things are working out well for denim now.
Where can we find your collection?
My collection is available at Nadia Lakdawala.
As a young female entrepreneur, what challenges have you faced in this profession?
I am a positive thinker, so maybe because of that, it has been a smooth sail. I thank Allah day and night for all this.
What has been your best project so far?
Vibrations Funk Walk 2012 has been the best experience so far. I showcased color denim along with cocktail dresses and people in Hyderabad are totally in love with it.
Has your talent/profession, at any point, become a burden for you?
This is what I love doing and joy can never be a burden. My head is full of crazy ideas. I’ve done 4 shows so far and every collection has been different from the other. If time wasn’t an issue, I’d love to have a fashion show everyday and it would still look amazing each time!
What do you enjoy the most about being a designer?
Seriously? The bit I enjoy the most is when my assistant calls me up and says, “I’ve sent the paper your way, read it up.” Viola! People are writing about me. They love me and some hate me too, but what they don’t know is that I just love it!
What is your biggest fear?
My fear is only for Allah.
Tell us about your craziest client story.
“I want you to design the best bridal dress ever for me and I don’t want you to use any korah, dabka, salma, sequence, zari, resham, and beats are just a big no no!”
This client managed to confuse me. Really, she did. For a moment, I thought and asked myself, if she is real. I looked at her fiance and he was also shaking his head. I instantly understood why. Probably, your next question would be if I did make her the dream wedding dress. The answer is YES! Yes, I did. I gave her everything she restricted me from, and guess what, she was happy with it. In fact, very happy. May Allah keep them blessed. Aameen.
The biggest fashion mistake you’ve made?
People think Crocs are highly unfashionable, but for me, Crocs has been the most comfortable stuff I’ve put my foot in. So if fashion can’t be comfortable and if wearing Crocs is the biggest fashion mistake I’ve made, so be it!
What do you enjoy the most about your profession?
I just can’t sit idle. I need something to do all the time. Having been in this profession, I’m just up and about with something or the other, and that is what I enjoy the most about it.
Do you think the Pakistani market is more responsive to your designs then the international market?
Actually, it is the other way around.
In what way do you feel you’ve contributed to the fashion industry of Pakistan?
How can I not? People were just not doing much about denim in Pakistan. Although, Pakistani denim potential is huge, you’d be surprised when you get into the details of it. Our culture is about colors. I’ve been hammering the ramp with colored denim since January 2012, until Color Denim Fashion Parade 2012 took place in March. I’ve introduced dyed, colored, yarn, zarri, weaved, jacquard denim, and silk denim, a material so light that it hardly weighs 2.5 oz. These are the stuff I introduced to the fashion industry of Pakistan. I’ve regularly been taking help from MEKOTEX to produce new and innovated material, and for that, I am grateful to their unconditional generosity.
What main objective do you have in mind as per the future of the work you’re in? Where do you see your work in 5 years from now?
That is not how my mind works. I only have today in my hands, so I’m just going to make the most of it. I think about today, and when tomorrow comes, it is today for me again. What I do today will reflect my tomorrow. As long as I’m carrying on to positive energy around me, I’m dead sure the future is bright for me. And if it is not, I will make it bright because Allah is always there with me.
With a lot of talent coming in this field, how do you plan to distinguish your work?
I don’t plan to distinguish my work at all. I never think about what others are doing because whatever is in my mind will be in my mind, and what is in the minds of others will remain theirs. I believe in doing my thing and I wish everyone great success. If everyone stays happy, the world will be an amazing place!
What influences you while you work out the designs?
The time period when one is in their youth. I think about stuff my grandma would wear when she was young, about stuff my grandpa would wear when he was young, and also about stuff Queen Victoria would wear when she was young. The list of people just goes on. I then think about the youth of today. What would they like to wear? What are they looking for? That is how I go about it. There’s another thing that influences me, the two cultures that I’m indulged in, the Thai and Pakistani culture.
The designs you create are a part of your innovation or imagination?
Let’s say, they are a mix of both. Generation after generation, we innovate stuff to our convenience and add a touch of imagination to it. My imagination is pretty strong, I must claim. If it is in my head, the next thing I find myself doing is, working on it.
How do you strike a balance between your professional life and personal life?
My personal life includes my family and my husband, Fahad Topra. I’ve never met anyone so positive and full of energy my entire life. I am highly blessed to have him, Alhamdulillah! I balance it by involving him in everything I do. He is like my source of power. I feel very incomplete when he is not around. May Allah bless us both together forever. Aameen Allah Humma Aameen.
What do you aim to convey to people who might consider you an inspiration?
Believe in yourself! You know you can do it. You know it is inside you. Give it a go and make it happen. I could have just used the family wealth to start this business but I did not! I saved up from my pocket money and here I am. Giving salary to people. Since I did it, you can too!
Finally, how was your experience with Youth Correspondent?
I’d definitely want you to know that the pleasure was all mine, and I wish you guys the best in this world and the Hereafter. May Allah bless us. Aameen Allah humma Aameen.
Note: All photographs used in this interview are property of Hasina Khanani and associated photographers.