Fashionable Journey

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His dream is to reinvent Kashmiri traditional attires and make them fashionable again. Aabid Hussain talks to this young fashion designer from Pulwama about his journey

As a young boy Shahid Rashid Bhat, now 22, would sit at a local tailors shop for hours, watching him play with threads and cloth. “It fascinated me as a child,” said Shahid, now a known fashion face who tailors his designer himself.

As he grew up, Shahid, a resident of Pulwama, came in contact with a person named Sam Williams on facebook. Williams, a fashion choreographer, after looking at Shahid’s designs, suggested him to pursue a career in fashion.

“I used to upload textile, Mehandi, tattoo and costume designs on facebook. Williams liked them a lot,” he recalls. “I had no idea what fashion designing meant.”

After Williams’ advice, Shahid searched possible places where he could pursue a fashion designing course. There he learned about National Eligibility Entrance for Designing (NEED). Shahid qualified the test and was admitted in Pearl Academy of Fashion and Designing. “At that time I was studying B.Com from Srinagar. So instead of leaving it mid-way, I finished both,” said Shahid. In 2015, he was chosen as Designer of the Year by the Fashion Designing council of India, said Shahid.

Shahid managed his expenses as student by doing mehandi designs and working as a freelance model. “For first two years I managed on my own, then in the final year my father helped me,” said Shahid.

After graduation Shahid was selected by Pantaloons as fashion illustrator. “My dream is to reinvent Kashmir’s traditional dresses and give them a new life,” said Shahid.

Shahid wants to use his experience as fashion designer to help modify existing designs used in Kashmir. “I am emotional about my roots,” said Shahid, who has briefly stint as radio jockey and script writer for City FM JK.

Recently Shahid started a fashion designing school at home where he teaches more than 25 students. Shahid also launched his label SRB Style Statement and a website.

A week back, in collaboration with a local school, Shahid took part in Asian Designer’s Week at Delhi

Shahid wants to revive traditional Kashmiris designs and make them relevant as per current fashion. “Kashmiris can wear their own traditional clothes but with some modern designs,” Shahid.

Shahid feels there is a taboo attached with traditional Kashmiri attires like Pheran. “Outsiders see a person wearing Pheran as someone illiterate.”

Shahid recalls how during checking by government forces his fellow passenger was asked to remove his Pheran while he was not. “I realized design matters. I want to reinvent Pheran keeping in mind local sensitivities,” said Shahid.

Recently, Shahid’s Pheran designs are in demand in Pakistan, UK, Afghanistan and other countries.

At present Shahid has twenty-two employees working at Pulwama and Dalgate units. He also has four workers at his shoemaking unit in Delhi.

In order to pursue his dream career Shahid had to face a lots of criticism from people around him. “I never confronted them, rather I want my work to speak for itself,” said Shahid. “My work is my answer to all the criticism.”

Shahid is working on new designs that he will launch in Ramadhan. “These designs will be in sync with local aesthetics,” said Shahid.

Shahid still recalls his first ramp-walk where he stood like a mannequin. But once he overcame his hesitations, he started interacting with other models. “I organized a fashion show at Pulwama Degree College in 2013.”

Shahid is currently pursuing his masters in Craft Designing from Kashmir University.

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