He loves creating something from nothing. He feels he is more of an entrepreneur than a designer. She loves recreating her personal style on clothes and vacationing. Together they love the business of fashion. Together they are the power couple, first man and lady of Pakistani fashion, Huma and Amir Adnan.
SiddySays had a chance recently to meet the Adnans during their visit to Lahore for PSFW. We got in touch for a heart to heart and they happily agreed and welcomed us with warmth (treated us to some great sandwiches) that is almost unknown in the fashion world.
It’s been 25 years since you launched your brand, did you know from the start that you wanted to be in fashion?
AA: Absolutely not. I had no idea I would ever be in this business, I was studying finance at IBA, and since the very beginning I wanted to do something totally different. I wanted to open a children’s amusement park. I had grown up on stories my mother used to tell me and they had always had a moral that helped shape who I am. Which is why I still tell stories to my children and I wanted to create a place where I could pass on these stories of our culture and values to children all over.
Then how did you venture into fashion?
AA: In my first year at IBA we had our annual play and I volunteered to make costumes for it. I did a pretty good job if I may say so and I felt I could create stuff if I put my mind to it. But it wasn’t till later when I was working in a bank that I truly explored this side of my creativity. During a training trip to India, I bought a tie from Madras that everyone loved. So I tried making a tie for myself. I bought fabric from Uzma Market and made my own tie. I wore it to the bank next day and everyone loved it. From there on I would make a tie every night and wear it the next day. Soon everyone knew my talent for making ties and I started getting orders. Before I knew it I had my first exhibition at PC organized by Frieha Altaf.
After that people would wait outside my house every night to see what I had made and every other night I would make as much money as I would in a month at my job. So I quit work and went to Italy to learn more about fashion design.
That’s quite a story. But you started a men’s line when even women’s fashion was almost nonexistent. How did you feel men’s fashion would be lucrative?
AA: I remember selling my first tie for Rs. 800 and then they would range up to Rs. 2500. These were handmade ties and a lot of men would want to own one. This made me feel that there was immense potential for men’s market. Also since whatever creative ideas I have need to make a business sense for me when I made twice as much selling ties than I did in my day job I knew this would be an idea I won’t regret.
So when did u meet Huma?
AA: (smiles and clears throat) Huma and I met soon after I had quit and I was making ties. There was a dinner at my sister’s house and she was there with one of my sisters friends.
Huma: we automatically connected. There was so much we found we had in common. The IBA connection, even though we had never met at IBA, favorite movies, songs, people, we talked the whole night and didn’t even realize what was going on. After that we were married within a month.
Huma how did you join Adnan in the fashion world?
Huma: To start with I had a job at a bank that I found very boring. So it was just a matter of time that I joined him. I was always fond of dressing up and latest trends, so it came to me naturally to join hands with my best friend and husband.
Tell us about your journey into retail.
AA: Our first store opened at Zamzama in Karachi almost 2 decades ago. Even at that time we had a rocking store launch with live make up by Nabila, Frieha Altaf did the choreography, we created the street as the runway with 20 models including Aijaz Aslam and Marina Khan. From then there was no looking back, and we went from strength to strength.
Huma: Also, the expansion into men’s clothing and retail happened after our wedding, when we saw the wedding pictures (laughing). Adnan wore the most uncomfortable looking hideous sherwani, hence we decided to put the grooms out of their misery and the first sherwani we made was for Asim Raza, after which General Pervez Musharaf also became a regular customer of the brand.
Tell us about the inspiration behind FNKASIA
Huma: Basically after Amir Adnan took off we saw to expanding the aesthetic to women. FNKASIA was inspired by my travels to Italy where I saw that Indian brands were everywhere at tradefares. I wanted to bring Pakistan on the map so I gathered my inspiration from Florence and fused it with Pakistani Craft and the brand was born.
How have both the menswear and women wear brands evolved over the years?
Huma: I have stayed true to my aesthetic of fusion lines and modern cuts fused with an eastern sensibility. In the new collection I have used more structured jackets and skirts and shown more tailoring skills
AA: For the menswear we have recently introduced prints and now in retail stores we have 8 distinct lines catering to different marketing segments from everyday wear to premium line and couture.
What is the difference between the Lahori and Karachi market?
AA/Huma: We feel Karachi market is more evolved when it comes to fashion and following trends while keeping one’s own individuality. In Lahore fashion is still entertainment and people usually wear an ensemble as is, they don’t experiment and add their own reflection to a garment.
Apart from work what is it that you do together?
AA/Huma: We love travelling, and keep going back to Italy. We are very family oriented and live with the parents. Our children are a very important part of our lives and I (Adnan) still tell my daughter bed time stories. We have pets at home and we dote on each other. We are what we are for our children and because of our parents.