Republic by Omar Farooq is one of the most renowned menswear designer brands in Pakistan. From dressing celebrities, showcasing at fashion weeks to being nominated in the International Woolmark Prize, Republic is going from strength to strength. SiddySays had the exclusive chance to sit with Omar Farooq, the man behind one of Pakistan’s most coveted menswear brand, Republic. Here is what we talked about:
Introduce yourself, please:
Apart from being the creative director for Republic, I see myself as an explorer – a scavenger. Despite studying Business Management, I gradually drifted towards menswear which I have always felt was my true calling.
What sparked your interest in fashion design?
Menswear has always intrigued me. Growing up I always watched my father: always well-dressed and in hand crafted suits looking extremely dapper, it had a lasting impact on me. Travelling around the globe and experiencing different cultures and people has also helped in influencing me and my choices.
Do you think one has to be ‘educated’ in fashion design?
Fashion is not something that you can be trained in, it is inborn – an innate skill that you hone over time. However, having said that I wouldn’t take away credit from those who went to school since it adds on to being an experience after all.
What was the inspiration behind Republic?
During my childhood/adolescence, I have spent time in New York, London, and Dubai. Living abroad, I was extremely fascinated with the evolution of style, how it evolves through time and differs from place to place. At one point, the final garments we see were just a raw fabric and this ability to create things has appealed to me – leading me into the industry.
I initially trained for three years under a prestigious tailor in Dubai – Prakash Parmer. With this experience I returned to Pakistan and while setting up the factory, personally played a role in training my team. The end result was the opening of our flagship store on the 7th of January 2010.
It’s a strong name with a positive vibe, definitely unforgettable. It’s an entity in itself. Also, the pronunciation! It can never go wrong and the meaning itself will never be misunderstood.
What keeps you going at work?
Energy is essential. I always try to maintain a very enthusiastic work environment because it creates a drive, without which a business cannot flourish. I tend to draw positivity from things around me that appeal to my senses and transform them into my work.
Where do you think you stand amongst Pakistan’s fashion fraternity?
We are the among the best – hands down! Our performance will remain the same, if not better, and by continuing this way we hope to stay on the top and expand. Shamoon of Khaadi is my hero, as an entrepreneur!
Share some recent achievements of Republic.
It has been an interesting ride for the company from winning the menswear category for PIA uniform design and the recent nomination in the International Woolmark Prize. In addition to this, Pakistan Cricket Board has enlisted the company to design the official uniforms for the international team. Fawad Khan’s persistent appearance has also given us significant leverage which has garnered hundreds of thousands of organic likes with numerous queries daily about our products from around the country.
How was your experience taking part in the International Woolmark Prize?
It’s actually the second consecutive nomination for us. Last year’s event was in India, apart from where I missed the event and turned up 4 hours later due to visa mishaps, the experience showed me what it takes to win. This year’s nominated collection was inspired by the Silk Road. It draws upon Islamic art with the marble screens and the ‘jaali’ as well as the colourful splendour of the Kashmiri shawls. To sum it up it was a great experience but there is one concern I would like to voice out. I would like to appeal to the Pakistanis to be more proactive in supporting their local talent and partake in such events – without a Pakistani member, Pakistan has no chance in winning at all
How would you define your sense of style?
The ability to put the right things together defines your style. I’d say mine is very dapper, very formal: a well-made, well cut suit – it’s what defines a man.
What do you think people don’t know about men’s fashion?
The Pakistani market is very fragile and they play safe with their clothing. I think they need to come out of the bubble. Use your imagination and dare to try new things. Fashion is not synonymous to style. Money can buy you what’s a la mode but not style! Embrace your style: a mix of the sartorial with what’s in vogue. Venture to add 2+2 together to throw together a sophisticated look.
What’s the criteria for a well-dressed man?
Good accessories – pocket squares, shoes, and socks.
Who would you describe as a well-dressed man (local/international)?
Fawad Khan and Nick Wooster
Who do you aspire to dress?
Alaine Delon – French actor from the 60’s
What’s in the pipeline?
Our Karachi store’s opening is planned for the end of 2015. With our popularity being cemented in the local market, Republic is in the process of opening its online store too within the coming month. Our next move following that is going international. We intend on going this way and expanding our operations.
My entire next collection is inspired by a Pakistani artist, Waqas Khan, who has showcased his work internationally. What started with an order for his wedding suit turned out into a mutual friendship and with that, I will dedicate my upcoming work to him.
In the long run, I aim to develop my own signature style and fabric which will thenceforth be our identity. With my time participating in the Woolmark Prize, I obtained valuable links to suppliers in Italy, Turkey, India, and China and am already in the process of creating the cloth that will define us.
Who would Omar Farooq be if not the man behind Republic?
Nothing. This is my life, my everything and I am very happy where I am and with the plans I have to take my venture further.