ALL LINED UP: Designer Abeer Nauman poses with her collection at PH Design in Barwa Village.
Designer Abeer Nauman is originally from India, married to a Pakistani and has been living in Qatar for over 10 years. Her exposure to different cultures has been a hallmark of her designs. By Umer Nangiana
From a small-scale enterprise to a full-fledged fashion house, she has relied entirely on her creative instincts and it delivered. More so, she has the first hand experience of all the cultures within which she intends to work. The resulting combination makes her standout from many others in her class of upcoming fashion designers.
Abeer Nauman, a self-taught designer and the co-founder of newly-opened fashion outlet in Doha, PH Design (Pakistan House of Design), comes from a multi-cultural environment and experienced the best of it before deciding to follow her passion for designing.
She is originally from India, married to a Pakistani and has been living in Qatar for over 10 years. And this exactly is her target market. Her ideas come from a mix of all these cultures. Abeer knows what works best.
An enthusiast when it comes to designing, the PH Design creator puts originality of ideas before elegance and style. “I create the design in my mind first and then straight away put it on a fabric. Usually it is a blend of different patterns,” Abeer told Community in a chat at her recently-opened outlet in Barwa Village (Building 14).
Walking through her designs on display at the aesthetically designed showroom, Abeer said she did not formally study fashion design or obtained any professional training. However, it worked to her advantage.
Abeer’s collection of designs is devoid of artificial influences yet it is stylish. They depict simplicity of a self-taught artist and yet carries with them the elegance of an experienced hand. This perhaps comes from her orientation with her target cultures.
Initially, she started with designing for her family and friends. The response was overwhelming. Mostly through word of mouth, her clientèle expanded to a point that she needed something like PH Design.
She first opened her boutique in April 2012 with customers visiting from all around the world. Abeer said the shop, PH Design Boutique, is the only one of its kind in Doha known for its unique designs and affordable prices. “And that’s very important. It’s very hard to build a business on just an idea. You need facts and you need to do thorough research,” she added.
It is the power of her ideas and execution that won her a loyal customer base. When focused on fashion, she the emerging fashion designer has never faced a dearth of ideas as she is obsessed with challenging monotony.
“I always used to mix and match my dresses. Fashion is always changing fast. I get bored with a particular design quickly so I like to experiment with colours, designs, patterns and fabric,” said Abeer.
“I believe fashion is an expression of your style and it reflects your personality and culture. It has the power to transform an image and make a social statement. So fashion defines who you are,” she added.
Her three lines, pret wear, semi-formal and formal wear depict the sort of comfort and style that would be easy to pick and wear for any occasion. The designer is very particular about the quality of fabric used in her apparels.
She said her target audience is women from all walks of life; from a college student to a housewife to a working professional. The pricing strategy Abeer opts is pocket-friendly. Her dresses are affordable, starting from as low as QR70. “At PH Design, our focus is mainly designing trendy, chic and sophisticated clothes for females. The range includes outfits with mostly subtle colours for everyday wear.”
In her semi-formal or party wear line, pure silk and chiffon are mainly used with an unusual blend of multiple fabrics and eye-catching colours. Embellished nets, chiffon, silk, and jamawar fabrics are used in the formal line. “I mostly like to include floral prints, eye-catching patterns, traditional block printing, digital printing and especially designing to be made on lighter comfortable fabric,” said Abeer.
Her determination towards catering to masses leads her to customised clothes for her clients on their provided budget as well. The outfits can be designed keeping in mind the client’s affordability and choice, she added.
Before setting up her own outlet, Abeer did her research. “It was all in mind on how to work on it. Then I had to go out and do a lot of research for what people like here, what is the market, what are the prices they are looking for, what kind of fabric they want, there were a lot things,” she said.
She has her factory outlets in the cities of Karachi and Lahore, the fashion hubs. Using multimedia, she connects with her designers and workers from Doha. After getting her designs sketched on paper and then the computer, she e-mails or faxes them to her factory outlets in Pakistan.
After initial work, they get back to her for any last-minute changes. “At every step they remain in touch with me and If I have any changes to make or correct anything I can get them incorporated easily before the product is finalised,” Abeer added.
It costs her a fortune. “But then we have to sacrifice something. If we want to bring our culture here to the streets of Qatar we should be prepared to bear some cost,” she added.
“PH Design’s tailors have decades of cumulative talent and skill, what we refer to as ‘E&E’ (experience and expertise). Our commitment to absolutely no shortcuts, attention to detail, quick turn-around, and competitive pricing sets us apart from the competition,” said the PH Design co-founder.
The response to her outlet as well as her designs has been overwhelming, she said, particularly from Indian and Pakistani communities. “People from India when they go back to their homeland like to gift Pakistani dresses to the people there and they want to wear them on occasions to look unique,” said Abeer.
About the local Qatari audience, she said they are more interested in bridal and party wear. “They always refer us to their family and friends after they shop with us.”
Not all is made and imported from Pakistan. PH Design has a team of tailors from India, Pakistan and other parts of the subcontinent that can cater to the customers’ needs here in Doha.
“Sometimes we purchase fabric from the local market and then our tailors work on our own designs. They are tailor-made, keeping in mind the weather and work requirements of the women in Doha according to the cultural norms,” said Abeer.
Her customers come up with the photographs of their favourite designs at times as well. She entertains them. “In cases where the dresses need embroidery with beads and other complicated designing, they are sent to Pakistan and I ask my customers for allowing us a minimum of four weeks’ time,” said the designer.
Pointing to her latest collection put on display only two days back, Abeer said three pieces had already been sold. She personally likes fabric from a Pakistani brand Gul Ahmed and the comfortable dresses they make besides designs from a leading Pakistani fashion designer MariaB, in particular her jump suits and bridal wear.
At the moment, PH Design was more focused on salwar kameez and kurtas besides casual and partywear but in future they plan to cater to a wider audience and introduce a line in abayas as well. They also stock some unstitched material from some other Pakistani brands such as Gul Ahmed, Sana Safinaz, Pehnawa, AlKaram and others.
About her introduction to Pakistani designs before her marriage, Abeer said electronic media was the source and she admired the elegant looking Pakistani dresses. PH Design also retails men’s clothes besides providing tailoring services.
Earlier, they used to stock Shahid Afridi, a designer brand from the famous cricketer, but they recently changed to Bissino whose brand ambassador is former Pakistan cricket great Wasim Akram. For men, they can bring their own material and the clothes are made according to their needs. Men’s Eastern Wear starting from daily wear kurta, salwar kameez to sherwanis are available at PH Design.
EXPRESSION: Models showcase creations by PH Design. Embellished nets, chiffon, silk, and jamawar fabrics are used in the formal line.
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