Photo courtesy SAFW
Metro Vancouver’s first South Asian Fashion Week kicks off March 2, with a glam gala dinner and show at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver in Coquitlam. Then, March 3 and 4, fashionistas of all heritages can take in 20 different runway shows spread over the two days.
“Each show is unique,” says Richmond’s Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the four show producers.
South Asian Fashion Week encompasses so much more than just the usual fashion from the usual spots. Many don’t realize, she says, that South Asia includes, “Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka as well as India. We want to give individuals a platform to explore and permission to incorporate South Asian apparel into their wardrobes and out into the world.”
Dhaliwal is clear that South Asian fashion designers aim at the broader community, not just people from the designers’ countries of origin.
“We’re really committed to creating a place of inclusion,” she says.
She says the Lower Mainland’s South Asian designers are on the world stage.
“We’re at scale and competing with London and parts of India. These designers have such a wonderful aesthetic and design that is very Vancouver.”
Dhaliwal speaks of having to wait to see a local designer while a customer finished her final fitting before flying home to New Jersey.
“People come all the way from England to have clothes designed and made here.”
Dhaliwal highlights what she calls the commitment to design as well as craftsmanship by the designers featured at the show.
“A lot of these pieces that we have that we are showcasing on the runway are made to order. Everything is bespoke. There's a wonderful artistry and craftsmanship that we don’t find in the traditional western retail sector.”
Citing the cross-cultural reason behind the show, Dhaliwal says: “We wanted to give individuals a platform to explore, and permission to incorporate, South Asian apparel into their wardrobes and out into the world.”
Asked why she is involved with the South Asia Fashion Week, Dhaliwal says: “The South Asian identity is very near and dear to my heart because it is such an expansive territory that has seen the test of time.”
She also mentions that her loveof fashion started young: “I remember it like it’s yesterday. My earliest memories as a girl growing up in Richmond is going to Vancouver to shop, watching my mom as shebargained her way through the shops on Main Street.”
Dhaliwal speaks of one of the design houses involved and, again, her goal of bridging cultures, Western and South Asian.
“Including Indochino gave me so much joy because they understand the power of connecting the traditional sector with the Asian sector—how it builds community and Indochino is about building community.”
She speaks also of Baynes +Baker which does bespoke men’s wear, based out of Vancouver and New York.
“It was founded by three South Asians. I just like a wonderful story and I’m so happy to have them onboard, and to support a business growing here locally and also internationally.”
Talking about the group who initiated and produced the gala dinner and shows, Dhaliwal says: “All four of us come from a family of entrepreneurs, the typical immigrant story. We all had the desire to do better, to build a better world.”
And how does she feel it went?
“It’s been fun connecting with other entrants and designers to put this on.”