Kashmir’s ‘Faceless Fashion’ Is A Trendsetter
In the initial days of her career, Sadia Mufti, a young fashion designer in Kashmir, struggled to compete with big businesses selling designer Pakistani suits and Kashmiri pherans.
She would gather her friends to explain to them her designs on traditional dresses. Her skill was well-received, Mufti was ambitious. She aspired for a bigger customer base and to compete with top businesses.
Three years ago, she finally began uploading photographs wearing her own designs on her Instagram page Hangers The Closet (@hangers_the_closet). All the fashion shoots, however, have her face cropped out in a bid to keep her identity under wraps.
“The photos gave a fair amount of idea to people about my designs, and my follower count increased on social media,” says Mufti.
In time, she roped in likeminded girls who, like her, only wanted to be photographed neck down. “They were initially anxious that their faces would be revealed on social media because that would put them in problems,” says Mufti. Today, there are numerous such “faceless models”, who are promoting Mufti’s designs in Kashmir by sending over their photos wearing her designs, and putting her ahead of other businesses in the city. Some of them prefer to blur their faces. Some others simply have a heart symbol on their face and show how their outfit looks when they walk. Some fashion bloggers show their faces up to their noses. They strut about in outdoor shoots, modeling the garment through picturesque regions of the Valley.
A few years ago, it was a tight situation for fashion enthusiasts in Kashmir. Top brands of Pakistani suits had dominated the markets, the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Srinagar, was sending out well-trained students, and social media was expanding its reach. The fashion industry in Kashmir that had strong links with Bollywood, had all the right aesthetics but no takers from the masses. Till these “faceless models or faceless fashion bloggers” emerged on social media.
In the last decade, scores of boutiques have cropped up in Srinagar and other districts of Kashmir, by young students of fashion technology, who are inventing new designs in traditional wear. Pheran, a warm gown worn during winter, was the first garment that was experimented with, which transcended to salwar-kameez and other dresses.
This article was originally published on Outlook India.