Fresh looks and online campaign has put Pheran into some kind of a limelight in and outside the Valley.
By Sadaf Shabir, Maskoora Khan
What was largely shunned in offices and institutions in recent times has now made a ‘celebrated’ comeback in Kashmir Valley.
Apart from a recent flak-driven fleeting ban inspiring Kashmiris across the globe to root for their traditional winter outfit on social media, some designers made Pheran the much-sought after winter garment this season.
As a traditional outfit used by Kashmiris for wrapping and protecting the whole body from cold especially in winters, Pheran is a loose upper garment, loosely gathered at the sleeves which tend to be wide. It’s made of either wool or jamawar, with no side slits.
Before remerging as the attractive garment, Pheran had passed through ups and down in recent past. Due to some inferior sense attached with the outfit, the outfit would be mainly used indoors.
But today, Pheran is popular, again, thanks to its mass acceptance in Kashmiri Diaspora. The faraway Kashmiris have been sharing their Pheran-clad pictures on social media from different parts of world. It has created a new buzz for the Kashmir’s traditional winter garment.
At forefront of this Pheran popularity, budding fashion designers of valley are equally playing their part. They have started an initiative to promote Pheran as an identity at international level. These young designers are bringing the dress back in entirely new designs.
One of them is Shahid Rashid Bhat.
The long hairdo and beard sporting designer started designing pheran for the first time during Jakarta Fashion Week in China.
“I had to design entirely different costumes there, so I decided to give a new look to Pheran for representing Kashmir,” Shahid reflects on his creative challenge in China. “After that fashion show, people showed their interest and love towards my work and I started to sell them.”
At the outset, due to high cost, only upper class people bought designer Pherans from Shahid.
“But when my friends started promoting my designed Pherans, many people placed orders,” the young designer says. “In these days we are getting 10 to 15 orders daily.”
Kashmiri women designers are equally trying to give a new look to Pheran, for promoting it across globe.
Iqra Ahmad, another budding fashion designer from Kashmir, has been playing her own role in bringing back the outfit in our daily lives for many years now.
She started her profession in fashion designing after getting Masters in it. “Since I couldn’t afford to open my own boutique, I decided to start it online,” the young designer says. “I created an account on Instagram by the name of ‘Tul Palav’.”
She started posting Pheran designs on her account and within some time, her account gained popularity and today she has more than 36K followers.
“I gave new look to Pheran but I didn’t change its old charm,” Iqra says. “My family has love for the Kashmiri tradition so they always supported me in promoting Pheran.”
Before some years, interestingly, a girl wearing Pheran inside universities, colleges and offices was looked down upon. But now, it is becoming trend to wear Pheran in offices and other public institutions.
Zareef Ahmad Zareef, local poet-historian traces the tradition of Pheran in the Mughal Rule.
“Pheran has got its name from the Persian word ‘perahan’ which means ‘shirt,” the affable Zareef says in his typical oral storytelling style. “Kashmiri people used to wear Pheran, so that they could keep Kangiri inside it, as the climate of the valley is very harsh.”
Roohi Nazki, owner of ‘Chai Jai’, recently organised a competition under the name of ‘Love for Pheran’ in which different people had to represent their designed Pherans.
“We had invited prominent designers from valley as judges for the contest,” Roohi says. “The main motivation behind it was to represent importance of Kashmiri Pheran tradition. I got heart-warming response from locals as well as foreigners. Many celebrities also appreciated this initiative.”
Such initiatives along with the growing interest of Kashmir’s young generation to promote their traditional dress have indeed infused a new life in Pheran.
And given how people are now flaunting their designer winter outfit around makes one believe that Pheran has indeed made a resounding comeback in Kashmir Valley.