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The profile of our clientele is so big that we have a strict verbal pact to not let out their identities," says a young Sahibjit Singh Bindra, fiercely guarding the names of the Indian A-list customers of the elite Pakistani fashion promotion guild, the Pakistan Fashion Development Council (PFDC). This fresh college passout understands the political angle in the sale and purchase of Pakistani wares in India and hence, remains tight-lipped about those who prefer to shop at PFDC The Boulevard when no one is watching.
PFDC is Pakistan's premium fashion promotion body, which was floated in 2006 by a group of its top fashion designers. The store in Delhi's upmarket South Extension is their first outlet outside their homeground and stocks top designers like HSY, Sana Safinaz and Kamiar Rokni — more designers than even the Lahore outlet.
Bindra's family has been dealing in Pakistani fabric for the past 10 years. His mother, Mini Bindra, runs a store called Rubaaiyat in West Delhi's Punjabi Bagh where they work with fabric imported from Pakistan, especially made by the tribals and other unsung craftspersons in remote areas of Pakistan. "My mother gets cloth from art promotion guilds and then embellishes them here according to the local taste. She has dealt in Libas, a well-known brand owned by PFDC's chief Sehyr Saigol and that's how the relationship developed and here we are," says the 21-year-old Sahibjit who is the director of PFDC The Boulevard. The Bindras were on a cloth-buying spree in Lahore last April at a fashion week when they mentioned to Saigol that Rubaaiyat could do with some more top Pakistani fashion designers.
"Aap saari PFDC hi le lijiye (you take the entire PFDC)," replied Saigol, and the New Delhi store was up and running in September. "We had initially planned a store in Mumbai as well, but post 26/11, there is a strong anti-Pakistan sentiment there. Hence, it didn't make good business sense to invest time, money and effort at a place as risky for all things Pakistan as Mumbai," says Sahibjit, whose fashion-business acumen comes from his studies in fashion marketing at Istituto Europeo di Design at the mecca of global fashion, Milan. The response from PFDC The Boulevard's moneyed customers has been good so far, says Sahibjit but he doesn't expect to break even before the end of this year. At the store, which at present stocks only women's clothes, your bill can range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20 lakh. "We have the country's top-notch Bollywood actresses, politicians, business tycoons and NRIs as our customers. They call us in advance and tell us that they'll come when the market shuts and if we let out their names to the press, they won't appreciate it," Sahibjit says. India's top designers have contacted Bindra for collaborating with PFDC The Boulevard but he wants it to remain a concept store of PFDC. "This is the council's flagship outlet outside Pakistan. Getting any other country's wares here will do injustice," he explains.
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