With the minimum options available in Kashmir, some people would ask their relatives living in Gulf areas to bring clothing for them.
Offering a range of modest clothing options for all occasions, two engineers Mohammad Ahtisham and Furkan Bazaz are creating a niche for stylish modest clothing or ethnic styles in the valley.
The duo started a modest wear brand Baraqah with an intention to contribute to society by social entrepreneurship. Baraqah is an Arabic word meaning abundance.
Offering hijabs, abayas, throbs and kurta pajamas for women and men, the brand provides ethnic clothing for children too.
The online marketplace is catering to around 14-15 states of India and has some clients in UAE as well, the founders stated.
Ahtisham said that during past years in Kashmir, modest fashion was limited to women's clothing only like abayas, kaftans and hijabs and men would struggle to find anything stylish to wear.
Keeping the fashion needs of both the genders into consideration, they came up with the online platform so that both male and female can dress religiously yet look stylish in the attire.
Ahtisham said, “We call it a place where faith meets fashion. We are providing good quality clothes to both the genders while considering the colors and designs as well.”
For women, the online store has various designs of abayas, kaftans, hijab to offer and for men, it offers kurta pajama, pherans and throbs. Apart from this, the brand has a shawl and stole collection too.
Ahtisham said that during Ramadan and at Eids, the purchase usually gets higher and this year, they have seen a surge in the orders at the very beginning of the Ramadan.
“The collection of kurta pajamas for men has been mostly liked in Kashmir but we have received a huge response for abayas from outside Kashmir. Demand for shawls has also been there. Some team up shawls with kurta pajamas also which look royal and give a classy look,” he added.
Furqan said that the people who wear modest clothes are still looked down upon and through their venture they want to change the perception of people.
“People think it’s not cool to wear modest clothes for parties and gatherings but we want it to present in a way so that it looks appealing. In modest fashion, our target audiences are those who want to look fashionable without compromising on their religion. The clothing that people can wear and look as confident as they are in a shirt and jeans. Our idea is to mainstream it like people wear western clothes,” he said.
For this season, they have planned a photoshoot so that people can have someone to look at and be an inspiration. “People prefer western wear only because they have inspiration to look at. We are doing photo shoots with professionals so that people can connect and feel that we can also look good in it,” said Ahtisham.
As the duo deals with shawls as well, the pashmina shawls are packed in handicrafts boxes in order to give a premium feel to customers.
“We have kept it in papier-mâché boxes so that it would give the royal look to pashmina. Papier-mâché has been an integral part of Kashmir and it gives Kashmir vibes. Our idea of using the logo of the brand on the box is to make it classier,” he said.
Talking about the collaborations, Ahtisham said the brand is working out deals with UAE based business enterprises and they are working out something together for future.
Ahtisham said that the quality fabric is being brought from Mumbai which should have 80% cotton to avoid wrinkles in the clothes.
“Manufacturing is done by a third party, the one who can provide us with the best quality. In some cases, we design ourselves but we will be hiring some designers in the coming future,” he said.
In the newly launched collection, he said that colors like mustard, graphite and olive are added.
“As there is extreme diversity in the customer behavior so colors depend on the taste of customers,” he added.
He also said that in the near future digital printed kurtas will be introduced in the men's collection.
Ahtisham further claimed that the brand Baraqah is the 1st one in India to start modest fashion for both genders.
Furkan, who is from a Computer Science background, said that they are trying to enter the UAE market and create a space for their brand.
To overcome counterfeit products, the duo is thinking of implementing block chain technology where the Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) for their collection will be created so it will be digitally recognized and no one can copy the designs of the brand.
“This is to avoid copying our designs. Those designs will be for our product only. To make good designs, we have found the best designers and are also learning the art as well. In future, we will be hiring some students from the National Institute of Fashion Technology as we are in talks with the head of the institute,” he said.
For the future, the duo has a number of plans to make the website consumer friendly and looking forward to creating more clientele.
In addition to the available clothing, there will be a customized option for customers to modify their outfits as per their requirements like fabric, color and measurements. “This option will be in our website where a customer can feed their perfect measurements so that they don’t bother to get their outfits altered by another tailor,” he said.
Based on the idea of GI certification, the duo is planning to have a serial number over every product which will give the details of the products on the website so that people can come to know about the genuine product from the brand.
“We are also thinking that we can offer some free dry cleans over the products and customers can have the record of those as well on the website,” he added. Apart from this, expanding the product line will be the plans to work on for the team.