The Koel Shop Generation Reviving Indus Fabric Crafts


*This post was updated on January 30th, 2019. 

This month I planned to push for ethical and sustainable practices. I am so glad that by 2018 many international designers and brands are promising or working towards a completely ethical and sustainable work culture. While there are many small brands already doing that, it is hard to chase after them once one of them decides to change their mind. For many going ethical and sustainable is seen as fashionable (or a fad); many love the marketing aspect of it, but forget or are ignorant to plan how difficult this process is truly to adopt in today’s world (still!).

Almost everyone is aware of and educated about the remnants of corruption of the gem industry. Living in Pakistan in the 1980s and part of 1990’s I have witnessed the worst corruption on the top level and how society is affected by it. In my private school, Hindus from India traveled to Pakistan and using corrupt ways attained a Pakistani passport. This was very common. During this time, India was considered a slum in the world (a place where “lepers” go). While Pakistanis and Muslims were allowed to travel to America and Europe freely in the 1980s and mostly in the 1990s, many in the west had no intention of treating the very poor Indian population the same way. It was so bad for them that they would come up to on the playground screaming how they resentful they are for how they are being treated and how nicely Muslims are being treated in the world. For other related events and experiences of mine in Pakistan, see HERE and HERE.

Other stories I heard first hand due to the corrupt gem industry of the 1980s was the idea that Hindus could adopt fake Muslim names to get Pakistani passports. For those of you who question whether this is possible, remember that even though Pakistan in the 1980s was comparative to countries like England and the USA in the 1980s, the latter countries are dealing with the same issue TODAY as Pakistan is. Yes, in Pakistan Hindus were and are the “Dreamers”. Unlike the illegal immigrants here where literally people started having babies illegally, Hindus attained Pakistani passports through threats and coercion so they could apply for visas and travel anywhere as they please.

The highlight of the experience and I may sound like I am using the term lightly, but I am not, was when a parent of a school peer was talking about her husband being in the diamond business. Terrified of what that meant, I asked, “Why do you focus on diamonds only? Why not emeralds or sapphires or rubies? They are precious stones as well.” And she replied haughtily, “No, the world cares only about diamonds. Nothing else. No emeralds, no sapphires, no rubies. Just diamonds”. We, as Muslim Pakistanis were utterly hurt and angry because we were seeing immediate changes in our society. Car bombs, strikes, assassinations, fake news, corruption from the bottom to the top level was splattered across newspapers and it was difficult to stop what was going on because there was no proper structure.

And 30 years later, I see the same thing happening with social media. ISIS using it to propagate hateful messages, high-level coordinated ads being posted during election times, and on a very basic level, abuse and harassment of people from all areas and walks of life. And guys (especially my young readers), life is not like this. Social media like traditional media amplifies emotions associated with stories and caution must be taken. 

The Koel Shop – Reviving Indus Crafts & Arts 

The Indus region refers to Pakistan because that’s where almost the entire Indus River lies. Koel Shop seems to design for women craving authentic Pakistani fashion & experiencing the nostalgia of the bygone era of the Indian Subcontinent.

The Koel Shop carries a wonderful variety of suits, dupattas, chaaders & shawls, chappals, and home goods perfectly suited to satisfy any Eid or gifting needs. The Koel Shop designs the types of ethnic clothes young women wore in the 1980s & 1990s not the extraordinary display of corruption on the bodies of women today on social media, portraying the airhead image more than women driving change in the world.

Promising to revive more affordable Indus art like block printing, ajrak, and chundri, this brand offers a great customer experience for customers willing to spend Rs.4000 to Rs. 25,000. Their website is not equipped with a shopping feature yet, but they are quite active on Instagram and Facebook so placing orders through messaging is not a problem at all. For those of you who travel to Pakistan will be happy to learn that Koel has storefronts on E-Street, Clifton and Dolman Mall, Clifton in Karachi and even has a branch in Lahore. There is even an adjacent cafe & art gallery to enjoy while shopping in the E-Street branch.

The Koel Shop outfits will look great with chand balis, jhumkas, & meenakari jewelry, or very traditional afghani jewelry. There are numerous bazaars and markets in Pakistan where you can shop for churiyaans (metal or glass bangles) and khussas (flat Mughal-style slip-ons). For the kurtas, you can go modern with pants or capris or go traditional with a churidar pajama, lenghas, & ghararas. The chundri or ajrak dupattas are great to freshen up a dull or boring outfit. So fun! All you would need is nice fresh makeup, freshly done hair, and vibrant polished nails & you will be set!

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