History

1983

The BIRTH of generation

The 1980s were the crucial years that shaped up the political climate of Pakistan until this very day. While the feminist movement was in full form on the global stratosphere, Zia Ul Haq’s regressive regime was trying to push women behind closed doors. It was the visionary duo of Saad and Nosheen Rahman who chose to follow the voice of reason. With Nosheen and her sister in law Ghazala Rahman, both being the founding members of the Women’s Action Forum founded in 1981, which brought the movement to Pakistan, it was inevitable for them to invest in the vision of the empowered Pakistani woman.

Being an expert in sizing and inheriting his family’s great love for innovation in fabric and material, Him along with his wife made it their business to provide truly modern but quintessentially Pakistani clothing for the women of the future, based in cottons and reinventing the Shalwar Kamiz silhouette in a time where Polyester reigned supreme and conflicting ideologies had resulted in a confused identity.

Was it a risk to turn against the tide and invest in a market that virtually didn’t exist and open up Pakistan’s first womenswear exclusively ready to wear label? Yes. Did it pay off? Well GENERATION’s 37-year legacy is testament to that.

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1984

Foreign Influence

In their initial days the Rahmans toyed with multiple revolutionary ideas, introducing the internationally utilized format of 4 seasonal collections in the country vowing never to repeat a design and continuously working towards innovation and newness in fashion, introducing the concept of sizing in ready to wear, as well as flying in designers from Europe to design exclusive collections for the brand. The “Brushstroke” collection with its edgy sportswear detailing and statement prints was the product of one such collaborations, however they were soon to discover that the audience responded more to the designs created in-house by the couple themselves.

With women springing up in every work field, the demand for smart and fashionable day-time clothing began to gain popularity and in just a year, GENERATION had already formed a large cult following of strong, forward minded women who were getting things done!

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1985-1986

here to stay

GENERATION has served to be a melting pot of creatives since its very beginning: While it was a major hit for its innovative designs, the brand also garnered quite a reputation for its creative and beautifully executed photoshoots. Recruiting artists, creative minded friends and relatives,

every GENERATION campaign began to get as much traction for the imagery it put out as the clothes it was selling. The “Colours of Earth” collection built upon the idea of freedom and optimism with painstaking indigenous crafts such as tie dyeing, ajrak, rilli and block printing sourced from all over Pakistan becoming its language of communication.

In just three years GENERATION had achieved enough success and admiration to open standalone stores in Liberty and Fortress Stadium in Lahore.

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1987

Who Run the World? GIRLS!

With the late Benazir Bhutto’s election campaign in full swing, 1987 was a time when modern liberal ideas began to manifest amongst the mainstream. Women began to see themselves as icons of power and pillars of strength, this reflected in the choice of clothing as elements of power dressing such as shoulder pads, suit jackets and menswear detailing began to gain traction.

GENERATION being ahead of the curve, organized the first ever fashion show in the country. Kinnaird College which was the hub of female empowerment and progressive thinking at the time served as the perfect venue, as friends, students and some renowned faces of the media industry volunteered to walk the runway in a collection that reflected the vision of the future; the Women of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan.

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1988

Miss Bohemian

With the end of the decade inching closer, and Bhutto becoming the first female Prime Minister the Muslim world had ever seen, GENERATION began to bid adieu to the severe power dressing look that had defined the 80s, it was time for a more relaxed breezy approach to fashion and the people too were in a more celebratory mood.

The “Banjaran” collection fashion show at Ménage, consisted of exciting and fun ghaghris (skirts) full of Bedouin detailing such as hand woven Ikats, rilli patchwork, tartan checks, and colour blocking. The show proved to be particularly memorable as the models walked the runway with matkas skillfully balanced on their heads to great applause by the audience.

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1989

The Annual Sale extravaganza!

With GENERATION being the first of its kind retail experience, it was no surprise that the concept of a mega sale event too was introduced to the country by the brand. It was the first time ever that merchandise was marked down so extensively, starting with 25-30% and going up to 60% as it progressed.

Women were exalted, beautiful desirable clothes and unbeatable value for money, what could be better? These Sales marked the annual seasonal sale calendar which is followed by the entire country to this day.

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1992

The Sindh Chapter

With a firm eye for indigenous craft, Nosheen Khan Rahman designed a collection based on real chunri that was painstakingly sourced from a small region of Interior Sindh. With the 80’s focus on popping colours and power dressing, the delicate craft of intricate tie dying had been all but forgotten in the favour of more technologically advanced textile treatments.

The collection, featuring the rising star of the time, Resham did not only turn out to be an instant hit, but also singlehandedly revived a whole cottage industry, with designers increasingly interpreting the craft in their works again.

The turn of the new decade also saw the beginning of the brand’s love affair with the city by the sea, GENERATION made a grand entry in Karachi by opening two back to back outlets in Clifton and Bahadurabad, as well as the capital with a store in Islamabad’s blue area vicinity.

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1995

A Grand Affair

The 90s continued to build upon the indigenous desi aesthetic with more experimentation in fabric and material. GENERATION began to develop its own unique fabrics introducing jacquards, denier jacquards customized yarn dyed checks and stripes to the market. As well as delving into organzas, velvets and denims.

The colour palette began to embrace the 90s feel completely, leaving behind loud hues in favour of earthy and neutral tones. The “Kashmir Snow” collection saw fully embroidered styles that would easily fall in the ‘designer’ category of formal wear.

With increased demand, the factory moved to a purpose-built unit spanning over 30,000 feet of covered area at Ferozepur Road Lahore, the first of its kind catering exclusively to ready-made clothing for women.

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1998

Trendsetter

Another first; opening the first of its kind Multi storey flagship store in the heart of Lahore’s Mini Market Gulberg area, the same location which today is known as the fashion boulevard of Lahore with all major clothing brands springing up in the vicinity.

The landmark Zamzama store designed by the great architect S. Abdullah was also inaugurated around the same time, another area which soon became ‘cool’ with the opening of Karachi’s best restaurant, Okra next door as well as the first store of the country’s largest Textile giant...any guesses?

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2002

The Graduate

With Gen X coming into the forefront, expats moving back in droves, and a fresh batch of the very first PSFD graduates joining the industry, there was a natural shift towards a more western aesthetic, with focus on French construction and silhouette the designers were taught in their curriculum.

Shalwars turned into constructed bell bottoms trousers, hem lines shrunk often going asymmetrical, with a reintroduction of darts and zips- the eastern garment got a whole new euro-centric ‘chic’ outlook.

GENERATION too hired its first ever formally educated ‘fashion designers’ from PSFD whose modern aesthetic reflected fully in the “Mandarin” collection, which paired cheongsam inspired constructed short kurtis with bell bottom and boot cut trousers set off with embroideries taking foreign inspiration as well, which in this case was the mandarin script.

Increasing popularity and demand in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lead to GENERATION’s first retail presence, opening its doors in Peshawar a year earlier.

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2004

Responsibly Risqué

The women of Musharraf’s era.

With the resurgence of the post 9/11 return of expatriates coming full circle and Musharraf’s liberal approach towards art and culture, with fashion shows emerging on state sponsored events. People started to become more comfortable trying somewhat risqué elements in their clothing, demand for sleeveless shirts began to re-emerge for the first time after Zia-ul-Haq’s era.

Girls began listening to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera’s music and desired to emulate their style. As locally a new kind of star, the super model was born, with Vaneeza, Iman Ali, Amina Haq and Iffat Omar ruling the roost, women started to become comfortable with their sensuality.

The closest they could get to that in Pakistan was to chop of the sleeves of their kamiz, with low cut necklines, deep backs on a form fit silhouette. This much controversial uniform remained all the rage for quite a large chunk of the mid-2000s.

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2005

Khadija Comes Home

By the summer of 2005 the fitted silhouette was everywhere, leaving women who still preferred to dress in a more modest fashion with little to no options. GENERATION revived its classic hand embroidered kurtas which had grown to be loved by women of all ages, sizes and body types.

The year also saw Khadija Rahman’s entry into the brand, who joined the design team fresh after graduating from London College of Fashion.

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2006

G squared

With more and more fashion tastes reclining towards the west and multiple international and local western wear brands popping up across the country, Jeans, particularly Women wearing jeans became a topic of much controversy and popularity amongst society.

GENERATION’s G Squared bridged the gap by introducing the concept of fusion wear, tops, tunics and kurtis with a distinct desi aesthetic, offering a more modest outlook than the average T-shirt, yet fashionable and versatile enough to be styled with Jeans, Skirts and western style trousers.

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2008

Metamorphosis

With Khadija spreading her wings and finding her own pace within the company, she began to introduce a number of changes which not only set the road which would revolutionize the brand, but the entire local retail industry as well.

For the first time, an expansive set of Metric sizes including 8,10,12,14 and 16 were introduced that made the line more approachable and easier to wear for women of a much more diverse size set. Furthermore, she proceeded to diversify the product range by introducing the concept of distinct lines with subsequent design philosophies which you know of today as Basic, Woman, Classic, Cottage, later adding Flo, Ming and ReGENerate to the mix.

She also began to play with the brand’s image as shoots became more conceptualized and experimental, roping in creatives like Ather Ali Hafeez and the renowned artist Usman Saeed to work on the campaigns.

GENERATION also became the first retail brand of Pakistan to introduce a dedicated Formals line, with authentic hand worked embellishment techniques such as zardozi, sitara and naqshi work, making ready to wear Pakistani formals a reality for the first time. This feat also won the brand its first ever Lux style award for 2008 as well as the subsequent one in 2009.

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2013

Velvety Beginnings

By the middle of the 2010s the brand had expanded its retail presence by opening two stores in Karachi’s Dolmen Malls both in the Clifton and Tariq Road vicinities, and the newly launched GENERATION’s Formals line had garnered quite a cult following for itself. However the craze truly began with the launch of the coveted “Winter Velvets” collection,

with exquisitely hand embellished velvet outfits, the likes of which you would only find in the most coveted of designer’s studios who’d make you wait for months on end (if you could afford to order from them in the first place).

Pieces having the same level of intricacy and attention to design were now available to buy off the rack at unbelievable prices. The fashion industry was shaken indeed. And a new regular much like GENERATION Whites in the summer, GENERATION Velvets went on to develop a recall value which still keeps people coming in droves every winter.

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2014

New Fish in the Ocean

With a mini revolution going on in the industry, designers as well as larger export groups began to invest heavily into their retail presence in the local market. The digitally printed Kurta was born and fashion began to become heavily commodified. Suddenly it was all about who had the zaniest fashion campaign and the lowest priced product to go with it.

GENERATION faced the brunt of this new-found competition head on as most of these retailers opened up in the same location as GENERATION’s Gulberg store in Lahore.

It marked the beginning of GENERATION’s new era, with massive hiring of fresh creatives newly graduated from PIFD that year, as well as setting up for the first time, a dedicated Marketing department aimed at rethinking fashion advertisement for the changing times. The year began era of Abdullah Haris’s beautiful campaigns for GENERATION with his first shoot for the brand, christening the launch of the new fashion-savvy FLO line.

The brand would go on to expand their presence in the twin cities with its first store in Rawalpindi.

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2016

Step Outside

Step Outside served in many ways, as the year of the awakening of the brand. With conversations regarding women’s freedom of movement alighting amongst the political circles, GENERATION decided to put its money where its heart was and launch ‘Step Outside’ a mega campaign inspired by ‘Why Loiter’ by feminist author and activist Shilpa Phadke.

featuring Zara Abid as the empowered GENERATION Woman, it was set in a utopian reimagination of the present, where the woman freely navigates public spaces without fear of stigma and harassment. While all other brands were focusing on foreign shoots, selling the fantasy of the unattainable, rich designer clad woman, GENERATION’s advertising featured an approachable woman accessorized with items from street vendors, feeling at home at dhabas, getting onto the metro bus and playing galli cricket. 

Khadija Rahman’s first collection for the brand ‘A dot that went for a walk’ too debuted in the same year, A complete deconstruction of what South Asian garments mean she reinvented the shalwar, the kamiz and the dupatta putting out completely new ideas about what each of the staple components of desi fashion could look like. The collection truly revolutionized the idea of what a ‘fashion week’ collection is supposed to be, crafted in cottons, voiles and thick webbed organic netting, exploring new shapes and forms, the collection turned out to be the immediate darling of Fashion critics all over the country, leading the brand to start another stint of victories at the Lux Style Awards.

Lahore also welcomed its second GENERATION store in the beautiful Emporium Mall in 2016. /p>

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2017

Greater Than Fear

With the launch of #greaterthanfear campaign, GENERATION singlehandedly jump started the movement of inclusivity in Pakistani advertising. The imagery featured women as young as 12 and as old as 72, of various sizes, ethnicities, professions et al.

The campaign even featured trans women, women belonging to ethnic minorities, and pregnant women. The beautiful campaign video by Umar Riaz set the bar for all relevant conversations in fashion and advertising.

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2018

GEN X Shehzil Malik

The first ever Aurat March took place in 2018. The dream that the team saw with #stepoutside began to show glimmers of hope with women speaking up for their rights, reclaiming public spaces, and questioning the status quo in a magnum opus of an event that turned everyone’s attention to the role of women in society.

GENERATION’s Shehzil Malik Collection released in 2017 proved the be the uniform of choice for many of the attendees. This was the brand’s first ever design collaboration with artist Shezil Malik, featuring edgy street clothes with the artist’s feminist messaging and illustrations emblazoned all over as bold prints and embroideries. The collection flew off the shelves in hours.

The Year ended on a sweet note for the residents of DHA in Lahore as GENERATION had opened up at Packages Mall and they would no longer have to travel all the way to Gulberg to get their fix.

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2019

No Nonsense Nighat

Whilst most of 2018 was spent exploring the beauty and uniqueness in the colour of our skins, with campaigns like “Nairang” and “Saawan Rain ka Sapna”, dismantling self-projected stigmas towards skin tones and conditions, whether it be melanin, vitiligo or albinism 2019 projected the conversation of internalized racism even further.

. Desis have been made to systematically look down upon everything about their culture and clothing as inferior to European ideals since the days of colonialism.

“No Nonsense Nighat” was born out of the fantasy of a South Asia unperturbed by western standards of beautiful, cool or fashionable. Bringing unfazed desi-ness to the 21st century, No Nonsense Nighat wasn’t the typical desi damsel in distress, but instead equipped with utilitarian footwear, a side tied dupatta, her hair swept up in a paranda,

she was ready to take over the world.She was loud, she was desi, she was a fashion icon and she was out to reclaim the term ‘paindoo’ because paindoo is not a slur. Her influence on fashion trends can be calculated by the fact that parandas made it to Milan fashion week just a few months after Nighat’s debut and they have undeniably gone on to become the must have accessory of the current decade. 

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