In conversation with the graceful couturier, Humaira Khan
Nowadays, body dysmorphic disorder is one of the biggest issues amongst teenagers. But how can one fight this discrimination with the help of a clothing brand? On completing 30 years in the fashion industry, Humaira Khan decided that it was about time she took a step against body shaming.
Humaira’s main objective was to bring regular people into her store, and into her designing area. “I know many people who do make plus sized attires, but they do not talk about it. They do not put those people in the commercials or advertisements. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to break this stereotype,” informs Khan.
“I suffer from body dysmorphic disorder as well. As a teenager I was chubby and dark, and on top of that, I used to wear glasses. So I was often the victim of nasty remarks from the people around me. Nobody would notice me or praise me compared to the pretty ones in the class or in a group,” she conceded. After getting married into a business family, Humaira became more aware of her looks. “So I learnt fast and I learnt quite well. To stand out, I started designing and I got the attention I craved so much. And I never detached myself from the real people, those who are my well wishers.
However, after 30 years, I realized that the concept of ‘beauty’ is very irrelevant - so much of a facade. Moreover, with the media bombarding us with photos of people in the perfect zero size, leaves the commoners feeling very inadequate. As a designer, I strongly felt that I could make a difference. So in my small way, I wanted to make a change. And to make the change I wanted to be the change first. For the last one year, I wanted real women to model for us. I wanted the women to feel good in their own body, own age, own skin,” says Humaira, while discussing what motivated her to become a body positive activist. According to Humaira, the encouragement should come from the families first. “You can not treat your child differently because of their gender or looks or performance; understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses,” mentions the designer.
We asked Humaira about her latest venture, Anikini, and this is what she had to say about it.
“Anikini means troops of animals during the Maharajas’ time. I loved the sound of the name along with the meaning. So I thought my new name and logo should carry the soul of the fighters - even the logo has swords and a shield in it, but patterned as such that it looks like a flower/alpona,” says Humaira, talking about the inception of Anikini.
“For the last 30 years, we have been known as Anokhi. But high fashion only left me very unsatisfied. I thought fashion cannot to be only for occasions, zero sizes or only for the youth. Fashion should be for all – all sizes, ages, occasions.”
So, upon the completion of her long journey, Humaira wanted to introduce a pret line for every one. Basically - fashion for all. And that’s when Anikini was born.
“At Anikini, we have all sizes on the racks. We pick our models keeping in mind that they should be more real. For the last few years, I have been scouting for plus size models. The idealized body image leads models to starve themselves to the point where they develop anorexia. I understand, the clothes drape well, it’s commercially better. You may argue that the whole world is about visual impact, but somebody needs to make a change,” she concedes.
Anikini by Humaira Khan provides a platform to new designers who do not have a scope to showcase their designs. At FDCB, Humaira got to interact with a lot of young designers with immense talent who did not have a personal set-up to display their clothes. “Since then, I have been thinking of a way to meet the demand and supply chain for them, especially in terms of regular clothing and, of course, in a fashionable way. I welcomed on board all those who truly wanted to make a difference in the society. I wanted to give them the name and recognition they deserve,” says Khan.
Anikini comprises of comfortable outfits for regular wear. The materials being used are mostly cotton, linen, and a mixture of khadi that is light and breathable. Anikini is mostly for women of all sizes, ages and colours.
Anokhi is still there, but it is one of the three lines that Humaira has come up with. “The couture line is Humaira Khan, where I use muslin, satin, silk and chiffons. The mid range block printed and embroidered dresses are available at Anokhi. The casual ready to wear outfits at Anikini are mostly cotton, edgy, well cut and pocket friendly. They are mostly sold as separates,” says the designer.
The vibrant hues at Anikini include lime, shocking pink, orange, bright/canary yellow. Many solids, straight cuts, along with some biased cuts are available, along with designs incorporating some blocks, karchupi, embroidery and embellishments. For the ladies, there is a wide collection ranging from single tops, shirts to shalwar kameez.