By Fareeha Qay­oom, Pho­tographs cour­tesy of Zubair Gum­man

Z

ubair Gum­man is a suc­cess­ful entre­pre­neur, a designer, and a pho­tog­ra­pher. He is a big name in Lahore’s designer’s ros­ter; yes, you guessed it; he owns his own label – Nee Pun­hal.

Zubair Gumman

Zubair Gum­man of Nee Pun­hal

He has out­lets in Lahore, Islam­abad, and Karachi. His next tar­get is India. He started from Islam­abad back in ’89. He does not have a degree in design. Ini­tially, he worked as a pho­tog­ra­pher, work­ing with the pro­fes­sion­als in the busi­ness. Money was never an issue since he comes from a mon­eyed, feu­dal back­ground.  “I cre­ate under extreme pres­sure; the cus­tomers make you lim­ited though. They are so con­ser­v­a­tive. Most of my peers are elite’s glo­ri­fied tai­lors. I don’t call them design­ers. They are cater­ing to a select class of cus­tomers. To design for them is easy; their cus­tomers have acquired an aes­thetic sense because of their expo­sure to other cul­tures. It is com­par­a­tively sim­pler to design for say, Jemima Khan than for an ordi­nary woman! You know what I mean?”

Neep Punhal

“It’s tougher to cater to the masses. I know — I design for them! My cus­tomer is from the mid­dle class. My col­lec­tions are always dif­fer­ent, and my designs wear­able and glam­orous. I try to be inno­v­a­tive and totally rad­i­cal. I was the one who revived the mirror-work, plac­ing them in out­ra­geous places in the dress. I intro­duced some new cuts and col­ors. Being a pho­tog­ra­pher, I know how to fill each frame”

“I would love to design for the pro­fes­sional woman. How­ever, I don’t do basic sil­hou­ettes. They are too easy to copy. All my cre­ations have to be intri­cate and a vir­tual work of art! Still, I see repli­cas of my designs in the bou­tiques. I have loyal cus­tomers though – they will not buy cheap imi­ta­tions. I have six lines – daily wear, semi-formal, for­mal, and over the top for­mal. I am also launch­ing a knitwear line. It is totally rad­i­cal. I do not copy and I don’t store my work. I have no cat­a­logs, noth­ing. This way, what­ever I do is fresh and new. I am obsessed with artistry and crafts­man­ship in my work.”

“It’s really tough to make a woman look beau­ti­ful and mod­ern in a Shal­war suit. I always try to cre­ate clothes, which make the woman I design for, look fem­i­nine, sen­sual and glam­orous.”

“There’s no such thing as an Indian cul­ture or a Pak­istani cul­ture any­more. Now we have a global cul­ture. I cus­tomize my clothes for the domes­tic crowd, keep­ing in mind our her­itage, his­tory and civ­i­liza­tion and com­bin­ing it with the global cul­ture.” ■

This arti­cle was orig­i­nally pub­lished in the print edi­tion of the “The Knit-Xtyle Fash­ion Review,” Tkfr issue 5, 1998

Neepunhal2 Nee Punhal 3
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The Man behind Nee Pun­hal, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rat­ing