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It’s a cry for attention; a plea for the people to turn their attention towards Pakistan’s culture for a moment. To catch the public eye, the Citizens Archive Pakistan held a small exhibition at the HSY store at Dolmen Mall yesterday. Collaborating with six prominent brands – HSY, Deepak Perwani, Mahgul, Mahin Hussain, K for Karachi and Polly and other stories – the exhibition meant to popularize some national icons, hoping to raise funds for CAP. The designers, we were informed, would be donating up to 20% of their sales to the cause.

The products were interesting. Mahin Hussain designs Independence Day collections each year and her collection for CAP featured tote bags and clutches in vibrant colours, flaunting the Sughar silai machine as the focal point. Mahgul displayed one iconic bag with a display of the Punjab University in Lahore. Deepak Perwani’s silk scarf had images from popular culture and HSY had designed a print that placed modern figures like Umair Jaswal on currency notes. K for Karachi picked national symbols like the chand tara, immortalizing them very finely in silver and Polly had created one bag reminiscing a cock matchbox, another symbol of the past.

Polly and other storiesExtremely colourful and well crafted, the display looked terrific but one wonders how feasible the prices were and whether a bag costing 12,000-18,000 (the prices for Mahgul and Polly) or a pair of cufflinks for 10,000 (K for Karachi) would actually help drive awareness or raise funds. HSY’s tunics will retail for 8,000+ at his store from next week and all these accessory designers will be manufacturing on order (K for Karachi has a permanent display at the Sania Maskatiya store at the mall). It’s a great idea but how much resonance will it have with the masses, as intended?

Amean J, who’s taken over Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s position as President of CAP, was present at the exhibition and agreed that the merchandise would have to be made cost effective and somehow pushed into the mass market for it to have the intended impact. High-end products look good at an exhibition but how far would they go?

Let’s hope that high street brands extend a helping brand and offer their affiliation to the cause.

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