Khaadi’s flagship store at the Emporium Mall in Lahore celebrates the brand’s uniquely Pakistani identity through its meshing of elements that form the cornerstones of its philosophy – art, culture and design.
The inception of Khaadi in 1998 heralded the start of a new era of retail therapy in Pakistan – one centred on creating a holistic shopping experience for its patrons who were treated more like family than customers. Nearing twenty years of successful operations, the brand has synonymised itself with Pakistani heritage through its vibrant designs. This ethos is reflected not only in the wide range of menswear, womenswear and home and personal accessories, but is also the cornerstone of its outlets.
Khaadi’s flagship store at the Emporium Mall in Lahore, its latest and largest, continues to celebrate this ideology through a unique meshing of art, culture and design. Layered in two tiers, the space represents a synergy of artists, young and old. With renowned architect Shahid Abdullah leading the architectural design process alongside sculptor Osama Khan and artist Sohail Abdullah, every detail – from the backdrop behind the cashier to the installations next to the mannequins – has been carefully curated.
Detailing the concept behind the store layout, Shahid Abdullah expresses it as part of the journey he has taken together with the brand ever since its first outlet was designed. “How do you relate with Khaadi?” is the quintessential question that became his blueprint for the design. Whether it is the steel structure merging with stone and wood, or the oranges blending into greens, it is the culmination of his research into the brand’s philosophy.
“It is not the material, but what you do with it,” comments Abdullah, as he describes his choice of using heavy brickwork in the store. He believes in using ordinary materials such as brick, which is found abundantly in the Punjab region, and enhancing its importance through its marriage to wood and the interplay of natural and artificial light.
This conscious decision to use ordinary materials and present them in extraordinary ways is geared towards creating a relaxed shopping atmosphere; instead of a cluttered space, the minimalistic design aesthetic at the Khaadi Emporium Mall store allows its patrons to really connect with the entire experience.
Khaadi’s ethos has always focused on intertwining ordinary design elements with indigenous materials and motifs that highlight Pakistani heritage. Its designs exude a sense of belonging to Pakistan, creating a strong identity that is not lost amongst a sea of consumerism. For Abdullah, it was important that the store design mirror that singular identity.
“Khaadi has its own aesthetic; it has set a standard. Even if a Khaadi store is placed next to international brands, it hold its ground for its uniqueness,” continues Mr. Abdullah. “Khaadi is home. Khaadi loves Pakistan. So when you walk into a store, you feel at home.”
The sharp, clean-cut lines, with a hint of organised chaos, lend the space an air of easy familiarity. Without overpowering the senses, Abdullah has made remarkable use of basic building tools (brick, wood and steel) to achieve a final design that is intricately layered and timeless.
“Design doesn’t go out of style, fashion does,” continues Abdullah. “When you do architecture you need to ensure that it doesn’t seem seasonal and that it doesn’t die – like many fashions do.”
The architecture was carefully designed to leave space for artistic installations that would provide the subtle embellishment any store requires, but without the danger of excess. Khaadi’s commitment to promoting Pakistani heritage in all forms, especially the arts, is clearly visible through the installations around the store. Whether it is a multi-coloured wall, or a tree in the middle of the store, it is all intrinsically related to what defines Pakistan’s culture.
The freedom provided to the artists to express themselves and explore their artistic boundaries is what resulted in the iconic design. Both Osama Khan and Sohail Abdullah have commended the brand for allowing them to dream and create freely. Ultimately, the kaleidoscope of colours, materials and designs that greets any visitor to the Khaadi Emporium store is a testament to its years of cultivating its truly indigenous brand philosophy.