Adding sass to Pakistan’s high street

ISLAMABAD: “Sassy is more than just a clothing label, from the way we market ourselves to our curation of our collection to how we work and collaborate with photographers and models, we aim to bring something different to the fashion industry in Pakistan,” says Sophiya Khan, the woman behind Sassy — one of the most buzzed-about labels to hit the high street market in Pakistan.
Born and raised in Karachi, Khan moved to Lahore, joining Lahore Grammar School, where her relationship with the world of fashion and visual communications was boosted.

“From a very young age I was obsessed with flicking through magazines and pondering how these gorgeous women are photographed. Questions about the technicalities of putting together a fashion magazine, from the model to styling to the design element, would always circle around my head, feeding and nurturing my interest in fashion as a whole,” said Khan in an exclusive chat with Arab News.

“Joining the media and journalism society at LGS, I discovered my passion for photography and videography, which basically ignited my existing passion for fashion and helped me redefine my style.
“As I was focusing more on the aesthetics of a photograph and figuring out what outfit looks better, which look photographs better in my opinion, I was able to understand and define where my sense of style fits into the fashion scene in Pakistan.”

Khan initially wanted to launch a shoe line, another area of the fashion market in Pakistan which for the style inclined is criminally underserved. But a round of brainstorming led her and her partner to expand.
“My partner Mashal Khan and I, over dinner, decided to start a fashion venture together in early September. At that point the idea was to start a shoe label which then manifested into what Sassy is today,” she said.

“SASSY stands for Sensible, Attractive, Secure, Sensitive and Young. The name was actually an adaptation from a suggestion Mashal’s husband made. He listed some characteristics that our ideal consumer would have, and just like that a light lit up, and we found the perfect name that embodies the attitude our ideal customer has, as well as the attitude our company as a whole has, with the agenda to make some ripples.”
Sassy, whose home is online, is veering away from traditional bricks and mortar, which is increasingly becoming the norm, but in Pakistan is still a slow build.

“It’s definitely a challenge, the market here has not had exposure to online retail for a long time, but we feel the market is definitely welcoming online stores with open arms and an eager attitude to try it out,” added Khan.
Sassy was gaining buzz on Instagram through stylized shoots, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and the existing fanbase for Khan, whose photography, lifestyle blog and fashion sense had won her a sizeable audience on the platform.

Sassy, whose grassroots began on the social media platform Instagram, took inspiration from the app which boasts hundreds of millions of users. In today’s world of fashion where high street and couture exist side by side in a mere swipe of the app, a new society of fashion has emerged — Instagram brands. They are curated, they are well made, they are not mass produced and they have developed cult followings for their trend starting clothing sold at reasonable prices.
“Having worked a little in the industry myself and being a regular consumer of the fashion offered here, my inspiration behind Sassy was to put something alternative on the table for my fellow consumers.

“Sassy brings a curation of certain styles and cuts that have not been seen in the Western clothes currently offered in Pakistan. Universally through social media we are exposed to so many different senses of style, consumers all over the world purchase the same article and put their own twist on it, and that is what we look for from our customers,” said Khan.
Sassy’s relationship with social media and subsequently the control it has on its identity is what Khan believes truly sets it apart from other brands looking to make their mark.

“Sassy is aiming to be different when it comes to the visuals that we produce and through the events that we have. Taking our favorite social media platform, Instagram, as an example, you will find visuals from various photographers who have been given full control of shoots, even down to a larger pool of image selection. How we choose to exist in this market and portray ourselves will be one of the greatest elements that differentiate us from the other brands offering Western clothes,” she said.

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