HSY Gets Bigger

By Sonya Rehman

When a designer known for bridals collaborates with a fabric manufacturer and retailer as huge as Bareeze to create ready to wear, we know the industry is finally on the right track. Size does matter, and no one knows that better than Hassan Sheheryar Yasin.

Globally, fashion has an energy. The most dynamic designers world over are on a perpetual quest for the next frontier. In Pakistan, while the most established names in fashion are by and large on a mission to make the most expensive bridal, it is the younger lot of designers who are breaking new ground. Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, better known as HSY, has been on a continuous trip of expansion ever since he stepped into the world of Pakistani fashion and his recent merge with an extremely popular local cloth house has set the standard of what Pakistani designers should be aiming for.

Scooping up a medium-sized booklet and handing it over, “HSY”, the designer says with utmost suspense, “is going to be merging with Bareeze! The label is called ‘B HSY’ (the ‘B’ standing for Bareeze) and is a ready-to-wear line which will only be available at HSY and Bareeze outlets”. Interesting, I thought going through the booklet as Hassan continued, “we’re targeting everyone really, every age group that would like to dress with sophistication”. What I gathered was that each outfit – made of the characteristic Bareeze material (silks and embroidered chikan) – had the definite HSY stamp on it. Hassan sure knows how to pack the ‘p’ back in ‘punch’

In his sleek, minimalist, two-storey, stark white (save the splashes of colour that his creation’s make rack after rack) studio where we meet to discuss this landmark, the designer sits comfortably on a couch, leaning forward every now and then to answer a question of interest. And as he talks about his huge achievements, he unravels fragments of his life that lead him into the business of fashion years ago.

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The catalyst of change for Hassan (before he ventured out into the field of fashion) was a severe car accident that left him with absolutely no visibility for months on end. “I’d hate for this to sound melodramatic”, he tells me assertively, “but it really changed my life around”. In a nutshell, Hassan began his career as a fashion choreographer in the early nineties, and it was only until he graduated from the Pakistan School of Fashion Design, that the ‘HSY’ brand persona took flight and tornadoed headlong into the fashion industry. Like a bull in a china shop, with years of choreographing behind him (which aided somewhat in the establishment of his name), Hassan launched his career with a meager Rs. 2,500 in the kitty and two old-fashioned sewing machines.

That seems a lifetime ago. Those foundation years are long gone and today the designer seems to be taking one revolutionary step after another to elevate fashion in Pakistan to higher levels. He has managed to corporatize the trade and this merger with Bareeze has set the perfect example for the industry to follow.

As we meet to discuss this scoop, Hassan also talks about the CARE fashion show he is holding at the Governor House in Lahore next week. Switching on his laptop and making me hear a song or two he excitedly runs me through each segment. From his choreographing to his music selection and like a stickler for detail, it is no wonder that HSY is doing so well. His shows are immaculate – a majority of local fashion shows often lack finesse in terms of the music and all it really takes is one bad number to cut a designer’s outfit down to sorry little shreds. And more than anything, he has the perfect acumen as to how to run a business.

Apart from his new ‘B HSY’ label with Bareeze, Hassan is also working on ‘HSY Arabia’ – a line intended for the Middle Eastern market that primarily focuses on the traditional abaya.

Hassan continues to speak of venturing into “new-age-homely” furniture which is “a good eight to nine months in the pipeline”, the fact that he had long before “stopped looking for people’s approval”, his exciting “I could almost cut into the energy” experience at the New York Fashion Week, how his love for dancing led him to prance around the studio to a Madonna number (in front of one of his scandalized burqa-clad clients), the upcoming Dubai Fashion Week (out of which 30 international designers – HSY is one), and his love for travel (“because in another country when people don’t recognize you, you realize you’re just another average Joe”).

Without a self-protective facade, arrogant hang-ups or snooty inhibitions, Hassan, I gather is just a very hardworking, on the ball and focused individual who leaves no time for small talk and social politics. Speaking of the Pakistan Fashion Week (PFW), which is due to be held in Lahore this November, Hassan states that he wanted HSY to be a “step ahead for it”, “Because in volume the buyers will want and expect creativity” he concludes resolutely. Had he thought about what sort of fabrics, cuts and colours HSY, the brand, would be working with for PFW? “Not really, it’s too early to say anything right now. All I can say however is that the line we’ll be showing is prêt.”

With regard to the much hyped rift between the Lahore/Karachi fashion councils, he diplomatically states, “I really don’t see a rift between the two.”

Hassan’s aura is incredibly active, animated and rather spirited – the kind that rubs off onto you. Walking out of the HSY studio I am convinced that fashion, like music, has an energy of its own. It is corporeal and, addictive.

Instep, The News

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