By Sonya Rehman
From organic block printed saris and skirts, to intricately embroidered ethnic wear, the Lahore-based fashion start-up, Aman Kay Rang (translated from Urdu as the colors of Aman), brings traditional crafts and clothing to a local market saturated in a mélange of eastern and western ‘fusion wear.’
With an exciting color palette, including a distinctive blend of patterns and crafts, the story behind Aman Kay Rang is nothing short of tragic.
After the passing of her 27-year-old daughter, Aman, in 2018, Uzma Shoaib, grappled with the thought of a life without her child.
Aman had left behind an infinite vacuum in Uzma’s life. Her radiant daughter, whose laughter would light up the house, her soft-hearted, gentle little girl, full of dreams and a life – yet to be lived out and enjoyed – was no more.
A young wife and a mother to a little boy, Ezaan, Aman loved fashion, art and interior design. A graduate from Lahore’s renowned art institution, the National College of Arts (NCA), Aman reveled in the creative process. She had her own, unique sense of style, and shied away from fast fashion and passing trends.
Ethnic, homegrown fashion and age-old, local crafts inspired Aman. It was slow-moving but carried so much depth, history and heritage. This led her to launch her very own home textiles brand, Ombrè by Aman, in 2016, which focused on patchwork quilts, ralli and kantha bed spreads, ajrak table mats and more.
But everything had happened so quickly – from the symptoms to the diagnosis (fourth stage brain cancer), to the prognosis and the treatment, the grief for the 54-year-old entrepreneur was dizzying. How could she still be here, while her daughter was not?
The days, weeks and months after Aman’s passing went by in a haze. The pain was unbearable. There was resentment too, visceral anger. How could this happen?
Why did it happen? What could justify such monumental loss?
And then, there was the urgency. Uzma couldn’t bear the thought of her daughter’s dreams and Aman’s name to fade away into oblivion. She had to do something to uphold the memory of her child. Uzma knew she had to become the vessel, the living, breathing channel for all that Aman wanted to express and put out into the world.
“I want people to remember my daughter till I’m alive. This was my first thought every morning when I’d get up. But I had no strength,” recalls Uzma, her voice thick with emotion. “But my family and Aman’s close friends gave me the emotional support to launch Aman Kay Rang in her memory.”
However, planning the brand’s new collections has been an emotionally wretched process without Aman by her side. Given the mother-daughter duo would do everything together, Aman’s absence has been excruciating for Uzma.
“I feel she’s guiding me,” Uzma says, “I feel she’s with me in the workshop as I sort through the fabrics and designs. I cry throughout and think of her. That’s how everything is being made, in Aman’s memory. My daughter loved color and always wanted the clothes to reflect just that. I make everything with Aman in mind; would she like this color combination? Would she approve of this pattern? This is my life now. I want Aman’s dream to live on. This is for Ezaan too, when he grows up, he should know how beautiful and vibrant his mama was.”
Till her final days, Aman never once broke down. She remained positive and hopeful throughout her treatment, in fact, she even launched a new home textiles line by setting up a stall at a local craft exhibition in the city, a few months before she passed in September.
“I was on auto-pilot throughout her treatment. She knew what I was going through, but when I think about that time I wish with all my heart that Aman had held me, cried and let it all out. But every day, every single day she’d get up with such determination and resolve. She wanted to live for all of us.”
One month shy of completing two years, Aman Kay Rang, has managed to silently make a name for itself in the local e-commerce sphere.
“Sometimes I see Aman so clearly, laughing and running up to me for an embrace. That’s the way she was, she was the core of joy in our lives,” Uzma says.
“The brand is expanding and at times I get so many orders that it’s hard to keep up…that hurts the most I think. But I find Aman in my grandson – this little spirit is a replica of his mother, he has the same smile and dimples as she did. I find Aman in him. And that gives me solace.”