Revamping Kashmir’s apparel scene

A strappy lad of 28 years, standing 6 feet 2 inches tall, decked up in trendy clothes, spiky hair, Shah’s frame is that of a fashion industry’s model.
Revamping Kashmir’s apparel scene
Photo: Aman Farooq/GK

With growing garment market in his heart, Adnan Shah made his mind to follow a path of business with panache. And it turned out an onslaught on the fashion scene to change the shopping scenario of Kashmir, where people visit other cities to buy big brands.

To begin with, Shah tried his luck with a small shop in lesser-known Sherwani Lane near Polo Ground in 2013. In a span of just three years his dreams are flourishing with three outlets in the city and is soon reaching to Srinagar's 'Oxford Street' – Poloview, with his 'Fashion Fiesta', as he has named his garment venture. 

"Kashmir has a massive market as there is no or little competition in the branded apparel segment. People here visit New Delhi and other markets to buy clothes. I am trying to tap the market which has remained unaddressed so far," Shah said.

Shah has special bond with fashion and clothes as he used to walk on the ramps for modeling assignments in south Indian city of Bangalore during his undergraduate days. 

A strappy lad of 28 years, standing 6 feet 2 inches tall, decked up in trendy clothes, spiky hair, Shah's frame is that of a fashion industry's model.

A smile to sell, shy in conversation, but an ever impressive confidence, Adnan has had brushes with various ventures before finding love for apparel business.

A lone son of a successful businessman from Pampore Township, Shah travelled to Bangalore for his bachelor's degree and amidst his academic schedule thanks to his well built body and affable looks he carved a niche for himself as a model in the fashion industry.

Later to pursue higher studies Shah moved to the United Kingdom and did masters in business management from Cardiff University. Post his master's programme when a successful family business was waiting for an heir, Adnan chose to open his own enterprise instead.

What prompted Shah to start a business against the wishes of their parents? "It's not like I woke up on a certain morning and thought to be having readymade garments business but it was more research based and proper consultation with people from the industry that I came up with this idea," said Shah, adding his knowledge of and affiliation with fashion industry turned out blessing for the business. 

Shah's association with fashion world as a model during the period of his studies in Bangalore, where he rubbed his shoulders with the who's who of Bollywood like Shahrukh Khan.

He walked on the ramp shows of Karan Johar, Varun Behl, Rohit Bal, etc, and was one of the top rated models in the fashion industry there. 

"I had a very promising career as a model and did lot of work with fashion industry's big names, but I wanted to move back to Srinagar someday," said Shah.

After spending almost six years in the fashion industry and finishing his studies in the UK, Shah directly landed in Srinagar to open the business of his choice, though against the wishes of his parents.

Now, after three years have passed since Shah opened 'Fashion Fiesta', he has full confidence and high hopes on his business, where he has invested everything he has. 

"I keenly followed the market trends here for months together before entering the business for months together and my decision was proven right only after few months of opening," Shah said, adding, "Youth here are now brand conscious and they want to look trendy which is a positive both in terms of my business and their outlook."

Shah claims that on an average his three outlets witness footfall of 500 to 600 people with 50 percent of turning to some shopping activity. 

Though in 2014 floods he felt little disappointed when the floods devastated his business and overall effects of floods ruined his customer base. 

"My hopes were somehow dashed after the floods but it didn't break me. I told myself 'it's make or break'. But slowly the situation became normal customer numbers rose again," Shah said.

With three outlets now running and two more in the offing, 'Fashion Fiesta' is employing 23 people right now.   

The next big plan is to open a Fashion Fiesta at famed Poloview in the city and increase the chain to city outskirts and peripheries as well. 

"Presently Srinagar city is the priority but in next two to three years, I am planning to move to other towns of Kashmir as well," said Adnan. 

To handle the chain of his shops Shah has assigned outlet managers who report to him about sales and other things.

FF has a big showroom in the basement of a hotel in Rajbagh and other one in Sarah city center.

"We target both high-end and average buying costumers. With myriad brands ranging from Superdryl, Armani, Zara, Polo and many others which people want and can afford," Shah said.

"Revolution in Kashmir's fashion scene is my aim and I want to be a catalyst for it."

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