The MNR appeal

15 min read

In January 2023, Mohsin Naveed Ranjha announced the opening of his Karachi store with mithai in true Pakistani style. It wasn’t a single word that Ranjha said at all, but it was the essence of his aesthetic and personality that he shared with the world through this store.

In itself, scrolling through the MNR website or Instagram pages is a wonderful experience. It is important to note that every single design of the collection is deeply rooted in the crafts and traditions of Pakistan. As with all our collections, the color palettes are unabashedly bright, the embellishments aren’t for the fainthearted, and we have a very dynamic styling team to make sure that every outfit has a dramatic version of what you might think an average Punjabi beauty looks like on a daily basis.

If you are not a big fan of the very traditional desi costuming, then you might think that the clothes are too loud, or just not cool enough, depending on your personal style; if the MNR aesthetic is not your cup of tea. The palettes are not only rich in color, but they also evoke an air of depth and gravity in design that are pleasantly surprising, even when they veer on the darker side. Taking a closer look at each individual motif and other design element, you will notice that you are looking at carefully designed patterns and details that have a distinct influence of both miniature and Mughal architecture once you peer past the sum of all parts. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone; MNR was founded in Lahore, the heart of the Mughal Empire, providing its fans with quality products.

Similarly, the designer is a self-aware and unabashedly desi person. The designer’s designs are also unabashedly desi.

It has been decided by people that they prefer the Punjabi touch and have decided they want to have a Punjabi touch in their lives,” says Ranjha. It is therefore not at all surprising that in addition to having found mass popularity, his designs are also favored by some international celebrities of desi descent who are also drawn to his designs. It’s only fair to say that this descriptor has been thrown around a lot lately, when you consider how many celebrities MNR has outfitted in recent years.

In their Jago ceremony, held by the bride’s maternal family, Karan Aujla, the Punjabi rap star, and his wife Palak wore MNR, which is basically an all-nighter organised by the bride and groom’s maternal families. Palak had the designers customize an outfit with a dupatta for the event, which matched Karan’s outfit perfectly, hence she had one of the outfits customized for the event. Having built a relationship with Aujla, the runway designer created three looks in total for the rapper’s wedding. He took it upon himself to match the event’s vivacious Punjabi vibe, which would not have been difficult for him, since he is a fan of Aujla’s work.

Ranjha had proudly announced a couple of years ago that Queer Eye star Tan France was going to wear an MNR design to an Asian event he was attending. There was a close collaboration between Ranjha and France in creating the cream-colored sherwani and he was ecstatic to see Tan wear his creation, to be honest I enjoyed the process of creating the outfit much more than seeing it on Tan. This was mainly due to the fact that I was able to gain a great deal of knowledge about what is going on in an international market and how it works.”

The fact that Mohsin Naveed Ranjha has been able to effectively do what he does is one of the key reasons for his success. In spite of the passion with which he speaks about staying close to one’s roots and translating that insight into action, Ranjha is also an astute businessman who knows exactly when to maximize the benefits of such sentiments and understandings.

As Ranjha put it in a discussion of the current state of the national economy, and its effect on purchasing power, “at this point in time, it’s both about inflation and the cost of living and it’s not,” he said.

I believe that most people have accepted the fact that the dollar rate has gone from 100 rupees to 200 rupees, and that it will certainly end up around 300 rupees as time goes on. As a result, our sales are still holding up pretty well, since there hasn’t really been a dent in them.

I think it is fair to say that the fashion sector have had a tough few years; everyone has been trying to get their business running as smoothly as they can, and as a result, the fashion aspect has disappeared from the ‘business of fashion’.”

Ranjha is referring, of course, to the two years that the world spent under lockdown during the Cold War. The only thing we stopped doing was going out, though we did not stop buying things. Due to the lockdown fatigue, layoffs, and a general sense of isolation and uncertainty, all events for the next couple of weeks have been canceled indefinitely, and boutique and luxury brands did not see as much traffic as they normally would have.

There are, however, more reasons behind the fashion industry’s decision to exit from the business of fashion than just that. There are so many aspects to fashion that go beyond just clothes and collections. This sector is almost the equivalent of a living organism that provides a platform for connecting people, bringing communities together, promoting industry, and reverberating throughout the economy.

The fashion industry in Pakistan suffered from a lack of cohesiveness even before the world went into chaos without much warning or any promises. Even though the business was going well, there was a lack of the kind of getting along that is essential for a workplace to thrive, even if the business was good as well. It’s safe to say that the larger industry never recovered after Covid reduced everyone down to basics and kept afloat. It is true that everyone is trying to keep their business going – as Ranjha points out – but they have also learned that without the community of a shared industry they can easily make sales and retain their clients without the social aspect of a shared business.

The way things are now, it’s like everyone works in isolation from each other,” says Ranjha. The fashion weeks and shows are what I miss the most from my time in the industry. The opportunity to show with other designers was a true privilege, and being part of that process was an exciting adventure for me. It was part of the thrill to be able to see who would be showing before and after you: who would be showing before and who would show after you. Fashion may not be dead, but it sure seems as though the fashion industry has been playing dead lately.”

Ranjha’s sentiment is heartfelt, and it is apparent that she is fighting to ensure that what has come before is preserved in some way. I believe it is important to develop a certain type of aesthetic for MNR that keeps tradition but ground it into the present,” he says. “When people see the designs that I create, they like them because I make sure I make sure to style them in a way that doesn’t make the model seem like she is out of reach or unattainable. There is a sense of self-awareness in the design of my clothes that can be felt by women who see them.”

I remember my friends in Karachi being stunned by the location during the Chawl ’23 editorial I shot in Karachi; they had never been there before, even though they live here! But that’s something I enjoy doing because no matter how uptight or messy something might be, if it’s part of our country then it’s ours. No matter what the condition of the mehel, the qila, the chawl, or how it looks, Pakistanis are notorious for not maintaining anything. There’s no doubt in my mind that it is ours.”

Although MNR may not be the most modern or trendy of products, there is no doubt that there is something appealing about it. If you don’t feel beautiful wearing something, then what’s the point of doing it in the first place? If you are a fan of traditional outfits and think that they are what speaks to beauty to you, then you will surely appreciate an outfit by Mohsin Naveed Ranjha.

Ranjha has a design philosophy that aligns perfectly with his business philosophy, which is what makes his brand so successful; as his brand evolves, the results will be exciting to see.

The issue of inflation and the cost of living at this moment is both about it and it isn’t about it,” says Ranjha, speaking about the current state of the national economy and its effect on purchasing power. As the dollar rate has now risen to 200 rupees from 100 rupees, people have accepted the fact that it will definitely land at 300 rupees, and have made peace with the fact that it will go up to 400 rupees. As a result, the sales haven’t been affected too much because of that. However, in saying that, there has been a lot of pressure in the last few years; everyone has been trying to do their best to maintain their businesses, and as a result, the fashion aspect of the ‘business of fashion’ has become almost nonexistent.

That Magazine provided by timenews1.

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