The tulip pant, with its forgiving silhouette – billowing on top, narrow at the ankles, and with layers of airy fabric – is the latest fashion trend in Pakistan, the home of traditional summer classics such as lawn suits and well-cut kurtas paired with cigarette or ankle pants, or the khulla shalwar. And while social-media users don't seem to care for the trend, the Pakistani fashion industry is all for it.
“This summer Pakistan is going through an intense heat wave and nothing beats wearing a salwar in such extreme weather,” explained Andleeb Rana Farhan, the editor-in-chief of Xpoze Monthly, a fashion publication. “The newer version known as the ‘tulip salwar’ is more streamlined, lean and almost on borderline to a nice pleated pant. They are not as baggy as the salwar, but still airy enough to beat this heat.” The Karachi-based editor loves the bohemian, hippy feel of the tulip pants, which come in a range of fabric from lawn to cotton, and silk or chiffon.
While Pakistani designers and mass retailers still remain in love with lawn, the lightweight brightly-coloured cotton that is sold both stitched and unstitched, tulip pants have won themselves a fan following in the summer shopper’s market. Here’s a do-it-yourself video from United Arab Emirates on how to make a pair.
Like any good fashion trend, tulip pants have evolved over time. Variations started emerging, ranging from short and culottes to tapered and slim fit, after designer Giorgio Armani showed some as part of his Fall/Winter 2015-’16 collection.
Abeera Zuhaib, a Lahore-based fashion designer and blogger, explains the journey of the tulip pants in the subcontinent. “In India, this silhouette is more commonly known as the ‘dhoti salwar’ or pant,” she said in a Facebook chat.
On her blog Zuhaib reminds that it has been around “since times unknown and is considered a classic rather than a fad. Although the dhoti shalwar has a lot more billowing volume, the pant variation is lesser fabric and more tapered.” She says the tulip version of the pants has suddenly spread like wildfire. “They are available readily off the racks and at every other place you can imagine.”
The tulip silhouette, though, has been around a while. Tulip skirts in lace, linen or silk – cinched at the waist and with a tapered hemline – are flattering and pair well with a formal shirt tucked in. Cropped or long, the origins flow from the extravagant end of the fashion spectrum. “They’re feminine, sleek and can change the entire feel of a piece,” wrote Kate, a fashion blogger in San Francisco. “They’re also a great way to showcase a killer pair of shoes.”
Twinkle Hanspal, a Kolkata-based designer with the Anamika Khanna label, warns that women need to know their body type well in order to experiment with this trend. “It could make you look like a stick or a swollen pear,” she cautioned. “I’m not a fan of the trend but I wouldn’t mind a classy pair by designer Vika Gazinskaya.”
Zainab Khan, a designer from Lahore, describes how the tulip pants are being styled in Pakistan. “People love wearing them with short shirts,” she said. “It is one of the trendier styles in fashion these days in Pakistan.” Most commonly, they are worn with a peplum top, kaftan-like tunics, or organza wraps.
Here are the top tulip pants looks from Pakistan:
Unlike members of the designer frat, social media has not taken kindly to the fashion trend with tweets hoping the fad will be short-lived.