It was not the face that caught our eye, but the drape and structure of her garment that stole our heart. It was inviting and bursting with color, yet so clean and elegant that it wouldn’t overwhelm our otherwise monotone wardrobe. It was feminine and sweet, yet intimidatingly modern. It was as if an old seamstress and a young apprentice had put their heads together to come up with something that pleased them both. We hurried to find the other pieces from the designer. As we studied his current and past collections, we were astounded by the boldness on display and it seemed to be setting aside the timid woman. Fashion was, for the first time in our notable memory, paying homage to the unapologetic women of Pakistan, the women we all yearned to be. We were smitten, and this ladies, was how we were introduced to the magical world of Hussain Rehar.
Left: The picture that first had us - Maya Ali in Summer Sky (2019). Right: Enliven (2019)
It was 2019 and getting your hands on one of these pieces if you didn’t live in Pakistan was no easy feat. Shopping online was not very accessible; nor was it the norm because we just didn’t know if the sites could be trusted. We missed out on both the outfits back then, but it piqued our curiosity on the mind behind it.
Designers in Pakistan’s fashion industry have historically been limited to very formal attire or bridal wear, with people choosing to splurge on clothing only when life events demanded it of them, and that too, if they were to be in a crowd that could understand and elevate the pieces they wore. This almost always translated to an indulgence for high society.
But the wanting masses longed for a change, and change came in spades amidst the drought of style sensibility. Designers quickly began to feed the masses, with options being served from casuals to ready-to wear (RTW) luxury pieces that had women lining outside the doors or glued to their screens minutes before seasonal collections launched. The thrill of shopping for style has since gripped the fashion world in Pakistan.
As fashion became more and more accessible, the gap between the ideological shift in femininity that was blanketing the world, and the conventional portrayal of women in the very industry that defined them became glaringly obvious. Many women found themselves buying from designers only to keep up with new trends in their cliques. Designer-wear became less and less about personal style, and more so about staus quo.
This is where our brand in question came in as welcome breath of fresh air. Launched by its founder Hussain Rehar in 2017, his namesake brand has since become quite a permanent fixture with Pakistani fashion lovers
About the designer.
Hussain Rehar is a young man in his mid-late 30s hailing from Gujranwala, Pakistan. After graduating from the Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design (PIFD), Rehar interned at Elan under Khadijah Shah’s wing for a brief time before launching his own label. The brand currently remains a family run enterprise, with both of Rehar’s brothers by his side. He keeps a relatively low profile in the media so little else about him is public information, though his fans and followers can enjoy his musings on instagram @hussainrehar. You'll notice, if you observe, there's little dissonance between the man and the brand.
How it all began.
When he found the label, Rehar sought to change the way Pakistani women looked at themselves. When asked about what made his label unique, Rehar answered:
It's chic and trendy, something that any modern day woman would want to wear and look powerful, strong and empowered in.
The brand’s earlier style reflects the personal aesthetic of the designer, catered to a bold woman on the world stage. Western cuts with traditional embroidery, clean lines, and clashing colors made his work artistic and rich. These pieces clearly aimed to challenge societal perception of femininity:
[o]versized blazers in eye-popping colors, power suits, loose kurta pajamas all complemented by a delectable array of accessories.
- Maliha Rehman, Dawn, 2022-
What the label means today.
Traditional styles elevated by structured silhouettes have ever since become the staple of the designs at Hussain Rehar. Over the years, Rehar’s style has taken a turn to catering to the mass consumer. The brand has been unapologetically leaning into celebrating the expectedly traditional style married to modern elegance.
I still enjoy edgy design but, ultimately, the clothes should sell,”….“I definitely know my market better. When I started out, I wanted to constantly experiment and try out new techniques. Now, I understand that, most importantly, the clothes need to be wearable.
- Maliha Rehman, Dawn, 2022-
Despite the trajectory of the brand’s design ethos, there is one definitive idea that sets it apart. Rehar relies these key elements in his designs: structured cuts, crisp colors, statement embellishments, floral patterns, and rich fabrics. In his earlier collections Rehar often had several elements at play in any given outfit all fused onto luxurious fabrics that spoke volumes. As the brand has evolved, Rehar has shown restraint with his use of the elements, instead choosing to use one or two of them to make his pieces stand out. What remains consistent is the symmetry in his designs, leading to an overall clean appearance that keeps the elements in place.
Hussain Rehar’s initial designs were a unique representation of the modern Pakistani. They were fresh and loud without being boisterous and gaudy. The clean cuts and bold colors commanded attention from the audience and lent a fair amount of personality to the wearer. As such, Rehar’s submission to the masses was slightly disappointing. Though the styles are still beautiful, and admittedly appeal to the general public, we feel they may at times struggle to intrigue those seeking to make a statement. This move also dissuades creatives in the design industry from venturing out of mainstream style to break the norm. If people continue to be served only what they are used to, they will not accept anything out of the ordinary. Had Rehar stayed the course with his initial design ideology, we feel he would have successfully gained a strong following within a fashion savvy niche and a place on the global platform.
While the brand is synonymous to high-end fashion in Pakistani coutoure, Rehar’s seasonal drops of affordable high quality limited pieces gives fashion lovers a chance to delve into his world without sacrificing their wallet or style. Rather than trying to be exclusive, HR is instead making its mark as accessible luxury.
Launched in October 2023, Jugnu is a very recent addition to the HR umbrella and perhaps where Rehar will eventually hit it off with fashion hungry youth. This line is home to fusion high street fashion. Here Rehar might find more room to play with his earlier bold self. Jugnu is also, and perhaps more importantly, Rehar’s seal as a business visionary.
Jugnu AW 24 - An oversized blazer coupled with an unexpected astro pattern on the skirt, a warm winter color topped off with fine embroidery to keep it ethnic. How fun.
HR Pret / Luxe Pret.
Though the style remains similar between the remaining HR price points, Rehar cleverly brings exquisite embellishments into his pret line. Fine machine embroidery on quality seasonal fabrics tailored with care are to be expected with HR pret.
I make sure that the fabric and embroideries are of great quality and I try to keep prices competitive.
The Payday drop is an example of some fun play on the simplicity and strength of design and color. Geared towards the bolder femme wishing to step away from celebrating the traditional way, PayDay offers an alternative for those looking to remain colorful and exquisite without succumbing to the expected. In essence, this line also reflects the diversity of style in Pakistanis that is now becoming evermore apparent.
The pret/luxe pret category is where HR dominates the market and his pieces are actively sought after. Seasonal drops in the unstitched and recently introduced pret (ready-to-wear) categories sell out upon launch. The limited availability of these pieces often makes them highly desired.
The focus shifts heavily to exquisite, sometimes imported fabrics (eg. Chanderi silk from India) that add complexity and exclusivity to HR designs. “Handmade” is quickly beginning to disappear even from luxury markets in Pakistan, and these pieces instead focus on heavy beading and thread work done at scale to meet consumer demands in tight timelines.
Left: Khuaab - Unstitched. Right: Saahil - HR Formals
There are many similarities in the two designs above, from similar colors to the traditional peshwas and sharara pairing, along with festive embroidery and beading. The price difference however is drastic. The formal is a couture piece, made only by order with heavier work. The unstitched piece is a limited edition available only for the season. Both pieces allow the wearer to enjoy the label’s promising quality and fun designs, and allow customers equal thrill, one for its scarcity and the other for its exquisite feel. This is just one of many examples of how HR has managed to slip into the wardrobes of many fashion-loving women.
Rehar has, on occasion created created swoon-worthy art for fashion by the testing the limits of our skilled craftsmen. The piece below is nothing short of breathtaking.
This jacket is a labor of love, to create this beautifully crafted piece took 200 hours of intricate work. The Kasab marodi work and the opulent Fareesha chainmail effect, both bathed in a symphony of red silk thread and metallic embroidery, create a work of unparalleled artistry
HR Bridals debuted on the runaway amidst the pandemic in 2020 with the collection called Nizambegums. Though not necessarily known for bridals, HR stays true to its traditional style, bringing in inspiration from across the border to implore the bride-to-bes. We have seen pieces from this line largely amongst celebrities or those within the fashion crowd. Most design houses cater closely to individual client needs in this category, using their designs as bases to curate custom pieces in keeping with individual pallets. HR does not deviate from this norm too much, though most brides we have seen have chosen to stay fairly close to the original designs with a few custom tweaks.
Sana Javed & Shoaib Malik - VaVa Voom Chapter III Bridals (Lune)
BEFORE WE GO
Are we still lusting over HR pieces? The answer is a resounding YES!
Rehar continues to be fun and playful with his designs and we cannot look the other way when we see a woman beautifully clad in a Hussain Rehar. The symmetry, those clean lines, and the fine work will have our heart for some time to come. So keep doing what you do Rehar, we're here for it.
Although we must admit, we're a little biased, and we prefer to find something from another fashionista's closet (mostly because we're secretly hoping to score one of the pieces that first had our heart way back in '19!).
If you made it all the way down here, we know you've got some love (or some serious beef) with this designer. So what's your HR story? Let us know in the comments!