Professor Hina Tayyaba Khalil Vice Chancellor, Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design
Prof Hina Tayyaba Khalil; a woman of strength, has changed the perception of fashion and design in Pakistan through her constant commitment and dedication to her institute
PIFD boasts a well acclaimed alumni of graduates who have set up their own fashion houses and companies, including the likes of Maria B, HSY, Kamiar Rokni, Nomi Ansari, Ali Xeeshan, Sahar Atif, Mehdi, Zonia Anwaar, Saira Shakira, Saman Arif, Akif Mehmood, Faiza Saqlain, Hamza Bukhari, Aden Rehan, Hira Ali, Hussain Rehar and the list continues.
Being the only institute in Pakistan to be a part of the Cumulus Association and being affiliated with the Ecole de la Chambre, Paris, PIFD has continued its association with renowned design institutes around the globe. The most prominent of these affiliations includes Milano Fashion Institute, Mod’spe Paris, Accademia Del Lusso, University College of Boras, and Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Professor Hina Tayyaba has shown continuous dedication to her institution. During her tenure Pakistan School of Fashion Design (PSFD) transformed into Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design (PIFD) Federal Degree Awarding Institute. Also PIFD shifted to Purpose Build Campus. She visited different Institutions in America & Europe and signed MOU and agreements. The recognition to her services Federal Chartered Ministry of Culture and Communication, French Republic awarded Le grade de chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres. She has battled with all the allegations pointed towards her with great dignity, coming out victorious!
You have shown perseverance while heading a government-chartered institute for the past decade. How have you been able to successfully work with the bureaucratic system?
I have been associated with PIFD since its inception and had the opportunity of working with its founding members like Mr. Abu Shamim Arif and Mrs. Abassi Akhter. In a way it has been a challenge to be able to work in this system, and I do agree that at times, there are difficulties, but these can be overcome by hard work, dedication and honesty. I have enjoyed working with the Government, they have always supported PIFD and helped in building the institution and bringing it to where it is today.
What sets PIFD apart from other design institutes and programmes?
PIFD is a premier fashion and design institution that focuses on making functional products with aesthetic value. To impart quality education, we ensure to follow international standard curriculum, qualified faculty and state of the art labs, machinery and equipment and to give international exposure to our students and faculty. Our programs have been developed in collaboration with our international partners and most of our faculty is now foreign trained. Not only do we provide international exposure but also internships at leading companies.
You have been affiliated with PIFD from the time when it was an institute that offered diplomas only, till now when it’s a complete government chartered degree-awarding institute. What has been the highlight for you through this time span?
My affiliation with PIFD goes a long way, from the time when the institute offered a four years diploma program in Fashion Design only, with limited resources. Now, over time and with the continuous support of the government, we have started 6 more programs in a purpose built campus. PIFD has contributed in changing the dynamics of the fashion and textile industry, especially domestic commerce.
Tell us about your association with the Ecole de La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, Paris, France, how did it come about and where do you see it heading?
This year, PIFD is celebrating its 25th anniversary along with its affiliation with Ecole de La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, Paris, France for the same number of years. The collaboration has progressed over the years and we have been working closely with Mr. Francois Broca, Director, Ecole de La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture to improvise new methods and theories for curriculum development especially related to the final year thesis collection.
All affiliations that you mentioned are centered around Europe. Do you see a shift in the industry from Europe to the East, UAE and China?
The buying power is with the East, and that has changed the entire scenario of Fashion. Fashion has to be translated and understood by all different cultures as it instantly depicts the social economic structure of the society. It is always challenging and you have to be on your toes at all times to keep up with changing trends. China and the Middle East are both huge markets, hence the trend of modest fashion is on the boom, and everyone wants to be doing that and cater to that market.
The current opportunities at PIFD for international exposure are limited to 20-30 days. Do you plan on extending this and offer the students to study a semester abroad?
We are negotiating with International Institutions (collaborative partners) to start split / joint Masters and PhD programs. In future, we are offering the Master’s program for Fashion Design, Textile Design and Fashion Marketing and Merchandising.
How does the PIFD curriculum keep up with the constant change in the fashion industry within Pakistan?
The curriculum is reviewed and updated by the Board of Studies every year. PIFD works in close association with national and international stakeholders and industry in Pakistan on curriculum as it is endorsed by the HEC for a National Curriculum to be followed by all universities teaching this discipline.
How do you see the future of fashion design in Pakistan?
In my view the future of fashion is very bright. More talented people are joining the fashion world and I must acknowledge that the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) has also contributed a lot and worked tremendously to promote fashion. We seriously need to take our brands internationally by following future trends and requirements of western market to boost our exports. E-Commerce and Digital Marketing is the way forward. Understanding our heritage and combining it with new materials and technological advancements for eco-friendly and sustainable development is the future.
Do you plan on incorporating business management and entrepreneurship related courses for design students, since a lot of the graduates want to establish their own labels?
In every Undergraduate program at PIFD there are courses to encourage students to become entrepreneurs. We also have a Department of Fashion Marketing and Merchandising which is specially designed to cater to fashion marketing and business management. Nearly 60% of our graduates are entrepreneurs and many of them have been successful in developing their own design labels.
Recently, we have constituted a PIFD Alumni Association and also established a Student Startup Business Centre (SSBC) which help graduates to launch their own business by providing loans.
In the textile sector, denim washers have to be flown in from either Italy or Turkey to come and train the staff. Even though PIFD is currently offering technical courses, why does this gap in expertise still exist?
This gap exists due to loss of focus on vocational training. In my opinion, we need to rapidly revive vocational training institutions to have a skilled workforce at the level of technicians and workers. Once this is done, the gap will disappear and we will not have the need to get technical people from abroad.
What are some of the greatest challenges that you have to face while heading a fashion institute in Pakistan?
The first challenge I faced was to change the perception of fashion as a taboo. Over the years this idea has improved and the fashion industry is now well regarded like any other industry. The challenges have been enormous, from shifting the institute, starting 6 new departments, developing the curriculum with foreign consultants and working on international collaborations. Getting additional funding for Research and Development and further expansion is another big challenge.
With the current economic situation, what advice would you give to students and recent graduates? How should they diversify their degrees to cope up with the current job market situation?
The market is gradually getting saturated. I always believe that a person who has knowledge of design and skill, and fair marketing expertise, can easily work on his own as an entrepreneur or freelancer without worrying too much about the economic situation. Fashion and marketing work side by side.
What is your personal style like? Do you follow the latest trends or stick to the classics?
Although I am in the field of fashion and design, but when it comes to my personal style, I am a very practical person with an “on-the-go” style.
You came out victorious from all the allegations against you regarding misusing your post as a Vice Chancellor, is there anything you’d like to share from your perspective of the story?
Yes I would.
Let me tell you that all key decisions at PIFD are made by its statutory bodies; not by any individual. Our Accounts are audited by an external auditor. The rules are made to maintain discipline which is integral to the success of any organization. We have complete transparency and a strong internal accountability process. I am thankful to the Almighty who gave me and the institution the strength to come out unscratched from baseless allegations.
Catastrophe of East Pakistan was a heartbreak but I think it was unnatural part of Pakistan, General A.A Niazi did what was right at that time to save thousands of troops though a soldier wants to surrender, it’s was a compulsion. Defeat is a terrible thing. Many innocent lives were lost. May we never have to see it again.