A Look at the Origins of Pakistani Fashion

Culture and fashion are critical components of any country's history and civilisation. In Pakistan, they are inextricably intertwined. This little lesson will help you understand Pakistani fashion.

Pakistani attire has a colourful and rich history. This history is a fantastic learning experience that explains all you need to know about why Pakistani fashion is where it is now. As you can see, this fashion history in Pakistan portrays the Pakistani people's culture, ideologies, and evolution across time.


Pakistani garments, according to historical evidence, extend back over 7,000 years to the Bronze Age. Cotton was first grown in the Indus River Valley, which is now Pakistan, about 3,000 BC during the Indus Valley Civilization era.

Pakistan's geostrategic location affected its fashion and culture as well. India borders the country on the east, Iran on the west, Afghanistan on the northwest, China on the northeast, and the Arabian Sea on the south. Throughout history, Pakistan has served as an important conduit for trade and civilization. However, it has also been a popular invasion route for other regimes throughout the years.

Numerous foreign civilisations, including Persians, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Aryans, Dravidians, Greeks, White Huns, and various Eurasian tribes, have invaded, conquered, and settled in Pakistan. Furthermore, religious concerns have affected fashion choices in Pakistan. This has resulted in the country's marriage of multiple cultures, with fashion mostly combining Afghan and Persian elements. This blending of cultures, as well as religious implications, explains why Pakistani attire seems weird.


The Doab was always ruled by Mongols till the end of the 13th century. The Mughals seized power in the 16th century and ruled over much of India and Pakistan. The region (present-day Pakistan) was dismissed as early as 1303. The Mughals (Turkic-Mongol Muslims) brought Islam to South Asia. However, in addition to spreading their faith, the Mughals spread Persian arts and culture. Today, the majority of Pakistani clothing combines traditional and Mughal traditions, reflecting this cultural influence.

In South Asia, the Mughal period is perhaps the most important era in Pakistani fashion history. This may be seen in modern Pakistani clothing, such as the Pakistani Shalwar Kameez, the national garment, as well as the lehenga, turban, churidar pyjamas, and so on. Many of these garments date back to the Mughal Empire. They have, nevertheless, evolved through time.


With the arrival of Muslims in South Asia in the 12th century, the Shalwar Kameez was introduced to the Indo-Pak peninsula. When the Mughals acquired control of the province in the 16th century, the garment had penetrated the area, along with other elements of Persian art and culture. The Anarkali Shalwar Kameez is the most traditional style of Shalwar Kameez.

The Anarkali was initially worn by Mujra dancers, courtesans who were often permitted inside the Mughal palace to entertain the monarch with Mujra dance routines. The garment was originally known as the Mujra dress, but it was renamed after Lady Anarkali (the famous Mughal courtesan) after her death. The Shalwar Kameez has endured centuries of alteration and adaptation to remain the most popular choice of apparel in Pakistan today for both men and women. The Pakistani shalwar is long and straight, and is often worn with shalwar or churidar pants.

Pakistani women cover their heads with a dupatta shawl. The dress is lightweight and breathable, allowing for maximum movement. This ease and comfort may explain why it has remained Pakistan's national attire after all these years.


At the turn of the twentieth century, Pakistan's social and political trajectory was markedly different. The Mughal Empire began to disintegrate in the mid-nineteenth century. By 1858, the British had deposed Emperor Bahadur Shah II, India's twentieth and last Mughal Emperor, thereby ending the Mughal dynasty's power.

The British Raj ruled the Indian subcontinent from 1858 until 1947, when India and Pakistan attained independence. These historical events, as expected, had an impact on people's culture and dress. As of the twentieth century, this region's fashion choices mostly reflect Indian traditions and customs.

In the early 1900s, sarees, ghagras, and shalwars ruled the fashion landscape. With separation and independence, however, the Pakistani fashion industry sought for its own identity apart from its mostly Indian influence. Pakistani fashion became increasingly open and sophisticated during the mid-twentieth century. Because of Western influence, dresses grew shorter, and half-calf slacks and bell bottoms were more fashionable.

At the end of the twentieth century, long shirts became more trendy.

However, at the close of the twentieth century, half sleeves were back in fashion, with females sporting bob haircuts. Pakistani women nowadays have a unique fashion identity. Along with the traditional shalwar kameez, wide-leg trousers, cigarette pants, jeans, and tights were seen. Modern Pakistani design demonstrates the country's progressiveness, cultural nuances, and diversity. Pakistani women nowadays have a unique fashion identity.