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Of all the crops grown in Pakistan, the one that has come to represent Pakistan best is undoubtedly cotton. Be it in its raw form or in the form of fabrics and ready-made clothes for export, when it comes to cotton Pakistan has led the way.

Domestically, cotton in the form of ‘lawn’ has steadily gained popularity. In the 1960s, three piece lawn suits were unheard of; only two piece suits were available for shirts with plain cotton shalwars. In the late 1970s the idea of three piece lawn suits with swishing dupattas, short shirts and baggy shalwars became a trend.

However, throughout the 1980s, lawn, although popular, was considered casual wear – hardly appropriate for social gatherings, and it was only from the late 1990s onwards (and especially recently) with the entry into the industry of young and flamboyant designers, that the fabric’s popularity has risen to new heights. This fame is largely based on ever changing fashion trends and growing awareness of the notion of matching style with comfort.

The popularity of lawn can be gauged by the avalanche of lawn exhibitions that take the country by storm every February and March. Today, it is a must for all prestigious labels, designers and textile mills to flaunt bolts of exotic lawn fabric with a psychedelic splash of colours, intricate motifs, shiny sequins and crocheted weaves, and for fashion savvy women from all strata of society and age groups to flock to these exhibitions in quest of the newest design. The current season’s prints and shades mostly showcase fruity, spunky and soothing colours, with floral prints and abstract designs dominating.

Today, as a result of an incessant domestic demand to produce the best, lawn has revolutionised the cotton industry resulting in an exponential growth. Pakistan is now globally recognised for the outstanding quality of its lawn. This remarkable evolution of the cotton industry has become an emblem of Pakistani culture and tradition.

And as March 23 approaches, this is perhaps the ideal time to visit one of the many exhibitions and buy a latest print to showcase something that is truly Pakistani.

— Madiha Ishtiaq

First published in the the Adbuzzzz section of the DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 21, 2010.