Malik is one of Pakistan’s foremost retail industry futurists with over 18 years of experience in Blue chip and organized retail in US, Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. His intellectual work and thinking has influenced many of the world’s best-known retail companies including Outfitters and Ethnic, The Landmark Group UAE and Apparel Group.
He has now stepped in as CEO Beyond East; a project by Mahmood Group.
Already exporting fabrics for international fashion houses, Mahmood Group, which is Pakistan’s largest vertically integrated textile setup has now entered into retail providing the same high-end products to local apparel market.
What does it take to be a CEO of fashion retail brand?
Success doesn’t come in a jiff. It takes years and years of hard work and effort but most importantly, it requires patience to deal with all sorts of people, crisis and challenges that are a part of this journey. Further, being aware of latest trends of the market, is equally important.
What made you realize that fashion retail was your calling?
I have been a part of this industry for more than 18 years now. Back when I was in New York, the fashion shows used to intrigue me. The constant change of trends every season makes me eagerly look forward to what is upcoming and how to adapt to those trends when it comes to local market.
What challenges did you face shifting from international to local fashion market and how do you compare the two?
The local culture was new to me so I needed quite a while to gel in with people specially when there was a language barrier for me as well. Comparing both these markets, contradictory to a popular belief, I feel international markets have now become monotonous, whereas in local industry, eastern market is evolving rapidly specially in adapting fusion trends. However, I feel there is still a gap in Pakistani western category, which we are here to bridge with Beyond East.
What changes have you seen in the local fashion market over the years?
Major changes have come into mall industry. It has really grown over the years, taking over stand-alone stores.
However, in the past two years, where times have been tough during covid, local e-commerce industry has really taken a hike. People are trusting brands and focus from brick & mortar has shifted to online shopping, be it via websites or social media pages.
What is Beyond East’s design philosophy?
Beyond East seeks to introduce timeless fashion in the market with its futuristic design appeal taking inspiration from trends of East and Beyond. We aim to satisfy the fashion appetites of our new generation through one stop apparel solution providing versatile eastern and western wear for men and women with categories like fusion, work wear, pret and unstitched. Furthermore, we plan on introducing accessories, footwear, fragrances and makeup as well. Keeping sustainability and great taste for all in mind, our mission is to make a difference.
What audience do you identify as your target market?
New generation that lives life to the fullest, is curious, and conscious. Beyond East seeks to create fashion for an audience that cherishes freedom, innovation and individuality.
How do you plan to bring in your past local and international experience in Beyond East?
Biggest thing that I have learned over the years is to deal with people on daily basis, be it in marketing, design or operations. So, I wanted to get a group of people together that work as a team in building a futuristic approach for Beyond East and have a clear vision of what they want to do.
What makes Beyond East different?
With Beyond East, we are going to do what hardly any brand in Pakistan has done already, that is launching two major categories; eastern and western, together. We saw a fusion gap in this market which we decided to fulfil.
Where do you see Beyond East in next 10 years?
To be the apparel market leader for generations to come, by drawing inspiration from East and beyond.
If you weren’t in fashion retail, what alternate career would you have chosen and why?
I would have actually chosen acting. Being in front of the camera really excites me.
What does a day in life of Abdul Malik look like?
I personally love being at work. I spend good 10 hours at my office and then 2 hours at the gym is something I can’t go to sleep without.
How do you deal with crisis?
I don’t pass on crisis to my peers. I deal with it on my own and take it out on the gym. That, I feel is my biggest strength.
What is Abdul Malik doing when not working?
I am at the gym.
What is your fitness regime?
A good 60 to 90 minutes of hardcore workout or crossfit and then spending half an hour at the sauna.
What is Abdul Malik like around family?
Very fun loving and always on the go when it comes to doing new activities with my kids.
What fashion pieces are a must have in your wardrobe?
White button-down shirt, navy blazer, a good quality T-shirt, pair of black lace-ups and sneakers, for sure.
What super power would you like to have?
Omni- fabrication. How cool would it be to have an ability to craft absolutely anything beyond imagination without any hesitation?
What will be your 3 wishes if you get a chance to have them granted?
-To make Beyond East globally recognized.
-Travel the world.
-To be able to give back to our society.
What is your favourite vacation spot?
Are you a hunter or a gatherer?
Who inspires you the most?
Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson. I have been his avid follower for past 20 years now. Where he started off as a small-town footballer, to a ring contestant and is now one of the biggest superstars of Hollywood with multiple ventures. His hard work and success story is what I am a fan of.
Lastly, what is that one advice that has really helped you throughout?
The best advice I received was to carefully listen, constantly adapt and always deliver.
I truly believe this has been an extravagant part of me in my professional career.