(Published in Express Tribune on Sep 7th, 2012)
When it comes to retailing fashion in Pakistan, a cloud of exclusivity looms over designer wear. Critically acclaimed fashion week collections are nowhere to be found and availability is very limited. And to top it all off, the designer wear that one finds at multiple designer boutiques can be described as bland and unexciting — a far cry from what they display at fashion weeks.
Designer wear took off on a trajectory of appointment-based consultation and order-based production system (also known as customisation) where clients procured designs of their choice through consultation and order system. Outreach was very limited and concepts of fashion merchandising and retailing were in novice stages. Sadly, concepts of visual merchandising, mass retailing and competitive pricing are still alien to most big names. Designers are still stuck in a rut of dullness where collections from ramp never see the light of day. Most of the big names have one or two flagship stores at most that maybe are enough to generate handsome revenue for them but fail to achieve mass outreach.
Under these circumstances, retail brands have come to the rescue of consumers with a penchant for fashion forward, innovative and cutting edge designs. Names like Khaadi, Daaman and Ego are offering fashion lovers a product of superior quality and exclusive designs at prices much lower than the established biggies of fashion and ramp.
And there are endless options in the retail fashion category. Local names like FnkAsia and Khaadi have a strong presence in every major city of Pakistan. These are the names recognised for their particular aesthetic and take on fashion that is peculiar to them. Add the official arrival of international giants like Monsoon and Debenhams to mix and you have a dynamic assortment of options that more than make up for the lack of availability of designer wear.
In this bevy of options, here is our pick of retail brands and clothing lines that stand out due to their superiority of design, ease of availability, versatility, provision of ‘everyday clothing’ and most importantly an affordable price range that is very competitive in comparison to what some of the established designers are asking for.
Credited with revitalising the art of weaving, Khaadi has solely resuscitated the art of hand woven fabric. This edge has enabled the brand to find a niche for itself and become a brand that now spreads over six cities with more than 15 outlets in Pakistan. Khaadi stands out due to its trendy and edgy use of prints and construction details. Of its various lines, Khaadi Khaas and Khaadi Linen stand out in particular.
FnkAsia, brain child of Huma Adnan, is a brand truly Pakistani in its offering of indigenous Pakistani crafts and colours. Picking up silhouettes and aesthetics from local cultures, it presents a wide range of wearable clothes that are unique in their amalgamation of rich local crafts with global trends and the result is a flourishing label which offers everything from bohemian chic to gypsy spirit. The brand has a presence everywhere from Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore to Dubai and even California through a chain of flagship stores.
Daaman and Ego
Both Daaman and Ego offer clothes for everyday women. While both of these brands are synonymous with a certain level of sleekness and sharpness in their clothing, it’s clever marketing and online presence that makes them more popular and reliable options over likes of Sheep, Generation and countless other names. Ego has about 17 while Daaman boasts of four outlets across the country and both offer online shopping, which is a handy and dependable option in today’s competitive market.