Order it online!
By: Momina Sibtain
KARACHI / LAHORE: Pakistan went from not having any multi-label web stores to having two at the same time! The Express Tribune speaks to the entrepreneurs behind these ventures about online retail shopping.
Retail store Labels has created a name for itself as one of the leading fashion multi-designer stores in the country. With one of the strongest client lists in the country, the patrons of the store have decided to give it another dimension by launching its web store www.labelsestore.com.
“We have to cater to our international clients and this seemed like the perfect way forward,” says Zahir Rahimtoola, the brain behind Labels. “Pakistanis settled outside the country also need a chance to know what is going on in the country as far as fashion goes – what better way to get them acquainted?”
When it comes to online shopping, especially clothes, buyers are sceptical – what the eyes see and the hands feel can’t be satisfied by the virtual medium.
But Rahimtoola, who has 16 years experience in the business of fashion, says technology has helped e-businesspersons to overcome that insecurity to some extent.
“Thanks to advanced technology, a buyer can zoom into the minute details of an outfit to get a virtual feel. Having said that, there is nothing to beat the real feel,” Rahimtoola says.
“However, since there is a huge worldwide Indo-Pak population that does not have access to stores, virtual feel is the next best thing. Indeed, the time is ripe for e-stores,” he adds.
Rahimtoola has made no compromises as far as the quality of the website goes. With a slideshow of various fashion shoots playing on its homepage and a list of 50 designers – from veterans to budding fashion designers – to choose from, the Labels e-store has set a high standard as far as sophistication. “We wanted to make sure that our industry is taken seriously by international visitors,” says Rahimtoola. “Local hard stores are visited only by a number of people but virtual stores are visited by hundreds of thousands. We did not want critical bias being shown towards our products just because the website isn’t well planned.”
From the latest news from the fashion industry to the latest items in stock, the web store updates the newest collections and allows visitors easy access.
Rahimtoola also assures he has taken care of the “biggest worry” – the right fit.
“Getting the right size and fit always worries the consumers. You can say it is the biggest challenge every online portal faces. So, we have tried our best that every outfit is (properly) measured before it is photographed and uploaded, to ensure that the buyer gets the right fit,” he says.
Mishal Peshimam, a young UK-returned fashion designer who has worked with fashion doyenne Stella McCartney, recently introduced the idea of online shopping to Pakistanis with her web store www.fashionitestore.com.
While she worked for McCartney’s PR Company in New York, Peshimam says she switched lines and moved to the internal sales section within the same firm; a move she describes as a “priceless learning experience”.
Her time there helped her learn how a fashion house actually works and this led to her decision to move back to Pakistan and open a fashion web-portal. “Times are changing and online portals are being launched by many companies. I thought I should venture towards it because it’s something that others haven’t done yet.”
One comes across relatively established fashion names like Maheen Karim, Munib Nawaz, Nida Azwer, Tazeen Hassan and shoe designer Zahra Habib on Peshimam’s web portal along with her own two in-house brands called MStreet and MP.
Since these designer labels are easily available in big cities of Pakistan, Peshimam is targeting the foreign market. “People from the UK, US, India and Dubai will benefit more from this web portal,” she explains. “They will get a chance to see what is being offered in Pakistan. It’s more of a platform for people who are far away from home.”
Her web store has a limited number of designers, but is organised under casual/formal wear and also has a currency converter next to the price. Apart from clothing, her e-store offers shoes, bags and accessories.
The business link
While commenting on the bond she hopes to develop between the retailer and the fashion designer, Peshimam says, “I am only bringing stuff I feel will sell because I believe you can’t force something down somebody’s throat. The secret of a good business remains the right price, the right time and the right place. And the web portal will keep it that way because at the end of the day it is all about business.”
“It’s going to be a game changer for Pakistan’s fashion industry. It will give them a chance to be understood and to be showcased, and there is no reason it shouldn’t be a success.”
Peshimam believes her web-portal will is going to be the “best Pakistan has ever offered in fashion apparel”. “It will definitely have a spillover effect and that’s what I am waiting to see,” she proudly asserts.