Fashion forward retailers

Gearing up to provide a platform for mass retailers, clothing manufacturers to come to the fore.

Hani Taha January 12, 2011

KARACHI: As Islamabad Fashion Week is gearing up to provide a platform for mass retailers and clothing manufacturers to come to the fore, niche high fashion store Labels has already set the precedent and collaborated with Lawrencepur and Fashion Wear to co-produce a pret line.

“Labels had started off as a knit wear line. We need to connect with our large scale fabric manufacturers to take the business of fashion forward, said Zahir Rahimtoola of Labels speaking on the prudence of his store’s alliance.

Utilising Labels’ design sensibilities and its customer power, such a collaboration is an ingenious fashion alliance whereby a main stream fashion house benefits from the production power of a large scale manufacturer. This is the 101 of the ‘business of fashion’, the catch phrase to hit the industry with the deluge of fashion weeks in the country.

The knit wear manufacturers, Fashion Wear, have been the licensed manufacturers for global fashion brands like Ralph Lauren, Disney, Wrangler, Reebok and Kenneth Cole yet instead of opening their own retail store ala Stoneage, CrossRoads and Outfitters, they have opted to stock with Labels and Studio S.

“We are taking a bit of the back door approach and creating different designs for each store and working along with their own design teams to offer diversified products,” explained Amir Butt, the Director for Marketing at Fashion Wear. “At Labels we have a line that echoes well with their high end design sensibilities and at Studio S, we have sporty wear for young girls.”

“Sales wise knit wear has been a strong product but is expensive to manufacture since you need long runs for it to be feasible. The fabric we are using is mercerised cotton, which will become more popular as comfort wear as the summer months roll in,” explained Rahimtoola on his need for an alliance rather than out sourcing under the Labels name.

At the moment the store is just testing the waters with a few pieces but intends to moving into full throttle once the garments have been tweaked. “Our focus is on providing staples like tights, capes, culottes and basic tops that are staple wear that women usually order from aboard via their friends or relatives on holiday,” says Hala Syed from Labels who has designed the knit wear line which averages at about Rs4,000 per piece.

Labels alliance with Lawrencepur in particular is of great significance given that the brand is also participating at the Islamabad Fashion Week. Known historically for creating premier fabric for men’s suiting, this is the first time that the company is delving into women’s fashion and catering to working women by offering a quick fix to their business travel needs with their smartly tailored pants, jackets and suits.

Since the garments are also in the test market stage, they are not being heavily publicised. But given the look and feel of the clothes this seems to be a step in the right direction for this fabric giant which, if it plays its cards right and seeks similar alliances with fashion big wigs, has the production capacity and finesse to become a serious player in the fashion industry.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2011.


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