Sumrin Ali, Director Domestic and Development at AlKaram, takes out time to talk to us about the brands current position and its bright, revamped future
Tell us about yourself and your journey so far at AlKaram:
I’ve studied at Central St Martins, gotten my degree from Parsons and luckily for me, right after my graduation I was picked up by Dior and worked in Paris for a year and a half. After returning to Karachi, it was understood that I would launch a brand financed by my dad. However, I was quickly discouraged after exploring the market and therefore decided to join AlKaram. Originally I ran exports only, which manufactures and supplies the bedding range and home textiles for prestigious brands abroad including Donna Karen, Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren, alongside big department stores like Bloomingdales, Macys, ASDA, Argos and Lidl. Recently I had the opportunity to takeover the domestic side as well including lawn, pret and AlKaram Studio since the management decided to merge exports and domestic under one umbrella.
What are your inspirations for the designs you create?
We work very closely with current trends. Bedding trends also reflect on the trends seen internationally, so we extract those and work with them for our domestic market. Our muse is the everyday woman.
What trends do you forecast for the coming year?
Our lawn launched on the 24th of February for which we made it all about colours. More than design, botanicals are always in. For bedding, we are looking at high contrast; monotone with pops of colour, watercolour effect and hand drawn elements.
How did AlKaram Studio come about?
Khaadi and Sapphire created an environment for prêt and I’m sure that’s how it paved into AlKaram Studio. We are highly promoting this, as our fabrics are phenomenal. We have our own spinning and weaving machines and therefore we can come up with any design we want.
Summarize AlKaram Studio in three words:
Currently, I would say masculine, confused and a bit elderly. In the future — sophisticated, innovative and creative.
How does AlKaram Studio fit in the fashion retail industry?
If we talk about our share in the market we are probably five years behind. In May we are launching our revamped brand at Packages Mall in Lahore providing a whole new experience. That is the new AlKaram.
How many outlets does AlKaram Studio have?
Approximately 21 and we plan to go to 60 by 2020. We have also introduced AlKaram Fabrics, which are small stores targeting the mass markets in areas where loose fabric is in demand.
Who is the typical AlKaram Studio consumer?
We have two divisions, prêt and lawn (loose fabric). When I started, I saw a huge gap between the two. We have to bring them under one roof and speak one design language, keeping modesty intact. We don’t want to be known as hip and trendy. We want to stick to the everyday woman who wants the world to know that she can carry herself with confidence.
What can one expect from a visit to AlKaram Studio?
In the end of May our festive collection will launch at Packages Mall — I just need to get rid of the old baggage and have the brand revamped by then!
How important is technology and the digital landscape in AlKaram Studio’s future?
It’s very important. I’m not talking about just the stores having digitised equipment, but also our presence on social media. Our new management is endorsing that greatly.
What sets AlKaram Studio apart from its competitors?
Our style statement and everything else is based on quality.
Where do you see AlKaram Studio in the next five years?
The next five years is too far away, by 2020 we will be unbeatable. My aim and goals are to be similar to international brands like Desigual and Zara. Recently, we hired Mahira Khan after great difficulty. This will certainly be something to look forward too!
Can we hope to see AlKaram venturing into new areas in the fashion industry?
Absolutely. At this point my focus is apparel, but I don’t want AlKaram to only be a clothing brand. I want it to be a complete lifestyle solution that is affordable.