Shopping opportunities in Karachi are ever increasing, largely because people have more disposable income and more women have jobs. Stores catering to women, in recent years, have redesigned their outlets to make shopping not merely a quick visit to the mall, but an experience of retail therapy.
Mantra is no exception. Established in 2003, the store is a day-to-evening lifestyle label, which houses western contemporary styles and sells signature fashion at great value. The store aims to create an upscale, visually stimulating boutique environment that enhances the brand image by building customer loyalty and an online shopping experience.
Mantra, located in Karachi’s Park Towers, faces growing competition, mostly in the sphere of western fashion. The launch of international brands such as Next and Accessorize has made Mantra want to maintain a competitive edge.
“We believe in fashion forecasting, hence we research the season’s trends before shopping the markets,” says Mantra Creative Director Maha Burney. The staff creates inspiration boards with colour swatches, magazine clippings and fabric ideas before making their purchases.
From harem pants to tights and shrugs to bat-wing tops, Mantra has it all. The store’s new philosophy presents the attire combinations together so that people can see the clothes as a complete outfit rather than just separate pieces of clothing. Most of the clothes are bought from China and Thailand, but they tend to be in small sizes which are often a disadvantage for full-figured women.
The target market for Mantra is mainly teenage girls and women in their 20s. Despite focusing on fashion items, the store carries core basics like tights, jeans, t-shirts and cotton lycra tanks and tops. Although Mantra, the label, does not manufacture its own clothes, it does plan on doing so at some point.
According to Burney, “The Mantra woman is confident and cutting edge. For her, Mantra’s signature looks of sophisticated body-conscious fashion is the ultimate expression of her own style.” Saira Waqar, Mantra’s brand manager, along with Maha Burney, visit the Far East for the store’s shopping trips. “We first shop together to create colour themes and then work on adding more depth into each look,” Burney said.
The stock is displayed according to colour and style, not only serving to create visual harmony in the store but also making it easier for the the customer to create outfits or looks. The store chooses unique high-end products which would remain exclusive to Mantra. Two market surveys are conducted annually where the staff evaluate their competitors’ products and pricing to see where they fall. “We want to make sure we are offering products which are not available anywhere else, at a competitive price point,” says Burney.
For the basic items like tights and t-shirts Mantra tries to remain below the market price. However the more exclusive pieces, like dresses and gowns tend to be a little pricier. It is still lower than what you would pay abroad, but it depends on the fabric and also what the item costs abroad.
Since summer is here, Mantra has come up with various summer-related themes, such as nautical (blue and white stripes), cobalt and yellow separates and a heavy dose of coral with white.
In the near future, Mantra plans on renovating the store and doing some rebranding to update their look and relaunch their image. They hope to implement visual merchandising and store display strategies which are often used abroad. “We understand the concept of ‘retail therapy’ and want Mantra to be a space where women enjoy the experience of shopping,” says Burney.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2011.