KARACHI: Brightly lit displays exhibiting a range of vibrant collections attracted the attention of children among the shoppers crowding the market after iftar. They young shoppers plastered their faces against the glass, which separated them from a galore of colourful apparels comprising lace-adorned silk frocks, embroidered traditional wear and trendy Western clothing. Awed by the vast collection, out of which they expected to buy one for Eid, these children would only be brought out of their amazement by their parents, pulling them away from the objects of their fascination.
The parents knew what the children were ignorant of – chances of them getting an apparel from those displayed in glass cases were lean. They would have to settle for more affordable options. As Eid draws closer, children’s excitement, while preparing for the festive occasion, is a sight to witness. From Western and traditional clothes to footwear, bangles, handbags, watches and sunglasses, there is an array of apparels and accessories that children seem eager to buy for Eid.
However, plunge in the value of rupee this year has limited choices of children’s wear for Eid.
According to the buyers, depreciation in the value of rupee has resulted in an upsurge in the prices of clothes and footwear imported from Thailand, China and Bangladesh. As a result, a marked difference is visible in the prices of local and imported children’s wear, leaving buyers with fewer options. And much to the disdain of helpless parents, they are left with little choice but to find ways to convince children to opt for more economical alternatives.
A task as simple is buying a frock is complicated by the extensive search for a dress that would appeal to the children’s taste and yet wouldn’t be too heavy on the parents’ pockets.
Frocks are one of the most sought after apparels for Eid and a favourite among young girls. Embellished with beautiful designs and floral patterns, available in a variety of attractive colours, a locally made net or silk frock costs anywhere between Rs800 to Rs1,800, in comparison to an imported one priced between Rs2,000 to Rs2,500.
Different brands and departmental stores have also introduced pastel -coloured cotton frocks, adorned with floral patterns, imported from China, this year. However, considering the rise in the prices of imported products, few may be able to afford them.
Similarly, locally made clothes and footwear for newborns and toddlers are available for Rs400 to Rs600 while imported ones cost between Rs1,500 to Rs2,000.
Also, a growing inclination towards Western clothing is observed among children. This has resulted in a galore of brightly coloured imported jeans, tights, T-shirts and trousers lining the racks at departmental stores and outlets of different high-end brands. These are being sold within a price range of Rs700 to Rs1,600.
On the other hand, despite an upsurge in the prices of locally made products, mainly due to hike in the cost of electricity, gas and raw materials, end price of local products is still significantly lower than that of imported products.
This is the reason that regardless of the presence of imported brands at high-end shopping outlets, small local brands still account for 80 per cent of children’s wear sold in the country.
An overall estimated rise of 25 per cent to 30 per cent in the cost of imported commodities has left the buyers with little option but to opt for locally manufactured products.
Offering buyers some respite from inflation, a range of marketplaces in the city are selling locally made children’s wear at affordable prices, as alternative to high-end, imported and beanded apparels.
Ready-made, locally manufactured kurta shalwar for children are still the preferred apparel for Eid and for those in search of shalwar kurta for children at lower prices, Kurta Gali in Tariq Road is the go-to place. It is known for selling a variety of locally made shalwar kurta, in different styles and from different brands, for children as young as six months old to teenagers.
Apart from Kurta Gali, Cloth Market behind Memon Mosque is another option for buyers seeking to purchase quality children’s wear at affordable prices.
According to a vendor at the Cloth Market, the market is being frequented by buyers this year, from across the city, who cannot afford to by imported clothes for their children.
This Cloth Market is relatively unique in the sense that children’s wear is available in wholesale at the market, which keeps the price to a bare minimum.
Besides this wholesale market, other places that offer buyers with a variety of options for children’s wear at lower prices include Hyderi market, Bohri Bazaar in Saddar, Gul Plaza, Haroon Shopping Centre in North Karachi, Pakistan Market in Orangi Town, Taj Baba Market in Paposh and Landhi Bazaar.
These marketplaces, bringing a variety of children’s wear within the reach of buyers, have helped maintained the zeal for Eid among families who otherwise may not have been able to celebrate it with same fervor as last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2019.