Aalia Jafar: Feeling ‘sheep’ish?

Aalia Jafar, the proverbial shepherd behind Sheep, takes us through the brand’s journey.

Saba Khalid January 12, 2012


One step inside Sheep’s Zamzama store and you instantly realise that the brand takes its marketing and communications seriously. From the promotional billboards on the main road, to the quirky quotes from their book of wisdom decorated throughout the store, it seems there is a marketing mind, hard at work. For those who haven’t ventured inside the popular Sheep stores in Karachi, it is a ready-to-wear clothing outlet that opened its doors in 2010 and caters to the ‘modern day’ woman.

In less than two years, it has developed its identity as a sophisticated brand with elegant designs and clean patterns that majorly appeal to young women. The Express Tribune spoke to Sheep’s designer Aalia Jafar about the brand’s latest developments.

Talking about the need for a brand like Sheep, Jafar says, “I always felt that there was a void in the ready-to-wear market in terms of quality and finishing. Sheep aimed to fill that gap by providing a garment that satisfied customers in terms of quality and finishing without charging a really high price. Since Sheep’s parent company iTextiles was looking to diversify, launching Sheep seemed like a feasible idea.”

On the latest introduction of four new lines, she explains, “We are very excited about our four lines which include Smart Casuals, Workwear, Luxury Pret and Black Sheep.

On what makes these lines different, she says, “Ranging from Rs1,650 to Rs25,500, they incorporate two and three-piece outfits. Before, we concentrated only on kameezes with pants sold as separates. Now they are part of the outfit.”

About Sheep’s Smart Casual line, Jafar says, “it is intended for all age groups. It’s the kind of look you’d wear after work, when you’re lounging around or running errands.”

On the other hand, Sheep’s Workwear line is sharp and elegant. “Having worked in a multinational in the past, I understand that how you dress is how you are perceived” says Jafar.

Coming to the glamorous lines of Luxury Pret and Black Sheep, she says, “Luxury pret is designed for birthday or evening tea parties in mind. While the Black Sheep collection has two parts: one includes fusion cocktail wear consisting western-inspired tops and formal party wear. The other is primarily for traditional weddings.”

“What set them apart are certain ensembles which combine a kameez with pants and an embellished coat. They have a lot of embellishments and embroidery,” says the designer.

Regarding the response, she says, “Black Sheep has sold out very quickly. The other lines have also been well-appreciated.” Seeing the splashes of bright colour here and there in the new lines, we wonder if the brand has moved away from its signature pastels. “There are lots of colours used in our new lines but we don’t want to completely move away from the individuality of sheep. The brand personality of Sheep remains the same,” informs Jafar.

Coming to their retail philosophy of Sheep, she says, “We have started a ‘Shop From Home’ service where we take orders through our Facebook page and deliver at the doorsteps of our customers in major cities.”

When it comes to the challenges faced by the brand, the designer says, “We have found difficulty in finding a middle ground where neither the fabric quality is compromised nor the prices become exceptionally high.”

About the future of Sheep, Jafar says, “We plan to stay in Karachi for a while and increase our distribution points. In terms of a store presence in Lahore or Islamabad, we feel we are not ready to take it to the next level yet. Eventually, we want to become a complete lifestyle brand. I want to see the brand on New York’s Fifth Avenue one day — right next to Juicy Couture.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.


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