KARACHI: Friday was a very busy day at Dolmen Mall, Clifton as hordes of women in their early 40s were seen running in and out with bags of lacey goodies from Triumph, the first flagship store of imported lingerie to open its doors in Karachi.
Ready to shop till they dropped, the women were pleased at the thought of buying branded underwear as the big posters led them to the small shop on the first floor.
Checking out the hot pink and blood-red bras, Kim Gilani said that she loved the quality and colours. According to the woman standing next to her, local bras were not good. She said that she was glad Triumph had opened up in the city. Many women dressed in simple saris and shalwar kameez breathed a sigh of relief as they checked the price tags and found that the undergarments on sale were cheaper as compared to the ones sold abroad.
The imported bras cost from Rs700 to Rs5,000, while the panties start from Rs1,000. The shop had a wide variety - cheetah print, sports, padded, wire and unwired.
The shop’s first buyer was a young woman called Rubain. She bought a conservative ‘skin-coloured’ bra and after making her purchase remarked that she felt that it was not as expensive as she thought. Maliha Bhimjee, one of the two women who own the stores, hoped that they would be able to attract young women. “We have a range for young girls, not only their mothers,” she said. “But girls are shy and it is their mothers who usually buy these things for their daughters.” She added that women would be much more comfortable buying lingerie in the mall because it provided them privacy that was unavailable on the streetfront stores. Thus, the shop caters exclusively to women.
The business brains behind Triumph said that they are catering especially for women living in the subcontinent. Bhimjee explained that because of the weather, the women in the subcontinent preferred cotton bras whereas women in Europe preferred polyester. Knowing this specific customer preference has helped the women behind Triumph cater to the local market. They have also factored in that women here have different figures compared to say, Europeans, and they prefer skin toned underwear for daily use while European women preferred the colour white.
As customers roamed around the shop, they hoped that the business venture would not suffer an end as did La Senza, another flagship lingerie store, which shut down a while ago. “It is so difficult to find bras here,” said Neelofar Habib. “I am sad La Senza closed down. It happened because it wasn’t advertised properly,” she speculated.
For those customers who used to buy undergarments by Triumph abroad or force relatives and friends to shop for them – the store provides a solution. “I always bought Triumph,” said Ghazala Sohail. “I used to get it from abroad but now I will come here. I’ve realised that women have spent more dollars shopping for it abroad and now they can buy it here.”
According to Bhimjee, one of the popular items among well-endowed Pakistani women was the minimiser bra, whose name is self explanatory.
According to Naila Bhimjee, the other owner, customers can try on the product in their trial rooms and saleswomen are available if anyone wants to be properly measured. “Our main aim is to make women wear the right bra,” she said. “Seven out of ten women across the world wear the wrong size.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2012.