KARACHI: Whether it’s a casual day at her workplace or an evening out with her family, 25-year-old Sobia Asad is usually dressed in a Generation outfit. Asad said the realisation that this was ‘the’ store for her came a few years ago. “My mother used to shop for me and often would buy clothes from Generation. But I realised this was the perfect choice for me when I started to shop on my own. They have outfits in all sizes, the designs are good and the fitting is simply perfect.”
While Generation is a must-visit store on an almost-weekly basis for many women, others opt to visit it for special occasions like Eid. 31-year-old research and development consultant Seema Khurram says she usually buys Eid outfits from the store, and prefers “Ego to Generation because they have trendier stuff.”
Generation opened doors in 1983, at a time when ready-to-wear casual outfits were almost unheard of in Pakistan. Over the past 27 years, the store has expanded to several branches in the country and has become synonymous with quality outfits. Sales at the store are crazed, while the store is popular with women across all age brackets.
Veteran designer Maheen Khan says “Generation is fantastic. The first label in Pakistan was Teejays but Generation has been a roaring success. They branded themselves well and in a different manner, with the following that they have in various cities of Pakistan. They positioned themselves well without shoots and shows!”
Generation’s Marketing Manager Khadija Rahman, who is the daughter of its CEO Saad Rahman, spoke to The Express Tribune about how the brand became a buzzword.
How have you been able to expand?
Expansion has been possible through consistency and by staying true to our vision. Generation is about making practical clothes for real women. It is important for us that the garment is easy to wear. Our silhouettes are relaxed and suit a variety of body types. We believe that the clothes shouldn’t be wearing the woman, but the woman should be wearing the clothes. That is real elegance.
Looking back, what would you see as the major ups and downs of Generation?
In 27 years one does have ups and downs, but we have been quite fortunate. This has a lot to do with our loyal customer base. Many of them have been wearing Generation clothes, generation after generation.
There are a lot more retail stores now than there were 27 years ago; how do you feel about the growth in the ready-to-wear retail sector?
It is great. We love competition. It helps push us forward.
What do you think Generation’s legacy is?
Generation has played a very important role in reinventing the shalwar kameez over the decades. In most countries, traditional garb died because it failed to evolve. This has not been true with the shalwar kameez. The shalwar kameez has seen itself adapt to local and international trends in an original fashion and we believe that Generation has played an important role in this. We were the first brand to introduce different sizes. At that time there was a concept of ‘one size fits all’. Now we stock five sizes, and we are not aware of any other brand that does this. We played a key role back in bringing cotton garments back at a time when polyester and other fabric was popular.
We re-stock all our outlets several times in a month. So there is constantly something new for our customers. Innovation has been a very important feature of our designs. This extends to the fabric, the print and the design of the garment. We regularly work with cottage industries to bring local crafts to our customers.
How do you feel the target market has changed in 27 years?
It has become more exciting. The gap between local and international fashion has decreased and people have become more fashion conscious.
Do you see Generation expanding outside Pakistan?
We do, but we feel there is also a lot of potential within Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2010.