Clad in a dusky pink blazer, chic printed top and a pair of dark navy skinnies, young entrepreneur Amina Hyatt makes quite a style statement as she struts into the club lounge of a posh hotel in Dubai, for an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune. Her immaculate sense of fashion is a reflection of why her brand is called High Street, and why has it grown exponentially in a relatively short span of time.
Hyatt introduced High Street, an umbrella brand that offers products from international chains like H&M, Zara, Forever 21, etc, in 2012, aimed at the modern, fashion-forward women of the East. However, Hyatt lives a rather multi-faceted professional life — she not only owns a brand but is also a stylist and a full-time fashion publicist based in the UAE. Despite never going to design school, and instead choosing a degree in Mass Communication, Hyatt was not deterred from taking a leap of faith into fashion retail.
“I was always inclined towards fashion since an early age; I would try on my mother’s clothes and dress up my dolls all the time. I delved into the business of fashion when I was only doing my A levels by exporting Eastern wear to certain boutiques in UK, US. I was awarded the honour of being Pakistan’s Youngest Entrepreneur,” shares Hyatt. “I came to realise that fashion is one thing that comes to me naturally, so why not keep my options open and pursue a different degree.”
It goes without saying that she made a smart choice. Being a publicist in one of the most fashion lucrative countries has given her an opportunity to associate with big names in the industry. Her clients include luxury brands like Casadei, Krug Champagne, Giuseppe Zanotti Designs and Fabi, amongst others
“Being in the PR industry has helped me a lot in terms of marketing and promoting my brand. I am well aware of what areas I should focus on, and how to stay connected with the media in Pakistan. It has given me immense exposure as a professional,” Hyatt says.
However, unlike her contemporaries, Hyatt has embraced a more technological (and hence global) way of business — e-commerce. While she started her venture by stocking at multi-brand stores like Labels and L’atelier in Islamabad, she soon transitioned to online retail. Now, with a Facebook page, an e-shop and associations with two external websites, Fashion Central and The Warehouse, the talented stylista has tapped into Pakistan’s budding online consumer market.
“In order to stock up at an outlet, you have to pay a chunk of money over rent, and even then there is only a limited space offered to present your collection. However, Facebook and online websites are a great medium whereby you can upload an entire catalogue without incurring any additional costs and also grant easy access to your customers,” asserts Hyatt. “Pakistan is evolving in terms of fashion. There is a high demand for Western wear, but often people do not have access to credit cards and rely on their relatives to get them something. I noticed this existing gap and decided to reach the masses through my brand, which offers high quality Western wear at your doorstep.”
Despite competition from international brands like Mango and Monsoon, which have recently made their way into Pakistan’s metropolises, Hyatt maintains an edge. With an added advantage of having personal connections at manufacturing factories in Hong Kong, Hyatt is able to build up her inventory at a cheaper cost. In turn, her customers don’t pay a fortune for their favourite brand — prices range from Rs1,800 to a maximum of Rs5,500.
However, building a retail brand isn’t a layman’s job. She scours through magazines and catalogues on a regular basis to position herself strongly on the online platform. “It is my job every day to wake up and go through latest fashion magazines in order to gauge what’s currently trending. Pakistan, however, is a market that tends to follow trends later than the rest of the world. So I have to first make sure that I advertise the collection well on Facebook before selling it,” says Hyatt. “Pakistan is also a relatively conservative market; I have to be careful not to select pieces that are too revealing.”
Hyatt further differentiates her brand by offering a ‘Personal Shopper Service’ — a resource that many have overlooked. “People can book an appointment with a shopper and send their wish list of items that they want to purchase from specific stores. The shopper then buys them on behalf of the client and we courier it from Dubai. However, the service is currently only limited to high-end luxury brands,” Hyatt explains.
Believing in the famous quote; “style is eternal, fashion is temporary”, Hyatt passionately continues to expand her pet project. Her career paths maybe complex, but her philosophy for fashion remains simple: “don’t just follow trends; be at ease with your personal sense of style.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2013.
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