The fashion industry doth not fade, but doth suffer a sea-change. Excuse us for altering the words from one of William Shakespeare’s magnum opuses, but they aptly depict the transformation that Pakistan’s fashion retailing has undergone over the course of time.
The fashion community has accommodated the virtual market space as a complement to bricks-and-mortar stores and continues to embrace formerly uncommon means of outreach, of which, one of the most prevalent is fashion blogging.
On a global level, women are increasingly modelling themselves on fashion bloggers, accepting their opinions, emulating their personal sense of style and trusting their fashion choices.
And no, these fashion bloggers aren’t all rail thin like many celebrities, whose airbrushed pictures on magazine covers riddle one with countless self-esteem issues. They are relatable, fashionable every(wo)men.
This rising importance of fashion bloggers and their impact on fashion enthusiasts hasn’t gone unnoticed by multi-designer store Labels. Taking pride in having recognised the worth of fashion bloggers, CEO of Labels, Zahir Rahimtoola, says, “I’m a firm believer that social media plays a vital role in promoting the business of fashion.”
Upholding its support for the fashion blogosphere, Labels has opted for an unconventional and exciting new face from the cyberspace to be its brand ambassador for their Spring 2014 collection, fashion blogger Zunera Mazhar.
“I’m happy that Zunera is being launched as the new face of Labels,” shares Rahimtoola. “We will have social media releases via Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. We will also have in-store branding and press ads.”
A Pakistani program manager at the United States (US) Citizenship and Immigration Services by profession, and doting mother of a four-year-old fashionista Serena, Zunera is “the modern-day, all-encompassing woman who balances her life between her career, family and passion,” according to Rahimtoola.
Last year, she created a fashion blog named ‘Zunera-Serena’ (zunera-serena.com), where she shares her and her daughter’s fashion choices, and advocates self-awareness and independent thinking among women. “To me, a woman is one who is aware of her body, knows how to express herself and exudes confidence,” says Zunera.
“Much to my surprise, the blog not only became an outlet for sharing us mother-daughter duo’s personal style, but also a platform for young and working women to express their opinion through comments, emails and heart-warming personal messages.”
Zunera has turned her passion for blogging into a family activity, since the blog comprises posts by her daughter and snaps taken by her husband. Owing to her blog, she has been featured by leading retail fashion houses, such as Gap, Ann Taylor and Banana Republic.
According to Rahimtoola, Zunera’s ace blogging was an imperative factor in her selection as the new face of the 18-year-old brand. “With her assistance, we look forward to giving exposure to Labels in the global marketplace.”
But that’s not all. Zunera epitomises Labels’ brand personality, which is a distinctive point of difference for the brand amid stiff competition. “I think I personify what Labels represents: ‘a woman who wants it all’,” she shares.
Rahimtoola tells us, “We had been searching for a personality who would appeal to both the domestic and international audience.” “Being a Pakistani who has been brought up in the US, Zunera is a perfect fit for merging two sensibilities [East and West] into one,” a fusion that Labels is known for pioneering in the country.
“Labels has been my source of inspiration for a long time since it has pioneered casual western clothing using eastern details in Pakistan. The brand also keeps in line with the ongoing international fashion trends and that is something clearly reflected in my personal style statement,” says the glamorous blogger.
So, how are fashion’s virtual Titans like Zunera influencing the fashion industry? “Bloggers are the true voice of consumers and help create brand awareness,” states Zunera. “They have become a bridge between existing and emerging designers and breakout street-style fashion,” she adds.
Zunera says that according to a recent study, bloggers have the most influence on sales after retail and brand sites. “This is because they are able to develop a loyal fan-base and personal connection with their followers through constant contact via social media.”
Rahimtoola thinks that fashion bloggers like Zunera drive consumers to both bricks-and-mortar and virtual fashion retail stores. “In the past one year, Pakistani bloggers have helped us in creating awareness of our collection and also fuelled sales,” he states.
Zunera will be working closely with Labels’ design and marketing teams to create new avenues of expression. Rahimtoola elaborates that she will be interacting and sharing her style tips and blog posts with Labels’ fans on a regular basis. “She will not just be a face on the billboards, but a true ambassador who will effectively contribute to enhancing the brand’s image,” he says.
Zunera’s selection as brand ambassador is a shout-out for women everywhere, many of who are sold the idea that they can vicariously live the lives of their fashion idols, a concept that brands cultivate by launching A-list models and celebrities as their representatives.
“While brands in Pakistan work with models, celebrities and movie stars, Labels will be the first in the country to have an international blogger as its new face,” says Rahimtoola.
Brands and celebrity endorsements undoubtedly go hand in hand, but in the grand scheme of things, one wonders if the aura of grandiosity associated with celebrities merely magnifies them or in the process, also underappreciates all that characterises the average woman.
We consider Zunera’s ambassadorship of Labels to be a vibrant and creative advancement in the Pakistani fashion community.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2014.
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