And today — handbags

The Hermes Birkin bag that Hina Rabbani carried to India is said to have cost Rs1,700,000.

Chris Cork February 26, 2014
The writer is editorial consultant at The Express Tribune, news junkie, bibliophile, cat lover and occasional cyclist

Let us adjourn to a small village in south Punjab which we shall call ‘Ulooabad’, wherein live any number of my relatives, all of whom are models of discreet poverty but have an innate desire to appear anything but.

It was with some surprise that I was walking down the dusty main street of Ulooabad recently in the wake of a woman, to whom I am uncomfortably closely related by marriage, carrying what was instantly recognisable as a Burberry bag. Nothing says ‘Burberry’ like a Burberry does — except that in this instance, it did not.

There is now a thriving business in fake everything available on the internet in Pakistan from the aforementioned handbags to any brand of designer accessory you may care to name. You do not need to be either particularly rich or in possession of a credit card. Every upmarket brand is there and all you do is pop in your name and address and lo and behold, within 48 hours your fake finery is on the doorstep. Pay the delivery man and there you are, all posh in ‘Ulooabad’.

The genuine article occasionally features large in the media, most recently in the person of Hina Rabbani Khar who took some flak early in her tenure as foreign minister for the decidedly very-rich-person items she toted around on her travels.

Premier tote for Khar back in 2011 was a black Hermes Birkin bag, the kind you put your daughters’ name down for within seconds of her birth in order that she may have one for her eighteenth birthday. Now you don’t get a Birkin off the shelf for less than $10,000 and the item she carried on a visit to India is said to have cost Rs1,700,000, which suggests either that she was being paid far too much as foreign minister or she was just stinking rich and not fussy about who knew it.

The Roberto Cavalli sunglasses came in for a bit of a hammering as well — but at least, she was not pictured wearing sunglasses on her head. Indoors. At night. Not something that any of you fashionistas would ever do is it? Is it?

Hina Rabbani Khar may no longer be foreign minister, where she reportedly earned a reputation as hard working and with her head screwed on the right way up — in contrast to many of her male predecessors — but she has not faded away. She is lately parking her handbags in and around the think-tank circuit where she is noted more for an intellect like a bag of razorblades rather than whatever she is wearing.

But out here, in the febrile world of Fizza and Pinky-boos (… yes, we know who you are) rarified chit-chat about the state of nations is as nothing compared to the intense discussion as to whether or not the bag(s) trotted around by Khar and her compatriots on the see-and-be-seen circuit were the real deal and not some Chinese knock-off, which rather brings us to the point of this week’s musings.

Of course, nobody reading this would ever stoop so low, would they? I mean dahlings… a fake Lacoste? Dodgy Louis-Vuitton? Goodness me no, perish the thought. Perish the thought perhaps, but there are few that have the fiscal clout to avail themselves of the real bling; but bling and aspirational dreams saunter hand in hand — occasionally down the main street of ‘Ullooabad’. And Karachi. And quite definitely, on the Isloo diplomatic circuit.

The wonderful world of the upwardly mobile wannabe — male or female, the chaps being partial to a fake timepiece or two to adorn their wrists — fuels what is both undoubtedly illegal in terms of counterfeit goods being openly sold with no obvious let or hindrance; and hugely popular at the same time. Somebody, somewhere, is making an awful lot of money, quite possibly enough money to be able to afford the genuine article, the archetype of the felonious products they decant through our front doors daily.

Your humble scribe is, of course, completely innocent of any tendency in this direction. Now where did I put my passport as I really must just nip over to Paris… need a new bag don’t you know? Tootle-pip!

Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2014.

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Parvez | 7 years ago | Reply

Why do comments that stray a bit from the ' normal ' get shot down ? ........ at most others may disagree or the author could always set it right. Always read you and enjoy doing so, even when you write stuff like this.

asim | 7 years ago | Reply

There are some other important features of MISS KHAR 1) She became youngest FM of Pakistan at the age of 25 despite having irrelevant qualifications 2) All state treasury was at her disposal .who says women not empowered?

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