To lawn brands, with love

Just so I don’t come off as an angry, uninformed individual, let me say it out loud – I am sharing this as an avid lover and connoisseur of lawn fabric. I am not a subject matter expert or in any business that will benefit from such critique. This will be an honest feedback – but, at the end of the day, it is an OPINION… of A PERSON. I’m not passing it off as a fact. Your experience might vary.

My love affair with lawn started off as a five-year-old kid who’d accompany her mother to pick and choose from cut-pieces of Gul Ahmed stocked at HKB, Mall Road. From being a poor person’s fabric to being a marker of status exclusivity, lawn has seen a lot of changing seasons in Pakistan.

I have seen the market flourish and transition from wholesale distributor model to brand outlets & e-stores, from a 5-page catalogue circulated with newspaper to sneak-peeks with hashtags on social media, from saving magazine pictures for ‘galay ka design’ to Whatsapping an Instagram post to your Darzi, from the fabric of ‘khula thaan’ to gazillion patches & buttons folded impeccably into the packets. The journey has been interesting.

You adapt, you grow.

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I am often the hype-girl for each season’s lawn offerings. No, this is not my exclusive focus. I have a career that is a polar opposite to such interests. Sometimes, I am taking great pains to find time (and money) to spend upon what these brands have to offer. I micro-blog about a detailed (if not exhaustive) list of what online stores/brands you can shop from, what can you do if you are in a fixed budget, and so forth.

This year, I’d like to gather some recurring thoughts and voice them out loud for those who have their ear to the ground. For the moneymaking machines out there, this might not even come close to making a significant dent in your systems, but may be – just, may be – this can help a business or a customer in some way.

First, let’s talk inspiration & plagiarism. Inspiration can be anything that makes your creative juices flow. Intellectual property, however, must not be violated. For us, it remains a convoluted subject – an ethical grey area. We do not consider its infringement as a dilemma at all. In this day and age, your customers have understanding and access to boards like Pinterest, fashion spreads, and social media of international brands. If archaeologists can dig ruins to understand those who existed thousands of years ago, it doesn’t take much sleuthing to figure out who & what was copied off without credits. Being caught in the act will not only tarnish your reputation on social media, but also hit your numbers. We do not consider your plight as genuine if you end up posting legal notices through newspapers about taking legal action against those who replicate your work. How can we empathize when you have been doing the exact thing yourself? For the big bucks that are being paid, we’d expect the ingenuity of your own design team.

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Secondly, while we are all thrilled to see the creativity lawn brands display in stitching the fabric for their catalogues, it does distort the perception of the clients who are going to see that very thing online and “pre-book” the dress before seeing it in person. You have the access to extra fabric to do designing. What a customer gets is not enough to recreate that look in most cases. A lot of your customers are going to be disgruntled when what they receive appears to be different than what they saw… Stitched, edited, in a fancy pose, on a model physique. If you are creating the whole buzz around e-commerce, you have to see how the in-store purchase experience can be mapped onto the digital world.

Another observation as a consumer is that the whole production value around a collection is less important to us. What matters the most is the product itself. At the end of the day, we are going to wear the dress, not eat out the glossy catalogue pictures. Nobody gives a flying …fish about whether or not an international supermodel is in your photo-shoot. It’s more about the projected image of your brand, the race to one-up your competition, and the ego than what a customer wants.

Morocco, Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Croatia, Maldives, Vietnam… all the crew that goes there, all the accessories that are used, the whole shebang… who’s paying for it? Eventually. We are. So, we are paying additional bucks for something that doesn’t really matter to us.

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To top that off, we are inadvertently paying to have ourselves misguided by the obscene amount of filters & photo manipulation. The retouching is a standard in the industry, we get it, but shouldn’t we be able to see what we are buying in its ACTUAL color? The model poses in the spread are in such a way that a big chunk of their already shrunken size is BLOCKED for better viewing… I mean, really, bro? Yo fo realz?

^ That is harsh, especially when somebody who has marketing at her heart, utters it out loud. Chalo, to soften the blow, let’s meet half-way. How about you make a video or social media pictures with atomic editing, but do the good old P.T. poses of front, back, sides in an unedited, magni-zoom, simple stitching version for those who will be able to ‘experience’ your fabric only through online purchases. If you consider it, this benefits you, really. The convenience is ours, the money will be yours. If you can come close to replicating the human interaction through digital means, much of your traffic will be diverted to e-commerce. That will naturally cause you to save on brick-and-mortar outlets too.

Another bit is that the phenomenon of pre-booking ruffles a lot of feathers. Honestly, if you sort the above issues, I really don’t see an issue with pre-booking in itself. You MUST, however, limit the number of purchases a single person, from a single IP, at a single address can do. If you wish so, the bundle-buyers should be made into a legit wholesale distributor based on their volumes. No price hikes or stockouts. A win-win.

Eventually, I don’t blame the people who are selling it at an exorbitant RETAIL PLUS price. They will, because obviously, that makes business sense to them. A high demand item going for its PERCEIVED price than the listed price. If we are annoyed by it, the purchase of such items should be discouraged.

Trust me, there is RARELY any brand that can CREATE demand. The consumers are very much in control. If you don’t like something, voice it out. Don’t buy. You will do you part in letting the world know that you are not cool with it. Somewhere someone will be doing the market research to offer you what you want… in some way.

Cheers!

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