No Pakistani woman can resist getting a brand new dress. Even though their wardrobes might be flooding already, there is always room for the new ones. Recently, it was my friend’s birthday and I had apparently no clothes to wear! Soon after the realisation, I started searching for options. Scrolling through my feed, an advertisement post of a beautiful dress caught my attention. Then and there, I decided to have the dress but after inquiring the price I figured I could get three more dresses at the same price from a local market. This is now sadly becoming a trend among clothing brands to set such high prices. But the question is why with the rising prices, the standard of quality and stitching has gone down drastically. I mean what is the point of getting such an expensive dress when the fabric, print, and stitching are not worth the money. Whether it is stitched or unstitched, printed or embroidered, local brand or designer wear, everything is getting out of reach for the majority of the people.
One of the many reasons behind increased prices is the rise of digital advertising. Social media apps like Instagram and Facebook have surpassed traditional advertising. Surprisingly, not only some renowned Pakistani brands but also local clothing brands are also pricing simple 2-piece PKR 8,000 to 10,000. However, what struck to me was that why people are still purchasing such expensive dresses from these brands? Is it because of the increasing digital media marketing? Or the way brands are approaching bloggers to style their dresses and attract their target audience?
A new tactic which is being used and abused by these label companies is of selling their products through different digital content creators also known as ‘bloggers’. These fashion bloggers through their content are helping clothing brands in the perception building of buyers. Not only renowned brands but also small businesses send out their ‘PR packages’ to well-known bloggers because their followers place their trust in them. These bloggers then either talk about how unique or wonderful the new collection is or just share a photo of themselves wearing it. There is no harm in such collaboration between a brand and a blogger but being a public figure comes with a huge responsibility on your shoulders. One should not promote anything blindly for the sake of money or fame. If you are highlighting the good side of the brand then you must not hesitate in raising your voice against the unjustified high prices.
Many women have taken up to different social media platform to voice their concerns and complain about the bad quality of clothing. “Belonging to a working class, I have no difficulty saying that affording these brands is no easy job. As far as the prices are concerned, the clothing brands that were once considered ‘reasonable’, are now contributing to the menace of inflation. Nevertheless, brands are a safer option if your pocket allows, but the open market also gives you tonnes of choices with somewhat controlled prices. Particularly for me, both options work as per my budget, but I am not happy at all with the unreasonable surge in prices of the clothing brands,” shares Tabinda Irfan, a working woman in Karachi.
Talking about the daily dilemma of ‘what to wear’, Zara Ahmed, a fellow colleague states, “It doesn’t sound logical to buy a piece of clothing worth PKR 5,000 which will not last more than two seasons. Particularly working women have this headache about what to wear at work every day and to maintain a decent appearance daily. Clothing brands justify their high price range with the quality of cloth but a plain kurti with lace or button at the neckline costing us thousands does not fit well with the quality argument. We should also normalise repeating clothes at the workplace so the pressure of wearing new clothes every other day can be reduced.”
There are dozens of complaints like this but unfortunately, brands aren’t ready to pay attention at all. From the stitched to unstitched collection, customers are dissatisfied with their product quality. As one of the main purposes of buying an unstitched suit is that it can be tailored as per your taste and body type but sadly with this amount of cloth there isn’t much of a choice left.
A Karachi-based working woman Sumaira Ahmed echoed the same sentiments. “Recently I got myself a 3 piece khaddar suit from a well-known Pakistani brand for PKR 3,000. I wore it once and the fabric became rough after the first wash. Even the lawn fabric suits do not last for a complete season. Quality is getting low and prices are getting high. No doubt that the inflation rates are getting higher but this should not be used as a blatant excuse to hike prices unwarrantedly. If fancy dresses are that expensive so it will be fine for some instance, but the extremely high prices of lawn or cotton dresses are unjustifiable.”
Similarly, Shafaq Ejaz, hailing from Quetta, penned down her thoughts articulately, “My dilemma is if we are getting good stuff at a lower price, why do we chase brands? These days, the obsession with brands is uncanny. Some of them do provide excellent aftercare services which show that it’s not just about the money. But nowadays, all that is lost and the main focus of every known brand is to gain popularity and make money. They are compromising on the quality of the fabric, the material and the prints as well. Moreover, the pricing is also very high for such low-quality clothes for the customers who spend their hard-earned money on these products.”
These companies are just finding different ways to mint money. It seems like a bandwagon everyone is jumping on. At every clothing brand outlet, you will find the same prints, designs and colour combinations. Brands have lost their exclusivity. They are going for mass production and making easy money without maintaining their quality. No doubt that due to the economic crisis and higher inflation, every other product is getting expensive but it does not mean that the public can be exploited this way. It is high time that all clothing brands take notice of their decreasing quality and pay heed to the customer’s feedback.