Owning a designer Pakistani ensemble is no more a distant dream. Pakistan's leading retail store Labels has launched its online portal and offers 50 designers on its catalogue.
The timing is just right to launch an online one-stop-shop such as this, says Labels CEO Zahir Rahimtoola who is targeting fashionistas worldwide.
When it comes to online shopping, especially clothes, buyers are sceptical - what the eyes see and the hands feel can't be satisfied by the virtual medium.
But Rahimtoola, who has 16 years' experience in the business of fashion, says technology has helped e-businesspersons to overcome that insecurity to some extent.
"Thanks to advanced technology, a buyer can zoom into the minute details of an outfit to get a virtual feel. Having said that, there is nothing to beat the real feel," Rahimtoola told IANS in a e-mail interview from Karachi.
"However, since there is a huge worldwide Indo-Pak population that does not have access to stores, virtual feel is the next best thing. Indeed, the time is ripe for e-stores," he added.
"Indians and Pakistanis have a very similar mindset when it comes to shopping. India, being a larger market and having a huge transient population, is able to innovate and adapt quicker to constantly changing international fashion trends.
"But, we too are catching up, thanks to the social networking sites," he said.
The increased demand for outfits from Pakistan encouraged Rahimtoola to shape up his plans of taking the virtual route to reach out to the overseas market.
"We have been getting numerous requests over the years to ship out orders to individual overseas customers. However, we resisted doing so as we wanted to do things professionally.
"Currently a lot of Indian and Pakistan clothing is sold through small exhibitions all over the world. But these collections are relatively small, hence an e-store makes great sense as a buyer can review a huge inventory which is fresh and rightly priced, and have it delivered at his/her doorstep within days," he added, saying international consumers would get their parcel within two to three working days.
Labels houses creations from as many as 50 Pakistani designers - from veterans to budding fashion designers. All the designs are available on their e-store www.labelsestore.com, with prices starting from 1,000 Pakistani rupees.
The store has tied up with international courier service DHL to deliver garments anywhere in the world at the store price. All one has to pay is courier charges and custom duties, if any, into the importing country.
"All items are being legally exported/imported. So, depending upon the local laws of the importing countries, they may attract custom duties. However, this is still a better bet than paying a 100 to 200 percent mark-up at small informal sales and exhibitions," he explained.
Rahimtoola also assures he has taken care of the "biggest worry" -- the right fit.
"Getting the right size and fit always worries the consumers. You can say it is the biggest challenge every online portal faces. So, we have tried our best that every outfit is (properly) measured before it is photographed and uploaded, to ensure that the buyer gets the right fit," he said.
There is a huge catch in shopping at www.labelsestore.com - unlike most shopping portals, this one has neither a return nor an exchange policy for international buyers.
Explaining why, Rahimtoola said: "It is simply because any return of product is treated as an import and attracts custom duties. Therefore, we have tried to ensure maximum visibility of the outfit to the online buyer.
"We also have a live chat option where a customer can ask details from our representative. And, at times, if tweaking in measurements are required, we can make slight alterations to get the right fit. This is a free-of-cost service, but the onus is on the buyer (for us) to provide correct measurement."
By Shilpa New Delhi, Aug 17 (Agency)