International brands woo status-conscious Lahoris

By Shahrukh Ayub

LAHORE: At least two-dozen international brand outlets are doing robust business in the city with their summer collections, and the trend is expected to attract another five international brands to invest in the city, owners of brand outlets told Daily Times.
Owners and administrators of outlets selling products such as sunglasses, watches, handbags, shoes, cufflinks, ties and suits say the business has never been better. The outlets are mostly situated on MM Alam Road, Gulberg Main Boulevard and in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA).

The shopkeepers told Daily Times that the country’s economic slump did not affect them much because their number of customers had not fallen. They said that because they sold branded items, their ‘brand-conscious’ customers always returned. “Lahoris are very brand conscious,” said Farhan Nadeem, the manager of a Slazenger outlet on MM Alam Road. He said buying branded items gave people the satisfaction of buying good-quality products. Since most brands had become status symbols, the status-conscious always bought branded products, he added. “Branded products have become part of their lives and they cannot go anywhere without them,” he said.

“We have lot of expensive products and people buy them without caring how much they cost. They prefer comfort and satisfaction over the cost,” said Farrukh.

“Women, particularly employed women, buy very expensive handbags,” said Muhammad Azeem, the manager of the Ammar Belal designer wear outlet. He said young men mostly bought expensive cufflinks and glasses, elderly men went for watches, ties and shoes, while women’s favourite buys included shoes and handbags.

Amina Ahmad, a shopper in Gulberg, said, “I buy branded shoes and bags because they are of the best quality and are most comfortable.” Arsalan, a young boy buying Nikes, said, “I buy branded products because I don’t get satisfaction from buying unbranded things.”

Fashion designer Taufiq Hussain said brand-consciousness came from self-awareness. He said that people who want good quality products always go for the best products available. Fashion designer Bee Gee, a pioneer of designer fashion in Lahore, said that people buy branded products because such products help them maintain a high status in society.

Shazia Khalid, a psychologist at Punjab University, said that people who wanted to keep their ‘status’ above the rest chose branded items to convey a message without having to say it out loud. She said that this trend had created a brand new community of people who bought only branded items, especially apparel.

Source: Daily Times, 11/8/2008

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