'Not enough tourists to appreciate fashion in Pakistan'
Zahir Rahimtoola, chief executive officer of retail chain Labels. IANS
"Fashion retail is still in its infancy. The dynamics of fashion retail are very different in Pakistan as compared to its neighbours. Unlike other countries, Pakistan does not enjoy the advantage of a transient population," Rahimtoola, chief executive officer of Labels, told IANS in an e-mail interview from Karachi.
"While there is some local transient population in Lahore and Islamabad, there is hardly any transient population in Karachi. This is detrimental for retail sales. This is the reason why designers cannot come out with specific seasonal collections and they have to innovate to keep the same customer buying repeatedly at frequent intervals," he added.
Though known for its traditional ways and culture, connoisseurs of fashion in the country thronged the style and glamour sector in the mid-1990s with designers like Rizwan Beyg, Shamaeel, Sana Safinz, Faiza Samee and Maheen Khan culling out high-end couture designs to cater to the upper strata of society, which boosted the growth in upmarket retail.
And like a true businessman, Rahimtoola, who hails from a business family, decided to make the best of the trend by taking a plunge in the retail sector and opened his first store in Karachi in 1996.
"Our sense of timing was right because TV satellite transmission had just started opening the rest of the world to Pakistan and Pizza Hut, the first Western fast food chain, had recently been opened; hence there was a sense of Western influence permeating," he said.