Retail Therapy: Summer fabric report II – Saleem Fabrics

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May 27, 2010

Saleem Fabrics is one of the best fabric stores in town, great variety, all the major fabric brands and wholesalers are represented there not to mention, with a range of price points to suit everyone’s pockets By Fareeha Qayoom

By Fareeha Qayoom


Chicken Kari fabric - Liberty market stall


his afternoon, my sister dragged me to the fabric store – Saleem Fabrics located in Liberty Market Lahore for a leisurely browse and window shopping. I didn’t mind. It is one of the best fabric stores in town, great variety, all the major fabric brands and wholesalers are represented there not to mention, with a range of price points to suit everyone’s pockets, (however, they are one of the more expensive ones too because they also stock export quality piece goods as well that can be turned into really cool bespoke fashion like women’s tailored button down shirts, tunic tops and summer jackets provided you can find a tailor or designer that can actually stitch something like that). I am still looking for such a tailor. My brother suggested Dandy Designs – they tailor men’s suits. I am getting desperate enough to even consider them now but hey, that’s another story! (Yeah, I know I still owe you the “tale of the summer jackets”- more about that later.)

Today, we had no special plan. We started on the ground floor – Saleem Fabrics has its own resident house brand now. I was impressed; very smart retail strategy! However, what was not so impressive was their price – the house brands should be cheaper and better than designer fabrics if you go by western retailers’ standards like Bloomingdales, JC Penney, Target Stores and Wal-Mart, (USA) or Marks and Spencer, BHS (UK) etc. They stock the designer merchandise to move traffic into their stores but they make real profits by providing cheaper rip offs of their best seller designer items  in their house brands – making it irresistible for their customers to carry off the cheap imitations fresh off the runway of brands like Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Paul Smith, Ralph Lauren etc. (I should know, when I worked for AMC, a subsidiary of Target Stores, the departmental store buyers would regularly bring us samples of best seller brands from last year’s line to copy for their house brands or ‘private labels’ for the next season! Don’t forget fads take a couple of seasons to fade away.)

I liked the fact that you can mix or match Saleem Fabrics Lawn – there were matching solid and print options as well as flexibility to buy a shirt piece or the whole three piece yardage in a single print. However, the price is somewhere around PKR 1375 or PKR 500 for a shirt piece. (This is not the cheapest option in the store!) The cheapest option was under PKR 600 range (I think around PKR 545-565) in a three piece suit on first floor.

The first floor and second floor also stock designer lawns like ZQ (starts from PKR 1375), Vaneeza Ahmed (starts from PKR 1690), Sana and Safinaz (starts from PKR 2750 onwards, some suits go for PKR 3490, apparently as they have machine embroidery scattered all over on top of the print), Al-Karam (I can’t remember their price points – I think it was somewhere around PKR 1500 onwards), Gul Ahmed (starts from PKR 1500 for a three piece suit), Firdosi etc among others, as well solid Doria and Cottons as well as hand loom options– my problem – I didn’t like most of them; the colors, the prints, the fabric quality and the price points – in fact, the whole works with only a few exceptions. I liked a couple of Firdosi’s prints…however, my sister in a fit of national solidarity (they got Kareena Kapoor to model their fabrics!) refused to let me find out their prices, let alone buy a single piece!

BlueManateeButtons sewing button sets (59)
Photo by heatherknitz
2830 Spooled Up
Photo by Stillframe

It also started me thinking…price has hiked as nobody’s business in this category for the year 2010 – how can women afford to clothe themselves in today’s environment? It wouldn’t be excessive if women drop something like 35k-100k just to buy 10-15 suits per season now. Which seems pretty steep to me – don’t forget I am a jean and t-shirt girl. I might buy three pairs of jeans (less than PKR 1.5-2k max) and four to five t-shirts (PKR 350-840) each season to replenish my wardrobe, not even that, most seasons, which at this point seems cheaper to me because my clothes last more than two seasons at least before I have to give them away and this includes stitching cost too – they are ready to wear and I will not buy if they are not a great fit- you know, no hassle getting them designed and stitched by bad tailors! Furthermore, jeans can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion and time of the day! But designer lawn can’t. This might be a total nightmare for women balancing their budgets or maybe my brother is right – Pakistan has a lot of rich folks hidden in the woodwork?! What do you think?:) ■

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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
Publisher and editor-in-chief of and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), a trade newsletter for the textile and apparel industry of Pakistan. In short, Publisher, editor, and a blogger. In addition, she has served as Managing Editor of MIT Technology Review Pakistan, print and web editions (2015-16). Total of 7 editions were published under her leadership by ITU, Punjab's first public technology university under the license of MIT Technology Review (USA). She has also managed Value Mag in the same capacity, a real estate and lifestyle magazine for Value TV - 2008-9. Published freelancer for The News on Sunday 1994-96. Fareeha has over 21 years of solid management experience – of managing brands (like Harley Davidson, Munsingwear, Chaps, Chaps Ralph Lauren etc.,), Retailers (like Target, Mervyns, Kohl's, Marks and Spencer etc.,), customers (VPs, Product Managers, Unit Managers, and Buyers), and products (apparel - woven, knits, men's, women's, children's, Print and online publishing units), projects, teams, and processes, information, content, and data, staff, vendors, and time. Versatile and adaptable with international exposure, communication and language skills (oral and written), and a consistent track record of achieving company targets and objectives, plus a MA in Political Science from Punjab University, a MSc in Economics from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA, and a BA in Economics from Kinnaird College for Women.


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  2. Aarzoo says:

    Hey great article! Also, try out 5-Star classic lawn, it is only available at Link Road I think…thats where they have a franchise. Really liked their prints this time! Very classy

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  3. Industry expands as demand rises
    By Faryal Najeeb
    Published: March 4, 2011


    I counted 13 billboards advertising new lawn designs on my way to work today, each of which was from a different company and designer. Not surprising, since lawn fabric has become a huge industry of its own now and is said to be worth several billions.

    “Seven hundred million metres of lawn fabric is purchased annually in Pakistan,” informed Textile Links CEO Farrukh Mian who connects textile companies with designers and models. The company handles clients such as Asim Jofa, HSY, Vaneeza, Sonya Batla and others.

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  4. V for Vaneeza lawn

    Model cum designer Vaneeza Ahmed Ali has launched her V Lawn collection at Dynasty, near Two Swords in Karachi. With the launch Ali completes six years in fashion design.

    Talking about the use of various fabrics like chiffon with lawn, Ali said: “It’s not 100 per cent pure chiffon. In some cases, we have offered mixed chiffon fabric too.”

    While middle-aged Marzia Hussain did not like the quality of chiffon, young Nazia Nasir appreciated the offerings that featured embroidery. “It is very nice and surely has a summery feel,” said Nasir.

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  5. LawnFrenzy
    Wardha Saleem debuts into the lawn race

    Maliha Rehman

    There are just too many lawn brands and too many lawn billboards scattered all over Karachi this year. Yes, they looked pretty at first and, alright, if lawn does well it’s good for the economy. And we’ll admit, initially, some of the prettier billboards were tempting enough to make us want to brave our way to the exhibition and try to take a peek at the clothes while being jostled and shoved by lawn-fanatic shoppers. But, then, as one billboard after the other has popped up, it’s gotten a bit tiring. Whenever you think the round of exhibitions is finally coming to an end, yet another billboard gets erected. How many lawns can a woman want to buy, after all? It’s enough to make one want to go off the fabric forever!

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  6. stylefile
    Great designs at great prices… and you don’t need to visit your darzi either
    Origins, a retail brand of ready to wear for women, launches its Spring Collection

    Beenish Mahmood

    Fashion is essentially elitist but the growth of the industry is about the trickle down affect. A refreshing change from the lawn invasion on the fashion scene, Origins has stepped into the ready to wear market with an eye to provide the modern Pakistani woman with affordable, ethnic, yet chic choices. Simple but elegant and worth paying for, the outlet offers relief to working women of the middle-class in particular, which the big names in the fashion industry tend to neglect. These women lack the time and finances to buy a simple unstitched lawn jora, which costs almost Rs 3000.

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  7. A kaleidoscope of colour
    By Saadia Qamar
    Published: March 17, 2011


    The ‘king of colour’ — Nomi Ansari launched his first ever lawn collection on March 16 at Dynasty near Two Swords in Karachi.

    Ansari’s Lawn Prints, Spring/Summer 2011 collection features 14 prints, each available in two colour wayes, priced between Rs2,450 and Rs3,950.

    Talking to The Express Tribune, Ansari said: “I was planning to do lawn for the past three years but kept procrastinating. About 11 months ago, I finally took the step and here I am.”

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