Lahore is changing and evolving. People are moving out of the city to the suburbs. Gulberg is becoming the new down-town commercial/retail district. Residential properties are being converted into mixed-use commercial properties on the roads linking MM Alam Road and Main Boulevard. The off-shoots of Hussain Chowk are the new MM Alam Road. Is this good or bad? It all depends on your point of view.
Personally I hate the lack of trees on our main boulevards – Pakistan is a hot country – the least you can do is plant trees in major metropolitan areas to attract foot traffic! Then, there is traffic congestion, inadequate exits on the main roads, potholes and broken roads, in fact, the entire road network in our so-called commercial/retail district is horrible, inadequate parking arrangements in front of major shopping areas like Pace, Hafeez Center, HKB Liberty, open garbage disposal points, lack of sufficient drainage in case of rains, (the whole of Gulberg gets submerged in rain water!), there are no arrangements for pedestrians to park the car and browse the malls – no traffic signals to make the crossing of the roads easier and yes, no public restrooms! Shopping in Lahore is a nightmare. How can you expect to attract tourists to come over from all over Punjab to shop in Lahore?
Our town planners seem to be sleeping on the job, letting private sector build ad-hoc when and where they please. But things are not so bleak. Here are three examples of smart design from the shopper’s point of view on our urban retail developments sphere – Men’s store, Levi’s and Dockers San Francisco. Though, again parking is inadequate at these places too, but you can’t have everything – can you?
Urban Retail Development: Luxury brands – Men’s Store
Know Your Luxury Brands
There was a time when the term ‘Luxury’ was applied to an exclusive group of products, targeted at an ‘exclusive’ group of people. Nowadays, it is no longer just the rich and famous who buy luxury brands; consumers from all walks of life surround themselves with exquisite and luxury brands.
Asim Buksh is the man behind Men’s Store – though the store originally started out as men’s clothing and accessories retailer, the widespread success and recognition soon allowed it to diversify and expand into women’s wear and accessories. “I got the original idea during one of my travels to Europe. I enjoy clothes. I kept seeing these brands everywhere. I started wondering how come these brands are not in Pakistan… That’s how men’s store began. I started the store on the ground floor of HKB, in those days, the ground floor used to stock rolls of fabric,” he confides. The rest as they say is history.
In all fairness, even I wasn’t expecting the kind of success Men’s Store has achieved in the past fourteen years. It’s way beyond my expectations,” he says. Today, Men’s Store is Buksh Group’s venture into an alliance with high fashion brands, carrying some of the biggest names in the international arena. The chain is now spread across Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad and hosts brands like Armani, Boss, Zegna, Gucci, and most recently the high-profile Brioni and Chaumet.
Special services like Zegna and Armani made-to-measure and exclusive purchase have been introduced for top clients to provide the finest in personalized indulgence. Men’s Store now has exclusive representation in Pakistan for all the 14 brands it hosts including Bang and Olufsen. “We have moved from selling high-end merchandise to selling life styles,” he continues. “Our retail philosophy is all about lifestyles.”
Asim takes the Men’s Store very personally. “This is my baby. This place is everything to me. I enjoy what I do. It’s not about cash flow – I want to have fun. If you tell me to sell Hyundai cars, I can never do that,” he says throwing up his hands in the air with horror. Ironically, his latest venture is about cars, three of the world’s premium motor brands, Land Rover, Bentley and Jaguar but that’s another story.
Bang and Olufsen stands for excellence, originality, synthesis and passion. The award winning designs of David Lewis set the brand apart which is why B&O is more than just an audio-visual name; it’s a life style statement
Reinventing the apparel landscape in Pakistan
Stand alone retail stores are the newest chapter in a brand evolution that began when Dockers ® added “San Francisco” to its name in an open bid to align itself with this city’s laid-back, sophisticated image. That aesthetic has been carried into the products and is central to Dockers® re-positioning strategy. Casual wear is as important today as it has ever been. The stores now showcase Dockers® from a “one-dimensional” product of khaki pants into a full men’s lifestyle brand.
Dockers® has introduced four men’s categories: work, weekend, golf and dress. Each category has a full array of tops, knits and accessories to complement the Dockers ® trouser. This approach allows Dockers® to sell a lot more of its products. The weekend category includes shorts and tees; dress means ties and blazers; and golf means dedicated golf pants rather than standby khakis. Dockers® is known for its product innovation. One example is the Dockers® Never-Iron™ Collection: An exclusive Dockers® line that is machine
washable and provides a “straight from the dry cleaner look” right out of the dryer. Never-Iron™ products include shirts, pants and blazers, made with luxuriously soft fabrics that keep their stylish edge throughout the day – perfect for the office and business travel.
From floor to ceiling, every element of the store’s design is intended to showcase the brand’s San Francisco-inspired style and aesthetics. The polished wooden floor, glass and metal features provide contemporary details. The Dockers® company operated stores mark the next phase of brand growth, providing consumers with visibility and access to the most comprehensive Dockers® product assortment found in Pakistan.
Don’t suffer from the denimblues! Go to your nearest Levi’s store in town! Don’t have money? Not a problem. Visit their factory outlets on Peco Road or Karim Block for close-outs and discount offers!
Denim Giant Levi Strauss & Co has fifty stores in major urban centers of Pakistan. Cities like Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Multan, Sialkot, Rawalpindi, Haiderabad and
Quetta. Levi’s is working on developing a separate brand identity for their two brands – Levi’s® and Dockers San Francisco® in Pakistan right now. This has already been done in Lahore and Islamabad. Long term, Levi’s plans to move into franchised retail footprint reducing their stake in company operated stores in Pakistan.
“Levi’s believes in investing in product and store differentiation, we do not follow the usual industry practices,” says Mir Zia Mehmood, marketing manager Levi Strauss Pakistan. “Ours is a lean and mean organization. We have a different point of view on product promotion. We don’t believe in spending on hoardings or buying a six page ad in GT, instead we are investing in outlets and in store experience. We believe in standing out, bringing consistent change –we believe in communicating with our customer directly through the in-store shopping experience. Our customer is always looking for something new.”
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, issue 1, May 2008.