By doing so we will primarily be helping build the nation's economy, and if that isn't reason enough, then here are a few more. If you want haute couture dresses, we can be sure to get a more personalised service from our fashion houses. The freedom to make your own designs, or choose one of the designer's is something you simply can't do with Indian or Pakistani pieces. Speaking of designer pieces, if that is at the top of your list, Mayasir is the place to be. If your taste hovers around earthy tones, Aranya is for you. And how could any man think of a panjabi and not think of Aarong? Starting this Eid, let us try to give our designers and artisans a reason to smile!
Farheen Rahman, mother of two, and Director, Department Organisations, at Standard Chartered Bangladesh, prefers to wear locally designed dresses for all occasions. “I prefer buying designer wear for Eid from boutiques like Dressydale and Anokhi. They are a bit expensive, but I find them very classy and elegant. Their designs are the kind that I can wear for Eid. Their semi-formal collection can be worn for official parties too,” she says.
Weaving has always been at the very heart of Bangladesh, and textile is an inherent part of our cultural heritage. For centuries, our weaves have piqued the interest of couturiers from across the globe. Despite our deep, rich history of craftsmanship though, our local yarns and fashion houses seem to be taking a beating, because of imports from the subcontinent. The moment you walk into a market to purchase your Eid outfit, the abundance of Indian and Pakistani attire is apparent. To say they are merely available is an understatement, because in reality, our markets are flooded with these imports.
Designer and owner of the boutique Khoobsurty, Tasneem Sabrina Hasib, says, “When I started out in 2002, business was really good, but recently, all designers and fashion houses are complaining because our sales have plummeted. Even in those days, people used to travel to India to shop for their outfits, but that percentage was smaller. Nowadays, especially after Pakistani dresses have invaded the market, we are really facing a downfall.”
Hasib goes on to say, “As designers, it is very difficult for us to compete with their prices since these dresses are basically mass produced which automatically lessens their costs, whereas we incur high expenses to produce quality designer wear.”
Hasib explains that the online selling businesses started by individuals in their personal capacity have hit them the hardest. “People basically travel abroad and bring in loads of dresses unofficially, and sell them from their homes via social media platforms, incurring minimum cost and contributing in no way to our country's economy. Until the government takes a stern stand against these illegal activities, the local designers and fashion houses will suffer.”
The same holds true for saris too. The Banarasi sari for example, being made by artisans in the Mohammadpur and Mirpur areas of the city since the 1950s, is struggling to survive due to the import of its cheaper Indian counterpart. The lesser priced heavier looking Indian Banarasi available in the markets have synthetic mixed in the yarn, which lowers not only the comfort level of the sari but its price too, resulting in the more expensive local Banarasi sari losing ground and its artisans suffering.
The fashion industry in our country is quickly gaining ground, both on the local and international stages, with brands such as Zurhem, Maheen Khan, and Chondona Dewan, to name a few, leading the charge. For our country's economy to prosper, as well as for the growth of our fashion industry and our indigenous weavers, a little affection and dedication from us -- the consumers -- can go a long way to achieving a bright future, and put Bangladesh on the global fashion map.
Photo: Shahrear Kabir Heemel
Location: Pier 138
Make-up: Farzana Shakil’s Makeover Salon
Styling: Sonia Yeasmin Isha