In the thriving realm of fashion, prêt-a-porter, colloquially known as ready-to-wear, has seen an unprecedented incline in Pakistan, especially over the past few years. More and more designers have been exploring prêt due to customers’ growing inclination towards ready-made apparel, which is trendy, relatively affordable and better-suited for their fast-paced lifestyle. As the prêt culture continues to gain popularity, The Express Tribune speaks to designers to explore the scope for off-the-peg clothing.
“For me, prêt is comfortable yet trendy. It’s off-the-rack yet full of variety. It’s convenient. It definitely is the way forward, especially in our fast-paced lives these days,” says designer Shamsha Hashwani. “People prefer to swing by at their convenience and pick up something casual to wear.” In the tech-savvy world of today, where it’s difficult to keep track of time, people look for simplified options to save themselves time and effort. As designer Saleha Qureshi says, “Most of us live a fast-paced life and prêt tends to make things simpler.”
Zaheer Abbas, Shamsha Hashwani
Prêt and couture designer Zaheer Abbas feels the importance of ready-to-wear clothes is and will expectedly remain unparalleled. “I’ve immense love for couture, but sadly, it caters to a niche market, as not everyone can understand or carry or afford it,” he holds. “Prêt is a market that has always been there and designers have kept injecting new look into it … it’s definitely the way-forward and weather-friendly too,” he further says.
But while many believe prêt is popular because it’s convenient and affordable, designers, such as Shehla Chatoor, credit the textile-industry influx in the market with its success. “Prêt is picking up pace because even textile mills have begun investing in the fashion industry. This has resulted in a surge of retail outlets,” she notes. Saleha also feels people have pivoted towards prêt because of the great number of stores available. “More prêt stores are opening up because women want something chic that they can immediately pick up and wear, as opposed to the ordering and fitting process that made-to-order clothes require,” she states.
Interestingly, prêt also seems to be the solution to women’s enduring tailor woes. “Prêt stores offer a variety of ensembles that are affordable, so it’s the need of the hour. It’s an alternative to your local darzi and saves the time and hassle of buying and getting clothes stitched yourself,” says Zaheer. “Most importantly, the design factor, quality and label attached to a prêt piece make a lot of difference,” he notes.
Shamsha says, “Prêt is what the masses prefer on a daily basis. Working women, especially, find it easier to buy off-the-rack clothes rather than tailoring an outfit themselves. The high demand has encouraged designers to penetrate more into the prêt market.” She feels Karachi’s weather, for which something “light and comfortable” is usually preferable, also plays a role here. “Even during festive seasons, such as Eid, people are more inclined towards prêt. Despite all that, one can never deny the desire for heavier and luxurious made-to-measure outfits,” she adds.
Speaking of luxury-wear, designers continue to explore bridal couture and luxury prêt as they have their own appeal and demand, with many of them trying their hand at multiple things. For instance, apart from prêt, Shehla focuses on bridals, trousseau, luxury prêt, jewellery, shoes, bags and accessories. “It has always been my aim to do something unique and timeless. I’m working towards a luxury prêt store and collaborating with an already established brand to bring my collection to the masses,” she shares.
Drawing a parallel between prêt and couture, Shehla admits the latter is “an investment but is time-consuming.” According to Zaheer, “Prêt is affordable, wearable, easily available and, most importantly, can be discarded. Couture is classic … it’s like an investment. There’s a bigger market for prêt simply because it’s more functional.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2015.