Pakistani Boutique Brands – Status Symbol for Pakistani Americans

Over the past five years, Pakistani Women boutique brands have gained extreme popularity among the Pakistani expatriates around the world. Brands like Maria-B, Sana Safinaz, Agha Noor, J.Junaid Jamshed, Asim Jofa, Khadi and Tena Durrani are some of the popular Pakistani dress brands that are a topic of discussion in the ladies gathering these days.

Pakistani fashion brands have excelled by leaps and bounds in last five years and them now equally popular among other South Asian expatriate women from India, and Bangladesh. Pakistani brands are also popularly sold in India and despite trade challenges between the two countries, these brands are very hot among the Indian population.

Ten-fifteen years back Pakistani expatriates living in Europe, the US and Canada were largely dependent on their parents, siblings, and relatives back home to send Pakistani dresses. They themselves didn’t have much say in making a choice as there was no concept of online shopping so whatever their parents and relatives would send from back home, they would happily wear them in the social gathering.

Those were the days when Pakistani and Indian women in the US and Canada didn’t have much opportunity to exhibit their wealth and status by wearing costly clothing brands. The status symbol and show off was limited to the occasional purchase of new diamond and gold Jewelry often gifted by their hubbies on birthdays and anniversaries.

In recent years, due to the global economy and the convenience of social media and enhanced communication and shipping channels, it has also become easy for Pakistani brands to market and sell these clothing lines internationally and in the US and Canada.

There are a number of online and Facebook stores that have made it extremely convenient to purchase clothing of choice. On top of it, brands like J.Junaid Jamshed have now physical stores in states like New Jersey. Shops on Oaktree Road in Iselin New Jersey and Devon in Chicago or Jackson in New York now sell these expensive Pakistani Clothing brands.

Pakistani American women today are becoming very brand status conscious as these are now popular and easily available. However, some of these brands are highly expensive. Wearing a new $200 Shalwar Kameez in every other party is not affordable even for some people living in the US and Canada. Those who are able to buy them then use every opportunity to announce what they are wearing. They like to discuss brands in order to stand out as superior from those who aren’t wearing one. The status competition which wasn’t that prevalent in an American middle-class Pakistani expatriate community some ten years back is now taking its roots similar to back home.

To overcome the gap between the expensive brands and the affordability, many clothing mills in India and Pakistan are now producing the Pakistani brand replicas that are three to four times cheaper than an original one. So instead of having to purchase a $150 – $200 branded Shalwar Kameez suit, there is a choice to purchase a replica under $40 to $50.

The quality of the replica is not the same however it’s much affordable to wear a new one more frequently. The ones purchased as unstitched also do not have any easy differentiation between the original and its replica since there are no label tags that come when stitched using a local tailor in Pakistan. The ready-made ones from the boutique, however, do come with branded tags at the back of the shirt. It’s funny when you find some women checking the collar tags of their friend’s shirt to ensure they are not faking. We expect that this craze, popularity, and brand consciousness will continue to cultivate in years to come.

As global trade improves in the next five years, more Pakistani fashion designers are expected to jump in. Currently, Pakistani fashion clothing brands are 20% of its exports however this number is expected to grow as the Pakistani government is facilitating trade opportunities for the expatriate community and to improve the overall Pakistani exports. The Pakistani government is working on bringing PayPal to Pakistan which will make the online trade and purchase from the US, Canada, Europe, and middle east even more simple.

As the competition will grow, it will be up to the brands to maintain their standards of differentiation from the ordinary ones. Also, there are opportunities for these Pakistani boutique brands to penetrate into the mainstream US fashion industry however for that to happen more creativity and innovations are needed to move out of the traditional concepts.