Online shopping for designer-wear has a new contender: My Fashion Fix (MFF). And yes, e-stores are hardly anything new in local fashion. The team behind MFF obviously knew this because they have tried to make their portal a bit different.
Here’s what’s likely to draw customers towards the portal: a price ceiling of US$200 — that’s Rs 20,000, locally. The 17 designers have all created collections specifically for the e-store, which means that the MFF designs won’t be available anywhere else, not even at the designers’ personal e-stores.
So while many of us opt to visit a designer’s personal e-store when we’re in the mood for some serious buying, we’re likely to also peek at what’s in store at MFF, lest we miss out on something we like.
What's so different about MFF?
But hasn’t daraz.pk been doing this already? At the annual Daraz Fashion Week (DFW) — now a two year old enterprise — a select group of designers are enlisted to create economical capsule collections especially for daraz.pk. The fashion show is live-streamed while it takes place, following which the designs are immediately uploaded onto the website.
DFW, though, is a once-in-a-year event while MFF proposes to consistently bring in new stock. Also, fashion aficionados are bound to appreciate that the designers on-board with MFF aren’t usually very accessible.
Sadaf Malaterre, for instance, is frustratingly elusive, creating bespoke apparel and stocking small collections at multi-labels. People living outside her home city, Karachi, particularly aren’t familiar with Sadaf’s aesthetic. Similarly, Aziz Ali’s atelier has its steady clients but remains very low profile. Akif Mehmood’s prêt has taken a backseat ever since he joined the design team at Sapphire and Sublime by Sara Shahid may stock sporadically at multi-labels in Karachi but remains largely Lahore-centric.
Lahore’s livewire Ali Xeeshan has a penchant for couture and generally designs high-priced formal-wear. MFF, though, has him playing with cotton, creating flirty short peplum tops. It’s a very savvy move. While the local high-street is besieged by run-of-the-mill designs, MFF is trying to make fashion fun.
“We have a bunch of designers who have created a name via fashion weeks but are still inaccessible and mostly operate from their ‘by appointment only’ studios,” observes MFF’s Chief Of Operations, Andleeb Rana Farhan. "Either that or they primarily focus on high-end fashion. It’s very exciting to have them come on board with us and make cost-effective online capsules just for us. Every year, we will be introducing three to four exclusive online collections and take more designers on board.”
An in-house line that's actually good
Additionally, there’s an in-house MFF line which traverses separates for day-wear as well as the occasional glam option. There’s the Hi-Low Mardana Kurta, Classic Kurti, the one-shouldered Cold Shoulder Tunic, Toga Style Tunics and a range of Tulip Pants.
“We’ve had online shoppers buy tunics from one designer and then purchase coordinating lowers from MFF,” says Andleeb. “It makes sense because as online retailers, we have to try to present as many options as possible. The MFF line is created by young design graduates who are briefed to create no-fuss clothing that has a classic appeal.”
“Additionally, as a member of the jury for the Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design (PIFD), I get to see so much talent every year. Most of these graduates start off their businesses far too soon, without learning much about their market. In the future, I hope that MFF is able to enter into interesting collaborations with these newly graduated students. I also want the brand to experiment in handicrafts, merged with modern silhouettes.”
In an effort to further promote the clothing in the e-store there is a ‘Magazine’ section that features a ‘Babe of the Season’ who will be seen wearing new designs every week that will also be available for purchasing. In the first week, a very svelte Sohai Ali Abro posed in ripped jeans and an Ali Xeeshan top and right now, she’s slick and glossy in Wardha Saleem. To keep visitors hooked, an interview with Sohai is getting published on the website in small spurts.
There’s also a ‘Trend Alert’ section that currently features Ajrak. The Ajrak designs they’re talking about are all available for purchase at MFF — no surprise there.
Is MFF fool-proof?
It all looks well and good. But online retail’s a tricky ball-game and only time can tell if MFF can keep up with it.
There can be myriad hitches and hurdles. Designers need to deliver on time and moreover, maintain quality. Technological issues are another obstacle. One remembers how only a few years ago a very well-known e-store erroneously allowed visitors to fiddle about with their settings so that they could actually change the pricing of clothes!
“The current circumstances don’t allow it but eventually I want to bring Indian designers to our portal also,” says MFF's Chief of Operations Andaleeb.
Also, the stock needs to be photographed very well, with just the right lighting so that design details can be seen. Online portals usually allow customers to zoom in on clothing and accessories in order to see them from all angles. MFF merely displays close-up shots from different viewpoints.
“We’re placing great emphasis on quality control and timely delivery, aiming to deliver across the country within two days and in five to six working days for anywhere around the world,” says Andleeb. “We’ve got a good team and we’ve really thought things through. My partners and I form an interesting mix. The Brand Crew team is responsible for the digital front and back of our website and our CEO is Faraz Latif of NTL and TNT courier company, who is responsible for the deliveries, warehousing and customer service.”
Andleeb, meanwhile, utilises her long-term experience in fashion journalism and considerable feelers in the fashion industry in order to curate designer-wear for the store, organise the magazine’s content, the styling and the PR. “The current circumstances don’t allow it but eventually I want to bring Indian designers to our portal also,” she says. That sounds exciting. New e-stores with exclusive content usually are exciting. But only a few last the long haul. Let’s see if this one does.