‘Tis the time of the year when red-blooded Pakistani women roll up their sleeves, chug down some energy drinks and get busy with the harrowing task of buying luxury lawn.
Catalogues are scrutinized online and as hard copies; lawn suit images are floated out onto Whatsapp groups and discussed in detail; designs are avidly pre-booked and depression may prevail when a certain coveted suit is pronounced unavailable, having had ‘sold out’.
Even those of us who aren’t too fond of the elaborate unstitched suit can’t help but get besotted by some of the prints that resiliently besiege our social media feeds. The colossal popularity of luxury lawn continues to prevail in Pakistan, there’s absolutely no denying it.
And yet, the lawn market is very, very clustered and lawn moguls have to actually work very hard to harness a sizeable slice of the lucrative lawn pie. Where some brands may boast going ‘sold out’, there are many more that fail to yield profits, with suits festering in the market until inevitably going on sale.
In a bid to entice customers, some very interesting marketing mechanisms are employed by textile mills and designers and looking at some of the most popular campaigns we’ve seen recently, here’s what we’ve noticed:
'Destination' lawn shoots that leave you wanting more
‘Destination’ lawn shoots are more common than ever where elaborate three, four and five-piece suits are flown off to locales where you’d never expect to see lawn – the scantily clad beaches of Thailand and Dubai or a freezing Turkey or the cobbled alleyways of Europe. It’s supposed to add glamour to the shoot and it does work a lot of times.
Khadijah Shah, one of the very first designers to being traveling the world for her lawn catalogues, explains, “I envision the woman who wears our lawn to be a wanderer, roaming the world. Our lawn is styled in a functional yet fusion way, exemplifying an international feel. I want to put it forward as a product that can be worn anywhere in the world and still stand out. That’s why I insist on our annual shoots to resemble veritable travelogues.”
This year, Khadijah’s luxury label Elan trooped through Spain while Sapphire, the high-street label for which she is creative director, made a picturesque ‘Italian escape’.
Maria B., whose ‘Wadi Oasis’ lawn collection was shot in Dubai, explains that she is selling a dream. “The designs or the styling should ideally connect in some way with the location. I remember that when we created our collection with Ottoman inspirations we especially went to Turkey to shoot for its catalogue.”
Similarly, Faraz Manan explains that he chooses to shoot at a destination which is reminiscent of his prints for the year. "The collection this time is inspired by Sicily," he says.
Designer Zara Shahjahan traversed Vietnam this year for an exquisite lawn shoot and she explains that every local outdoor location that she considered had already featured in umpteen catalogs. “Vietnam has a vintage feel that complemented our lawn very well and the outdoor lighting was perfect.”
There are occasions, though, when befuddled lawn entrepreneurs go abroad for a shoot but their location is barely visible in the final images. They may be able to raise hype while they travel by persistently posting images and videos on Instagram and a certain customer may imagine the lawn to be of exceptional quality given that the designer or mill has spent quite a bit on getting it shot.
Nevertheless, if the shoot itself doesn’t show much of the location, all the hype and hoopla doesn’t seem to make much of a point.
At other times, one also hears of enterprising big-shot photographers and actresses hired for modeling who insist on boarding first class international flights for their lawn trysts. One expects that budgets must go awry with such divas on board. Oh well.
So far, though, some gorgeous destination shoots have been making waves on social media this year. Aside from Sapphire, Elan and Maria B., Farah Talib Aziz for Lakhany Silk Mills has visited scenic Monaco, Image Fabrics have fluttered their dupattas in Croatia and Faraz Manan has roamed through Sicily.
Very soon, Zainab Chottani is going to be showing us images from her recent trip to Italy, Honey Waqar has roamed Santorini and we’re sure there are many more shoots to come. As long as they make sense, a destination shoot does make a brand look different.
Then again, there are many local destinations that are just as impressive. One remembers Wardha Saleem presenting one of the most memorable lawn shoots in recent times, shot in picture-perfect Skardu. Actress Sanam Saeed posed amidst ancient architecture with the majestic Karakoram mountain range in the background. We’re probably being patriotic here but that kind of imagery could easily beat Europe any day.
Unpronounceable collection titles... preferably foreign!
Apparently, really sophisticated lawn needs to have an unpronounceable, incomprehensible name – at least that’s what seems to be happening. “It adds to the essence of our lawn being like a travelogue,” explains Khadijah.
Luckily, you don’t need to know how to pronounce – or understand the meaning of - ‘Toro de oro’ or ‘Solivagant’ when you buy your preferred suit from your local lawn retailer. The catalogues helpfully have code numbers that go with each suit and simply stating them – 1A, 1B and the like – should get the job done easily.
Bye bye Bollywood, hello 'exotic' models!
For the first time in many years, Bollywood actresses aren’t flitting about the landscape in elaborate three-piece glory. With cross-border tensions still simmering, there are some lawn brands that have been hiring local actresses but given the limited choices they have, many have also searched elsewhere for new blood. As a result, we’ve been seeing some gorgeous international faces modeling some of the most highly anticipated lawns of the year.
"Most local models aren't exclusive to a single lawn brand while an international face makes the lineup look distinctive," observes Faraz Manan.
Now just in case you don’t know who these girls are, certain social media campaigns helpfully provie you with captions that include the models' names and a repertoire of all the big global brands that these girls have worked for. So that you know that these just aren’t any girls picked off Europe’s alleys. Which probably means that the lawn itself must be well worth the expense. Which leads to suits going sold out.
It’s all quite predictable, really but hey, it seems to be working.
Ladies who lunch
In the grandiose practiced initiated some years ago, lawn launches continue to be celebrated with ‘it’ teas and brunches. Bloggers, journalists and designers’ friends are gifted stitched lawn suits which they happily come wearing to the event. The images of the event quickly filter onto the Internet, allowing potential customers to see the many versatile ways in which the lawn can be stitched.
It’s quite clever; designers don’t need to hire models with the fashion media happily flaunting their beautiful ‘freebie’ joras. Given the fashion fraternity’s ease with designer wear, this lot even knows how to maneuver its way into gargantuan balloon sleeves, complicated off-shoulders and wacky experimental origami-inspired silhouettes. And they’re a marvel at posing for the red carpet.
Taking things further, designers sometimes even invite regular clients to these soirees, giving them the chance to see the suits firsthand before they get busy with making purchases. This may result in some uncomfortable moments for the fashion set in their new suits – an aunty impulsively tugging at their hemline in order to get a closer look at it or asking them to twirl for her and of course, a whole lot of unabashed ogling.
We speak here from firsthand experience. As a marketing mechanism, it probably works wonders for designers. Personally, though, things can get pretty hilarious.
And just in case customers need to be convinced a bit more, PR personnel happily provide ‘sneak peeks’ and ‘first glimpses’ of upcoming lawn collections along with suggested captions for the images. These captions are usually simply copy-pasted by Instagrammers and they are, therefore, worded in ways designed to enamor the audience.
One can sense the thesaurus being used very frequently here; the words ‘stunning’, ‘gorgeous’ and ‘breathtaking’ are recurrent. Getting a bit more inventive here, there are captions that state ‘We can’t wait to get our hands on this suit’ or ‘Talk about attention to detail’ or regal aspirations declared with the hashtag ‘Royalty has arrived’.
Does it work? We’re not too sure. In the case of lawn, a picture certainly speaks a thousand words and with some fantastic imagery, brands could possibly just dismiss that bedraggled Thesaurus and announce ‘sold out’!