High-street brand Sapphire just launched its ‘Home’ line and when one thinks about it, this was only inevitable.
After all, before Sapphire shook up the prêt and expanded breakneck, it was a textile heavyweight that specialized in the export of bed linen. Even now, the brand’s claim to fame may be its high street standpoints but its primary business continues to be deeply rooted in export. Why not, then, bring this export-quality fabric, honed over years of experience, to the local customer?
And – here’s the best part – why not make it affordable to the local customer?
Sapphire’s Creative Director Khadijah Shah, often quite adept at assessing market requirements, apparently thought that a home line was the need of the hour.
“I’ve just always felt that home accessories have largely been neglected in Pakistan,” she observed.
“We have some high quality home stores which aren’t mass market at all with everything being too expensive for the general shopper. Then, we have a large range of high-street stores that just present busy prints with glaring colors and absolutely no originality. It has always been virtually impossible to find crisp white cotton sheets or basic yarn dyes."
"Just like fashion, I feel that having a beautiful home adds to one’s life experience. As a fashion and lifestyle brand, this was just the next avenue that we wanted to explore with Sapphire while keeping an eye on economic sustainability.”
The ‘Home’ line, launched at the spanking new, colossal Sapphire store in Lahore’s Packages Mall, currently features cushion covers, bathroom accessories, table linen and bedlinens that vary from embroidered ‘luxury’ options to vintage florals, youthful contemporary prints and a children’s line. Over the next month and a half, the range will be extended to include crockery, table-wear, rugs and home décor.
The launch came with all the hype and hoopla that one has now begun to associate with Sapphire and Khadijah Shah. Select media was flown in for the store opening, a grand red carpet was rolled out at the store’s entrance, regular Sapphire clients, friends and family filtered in and with an opening day discount on offer, there was some serious shopping taking place.
The Sapphire café boasted blue and white Sapphire cookies amongst other savories. The interiors by Yousuf Shahbaz – who can now be considered a Sapphire mainstay of sorts – was very classy white birds suspended from the ceiling, a gushing fountain, animal murals on the walls and plenty of greenery.
There was an extensive area for menswear, the usual milieu of lawn and women’s prêt, plenty of accessories and sumptuous beds and tables announcing the launch of the home line.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that a popular high-street brand has endeavored to stock savvy home accessories. One can’t possibly ignore Khaadi Home, launched back in 2013, and consistently presenting a vibrant range of home accessories.
Where Sapphire Home appears to be leaning towards sophisticated luxury, Khaadi Home has always had indigenous shades. Staying true to the Khaadi ethos, the brand’s home-ware is colorful, interspersed with funky machine embroideries, tassels, block prints and ethnic motifs.
Complementing it is a limited range of furniture and nick-nacks - for instance, settees and arm chairs upholstered entirely with embroidered fabric, tempting one to splurge out completely.
One expects Sapphire, with its well-defined aesthetics and strong eye on the market, to similarly set precedents in the local market for home accessories.
However, just these two high-street contenders are hardly enough. In a market where almost every textile mill worth its salt is exporting to the West, it’s strange that we have such limited options when it comes to home accessories.
Gul Ahmed’s bed-linens have a huge Western market and Al-Karam exports two separate international lines of bed-linens – the up-market ‘Royal Baroque’ line stocked at Neiman Marcus and the more mass-market Bed Inc. available at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Sana Safinaz maintain a thriving interior-decorating business alongside their designing atelier. Why can’t these brands, also, delve into extensive launches of their home ranges for local customers?
The market-savvy Sapphire is bound to make a mark. Khaadi continues to be a favorite amongst aficionados of home décor. There is still space, though, for other contenders to filter through. It’s about time that the generic milieu of linens and crockery filter out from so-called fashionable stores with strong export backgrounds. Let’s hope this sets the ball rolling for savvier home accessories.