Multi-brand designer store Labels leads the way in a changing retail market for Pakistani clothes while the Style360Labels estore goes from strength to strength.

Published in the Express Tribune on 9th June 2013

Labels CEO Zahir Rahimtoola talks change and revolution at the multi-brand store.

Fashionable outfits available at Labels estore

Major changes are afoot at Labels, the pioneer of fashion retailing in Pakistan. Along with Ensemble and Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC), Labels is still one of the premier multi-brand retailers in the country. 

However, the fashion retail landscape in Pakistan is changing fast. Increasingly, top designers are choosing to open their own outlets. Meanwhile, any shop that can cobble together a handful of half-baked designers is calling itself a multi-brand store these days. Labels needed to differentiate itself from those run-of-the-mill stores with their cramped racks and poorly edited content. Ever the innovator, CEO Zahir Rahimtoola is masterminding nothing less than a revolution at Labels.

Labels is moving away from the traditional multi-brand store concept towards more exclusive territory. It is shifting mainly to the boutique-within-a-boutique concept of luxury retail along the lines of Selfridges or Harvey Nichols, though of course on a smaller scale. Top tier designers including, Sania Maskatiya, Nida Azwer, Elan by Khadija Shah and Zara Shahjahan, are already on board. Other reputed upcoming designers such as Tena Durrani and Shamsha Hashwani will also have a store within the store at the revamped Labels. Rahimtoola is in talks with other senior designers along the same lines. Each label will have large areas laid out for them and will stock between 75 and 100 outfits on average.

Rather than stocking a large number of designers of various calibres, Labels is choosing to focus on quality. In the near future, Labels will be a destination where customers will be able to browse extensive collections from some of the country’s best designers. So does this mean that there will be no space at the store for smaller labels? Nothing of the sort according to Rahimtoola, as he says, “We are fortunate to have large retail spaces. Hence, we are working on a multi-concept model whereby we will have a ‘store within store’ and independent racking options as well as an area for new talent.”

“As we evolve, we will continue to remain a one-stop store providing casual clothing, luxury-wear and bridal options,” he adds.

Zahir Rahimtoola

Rahimtoola confirms that though they are editing their designer base, they will continue to support designers who have performed consistently at Labels in terms of sales and inventory. They are also taking their own brand to the next level. They will presently launch new collections by in-house designer Mahrukh Jamote for the forthcoming season.

Not content with innovation on the ground, Labels is also taking ebusiness to a new level. The Labels estore was ground-breaking, in that, it was the first to officially offer luxury brands like Sania Maskatiya online. Their professional layout and obvious retail expertise immediately attracted customers. From day one, Labels aggressively promoted the e-business model and worked with bloggers to promote fashion blogging and the online presence of Pakistani fashion in general. Their subsequent collaboration with Style360 has propelled them to even greater heights. Mashables and TechInAsia recently rated the Style360 Labels estore as one of the best ecommerce businesses in Pakistan.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though. Labels accepts Paypal and all major credit cards, but Pakistan’s lack of systems for processing payments is an issue they had to work around. There are also other challenges. “One of the biggest problems faced by online businesses in Pakistan is that there is hardly any standardisation of sizes and specs and most designers work on an ad-hoc basis, as opposed to creating seasonal collections,” Rahimtoola continues. “Therefore, there’s a continuous need to upload inventory which is very labour-intensive”

Nevertheless, the Style360 Labels estore is a huge success. They currently offer a wider range of top designers than any other estore. Furthermore, Rahimtoola scored a coup when he made the Fashion Pakistan Week Collections available online, straight off the ramp.

Contrary to popular belief, they have a significant clientele in Pakistan, as well as abroad. The Style360 Labels estore is the only place to buy designers like Shehla Chatoor who are otherwise only available by appointment at their exclusive showrooms. Moreover, customers from all over Pakistan can shop online with the convenience of paying cash on delivery. Add to that, the customisation and alteration service that the estore offers and it’s easy to understand why it has become so popular both locally and overseas.

Labels was the first fashion retailer in Pakistan and it’s plain to see that it is adapting very well to the changing retail climate in Pakistan. The Style360 Labels estore continues to break new ground on the ecommerce front. Meanwhile, the reinvention of Labels on the store-within-a-store concept will help ensure that Labels remains one of the leading designer fashion retailers in Pakistan.

Copyright 2015 Karachista. All rights reserved
Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerasta is chief editor of and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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