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Gul Ahmed marketing is usually impressive.

From a brand that once put up posters advertising new collections (remember how everyone wanted to buy the prints displayed in the posters?), they now have thick, professionally compiled catalogues (not to mention the uber-impressive website) and these catalogues are available in over three-dozen stand alone Ideas stores nationwide. These are big numbers we are talking. Big numbers for a very big brand. Textile Giant.

The launch of the Gul Ahmed autumn/winter collection, however, did nothing to substantiate how much the brand has evolved. It was one in a haystack of ‘red carpet’ events that take place these days. An event that invited every possible person alive to come and see a collection being modeled in an inhouse fashion show. That too in a space that did not allow the models free space to move in, let alone people see the show. Not that many people could see the catwalk. At least I couldn’t.

A simple to-do list for brands looking to be taken seriously:

1. Kindly differentiate between a launch party and a product launch. The former is a celebration while the latter is media and/or buyer specific and it’s not a good idea to have a two-in-one event unless you have the space to separate the show area from the mingling lounge. Even so, both merit completely different coverage.

2. A product launch or a collection launch requires a press preview. How can we review or write about a collection that we can barely see in a jam packed venue? Was Gul Ahmed only interested in reading how well-attended their event was? Since this guest list is seen everywhere; it was hardly exclusive!

3. Press kits. If the press cannot see the show then at least put some relevant information down in a press release. We were given copies of the latest catalogue but that didn’t provide necessary info such as: who designed the clothes, did the makeup, etc. The press release did however announce the collaboration of Gul Ahmed with Catalyst.

4. Do not use the term ‘red carpet’ so liberally. Yes, yes the red carpet culture has arrived in Pakistan but let’s not reduce it to hosting the maajay gammas of society. Red Carpets are for celebrities: film stars, musicians even models and designers. Glamorous people. Not journalists and society aunties. Especially not wannabe journalists and social climbing aunties.

5. Last but not least, please stop having fashion shows inside stores unless you have the space to seat people and allow them to watch peacefully without reaching for their nebulizers. Especially not expected from a brand name as big as GA. An elegant fashion show would have been so much more desirable. Remember how Vinny launched V9 lawn at The Commune? She organized a fashion show promoting all designers that were participating and got rave reviews in return: cover stories in all weekenders. Gul Ahmed will not be that fortunate.

It’s time to upgrade the level of professionalism in fashion, especially when it comes in co-relation to the corporate sector. Because the corporate sector has the money to invest but unfortunately is usually clueless as to how it should be spent. Everyone is jumping onto the ‘red carpet launch’ band wagon, confident that squashing as many people as possible into the limited space of a shop will guarantee good press and happy buyers. Truth is that these events have become tedious as they serve no purpose other than giving the organizers an opportunity to rejoice their success in front of eager shutterbugs. They’ve started looking like birthday parties in which certain clowns perform some tricks, snacks are passed around while congratulatory salutations are exchanged and guests leave with goody bags.

After thought: The high point of the evening, I must admit, was meeting the two French videographers who were covering the event as part of a film they are making on Karachi. I was expecting the worse when they came out and started talking to the bearded drivers queued up in front of the entrance…’oh no, another ‘defying the Taliban’ moment,’ I thought to myself! But can you believe that those intimidating, conservative looking drivers actually spoke in favour of these fashionable events and said they’d rather be inside watching the show than waiting outside! Who would’ve thought! There’s some hope left, it’s good to know!


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