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Published in TheNews Blog :

Designer lawn, designer lawn, designer lawn!

Every Sana, Nida and Hina is coming out with designer lawns.

Thankfully never a fan of lawn as a material, it does not awaken the woman in me.

However I remember my mother, who lives in Delhi, where summers are really biting, once came back from a trip to Pakistan in mid 80s, all excited, for having discovered a wonder cloth. She is a woman with sensitive skin, and sweat rash (garmee daaney, as we call it in desi jargon) was what she had to struggle with each Delhi summer.
Fed up of wearing starched Khadis (hand spun cotton) and malmals (muslin) in the sweltering heat, she said she found something which was soft, low maintenance, colorfast and did not need any starching. The picture she painted with her descriptions and expressions got me really curious to open up her suitcase and dig out the jewel, basically to choose which one was mine.

The result that came out of that digging was so befitting to the Hindi idiom “Khoda pahaar per nikla chooha aur woh bhi mara hua”
(From the digging came out a dead rat).

The first look of it was totally unappealing –bold designs on the shirt piece, with its giant replicas on the dupatta. Didn’t need to check the third of the half a dozen three piece suits she brought.

“What’s wrong with your taste? Ammi you’ll wear this?”

“They are so comfortable. And most of all they are so reasonable. One suit costs just Rs 225.”

She didn’t even bother to comment about my ‘taste’ rant.

From then on, I saw her pass all the worst days of summers in lawn suits. And when I got married in Pakistan (perhaps she must have prayed for this secretly for her own vested interests) all she wanted from me each visit was…”bring lawn ke suits, so that meri garmiyaan nikal jaayein.”

I remember from 1990 onwards, buying them for Ammi from Rs 250, Rs 450, Rs500, then Rs1000,  1200, 2500, and last I got for her was Rs 3500. Agree that with time, along with the prices, the designs evolved too. And they certainly got better.

But each time, Ammi felt uneasy with the price escalation. At the 3500 one she told me, “Enough, I don’t need a dress at this exorbitant price just to soak my sweat.”

And now with the advent of designer tag they have graduated to even five digit prices (at the higher end). And they usually begin from 4,000 going upto 12,000, I am told.

I remember some 2 years ago, hearing two cousins talking of outlets where they got the same designs as the big brands copied at much lower prices.

“The original is so expensive, so I buy the duplicate ones.”

“Even the previous year’s designs are available at cheaper price,” said the other.

Yes, but you know there is a teacher in my school who thinks she is very  smart. She instantly recognizes, ‘ye to pichle saal ka design hai’. So I can’t wear that. But woh kaminee tou isko bhi pehchaan jaati hai, ke ye duplicate hai.’

“Why do you need to copy? Or in fact wear designer lawn at all”, I asked.

She rubbished my question and moved on to some other topic.

This is certainly not to act snobbish, but I certainly find it hard to fathom the compulsion to owe one’s allegiance to these ‘disposable’ pieces of cloth which are so short term that they become obsolete the next season.

If I have so much money to spare( 5-7,000+ on a dress) , I will perhaps invest in a piece I can cherish for longer, and if you ask my secret desire, it would be on something I can pass on to my daughter. And indeed I have done exactly by getting hold of  some beautiful pieces with  Baluchi, Afghani or Sindhi hand embroideries.

Dump my hard earned money into a casual wear lawn suit which won’t last the next summer—no way.

In the background of so much disinterest for the designer fad, I was made to see this disgusting ad ( see the bottom pic) by a twitter pal.

And this perhaps was the boiling point of my emotions,  for the ‘designer lawn’ and hence I decided to blog my disdain for them.

With all the designer hype or price escalation, the brand had the audacity to show their product with coolies in the background.

What did they wish to relate to?

Was it the quality of attire in comparison? Oh ! Theirs is so simple, non designer unlike mine. Yet in my two dim visioned eyes, the poor men’s is the rawest of  cottons.


Was it about the worth of one’s labour? Oh look at us, how much we get for the every drop of sweat we shed in the labor for those ‘designs’. 


Was it about the matching colors?

But then, Buddhist monks and  Hindu sadhus too wear the color similar to the woman’s. With ‘Muslims’ as their major market, it was too much of a risk to take.

Oh,  yes, the coolies do not prick anyone’s sensitivity, so were  pretty risk free to have as a background.

Kudos to the imaginative  Advertising Company that thought of this ad and flexibility of the Designer Textile Company that approved of it and owned it.

To me personally this was absolutely nauseating…akin to showing middle finger to the poor fellows in the background.

So rightly had someone commented: “Thank you for hiding their faces with your brand name.”

Hats off to the Feudal mindset, yet another common man’s commodity, the lawn, has turned into an elitist product. Of course in business jargon this is called as ‘value addition’. So what if it gets unaffordable to the vast majority, at least it looks coool ( with a triple o) !

How I wish we did some value addition to Islam too, in Pakistan?

On a second thought, haven’t we?

With the  tags of suicide bombs, Ahmedi hate, Shia kafir rants, we have made it a brand which ordinary Muslims like me find hard to afford.

Comments on: "Lawn ki kahani, meri zubani ( The story of Lawn in my words)" (3)

  1. Another sensitive piece from you. Totally second you about spending so much on a piece of cloth which might not last another season… I’d rather buy a nice saree which easily lasts me a decade and changes form according to my own 🙂
    As for the Sana Safinaz ad, was left speechless when I saw it. The sheer insensitivity of it! It also said a lot about the mindset of the designer. Clearly, this is a glorified darzi. A true designer is an artiste, an aesthete and an artiste’s heart would never allow such a mockery in the name of Art.

  2. Assalam-o-alikum,
    I have been following your articles and comments on Tribune for quite some time, and I liked and agreed with most. But I dont agree with this one. I dont have TV in my house so I dont know about the adds, but as far as lawn is concerned its true that designer lawns have become a fad these days but this is not a new phenomenon , it always existed , previously it was Bareeze Mausummery and yasir, but only a certain class could afford it even though I remember compared to these days it was cheaper, The point is what kind of money do people have that they are buying this even at exorbitant prices.
    The other thing is that why do they have to since 500 rupees lawn is still available at Gulf and other places with the same quality as before. Thirdly, the lawn which is 500-750 does not last whole season , even in Saudi Arabia where there is little wear and tear. The lawns I bought last year were all between 1500-3000 and even after rough use for a year they are as good as new. The Vaneezah one I had lasted me 3 years then when long shirts came into fashion I gave it to a younger cousin who still wears it.These lawns were good enough to wear to parties ,eid and all. The regular ones for daily wear are around 800-1200 and they last much longer than the 500 ones. so, in the end the cost is the same , considering inflation and all.
    The exhibition trend started because brands like Sana Safinaz, Mausummery, Vaneeza don’t have shops of their own and they conduct once a year exhibitions to sell their brand.
    Lastly all expensive brands are advertised and with much fanfare, consider advertisements for Louis Vuitton or Versace or designer wear anywhere in the world, are they for the regular public? Everywhere there is a thriving market for fake and copied brands, My friend bought a Rado classic for 30 riyal equivalent in Thailand. Market is driven by consumer attitudes , where the consumers are willing to spend the designers are supplying. This is not a new trend but was exclusive before now the general public is demanding and buying so the market dimensions have moved accordingly. The Gucci and Versace bags are in demand and the fashion changes every year , last year the cheapest Gucci was 350riyals at Gazzaz, at an open exhibition I bought the same design for 65 riyals. So, it is global.
    Ayesha Mallick

    • Great to see you here Ayesha. 🙂

      And I agree to what you are saying about big brands. True, but the point here is Lawn isnt that big brand to have been hyperinflated to such prices. And because it was a common man’s dress, dioes it hurt. I do not question the high end boutiques, but a lawn, every simple woman wants to follow. Have seen, as mentioned in the blog, simple unaffording women getting into the Lawn fad, and making the asli- naqli status symbol.

      I would love to invest the same amount in a more durable, long lasting Kanjeevaram silk or a formal wear suit. Not a lawn.

      Pieces of Gucci, Gazzaz, etc are prized possessions, lasting a lifetime.Lawn isn’t.

      However, I agree to diagree with you, with all due respect to your opinion Ayesha. Give my love to your kids 🙂

      Did u see the ones published in TheNewsBlog. Can check them here in the Published section?

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