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KARACHI: A question that has recently been making the rounds is that do we need Bollywood celebrities to pivot people towards designer lawn in Pakistan?

From digital to print advertisements of multiple designer lawn collections, Bollywood’s leading ladies have maintained a notable presence in the country. However, there are still many designers who believe that their designs are sufficient to attract their target audience.

With the still existent concept of designer lawn joras, many individuals wonder why lawn manufacturers, such as Firdous Lawn and designer Faraz Manan’s Crescent Lawn opt for brand ambassadors from across the border.

The Express Tribune talks to some of the leading names in the lawn business in an attempt to explore why some of them pick Bollywood celebrities as their faces while others don’t.

Bollywood faces and lawn advertisements

If Firdous Lawn had Sonam Kapoor as the face of its campaign two years ago, Manan’s Crescent Lawn opted for Karisma Kapoor in 2013. And this year, Crescent Lawn’s brand ambassador is the wife of Chote Nawab Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan.

Remember, this is not Kareena’s first designer lawn endorsement. She was the face of Firdous Lawn for their prints of 2010-2011.

Firdous Lawn’s Director Omer Saleem explains why the brand had relied on Indian faces in the past. “In the past, we have worked with Bollywood faces, but since the last two years we have not. Our team had made that choice [in the past] after thorough research to make sure that we get the desired results,” he says.

Manan shares that Crescent Lawn “relied on Indian faces with extensive planning and had a [solid] marketing strategy behind it. Thus, the brand has become a well-known name in the region.”

On the question of whether Pakistani models are better or not for lawn endorsements, Manan says, “Pakistani models are definitely worthy options, but far less known as compared to Bollywood heavyweights like Kareena Kapoor Khan and Karisma Kapoor.”

Saleem concurs with Manan’s assertion. “Pakistani faces are not very familiar [to everyone],” he admits.

Manan feels that just like Pakistani singer-actor Ali Zafar has the right to act and be promoted in Bollywood, there is no harm in the local projection being reciprocated for Indian names.

He says, “Kareena Kapoor Khan is the Begum of one of the most illustrious Muslim dynasties of the subcontinent and now understands [the concept of] shalwar kameez more than before. She’s not just another Bollywood newbie who wouldn’t  know what Pakistani culture is all about.”

Modelling considered a taboo

With modelling still considered to be a cultural taboo, not many new local faces come up. For the industry to flourish, we need to create an enabling environment that follows globally recognised professional codes and practices, and nurtures fresh talent at every level,” says Saleem.

Safinaz Muneer of the brand SanaSafinaz believes that the ‘endorsed’ and maintenance of its quality are more important than the ‘endorser’. “It’s not the model who sells the clothes. It is designs and their quality that do.”

SanaSafinaz has never used a Bollywood face to sell its lawn. Muneer says, “We have never needed a Bollywood face to sell our product. We are among the biggest designer lawn sellers in Pakistan without using one.”

Are foreign models selected as eye candy?

Saleem feels that more than anything else, it is the ‘foreign’ element that must not go unnoticed. “If the audience responds to a foreign face, there is no reason to go against the tide. At the same time, using foreign talent in no way implies that local talent is not good enough. One has to look at availabilities to work according to demands of the customers.”

What is a blatant display of condemnation, a famous Pakistani model posted on Facebook that she will boycott fashion designers on the ramp who pick Indian models to campaign for their respective lawns this year.

In response to this, Manan says, “All I can say is that I would boycott that model myself; she [seemingly] lacks an understanding of the vision behind a business.”

Huge investment

Neither Saleem nor Manan are willing to share the sum of money that is invested in advertising the lawn. But Manan hints that the figures are “enough to keep expanding our business and export from Pakistan, year by year.”

Given that there has been a marked decrease in the demand for lawn, how potent a role Indian faces play in sustaining the trend remains to be seen. Manan is of the opinion that “if one sees a decrease in the demand for lawn, neither an Indian face nor a Pakistani one can retrieve it. It’s the weather, product and design that will revitalise it.”

Contrarily, Muneer feels, “The demand for lawn will continue to decrease as ready to wear [clothes are becoming popular]. More women are working, which gives them more money to spend but less time to search for material and get it stitched.”

Manan explains why the concept of designer lawn exhibitions is fizzling out. “Other than the initial SanaSafinaz ones, exhibitions these days are more like publicity gimmicks and a way to sell the product directly to the customer, which saves the percentage of revenue given to retailers otherwise,” he says.

“But this way you sell a small quantity and don’t reach out to the entire country through the hundreds of retailers that we and SanaSafinaz do. These retailers pre buy/book the lawn from us. In short, in the real business sense, exhibitions don’t make sense at all,” adds Manan.

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