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.