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Eid Shopping spree yet to begin

22On the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest festival of the country, fashion outlets in the capital are displaying arrays of stylish dresses of the latest design at their shops in different shopping centres of the capital. Although stores are waiting for customers, the Eid shopping spree has not begun yet, after eighth Ramzan. But entrepreneurs are hopeful that the momentum would pick up soon.
Lipi Khandaker, a boutique entrepreneur and fashion designer, told The Independent that there are around 50,000 boutique shops in the country, but business has not been satisfactory during the last three years. “I don’t think it will get any better this year, too, even though the fashion outlets have made all preparations to cash in on the month of Ramzan,” Khandaker, also owner of Bibiana, a fashion house, added.
“This year, Eid will take place at the end of the rainy season. So, keeping that in mind, we are designing dresses attuned to the beautiful colours of this time of the year, and bright colours will get priority,” said a fashion designer. Others echoed the designer.
This year, entrepreneurs are focusing on magenta, yellow, blue, green and ash as bright colours go with the festive mood. They have chosen cotton as the fabric of choice.
Also, half silk Michelle saree, Panjabi and salwar kameezes are available. Dresses made of muslin and andy cotton fabric are also displayed.
Long kameezes are trendy this year, but some customers prefer traditional short kameezes. Short kameezes that can be worn with jeans or trousers are also available in the market, said Khandaker.
According to her, fusion-typed dress would be a big hit. Such a dress looks like a gown. Like Bibiana, many fashion houses are carrying this item. With that, koti is also popular now, she said, adding it goes with men’s pants and women’s salwar kameez.
Mosalin Bithun, owner and designer of Kapor-e-Bangla, said koti fashion has returned after a year; koti made of yellowish cotton is this year’s trend.
“We have designed koti for both girls and boys,” she added.
Along with the boutique shops, manufacturers of premium dresses are displaying varieties of attractive outfits. Women are looking for lawn dresses, including two-piece, three-piece, single kameez and unstitched three-pieces.
For men, apart from regular fit and tune fit panjabis, fitted shirt and auto fitted shirts are being displayed at different outlets of premium fashion houses
Yellow (located at Dhanmondi, Bashundhara City Shopping Centre, Banani, Wari, Mogbazar and Mohammadpur) in the capital.
“Some new items have arrived this year, with cotton getting the highest priority. Koti, panjabis and trousers are in demand, while people are going for shirts. Lawn is doing well and has become the centre of attraction,” said Deen Islam of Yellow, Banani.
The fashionable dresses of the country’s premium fashion houses—Artisti, Westecs, Cat’s Eye, Lubnan, Richman, Ecstasy—are also showcased all over the capital.
A salesman of Ecstasy at Bashundhara expressed the hope that the momentum of shopping would pick up next Friday.
Facing competition from Indian and Pakistani products, local fashion designers and houses are losing ground, complained designer Morsalin Bithun. There is stiff competition in the apparel market as glittering Indian and Pakistani dresses, which are more attractive, are available at a lower cost compared to local ones.
Golam Kabir, head of the marketing department of Banglar Mela, said people who buy local dresses always opt for it. Nowadays, the number of customers does not surge on special occasions, he observed.
“Prices of cotton are up, with higher labour costs, but profits are not lucrative,” Kabir said.
According to him, a Bangladeshi worker cannot do the same quantum of work as an Indian worker does in eight hours, since boutiques are specialised and the work there requires more attention.
A boutique expert seeks a higher salary compared to a regular Indian apparel worker. Again, there is the negative impact of technology, Kabir added.
“Government incentives for boutiques are essential now, as Bangladeshi boutiques are competing against Indian and Pakistani brands to survive,” said Lipi Khandaker.
Local boutique houses are paying 5.50 per cent value added tax (VAT), whereas Indian and Pakistani businesses are paying less than 2 per cent VAT.
Boutiques are not making any less contribution than the readymade garments (RMG) sector to the country’s economy, but the government is still not paying any heed to them, Lipi Khandaker said.
“You will not find any creativity in Indian or Pakistani garments. They are making thousands of copies of the same item. On the other hand, we are trying to carry on the tradition of the industry, taking stitching and handicrafts forward. Employment is being generated. Even so, additional VAT has been imposed in recent years,” she said.
Citing the growing prices of cotton, she said, “Overall, we are being hurt in unfair competition.”
Khandaker said, “The livelihoods of at least 50,000 people depend on the boutique business, and entrepreneurs like me started the business with a dream. But we are facing difficulties because of the products from outside.”
Overcoming all kinds of difficulties, the boutique shop owners have decorated their shops with attractive designs and a variety of products, expecting that they would do brisk business during Eid.