Saturday, March 26, 2011

‘Cause Tramps Like Us, Baby We Were Lawned To (Get) Run (Over)

I would have written this in February but I’ve been stuck in traffic outside a lawn exhibition since.

If you live in the open in Karachi, and not under a rock, you cannot have missed the wave of lawn related advertising that has been crashing upon our shores for the last few weeks, leaving sensory carnage in its wake. 2011 has seen a record number of brands flood the market. Some 30-odd designers have lent their names to collections, and if you count the textile mills without big name designers attached and the imitation lawn print makers the number reportedly edges well over fifty.

They call me Jofa, say it like Sofa, you look tired hon, lean on my Ottoman.

Women are unislamic. Look instead at my jeweled balls floating heavenwards.

Because April 1st was already taken, fool!

I love the way those bubbles of lightness float across pastel space almost as randomly as the way I park.

I must buy this aqua ensemble because it looks ridiculously expensive and so did my husband.

Nishat Textiles' Pink Lawn: why men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses?

The trauma of a bad billboard or magazine shoot begins to seem like a pleasant memory, though, once the actual sale begins and you happen to be caught in the whirlpool outside. At such times, it becomes apparent why the sale is called an ‘exhibition’, consisting as it does of a shameless display of the worst attributes of most of the women who flock to them. Pushing, shoving, cattiness, oestrogen levels run so high that the hosts with the most have started arranging for Portaloo trucks to be parked outside so women can flee to the bathroom (in packs) and cry in each others arms at the way so and so kept them from buying the last print #666 K-21 Rs 2650.

Queue? Isn’t that a letter in the alphabet?

You’ve probably gathered by now that this is a rant about the willing vacuity and utter and complete lack of civic sense displayed by raving lawnatics rather than a critical analysis of the industry itself. That has already been attempted, in depth, by Karachi Feminist, in two posts about the exploitative working conditions of the women whose field work powers the business of what she dubs ‘blood cotton’. These include greater exposure to pesticide as the appetite for the fabric leads bosses to drive their crews harder, and the absence of any substantive wage increase, regulatory framework or protective rights umbrella for the vast majority of cotton pickers in Pakistan.

She makes a strong case for more ethical consumption and the reformation of labour laws. The benefits of the industry’s growth should, in theory, trickle down to the faceless pickers as well as the individual designers, fashion houses and textile behemoths who package the final product. As this industry continues to explode, each link in the chain from plant to pocket needs to figure out a way to satisfy its desire for dirty, pretty things without making innocent bystanders pay for it.

Pesticide in print? We’re SO ahead of that fashion curve…(Photo: SDPI)

But buying clothes, as some people will tell you, never killed anybody. How exactly is lawn singlehandedly responsible for the pitiful state of workers' lives? Should we also stop buying unbranded fabric, cushion covers, tablecloths, t-shirts, shifts from Sheep, pants from Ego and kurtis from Khaadi? Should we, like, not wear any clothes at all?

Please do. You must. We absolutely insist. Just make sure you’re ok with any hidden costs too.

And don’t act like this is what cars are for when you go to buy them (Photo: Ittehad Textile Mills)

In conclusion, I would like to remind you, in the words of lawn's latest self-appointed messiah, that it is not just a fabric…it’s a lifestyle. It’s a philosophy. It’s a religion. It’s a science. With rockets in it.

Or as his Press Release puts it:

"On the announcement of the launch of The World of HSY Prints, head designer and CEO of the HSY design house Hassan Sheheryar Yasin has said “The World of HSY’s first collection of prints introduced for S/S 2011 is a celebration of self expression, striking a balance between tradition and experimentation where our designs mirror the emotions, cultural heritage and characteristics of the modern Pakistani woman. Having successfully launched couture, resort and prêt lines over our decade long history in fashion, this year we are proud to extend our repertoire to our first ever luxury print collection”"

All of which is aptly communicated by a giant billboard of a man in a suit.

Come, my witless flock, let me fleece you.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant, MSS. You cut through the bah-bah's mentality better than the head tailor at Sana Safinaz.

'I must buy this aqua ensemble because it looks ridiculously expensive and so did my husband'...

Salman Javaid said...

MSS, I bow. You are brilliant. :D

km said...

mss. i know you have lots of proposals already :-) if you have not taken up one, please consider me. i promise not to buy you any lawn outfits.

Miss Hanif said...

Great post!! This year, we are flooded with lawn collections!

TightDhoti said...

Ethics be damned! Being ahead of the fashion curve is the key. The rampant exploitation of individuals so that a small niche in urban centers can relieve their trips to Oxford street and their daddy funded shopping sprees is grotesque consequence of globalization and our persistent awe of those who fill society pages.

And this is what we dub as progress! Pakistans soft image! too bad at the end of the day its fellow Pakistanis who get screwed

Farrukh Ejaz said...

Nishat's Lawn 4,150 only, c'mon

Vidyut said...

Strange isn't it? The blood cotton is largely a woman's work, presented as woman's pride, intended for women who will not be wearing the kinds of clothes in the kinds of circumstances displayed, and the profit makers are largely men :D

Its a miracle that the fictional dreams curtaining the hard sufferings from the gullible consumer never flutter in the breeze enough to show a glimpse...

Anonymous said...

Some of these ads are photoshopping disasters. It looks the poor woman in the first poster was the victim of a carnivorous ottoman. Half of her arm is missing. No wonder she looks miserable!

Magnum said...

"Women are unislamic. Look instead at my jeweled balls floating heavenwards."

LOL! Zabardast. :D

Anonymous said...

How often do these lawns need mowing?

Anonymous said...

Bet you don't even have a lawn, let alone be able to afford a designer variant of the fabric. Stop being jealous and go home to your stuffy apartment in Gulshan where all low lifes belong! (Unfortunately, I had to actually go there for the first time in my life for the Sana Safinaz show.)
Me, I can't wait to saunter off to to my darzi in Delawala and watch my neighbours turn green with envy as I unveil my treasure chest of Deepaks and HSYs and Umar Saeeds before them.
Down with losers and MSS! And lawn zindabad!

Anonymous said...

Love this... It's insane what is happening... But on a more serious note.... WHY are our women going soooo crazy over lawn? What are we compensating for?

The zINg & da zANg said...

Just one word ...AWESOME ! :D

gibran said...

@anon 9:09 snicker!!!
I live a stone's throw from where that exhibition was held, and Gulshan's property prices are a lot more than Defence or Clifton - own properties in all these areas.

In fact, Gulshan - and the adjoining KDA areas are among the most posh places in Karachi today - more so because it does not house drivel wannabes like you!!!

Bumpy said...

Brilliant!!...laughed my guts out..

Anonymous said...

In buying 1000 lawn joras, the women are probably lamenting the same lack that their men are compensating for when they go out and buy a big-ass car

Nariman Ansari said...


Hafsa said...

love you MSS for so aptly voicing my setiments about this lawn (and other types of fabric) buying mania among fellow country-women. Would love you even more if you'd write something about the ever alternating fashion b/w lambi/choti kameez and khulay/tang panchay and the fact that you're a pariah if your mode of dressing deviates from the latest fashion. Seriously......the dear sisters back home need some aim in life other than live-to-wear

hushed said...

this post just hits the spot. Bravo