Pep Insights – How aware are you of wearing Nepal made products?

Pep Insights – How aware are you of wearing Nepal made products?

It is no news that every entrepreneurship talk or conference in the valley mostly revolves around strengthening the local consumption of Nepali made products, and rightfully so. These events, workshops, panel discussions or summits – that seem to happen every other day with replicated attendees – see the presence of individuals that mostly don Nepali made products from head to toe, advocating the necessity of supporting the local apparel market. But, how realistic is it to only buy Nepali “brands” when many of these brands are beyond the financial means for the majority of Nepali people? Whereas brands like Goldstar and Ktm City been delivering quality products in budget, popular exclusive brands like Latido, Dulla, Juju Wears and Sonam have mostly limited to serving a niche upper-middle-class crowd. In this new series of ‘Pep Insights’, we summarize the general conversation of a few ordinary people, like you and me, on important local issues that are easily relatable to many. Today’s discussion revolves around the necessity to support local apparel brands and clothing products, while also keeping the purchasing power of the masses in thought.

Four office colleagues, Sharad, Nista, Suraj and Ankit huddle around in a circle in their office space to discuss on Nepali brands and visibility.

Sharad -  Brand? Why brand? Why are we fixated on the word ‘brand’ and what does it entail to for a company to become a ‘brand’? I usually don’t care if my clothes are “branded” but I make a point to ask if the clothes that I am buying are Nepali or not, even if I am shopping in the gallis of Newroad.

Nista – Majority of the Nepali brands are premium and out of the reach for many families, even in the cities of Nepal. Goldstar is a popular exception though. If you go to a wholesale shop or a random retail clothing shop, many retailers hesitate to sell unbranded Nepali products. However, they are eager to inform the customers that so and so attire is imported from outside – mostly Thailand, India or China, and should be of great quality. They probably perceive that imported unbranded clothing appeals more to the customer than the locally made ones.

Ankit – Many of the Nepali made apparels are also sold solely over the internet. The masses of the cities still haven’t been able to completely trust online transactions as of yet. Much of the market is also lost due to lack of a physical retail presence. For example, a branded Sonam Jersey would cost me somewhere between 2,500 to 3000 whereas I can easily get it within 800 in any galli shop. As a rational customer, I end up buying the cheaper jersey because I want to make the best decision; I do not see a huge difference in the quality anyway.

I also feel that the more ‘social value’ a product attaches to itself, the more expensive the product becomes. For example, I would love to buy the products of Haushala Creatives, an apparel centric NGO that advocates women empowerment and employment, but the prices are comparatively exuberant; I doubt I would buy one anytime soon.

Nista – I do not think that expensive brands would be able to sustain for long in the Nepali market; people end up buying only a couple of such products once and usually end up going back to the cheap options. I understand that the cost is mostly inflated due to limited production quantity, but Nepal is still a massively poor country and the majority of the buyers look for affordability.

Suraj – It is important to note that there is a niche that wants to wear expensive and quality clothes too. The number of brand conscious people is increasing, and that is a fact.  I am in fact a staunch advocate of Nepali products and everything I am wearing, bar the inners, is Nepal made. Although my shirt and pants are not branded, I bought them exclusively from a factory outlet that exports its products outside.

Sharad – It is equally important to be curious if the clothing you buy is locally made or not. Although I do not have any favourite local ‘brands’ as such, I make a point to inquire about the origin of the products I buy. It not only educates me but it also educates the seller about my willingness to rather invest in a Nepal made product instead of an imported item.

Nista – Shopkeepers should advocate Nepali products in their retail stores. People who wander around for shopping without particular preferences are simply looking to buy good clothes in decent prices. If a shopkeeper shows me a great product with a similar price value, I would go for it without even asking if it is locally made or not. However, if a pattern follows of them reminding us that a certain product is of Nepali descent, I would sub-consciously lean towards the Nepali product.

Ankit – I will infact be asking the shopkeeper about the place of origin of an item every time I go shopping from now on. If a product is of the same quality and price, I would choose a Nepali product any day. It might be a step, albeit small, towards realizing that we equally need to support unnoticed Nepal made products that are not as glamour laced as their niche counterparts.

At the end of the conversation that started on the work desk, only to spill to the lunch table, everyone agreed that only a few exclusive Nepali brands get high amount of attention and are usually out of the masses’ budget. Saying that, each dabbler showed keen interest in being more aware of local consumption and agreed to actively hunt for “durable and affordable” Nepali products too.

Office conversations might seem trivial – almost commonplace – but they play an important role in subtly morphing our ideas and even shaping our decisions. We would love to hear about the lunch or tea-break conversations you have, in your office, about anything on the local market. Mail it to us at startupsnepal@gmail.com and you might get your office tales published here!

 

Image credits - Vectorstock

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Guest Tuesday, 16 July 2019