Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 17, Tuesday November 29, 2005




Virtual revolution

Let's start with a very common scene. Young people walking around with head phones attached to their ears. Once in a while you must have come around this scene especially in university areas. So a lot of them are carrying around tiny mp3 players.

Now if we search them further, few things are bound to come up. Cell phones, an mp3 player, a pen drive, sometimes even a laptop. If the search was carried out even few years before none of them would have been found.

Just in few years, a completely new lifestyle has formed. This goes especially for the young generation. The new lifestyle more specifically can be called the virtual lifestyle. Virtual lifestyle totally symbolizes the rule of machines over one's life. The young generation always craves for speed and convenience, the virtual lifestyle has given them just that.

Communication is easier than ever. Oceans of information are just one click away. Even carrying that information is just as easy. Today it's hard to find a youngster who doesn't surf the net. Internet is another major substance of the virtual lifestyle. Information about anything and everything is at our doorstep. Not only information the net has also revolutionized the communication system. Chatting with far away friends, meeting new people around the world the net has everything so simple.

Now you can sell your hobby online, write and let people all around the world read it, get any song etc. and the list of etceteras is just too long. And whatever it is, using the net, getting cell phones with newer and better functions the young are the ones making the most out of it.

So how were things before? Communication wise, calling up the special person or communicating with him/her was pretty tough. You definitely hated to hear the parents' voice and longed for some other voice. Now don't worry about that all. Send sms or talk, the person is there all along. Digging up big fat books and more books for information was a torture. Now just click and get more information than you can imagine. Submitting assignments in your copy moreover in your own handwriting is obsolete. With the addition of new software, assignments are more creative and more informative. Those are just few examples how things have become easy.

There are load more.
The older generation though weary about all the new machineries coming up agrees that things definitely have become easier. One of them explains that before all these things were not necessary because they were not needed. The more the world has come closer, the more it has become necessary to save time, to make work easier, to make things more convenient. Now multipurpose machineries are gaining more popularity so that more operations can be carried out in one thing. So a virtual revolution has definitely has taken place and with time the wonders will just keep on adding keeping up with the changing demand.

By Nozaira Sultana

What lies beneath

The fashion industry in our country is doing quite well. It is no longer like in the 80's and early 90's when the market was comprised mainly of foreign goods.

Designers could hardly find customers back then and vice versa. Despite all of this however, they persevered. At present 70 percent of the local market content is made up of Bangladeshi designed and produced clothing.

The credit for all this goes to the creative designers and the workers behind the scenes. Creating eye catching designs, using quality materials and attaching affordable price tags to the items slowly made the consumers realize that there is a better alternative to foreign made items.

The pioneers have been joined by many other aspirants who want to make a mark in the fashion business. The situation is such that now within the confines of a couple of hundred yards you will find several boutiques grouped together. Then there are the institutions that teach the techniques of making designs that go well with the clientele. Occasionally young designers get a break and are able to show off their creations to the public that eventually lead to space in the showrooms. Bottom line is, this sector is now saturated with so called designers and boutiques.

Creation is all well and good but that leaves the matter of quality control to be looked at. After all our consumers are now quite concerned about the materials they are buying. And there is a thing called consumer's rights.

Let's get to the topic of the recent Eid shopping extravaganza that gripped the city. This year there has been a tremendous crowd rushing to the boutiques. The first thing that customers scrutinize when they see a new outfit is its design. It may be obvious but that's the way it goes. Next they check out whether the material and the stitching is up to the standards. No one would pay a hefty price for something made out of cheap mixed materials.

The shoppers are very conscious about the quality of the materials and they are fickle as well. Wherever they find better materials they will head there regardless of patriotic feelings. As a result this year Pakistani and Indian outfits have been selling like hot cakes in the local market. The only exception to this phenomenon was benarasi silk and saris of Mirpur. There aren't any renowned fashion houses there. All the work is carried out by artisans who have been in this business for generations. They hardly need the aid of any magazine or tabloid to advertise their wares. Their reputation precedes them.

Another matter is that during the festivals, many people crowd the shops with magazines in hand advertising their best outfits. When they would point a particular item on the magazine the sales person would reply that either the item in question has just been sold out or that it will be available the next day. This is a typical and regular scenario. The question is, are the outfits displayed in the magazines only for the purpose of competing among fashion houses for any particular reward?

What about the pinups and posters adorning the walls of each boutiques where models display gorgeous outfits. But when you ask for any particular dress displayed by the models the answer is the same old “sold out” story. There are many shopper who have faced this situation and feel cheated.

There is a certain segment that produce outfits using foreign material and stitching. They copy designs especially those that are prevalent in India. These designs do not have any motif that resembles or highlights our culture but that does not deter the consumer. As a result the customers flock towards these as the quality is better and the designs are more contemporary. On the other hand the local designers continue creating designs that look just like any other boutique creations.

Some places put so much emphasis on the dupatta that the rest of the outfit receives little attention. As a result the kameez looks bland in comparison. It is as if the designers are expecting the consumers to buy the entire pricey outfit for the sake of the dupatta.

Sometimes in the name of keeping prices low they sell outfits with designs that were in vogue couple of years ago. Economy Exhibition is what this is called but is it right to sell off outdated designs to the public just because they cannot afford the big label prices?

All these and the rude behaviour of the sales persons in these boutiques make us, the consumers, wonder whether they have any regard of ethics and consumer's rights. Its always the middle class buyers that determine their profit margin, after all the rich would never bother with the local festival line when they can fly anywhere to buy a Ritu Kumar or Satya Paul or Calvin Klein and Liz Claiborne.

It seems that the progress of the last couple of decades is slowly grinding to a halt. The reason we think, is their high sneer and arrogance and also lack of creative juices. Surely many would agree with us.

By Sultana Yasmin
Translated by Ehsanur Raza Ronny


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