An uncommon thread

  • In a market saturated with mass-produced, imported clothes, Logo Fashion provides Made-in-Nepal garments that are stylish and affordable

Jan 21, 2019-

In the 1990s, when the Nepali garment industry was at its peak, Hira Muktan established a factory catering to private labels in various European countries, exporting Nepal-made products to the international market. But due to political instability and management challenges, Muktan was forced to shutter his factory in 2002. More than a decade later, Muktan has now launched Logo Fashion, re-establishing the factory as well as venturing into retail.

With all of their apparel exclusively made in Nepal, Logo Fashion emphasises Nepali workmanship that delivers high-quality products through outlets in Jhamsikhel, Naya Baneshwor and Maharajgunj.

“We want to change the concept that Nepal-made fashion wear is low in quality,” says Sonam Muktan, who manages Marketing and Communication for Logo Fashion.

The garment company, which used to produce more than 4,000 pieces a day and employed more than 500 people, was forced to reboot itself after business opportunities improved in Nepal following the lengthy political transition. After their closure in 2002, they were mostly based in Dubai for exports. In Nepal though, their rebirth began with the renovation of their factory space at Nekosera, Bhaktapur in late 2015. The former production hub for the European market had now decided to establish their own brand in Nepal, targeting local customers instead of just catering to international labels.

Although the outfits from Logo Fashion are manufactured in Nepal, they import raw materials, such as fabrics and accessories from China and Taiwan. The fabrics used in their products are mostly cotton and linen. According to Muktan, to ensure the quality of their products, they use fabrics that are eco-friendly, sustainable, Azo-free, does not shrink and colour bleed. For designs, they follow international fashion trends and are also working with in-house designers to cater to the local street style.

“We have been getting a lot of positive responses for selling locally-made products, but the lack of consumer awareness can be a setback. There is no retail culture in Nepal and many people remain fixated on the prices rather than the quality of the material in terms of comfort and style,” Muktan says.

Nepal has become a home for rejected or second-choice products from the international fashion industry, says Muktan. Some second-choice products are being sold as genuine and sadly, consumers do not even bother to examine the product to see if it is fake. He agrees that it is common in the Asian market to haggle over prices and attempt to crack bargained deals but comments asking why Nepal-made products are more expensive than imported ones bother him the most.

Photos: Sanjog Manandhar

Muktan attributes this to the industry culture as well. The Nepali garment industry has a trend of paying their employees on a per-piece basis, which according to Muktan, is flawed on two basic levels—first, it emphasises quantity and undermines quality, hence the common consumer paradigm that ‘made in Nepal’ garments are of subpar quality, and second, it does not ensure job security for employees.

Logo Fashion, according to their own account, are here to change that mindset. Their ethical manufacturing practices are not just limited to chemical-free fabric but they are also prioritising a safe and enriching environment for their employees. They employ altogether 60 staff in their factory and retail outlets, all of whom are salary-based and are offered on-the-job training to hone their craftsmanship. “We also offer health insurance to all our employees and provident funds to provide an enriching and motivating environment,” he says.

They also specifically focus on empowering their women workers, who Muktan claims make up 50 percent of their workforce. “It is important to understand and contribute to society even through business,” he says. It is difficult to find skilled human resource—in stitching and pattern making—but they also have been hiring people, especially women, with limited to no prior experience and providing them with skill-based training to help them become financially independent.

Logo Fashion specialises in office-wear and smart casual. They choose a colour palette for their seasonal collection, which their outlets display according to the changing weather. Their most popular items are chino trousers for men and women, closely followed by formal shirts and jackets in winter. They offer sizes from extra-small to extra-large, but their production is mostly decided by the consumers’ demand.

Muktan admits that their production rate of 100-200 pieces per style is minimal, compared to the overall market demand. Combined with their high production costs, this naturally affects the pricing of their products. “We are constantly planning to deliver quality products, manufactured through ethical and sustainable means within an affordable price range. We are aware that if we are able to increase our production, it will naturally cut down the per-piece cost and we can offer lower price ranges to our customers,” he says.

The office wear that is available in their outlets comes between a price range that are higher than the mass imported products but cheaper than the customised wears. As the brand has emphasised—their products have a universal design but a tinge of uniqueness through their use of colours and patterns. Their very name, Logo, stems from the idea of offering their customers with an individualistic style—a brand of their own. They have been releasing certain styles throughout particular collections—almost in batches—so that their displays in retail outlets are continually renewed. But if they can produce larger numbers, as they have been planning, they will come out with an entire collection and distribute different styles to various outlets, providing a fresh overview to each of them.

In order to realise this goal, Logo Fashion is scouting markets outside the Kathmandu Valley to open retail outlets. They have also recently launched their website, which only lists their product portfolio and store locations as of now. “We are planning to venture into e-commerce as well,” says Muktan. “The current website is being operated as a trial before we jump into online shopping.”

It is, however, not easy to compete with mass-produced imported products from China and Bangladesh. Their Nepal-made garments may have unique aesthetics but with the countless variations of street wear available in the fashion market, Nepali garments may not be a consumer’s primary choice. But Muktan says that he is positive about the prospects of his business. “It is certainly profitable in the long run. There is a lot of initial investment that goes into this but we are sure that we will be able to appeal more to the Nepali market in the future,” he says.

Published: 21-01-2019 09:12

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