Once neglected, Nepali fashion industry paints a rosy picture

Published On: September 26, 2017 08:11 AM NPT By: Muna Sunuwar  | @TheMunaSun

KATHMANDU, Sept 26: Numerous designers are emerging in the fashion industry of Nepal with growing trend of wearing designer clothes. The clientele that orders designer clothes ranges from celebrities to regular customers who would love to flaunt their clothes in events, parties and other occasions.

“The clothing business is expanding in Nepal at the moment,” said Yubi Thapa, a fashion designer and founder of Yubi Thapa, an upscale designer studio based in Kathmandu. 

The demand of Nepali designer clothes is not limited to the Nepali market alone. Slowly, it is picking up with foreign clients and the Nepali designers have expanded their business to overseas markets. 

People from Hong Kong wear Yubi Thapa's collection.

Thapa, who started in Nepal, has taken his business to the international level. He prepare clothes at his studio in Thamel and then exports them to his branch stores located in Japan, Hong Kong, United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. 

Likewise, Tenzin Tseten Bhutia, who has been in the fashion industry for almost 12 years, often receives orders from Nepalis living abroad. 

“Nepali fashion industry often receives orders from clients from countries that have high money value in the international index,” Bhutia said, adding: “I supply my products to countries like Hong Kong, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Singapore, and Japan.” 

“Nepali market is considerably small because of the country's economy. If the country had higher per capita income, more people would have been able to afford designer clothes,” said Bhutia.

According to Bhutia, Nepali designers could be counted on fingers in the past but now there are many aspirants and new entrants in the business. Due to a competitive advantage that the Nepali designers enjoy owing to lower production cost at home, the business prospects are quite high. 

“A single costume of the international designers could cost from $1,000 to $1,500. But the clothes of Nepali designers are available at much lower price,” added Bhutia. 

According to Thapa, the fashion industry that was not regarded very much by people in the past has started to grow commercially. Considering its great prospects, many students are now studying and entering the field of fashion designing, he added.

“Celebrities hire designers in Nepal as they want to look more presentable in public events, media interviews, shootings and so on. This has helped our business grow quite a lot,” he added. 
Even though the number of orders from ordinary people and celebrities differ, both of them are equally attracted to designer clothes. 

However, despite the business prospects, Nepali designers often have to worry about raw materials as most of them are imported from other countries.

“Availability of raw materials hampers our business. We have to import them from India and when their supply gets hampered in any way, we cannot operate properly,” said Thapa. He said that the recent Gorkhaland movement in India impacted the import of raw materials, which compelled him to cancel several orders.

“There is no textile company in Nepal that produces exclusive fabrics that we need. Nepali textile companies produce only dhaka and cotton fabrics, which is why we have to import most of the fabrics from other countries,” Bhutia told Republica. 

Nepali designers are focusing on mass production with marginal profit, keeping a long-term vision for sustainable business growth. “Though the profit margin fluctuates most of the time, I have managed to save an average Rs 100,000 for myself every month,” said Thapa. 

Astik Sherchan, a fashion designer and creative director at Pulchowk 3, said party dresses like lehanga and sari are trending at the moment. “We prioritize our customers and work accordingly," he said. 

The designers attribute the growth of the industry to a growing fashion sense among the public with increased access to social networking sites, mostly Facebook and Instagram.

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