I'm seeing a growing trend of pop-up shops and online websites selling ready-made and pret outfits by various Indian and Pakistani designers, which makes life easier than having to go through the rigmarole of ordering a custom made outfit. It also makes the designer outfits more accessible and gives a chance for us consumers overseas to buy outfits rather than going through Facebook, ordering via relatives or even flying out to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh!
I decided to opt for this Zainab Chottani long black kurta-style dress, which I thought would make a great outfit for evenings out or post-wedding dawats (I also wanted to treat myself to an early birthday present!) - it's simple, versatile and easy to wear, plus looked quite hijab friendly. The website is pretty easy to navigate, and they give a good view of the outfit which you can see close ups of. I saw this design a while back and thought it looked quite chic, so was quite pleased that the price was relatively reasonable.
The outfit itself took about two weeks in total to arrive, from selecting and paying for the purchase online and it's arrival at my door. I got a phone call about a week after placing the order from a Pakistan number (they start with +92), which turned out to be from the Brand Central company confirming my order, and also letting me know that the outfit would come in 7-10 days. About two days before the delivery date, I also got an email that gave the date of the delivery, which would arrive via FedEx - and on the date as stated, the outfit arrived nicely packaged and secure.
This is the outfit when it came in the post (although it was slightly more wrinkled so I had to iron it first before I took pictures!) It was only one piece and not particularly heavy, so I didn't expect to worry about any damage or issues with the kurta.
Most of the design is print-work at the bottom of the dress, although there is a motif at the shoulder which adds some sparkle. The dress itself is a lovely shape, which has a tail to the back and the material is malai lawn, which feels really soft and comfortable on.
When I tried the dress on, I was quite pleased with the fit of it, the shape is incredibly flattering (it made me look taller and skinnier!) and it's perfect for hot summer days because of how loose and cool it feels on. I also can't wait to wear it because I'm envisaging wearing it with a long gold kundan-style mala necklace under my hijab for a statement piece.
Overall, my experience was quite easy and hassle free with this company. There are pros and cons with ordering from any online company, not to mention the risks, which I'm still quite wary of because there are very few established online websites selling outfits like these.
The Pros: The website accepts Paypal (which is better for us!) as well as card payments, and have clear, close-up images of their outfits. The shipping costs are fairly low, especially since they use FedEx which feels reliable to me. They are also willing to ship worldwide which is helpful. Generally I was happy with this website because there is a good range of designers and outfits, and there's a good guide to sizing, descriptions about outfits, materials used and information regarding shipping and FAQs. I also liked the fact that a lot of these outfits were a bit more affordable, but perhaps this is because some of them were semi-casual and formal outfits as well as the heavier (and expensive) designs.
The Cons: I'm not sure if there are many cons to the website, other than the fact that the sizes are fixed to the usual Small, Medium and Large, which may not suit everyone's needs. For me, the fact that the outfit take two weeks to arrive is not bad, since it's quicker than other companies, and certainly quicker than getting a custom made outfit which can take anything from 6 to 12 weeks. It's not really handy for last-minute fashion emergencies though (believe me, I've had those, wandering to the local shops for an outfit about two hours before a wedding!) The other thing is still the fact that it is still a bit of a risk buying something without seeing it, so you might not be happy with what you get.
I'm sure I'll get a chance to order from this company again in the future (probably not for a while, as I'm a bit broke!), and I'll be sure to share if I do.
Have you used this website before? What was your experience like?