By Maliha Rehman
Eid outfits can trigger a wealth of emotions. Selected after much deliberation and planned out in advance, they are a main highlight of the festive season. In the pre-corona world, the quest for achieving the perfect Eid look used to lead to frenzied trips to the bazaar and umpteen calls to tailors who would work through nights getting wardrobes ready. Marketplaces would be lit up through the night and retailers would happily haul in more profits than they did through the rest of the year.
Much of this hype has waned during the reign of the coronavirus. Marketplaces are shut off in the evenings and an impending lockdown will put a halt to all the panicky trips to the bazaar that used to precede the day before Eid. But even in these dark times, many consider a beautiful, celebratory Eid outfit a highlight. Given Pakistan’s penchant for unstitched designer lawn and the popularity, particularly, of designer label Elan’s annual lawn collections, the outfit du jour for many was an elaborate Elan lawn suit. These suits were duly pre-booked through the website and individual retailers, with delivery slotted to begin around the 30th of April, which was a few days ago. Even though the release date was only about two weeks before Eid, a rushed trip to the tailor could ensure that the outfit would be Eid-ready, right on time.
It was only inevitable that Elan lawn’s many customers reeled in shock when the brand announced that the unstitched suits would now be retailed, post Eid. In an Instagram post, the brand stated;
Due to the current spike in cases of covid 19 throughout Pakistan the government has decided to impose a strict lockdown starting on the 6th of May till the 15th of May. In light of this situation we regret to inform you that the delivery and launch of Elan lawn has been delayed as our nationwide retailers will be shut down and prohibited from delivering and selling their Elan lawn till after the lockdown. After much deliberation and with a heavy heart; in the spirit of solidarity with our retailers and the larger Elan customer base, we have made the difficult decision of delaying our retail launch and delivery of all pre-booked lawn till the 25th of May. We hope as our long-standing and loyal customers you will understand and stand by our decision.
We look forward to delivering all prebooked orders starting 25th of May and hope and pray that you have a safe and enjoyable summer, and get plenty of opportunities to celebrate in your Elan lawn…”
While it is true that summer – and therefore, lawn weather – will continue well beyond Eid, it is unarguable that Elan’s annual lawn collection was replete with elaborate details that would have worked perfectly for Eid. Why couldn’t head designer Khadijah Shah try to deliver some of the suits on time, at least?
“Our suits are ready to get shipped off but inter-city travel is going to halt from the 6th of May and it would have been unfair to deliver some of the suits while leaving many other customers waiting,” says Khadijah. “Also, with markets closing down, our retailers pointed out that they would not get enough time to sell the stock of Elan lawn that they have already booked from us. Their sales would have suffered drastically.”
She continues, “We have a longstanding relationship with our retailers and we couldn’t damage their sales by providing the suits that had been prebooked from our own site while the stock that was with them was unable to sell due to the lockdown. Their customers would have been livid with them.”
The lawn’s launch has now been well-delayed to the 25th of May, more than a week after Eid. If the collection is ready to get shipped out, why has the delay been extended to so many days? “The retailers told us that people don’t generally shop for about 10 days following Eid. So we decided to extend the launch date a bit more,” says Khadijah.
“It’s still going to be lawn weather for the next few months so I am hopeful that our patrons will still enjoy Elan lawn.”
Nevertheless, the slew of upset customers commenting on social media are justified, given that most of them were planning to wear their lawns on Eid. “We’re very upset as well. We’ve offered customers the option to cancel their orders. There’s a waiting list for some of the designs and people who know longer want to wear the lawn could cancel theirs so that others could get it.”
“The annual lawn collection is one that we really look forward to and we have been planning it for months. Earlier, we were also hampered by production delays from the mill that we were working with. Despite this, we put in extra effort and had thought that we would have enough time to release the collection before Eid. It’s just unfortunate that the lockdown got implemented and the launch had to get delayed.”
Perhaps Elan Lawn should just have released months ago rather than eyeing Eid with a Ramzan launch. Then again, how could anyone have known that a third wave of Covid would begin running rampant so decisively? All across Pakistan, there are shopkeepers and tailors who have depended on the high earnings gained in the days leading up to Eid. The economic blows and delays caused by the virus have been many, the postponement of the Elan lawn release date being one of them.
Elan lawn aficionados – there are many of them – will have to go without the suits of their choice this Eid. Many of them must be extremely disgruntled. But with the coronavirus perpetually turning life askew, lockdowns and market restrictions are changing every few weeks and there is a constant fear as infection rates get tallied.
The best-laid plans are going awry. Including this one.