LAHORE: Mango needs no introduction. With 2,000 stores across the globe, the retail brand exemplifies urban fashion for the middle class. With a strong presence across the border, the brand is now looking to step into the Pakistani market. The Express Tribune speaks to Jose Gomez, Vice President for international business development for Mango, as he combs Karachi and Lahore to set up the retail store in the country.
How did Pakistan come onto Mango’s radar?
We are very excited to add Pakistan to the list of global stores. The brand has presence in 103 countries and was just waiting for a good time to step in. For retail, it is crucial to have proper infrastructure and a stable economic climate. Since the mall culture is still quite premature, we will need to establish stand alone stores here, so, at the moment, we are here to study the market and are speaking to potential partners to bring Mango here.
How will you market yourself here given that a majority of the population is still averse to western clothing?
In every country you position your brand differently according to local traditions and practices. When we opened in Latin America for instance, we were perceived as a luxury brand since only a certain segment could afford us, whereas in Europe we are seen as a brand for the middle class. A significant number of women do wear western clothing here and adapt it to local traditions. When we opened in Iran, for example, we went with the approach that women there dress conservatively so we designed a special Arabic collection with longer skirts etc. Interestingly that collection did not do well since Iranian women wanted the regular Mango collection. Thereby, we will have to test the market here to see what Pakistan’s demands are.
Any intended collaborations with local designers in the pipeline to ease your transition into the local market?
We will need to see on that front. As a brand we try to be global yet local at the same time since people want the global feel from us. We do adapt to local markets by creating 20 percent of a collection geared towards indigenous tastes without compromising on Mango’s identity. We need to be truthful to our brand and, therefore, we have never done any sensational collaboration.
Will product lines be different for Pakistan?
We have to design differently for countries with special climates; Russia gets our cold collection which is obviously not suited to the Mediterranean. At Mango, we believe in fashion that is universal. The majority of our collections retains the global Mango feel and have the exact same products that are available in all of our stores around the world. If we start to customise every product then we will lose our identity as a fashion brand and become local providers instead.
So what’s the plan for Pakistan as of now?
We are looking for the right prime estate and partners to launch the brand. Karachi and Lahore need to be covered immediately but it will take time to open the stores since everything muse be the same as it is in all our stores globally. All materials are shipped from Spain for the sake of quality control and to achieve consistency.