L’atelier (le-tell-lee-yay) is amongst Pakistan’s premier multi-brand stores with outlets in Islamabad, Lahore and online at www.latelier-pk.com. Since its inception in 2010, the trend-setting entrepreneurial team behind L’atelier, Ahsan, Sadaf, Sarah and Zahra Raza, have set a benchmark for state of the art stores at upmarket locations with an ambiance of luxury and indulgence premised on French interiors and design. L’atelier’s motto is to provide a personalized service, exhibit the highest level of professionalism and provide access to fashion suiting every budget and every occasion. Taken together their vision is to provide an altogether superior retail experience. This week, Sunday Plus speaks exclusively to the team behind L’atelier who talk about their experience, clients and future vision.

Tell us something about your multi-brand store L’atelier?

L’atelier (le-tell-lee-yay), is Pakistan’s premier multi-brand store with outlets in Islamabad, Lahore and online at www.latelier-pk.com. Since its inception in 2010, we have set a benchmark for state of the art stores at upmarket locations with an ambiance of luxury and indulgence premised on French interiors and design. L’atelier’s motto is to provide a personalised service, exhibit the highest level of professionalism and provide access to fashion suiting every budget and every occasion. Taken together our vision is to provide an altogether superior retail experience.

What are specialities or the key strengths of L'atelier that makes your store different from other multi-brand stores in Pakistan?

L’atelier stands out amongst other multi-brand stores through its professionalism, its clothes selection and quality of services on offer. The partners of L’atelier are very hands on; making sure every little detail has been attended to. Our clients love the variety of clothes on offer; we make sure we select both the most renowned houses of fashion as well as coveted upcoming brands. When we launched in Lahore, we made sure at least one third of our brands were totally new to the city. We listen very carefully to client feedback and as a result of this, introduced an efficient alteration service, a salon, an online store and a trendy and affordable range in SR @ L’atelier.

What is the idea behind launching L’atelier?

At the time, Sadaf and Ahsan were living in Paris and were inspired by the Parisian attitude to fashion and shopping, which is all about the experience. Zahra was marketing Pakistani Designers abroad while Sarah already had an established client base for her brand “Sarah Raza”. With Sadaf’s marketing expertise, Ahsan’s finance background, Zahra’s sales skills and Sarah’s fashion know how, it made sense to combine the team’s collective experiences and provide an indulgent shopping experience offering great choice and service to the ladies of Pakistan.

How many designers are displaying their lines at your store and what is the criterion for selection of the designers?

We stock most of the biggest brands in the Pakistan fashion industry including Elan, Sania Maskatiya, Muse, Body Focus Museum, Sana Safinaz, HSY and Misha Lakhani to name a few.

We are very picky about the brands we stock and decline brands wanting to stock with us on a weekly basis. We select brands based on their design and aesthetic and based on what our clients demand. Each designer’s collection has been carefully handpicked to offer quality and range and we now represent over 50 brands from across Pakistan and beyond. We make sure we introduce new brands and collections all the time, and are proud to have launched many new brands that are now available in their own flagships boutiques and multi brand stores around the world. Sonar is one such success story.

Who are your main customers? Is this store purely for ladies or there is something for men also?

The “L’atelier lady” is very well aware. She wants quality, she wants convenience and she wants design that reflects her personality and tastes. L’atelier is hence her gateway to choice and self-expression. We have purposely made L’atelier exclusively for ladies as we want to focus on her every need.

How do you meet the changing demands of customers?

The management of L’atelier spends a lot of time on the shop floor, interacting personally with clients and listening to their feedback. Taking this feedback into account, L’atelier launched a number of new initiatives in 2012, furthering the team’s commitment to being a fast growing fashion forward brand, providing premium retail services through a one stop shop approach.

On client demand, ‘Salon @ L’atelier’ was launched in Islamabad where hair expert Natasha Saigol from Lahore leads their cuts and colour while a salon team offers express skin, nail and make up treatments in an exclusive environment. ‘SR @ L’atelier’ was also introduced in 2012 as the multi brand stores’ in house fashion line, making the latest fashion trends accessible to all at affordable prices.

In the same year, in order to serve our international clientele better, we launched a web store ‘Online @ L’atelier’, which commits to deliver original designer wear worldwide within 3 days at exactly the same prices as available within Pakistan.

Finally, market survey concluded that customers in Lahore were looking for a professionally run destination to fulfil all their fashion needs. Hence L’atelier opened a flagship store in Gulberg, Lahore in December 2012. The outlet is organised into discrete sections by category to aid clients looking for something in particular and there is a whole floor catering to store within stores and couture bridal studios.

Do you entertain those customers who want some special designing of their own will?

We provide an efficient alteration service which includes adding new dupattas, sleeves, bottoms etc but we do not change any of the key design elements as put together by the designers themselves.

Do you have any criteria of bringing designer on board or anyone can contact you?

Anyone can contact us and we welcome new talent but they have to go through our selection committee. This involves sending in images of their collection together with prices which are then vetted by our team and successful brands are notified post meeting. Designers tells us that our process is the most stringent of all multi-brand boutiques they have dealt with but this is important to us so we don’t compromise here.

What sort of response have you got from online customers?

The online retail market in Pakistan is evolving fast and we are very excited to be one of the pioneers. People in Pakistan as well as abroad have been very supportive and online sales for lawn in particular have been flying!

What is the general price range of the dresses?

The designer selection at L’atelier includes a rich cross section of labels including powerhouse brands as well as coveted upcoming labels. Hence our price range starts from as little as Rs.1, 000 for accessories are goes up considerably for bridals.

What are the other attractions of L'atelier?

L’atelier hosts high profile launches, exhibitions and trunk shows throughout the year bringing ever more choice to its client base. A recent example was the Spring Fashion Showcase at L’atelier Lahore as well as lawn launches for Sania Maskatiya, Ayesha-Somaya and Nida Azwer. Chaand Raat at L’atelier is a much enjoyed annual event as are the two big sales held in January and July with discounts as deep as 80% off!

With so many different multi-branded stores being launched in Pakistan, are you getting any tough competition?

Our biggest competitor has always been ourselves. We are an ambitious team with many plans in the pipeline to improve the retail shopping experience even further. We have many years of collective work experience abroad and we would like to use that to bring more international standards to Pakistan. 

Tell me about the most difficult customer you have ever had to serve.

We have many high profile celebrity clients who would prefer for the store to be brought to them vs. coming to the store. We try to compromise by closing the store for them so that they can shop in anonymity.

Share your experience of working with various designers?

There are many designers with whom we have been working since our Islamabad store first launched and they have come to become good friends. All the professional designers are an absolute pleasure to work with. We are also very impressed with the creativity of some designers that manage to produce one amazing collection after the other; there is of course no shortage of talented people in Pakistan.

Why should ladies come to L'atelier? Tell in one line.

To experience an altogether superior retail experience.

What is the motto of L'atelier?

L’atelier’s motto is to provide a personalised service, exhibit the highest level of professionalism and provide access to fashion suiting every budget and every occasion.

What is the future vision of L'atelier?

L’atelier focuses on presenting women with a versatile range of trendy ready to wear options, from everyday wardrobe choices to ensembles more suited to formal occasions. L’atelier hopes to expand across Pakistan and internationally one day Inshallah.

Do you want to give an advice to the upcoming designers?

Focus on your collections but don’t forget to create your brand.