Every year, as Ramzan draws to a close, the flurry of crowded bazaars, online shopping, stressed out tailors and aggressive marketing by fashion brands fills the air around the world. But I want to ask you a question: when I describe this atmosphere, is it mostly women who come to mind, or men?
After speaking to a number of males in their twenties, I came to the surprising realization that preparing for Eid can actually be a major struggle for them too. The seemingly straightforward shalwar kameez are not as easy to get as I used to imagine, largely because of issues which could be easily avoided if there was greater emphasis upon them.
A prevalent issue highlighted by many was about fitting of off-the-rack clothes. Eid clothes for men are usually produced and available in only three standard sizes – small, medium, and large - across most of the mainstream stores. This creates a host of new issues for men with different body types as these sizes are often tailored for idealistic or stereotyped standards of male physical appearance. Unless you prepare at least two weeks before the end of Ramzan, you will find that there are very few tailors willing to make alterations to your outfit, and even if they do, they will probably charge you an arm and a leg. But for most men out there, these alterations become essential to avoid a dull Eid look.
Recently, men’s fashion brands have begun to increase in number. Luckily, stores are quickly beginning to realize the limitations of the lack of sizes, and these brands in Lahore have actually introduced in-store alteration services which can efficiently be made right after your purchase:
Nabeel & Aqeel
While they don’t offer in-store alterations, these next few fashion brands are relatively more budget friendly (even though they’re a bit notorious for overcharging close to Eid):
Cotton & Silk
While of course Eid is a significant occasion for Muslims around the world, the way we practice it in Pakistan does encourage gender stereotypes. Men are expected to head straight to the masjid in sensible shalwar kameez and newly trimmed hair and beards, while women are expected to cook, clean and dress up in their best, most vibrant and elaborate attire. This common household routine often overlooks the fact that many men also like to take a keen interest in their appearance – beyond just looking neat and well-trimmed.
It is important for men’s fashion brands to take up the mantle to make fashion more accessible and vibrant for men which would make it much easier for them to pursue their interests. Currently, such convenience and services are largely only available in very expensive, or high-end brands when it should be much more widespread.