KATHMANDU: Defying the current craze and demand for high-end international apparel brands, House of Alternative Apparel (HAA) opened its doors with a view to promote local brands at affordable prices. Established in 2011 by Malvika Subba and her co-partner Manish Pandit, HAA displays locally designed and produced clothes for men and women.
“The idea behind HAA is to promote local outfits created by utilising domestic mate-rial and manpower,” said Subba, co-founder and creative director of HAA, adding that the project came into fruition after two years of intensive sampling and acceptance from friends and customers. Subba felt the need to set up the store because though many customers are fond of international brands, only around 20 per cent of them can afford them. Although HAA began with this vision, it was quite tough for the company to launch itself as a full-fledged clothing brand, as the founders were novices in this field. “I always worked for others but starting my own business is really a challenge as we have to find the right designers, affordable and fine fabric and machinery tools on our own,” says Subba, adding that she learnt the trade of business on the job.
HAA started with three sub-brands — Eco Essentials, AIRA and Just T’s — out of which, it has dropped the first. Subba says, “Since a number of stores are promo-ting natural fabrics, we didn’t want to be a part of the same horde.” AIRA is exclusively a women’s clothing line, and explaining its exclusivity, Subba says, “The market is flooded with expensive products from Bangkok or China. But AIRA offers
a combination of great designs, flawless craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail, at relatively lower and affordable prices.”
HAA has roped in Nilima Maden and her group for designing the AIRA brand. The price range of AIRA apparel begins from Rs 750 and goes up to Rs 3,500, comprising of tops and long tees along with formal and casual wear of chiffon, satin and georgette. Just T’s offers males a
collection with cool, funky and funny tee-shirts, most of which have prints that reflect relevant social and political issues. According to Subba, tee-shirts depicting Kathmandu traffic and iRock Nepal with sport centric themes are the most purchased products. Beside these, HAA also stocks imported and hand-picked accessories. “Although our sales are satisfactory, it is really challenging to find fine and reasonably-priced fabric at reasonable prices and manage the labour,” explains Subba.
Products of HAA, displayed in its showroom of 500 square feet, are targeted at the age group of 20 to 40 years. Their regular clientele includes working professionals, celebrities and youngsters. According to Subba, HAA first wants to make its presence felt in the Nepali market before venturing to the international one. HAA products are now also available in Fashion Studio at Pokhara, while Just T's are available at Spark Fashion, Chitwan, with pland of expansion in other cities as well on the cards. “We are looking forward to expand to Dharan as well through other retail shops instead of opening our own outlets,” says Subba, adding that the company is currently focussing on distribution. For making itself visible in the international arena and diaspora, HAA displays its products on online portals such as muncha.com. “We will come up with a fresh and unique collection for the fall in September,” adds Subba. Along with expansion of its product portfolio, HAA is also designing costumes for the runner-ups of Miss Nepal 2012, who will be flaunting their designs in the international pageants.