Hawker Markets: Can they Pose Possible Threat to Fashion Houses?

What is preferred by you? Buying a unique trendy dress or buying 2/3 dresses at the same price? As a buyer, your answer may vary from time to time but a seller will always advocate for his products. We live in a competitive business world where we constantly sell our products and ideas. As such, the increased popularity of hawker markets can be a possible threat to fashion houses.

When asked the difference between fashion houses and hawker markets, Md. Abdullah, a seller in Dhaka College’s Hawker Market, replied “It’s almost the same but for the cooled air, you have to pay more.” Surrounded by piles of clothes overflowing, he explained that they (hawkers) keep their clothes one over another on the floor and basically one just have to bend down and select. Whereas in fashion houses, one can walk around or sit on seats comfortably and select their clothes. Fashion houses facilitate a buyer with trial options which allows one to select the clothing that suits him or her the best.

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In the past decade, Bangladesh Textile Industry received a rapid rise because of its cheap production of clothing. Getting assignments from abroad, garments export their products across the borders. These clothing, however, are sold in bundle at lower prices in hawker markets. Apparently, when the garments fail to complete their assignments in a given time or due to some flaws in the clothing, these rejected clothes are sold to local buyers. This trade not only allows clothes to be bought and sold cheaply but also provides desperately needed jobs to jobless. Limited start-up expenditure, low barriers to enter into the market workforce and flexible work hours are some of the factors that draw hawkers to the occupation. As a result, hawker markets have become an integral part of Bangladesh’s economy.

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Furthermore, offering easy access to wide range of price and colorful clothes in public spaces, hawker markets are becoming popular. Bargaining with hawkers, one can easily afford to buy clothes cheaply. In hawker markets, bargaining is a common scene because no cloth is charged as fixed price. As such, if one is able to bargain well, she can return home with bags full of new clothes. To add on, seeing different colorful clothes at low prices, it becomes irresistible for one to return with only a bag. Therefore, hawker markets are able to increase their popularity by offering buyers the temptation of buying more clothes at a low-budget.

On the other hand, giving priority to quality, fashion houses offer unique design and exclusive clothing at a higher price. Fashion houses not only want to satisfy their customers but also want them to be happy with their clothing line. “You can buy even cheaper ready-mades from hawkers, but then you look like everybody else. Here I can find designer clothes which no one else has and makes it unique” said Azra, a Dhaka University student, who came at Aarong to shop for her cousin’s wedding. Under fashion houses, designers research on fashion trends and work relentlessly to design exclusive as well as aesthetically pleasing clothes. Keeping in mind who is going to wear it and when it is going to be worn, designers design clothes and these clothes are updated as latest collection. Moreover, fashion houses signature designs have copyrights, it becomes illegal to replicate them and thus they remain one of a kind in the market. Thus, because of limited editions in the markets and the brand name, many prefer buying from fashion houses.

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Whether a customer would prefer buying branded clothes from fashion houses or cheaper clothes from hawker markets completely depends on that customer’s priority and budget. Undoubtedly, hawker markets have great influence in Bangladesh’s economy and employment rate. But the question’s answer of fashion houses and hawker markets being threat to each other makes is a topic of controversy and endless debates.