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FAISALABAD: Business of replica suits of famous brands is gaining popularity as different markets particularly Wakeelan Wali Gali No 4, 5, 6 and 7 have dozens of shops doing million of rupees wholesale and retail transactions daily.

The shopkeepers are also sending ladies suits to different cities, including Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Multan, Gujranwala and other areas.

Replica suits are available in all small and main markets of the city ranging from high to low quality and designs. One cannot differentiate between the original and replica suits, it is the ‘honesty’ of shopkeepers and skill of the customers to identify the quality of clothes.

The sole criterion for differentiation is quality of fabric; however, a commoner cannot identify the counterfeit and original suit.

Markets have millions of replica suits of different designers and brands, however, shopkeepers do not prefer to display names of imitations. They are selling replicas by placing the pictures of original suits of designers in plastic bags being used for delivery.

A shopkeeper, Nasir, of Wakeelan Wali Gali justifying the trade of replicas said: “We have been contributing to strengthen the national economy. We are paying taxes of different kinds and not cheating anyone and the government should allow sale of replicas declaring them B grade suits.”

He said the government departments were well aware that business of replicas was thriving in Faisalabad and other parts of the district.

He said time and again raids had been conducted at the behest of the designers and brand owners. Due to raids, he said, shopkeepers were selling replicas only to reliable customers.

“We are serving the nation by providing them with cheap but good quality suits. Sensing the surging demand of the replicas, scores of shopkeepers have set up their own embroidery factories and signed contracts with the processing mills so that they can fulfil the demands of their customers,” Nasir claimed.

Scores of shopkeepers have formed Whatsapp groups to send replica pictures to their wholesale customers in different cities. Following pictures, the customers place purchase orders and use pictures to put them on display at their shops and online pages and websites.

Females are the major buyers of online replicas points.

“Why should I spend Rs10,000 to Rs15,000 on the original clothing which will be of no use for me in the next summer. Next season will bring more designs. I am enjoying the suits of designers and brands at affordable rates which are between Rs1,500 and Rs4,000,” Habiba Kalsoom said while purchasing suits in a market of Mohammadpura.

The business of counterfeit designer suits is also gaining popularity online and a number of websites and Facebook pages are offering suits of different known brands.

Hamid, who is running an online shopping page, said first he was doing the business of computer accessories and later he quit it on the advice of a friend who suggested business of replicas. “Now I have been earning a handsome amount monthly by operating the entire system at home.”

He said: “In near future the business will flourish as people are already reluctant to go to the market because of traffic and law and order situation. People are placing orders online and we are providing them replicas at their doorstep.”

Mohammad Nadeem, who is running a shop in Azam Cloth market, Lahore, also visits Faisalabad weekly to purchase new designs of replicas.

He said: “First I he had been dealing in embroidery suits and now trading of counterfeits of brands multiplied my sale.”

He didn’t agree to the argument that replicas were hitting the business of original suits. He said the rich rich used original suits and did not like to visit small shops or centres dealing in replicas.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2016