Noir is a fashion store, that’s trying to bring global fashion trends to Bangladesh
Evince group, a leading garments supplier of international clothing brands such as Zara and Ralph Lauren recently opened up a retail shop of their own called Noir. I had seen a couple of billboards before but I had never been to the store myself. There’s a recent upsurge of fashion retail stores in Dhaka and these fashion stores open up around every corner boasting lavish designs and products that come with a hefty price tag but fail to deliver in terms of quality. The wannabe Urban Outfitters of Dhaka fail to see the consumer’s perspective and I admittedly expected Noir to be cut from the same mold. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I visited the store recently and sat down with Shah Rayeed Chowdhury, director of Evince group to learn more about Noir.
As soon as I walked in I realized it wasn’t the typical clothing store. The place looked incredible and had a very welcoming ambience. Well lit, minimalistic decoration, elegant and simply opulent. The place might have looked great but there was still the question of how good the merchandise was and as soon as I started rifling through the closest stack of men’s shirts, I started to see how Noir was setting itself apart from the rest.
The shirts were finely cut, had impeccable design and the new men’s chinos were of the most comfortable fabric you could think of. What most fashion brands in Dhaka fail to see is that, when we buy a shirt, we neither want it to be completely bland nor do we want it to look over the top flashy. I lost count of how many shirts I’ve seen with the same lumberjack patterned fabric and with hoodies attached to them. Just plain abomination in the name of all shirts. Noir’s collection of men’s shirts hit all the marks with good unique designs and high quality fabric. What’s more surprising is that, the shirts were priced within a range of TK 1495 to TK 1800. Seeing as how they were unquestionably of great quality, I was a bit surprised at the low pricing. Before looking at the tag I expected each shirt to fall in the typical price range of Tk 2500 to Tk 3000.
When I started talking to Rayeed Chowdhury, I understood how much of his admirable fashion sense had been projected on to Noir.
“Noir is a fashion store, that’s trying to bring global fashion trends to Bangladesh at a moderate and affordable price without sacrificing good quality.” said Rayeed.
What made you decide to open up a fashion store? Don’t you think the market is pretty saturated?
“Yes, you’re absolutely right. The market is highly saturated. Walking just the distance of Banani road 11 you can find innumerable fashion stores dedicated to men and women. But you have to ask yourself, do these stores really satisfy your need as a customer? We at Noir felt that, there’s something missing in terms of quality in the fashion industry. There’s a lot of glitz and glamour surrounding fashion brands in Dhaka but these attributes feel like salad dressing when you see the mediocre quality of the clothes. That’s why we opened up Noir. Good craftsmanship, high quality fabric and making products that actually satisfy our customer’s need is what separates Noir from the rest.”
And he couldn’t have been more right. Every time I go shopping, I’m forced to spend an absurd amount of money on designer clothes I don’t even like, simply because I can’t really find any other alternatives. Evince group has years of experience in the garments industry and that’s clearly reflected in Noir. The fabrics are mostly from Evince’s textile factories and are of high quality. There’s also a global team of dedicated designers for the store spread around Pakistan, USA and right here in Bangladesh. Not to mention how Rayeed himself takes it upon himself to design and contribute to the men’s clothing line from scratch.
There’s one thing that I really loved about the store, the music playing in the background.Most stores play a generic CD with the latest pop songs desperate to attract customers. At Noir, within the few minutes I’ve been there, the songs had seamlessly flowed from Lana Del Rey’s Young and beautiful to La roux’s In for the kill, to Linkin Park’s Waiting for the End. I don’t know why most stores find it necessary to play loud obnoxious music relentlessly assaulting their customer’s senses. Keep it down, keep it sensible. Noir steered clearly away from the norm and actually made me feel comfortable to be in the store and look around. Which I think should be the primary target of most stores.
Noir got something right that all, and I mean all, fashion stores fail at spectacularly. The Panjabis. Every fashion store either goes all out, making expensive Panjabis costing around six to nine thousands and resembling something close to a Salwar Kameez with its glittered Dupatta or they make something completely bland my grandfather would love to wear.
Noir hits the perfect balance between comfort and trendiness. The Panjabis look comfortable, well designed and devoid of any Dupatta and glitter (Thank God!). In fact Rayeed says, “Look I never liked these expensive over the top Panjabis that I’ll probably never wear for more than one occasion. They become redundant. That’s why at Noir, the Panjabis are designed for comfort and fashion at the same time. We perfected the fitting after numerous trial and error. The collection comes in more than 200 colors and it’s something you can wear to a special occasion as well as to a casual hangout.”
The jeans are a bit expensive for my taste. The problem with expensive jeans is that, as Bengalis we fail to see the point of expensive jeans. We’re used to wearing the same cheap stone washed jeans for months on end. However, if you’re willing to dish out a good amount of money for a long lasting pair, I’d recommend Noir. In fact, other than the leather shoes and belts, I don’t think I saw anything priced higher than two thousand taka in the men’s section.
The leather shoes and belts are well designed, not the epitome of Italian craftsmanship but better than the expensive knock offs sold by other stores, usually purchased from Bangkok for resale. Noir orders their own shoes from their trusted manufactures and provides the designs themselves. Noir even managed to make their men’s wristband look classy. The leather wristbands come with a price tag of Tk 545 and look pretty well when worn beside a classic timepiece.I don’t prefer accessorizing but I still wanted to dish out a couple of bucks for the brown leather wristbands with a metal anchor hanging off from it.
When we got to the second floor, I was really out of my elements. It was the women’s section and I honestly had no idea what I was looking for. Thankfully Rayeed wasn’t the typical oblivious fashion store owner I expected him to be. He had a clear understanding about the designs and products and knew everything about them from the digital printed tops to the lavishly designed jumpsuits for women.
According to him, “Most of the designs for the women’s clothing line are inspired by the Ottoman Empire and has a bit of Turkish influence. The designs are pristine and hold a certain elegance about them. The digital printed tops and palazzo pants are quite popular now a days and we try to bring a bit of variation in them. I mean if everyone sells the same thing, we need to innovate and offer something better to the customers.” I couldn’t help but agree as he held out a dress and proceeded to teach me what the designs meant. The women’s clothing line had a strong combination of elements of Pakistani design and fine craftsmanship and the fabrics of the digital tops were either viscous or fine linen. Again, courtesy of Evince group’s dedication towards high end fabric production.
The women’s bags and accessories section was well stacked. They looked pretty elegant with a good finish and when I picked them up, I noticed they were made of strong leather and not the cheap spray painted Rexine you see everywhere nowadays.
The women’s shoe section was where most of the crowd was and the shoes themselves looked good enough to be in a Christian Louboutin commercial. Maybe they didn’t have the signature Louboutin lacquered soles but they still looked great. They were mostly priced between Tk 1995 to Tk 4000.
I had seen most of the store and I still had one question nagging me. This store was great. Noir looked great, felt great and sold good clothes at an affordable price. How on earth are they pulling it off!?
“Noir is not just about making profit. To tell you the truth, we have a very small mark up on our products compared to other businesses. We want to innovate, provide better clothing and build a strong, satisfied customer base. We don’t want Noir to become another superficial brand but a brand with strong roots and a brand that delivers what’s promised.
As for profit, we constantly change our clothing lines.” said Rayeed pointing at a couple of half open cardboard boxes piled up at the side. “See those boxes, they just came in and have our new clothing line for the day. Before Eid, everyday we’re bringing in new designs and these designs are limited to only 8 to 10 pieces. We want our customers to see something new every day and that’s where our traffic comes from. They come in for repeat purchase because we offer a lot of variety. It’s never dull and you have less chances of passing someone wearing the same outfit as you are!”
What does the future hold for Noir?
“Well currently, we’re planning to open up two more stores in Dhanmondi and Uttara. In time we will also start opening up stores in Bangkok and Singapore. We want to represent Bangladesh in a global platform and we don’t want to do that half-heartedly with mediocre products. That’s why so much effort is being put into this single store and I hope we are able to achieve what we’re aiming for.”
It was time to leave and to be honest, I was sold. I loved the brand and what it stood for. I liked the employees, they were cordial and well trained. I observed that they never hovered intimidatingly over customers like most fashion store attendants do but stood at a distance and offered a helping hand with a smile every time a customer asked for assistance.
As I shook hands with Rayeed and left the store, I knew I was coming back for my Eid shopping spree. Noir is on the path to being a well-established brand and has a lot of heart. I hope they don’t lose their customer centric attitude and keep on innovating.
For the readers, stop wasting money on designer clothes that do not meet your expectations. If you’re willing to spend for good quality, well designed, fashionable clothes, look up Noir before you start splurging this Eid. Personally, I am already a devoted customer and I can’t wait until they start selling ties and suits. With good tailoring and integrating the latest designs, they’ll hit every mark spot on. So don’t wait any longer, hit the store soon for the Noir Experience.
Noir is located at Banani Road no 11, Block D, House no 72.