'What should I wear?' was the most asked style-related question on search engines in 2015, reports the Guardian. Every woman and many men ask that question almost everyday, if not a few times a day.
The question can carry varying degrees of significance, depending on what you are dressing up for. While 'what should I wear to work?' is a fairly low intensity mental exercise, 'what should I wear to a wedding?' can feel like a complicated mathematical and anthropological enquiry.
Tushar Malek, a Dhaka-based entrepreneur, decided to take this question a step further: 'what should I wear at a gala event?'
Now, you might think gala events are not that regular an occurrence in Dhaka, but for a niche group consisting of celebrities, glitterati and the rich and famous, Dhaka has been hosting a steady stream of events that demand their attendees dress up in a style and glamour distinct from how you would dress up for a more traditional event.
"In 2020 I attended a fashion event at Dubai Design District with one of my friends and realised that there is no Bangladeshi brand that produces attire people can wear to galas and red carpet events," said Tushar.
"We do have a handful of talented designers, but they mostly focus on the boutique section," said Tushar. There is barely any brand that is working in the couture section.
Hence, after a few years of extensive research and development, Tushar launched Festivibe in early 2021.
Festivibe is Tushar's first foray into fashion. He started his career as an entrepreneur with a market research consultancy firm called 'Creavision', and later, started an educational consultancy firm called 'Edroll'. He also owns a highway coffee shop named 'MoveOn Coffee'.
Slow and steady
Even though Festivibe's ultimate aim is to stand out in the realm of couture, the brand debuted with four distinctive lines - ethnic, bridal, couture, and menswear - to sustain in the market by catering to a bigger demographic.
Besides, a sub-brand, "Halesya", focused solely on the western attire and couture, will be launched by the end of September.
At present, the brand has five in-house designers, one international designer and consultant along with two style consultants. Its manufacturing unit is located at the Tejgaon link road, where around 42 artisans give life to the designs.
Since its inception, Festivibe's utmost priority has been accommodating the client's imagination. The brand offers complete customisation and design consultancy.
"I have tried clothes from every other popular brand in the country, but honestly, I had to struggle with fitting," said Tahsina Suchi, a Dhaka-based working woman.
"When I first went to Festivibe's studio and tried on the dress I picked for my birthday, it seemed perfect to me. But the designer suggested getting some alterations done. I listened to her, and the end result was much better than what I expected. The fitting consultancy Festivibe provides is priceless," she added.
When it comes to embellishments, Festivibe is open to every kind that compliments the designs. However, the brand stresses more on fabrics and fittings than embellishment, because any good material with perfect cutting will surely look good on anyone, even if it has no embellishments.
To date, the biggest challenge of the brand has been to find a good pattern master.
"We do not have any trained pattern masters in our country. All we have are cutting masters who kind of oversee the patterns. For a brand that is specialised in couture, it must have a pattern master, because couture is all about perfect pattern and fitting," said Tushar.
A few months back, Tushar found someone who is a perfect fit for this role, with 15 years of experience working in this sector in Dubai. Tushar believes his team is now stronger than ever.
Festivibe's prices are clearly on the higher end of the spectrum. When asked about the affordability of their products, Tushar said, "our collection might not be considered reasonable, but what we offer provides value to the money spent."
Lately, Festivibe has started a CSR project named 'School of Artisans'. The school provides hands-on fashion design training opportunities to underprivileged rural women.
"Our professionals personally train these women in different techniques to bring out the best outcome. The whole idea behind this project is to help those who cannot get out of their homes to learn new things, develop skills," added Tushar.
To know more, visit https://www.facebook.com/FestivibeFashion
Ethnic: Tk6,500 - Tk50,000
Bridal: Tk30,000 -Tk500,000
Couture: Tk10,000 - Tk150,000
Saree: Tk10,000 - Tk400,000
Party gown: Tk9,000 - Tk89,000