By Maha Asif Rizwan
Buying lingerie in Pakistan is a frustrating task. There isn’t much variety to choose from and most of us unknowingly wear the wrong size and fit. The unappealing truth about buying lingerie in Pakistan is that it’s not made to fit or favor our body type. Things worsen if you happen to be a Breast Cancer patient and have undergone a mastectomy. But Shazia Lone, the brain behind Losha, is striving to change the stigma attached to female innerwear, and make lingerie shopping everything it should be.
In addition to making lingerie accessible to women residing in rural areas, Lone also works in collaboration with SKMH to provide free special lingerie to breast cancer survivors.
She opened up to Women’s Own about why an e-commerce lingerie platform is what women in Pakistan need.
WO: How did Losha happen?
Shazia: The idea came to me many years back, when I would get multiple requests from friends to bring back innerwear for them, on every trip I took abroad. But it was my husband who motivated me to start the business for the women in Pakistan. I had already known that women find it very hard to find plus sizes in Pakistan, so I continued doing research and found out that 8 out of 10 women wear the wrong bra size without even knowing about it, and as a result are suffering from multiple health issues.
What really surprised me was that 60% of lingerie purchase is done by men! Would you believe that in remote areas, it’s only men who sell inner wear?
The fact that women can’t buy their own lingerie, based on their preferences and needs was nauseating.
That’s when the idea of online innerwear shopping for women, equipped with an easy exchange policy popped up. I wanted to provide a one stop solution to all innerwear demands and spread awareness about the importance of getting your bra size right. Hence, our platform is for women, by women; with females leading all customer interaction.
WO: What does Losha offer that no other lingerie brand does?
Shazia: Firstly let me highlight that Losha delivers all across Pakistan; from remote areas to rural and urban ones. We have something for everyone, keeping in mind women from different socioeconomic statuses who have the purchasing power, but very little to choose from.
Offering multi brands with maximum assortment of sizes, styles and colors our range starts from Rs. 300 and goes up to Rs. 3500. Our online store has the widest possible range of women innerwear available on the website, featuring everything from starter training bras to everyday t-shirt bras, cozy pajamas, to that one convertible bra that can solve all your problems, small sizes, plus sizes, nursing bras, and even post-surgical bras, and breast prosthetics.
Additionally, we offer women support in picking their right size through various means which includes customer support, and live web chat by female staff. Customers can even contact us for live support on Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, and Instagram.
WO: Why do you think E-Commerce is the way to go for selling lingerie in Pakistan?
Shazia: My focus since the start has been to serve remote areas. However, it was difficult to choose where to start from if we talk about only physical stores, so I chose E-tail to initiate the business. It comes with its challenges; my female customer support staff is harassed by anonymous individuals on a daily basis. As unfortunate as that is, we continue to be patient and facilitate women.
WO: So there are no brick and mortar stores for Losha?
Shazia: We have opened one retails store in the form of a Tech Store/Fit Lounge in Lahore. The concept is to have a place where women can come and relax, have coffee or tea, and get their right size measured.
The Fit Lounge has all the styles displayed on LCDs and allows the customer to search for all the styles available in their size. They can then pick one, try it on, and have it delivered to their doorstep. We plan to open more of these stores all over Pakistan.
WO: Tell us more about your post-surgical bra drive in collaboration with Shaukat Khanum Hospital.
Shazia: I’ve always wondered what women wear after Unilateral or Bilateral Mastectomy when their breast/breasts are removed. Most people had one answer “Bahir sae mangwatay hain” so my next question would be “What about those who can’t afford to do that?” The worst part was that even surgeons weren’t interested in talking about the issue.
I’ve met women who had mastectomies and struggle because of not wearing a proper bra. Having lost many loved ones because of Cancer, this was always a sensitive issue for me. Most of the Breast Cancer survivors lose interest in life. No one can feel their real pain; so I decided to play by helping Breast Cancer Survivors feel good about themselves and live a healthy, happy life.
I asked the concerned department in SKMCH if Losha can join hands with them to serve these women. Now we provide them Post Mastectomy bras free of cost for their indigent patients, along with Breast Prosthesis and other products related to Breast Surgeries.
WO: So in the world of glamorous lingerie stores, which stigma is Losha looking to break?
Shazia: The fact that women innerwear in itself is stigmatized in our society has always bothered me a lot. It’s regular wear for women, just like it is for men. Losha doesn’t just want to provide inner wear to women in Pakistan, but also break the stereotypical notion attached with it.
In order to break that stigma, it’s necessary to empower women with the knowledge they need and provide them a safe platform.
Here in Pakistan, the purchase of inner wear is largely dependent on the recommendation on the sale’s person. The discomfort associated with dealing with males in lingerie stores discourages women from investing time in picking the right size or type.
Women should know what will suit their body type and which bra to wear under what clothes. They aren’t even aware about the different types of inner wear and their importance. Most women will continue to wear the same sized bra all their life despite their body changing over the years.
We at Losha are trying our best to educate women on the importance of finding their right fit. Once they have been educated on all these aspects they will enjoy lingerie shopping without anyone assisting them – that’s the difference Losha will make InshaAllah.