KATHMANDU, Aug 7: Unlike most of her friends, Rakshya Niraula, 22, isn’t very fond of shopping. Over the last weekend, however, she didn’t have a choice but to look around the clothing stores of Kathmandu.
“For me, shopping is an enormous task,” she sighs as she flips through cotton tops at the Style store at City Center. “For as long as I remember, shopping has always stressed me out,” she adds.
Rakshya is just like any other young soul who loves hanging out with friends, going to the movie and attending college lectures. The one thing that keeps her apart is her body because she’s a bit on the “healthy” side, therefore making it difficult for her to find clothes that are stylish and those that come in her size.
“It’s not like I’m complaining about my body. I’m not unhappy but that doesn’t solve my problem because most of the time I’ve to make do with clothes designed for elder women while my friends enjoy pretty dresses.”
The streets of Kathmandu today display a never-before line of clothing stores, offering a large variety of readymade garments. Clothes are brought in from India and China and Bangkok.
Also, slowly making their way to the capital are popular brands from international markets. One won’t have to walk far even for brands like Levis to Puma and Victoria’s Secret. For the plus-size, however, like Rakshya says, there’s very little, or no options.
Mohit Agrawal, 19, has most of his clothes bought from India. Every time he has a friend or family coming to Kathmandu, he makes sure they get him some clothing.
“Thank God for Internet,” he laughs, referring to the online clothing stores of India. Mohit, who usually sports cotton trousers and plain, collared t-shirts, would love to wear “printed and funky ones” if he could find any.
“We can’t find regular clothes of our size, so looking for stylish ones feels like a stupid idea,” he sighs.
The Buzz clothing store at Khichha Pokhari has a small but impressive line of casuals displayed. A close look and you learn all these pretty frocks and tops are only for the pretty. Upon being asked whether the store offers anything for “healthier” people, Ujjwal Magar, who works at the store, points towards a corner that has a few free-size shirts on display.
“That’s all we have,” he smiles, adding “But we’ll have to make special orders to the factory if we need more options.” Ujjwal confesses that everyday there are people who come looking for clothes for the plus-sized and how his shop isn’t able to satisfy them. So why can’t Buzz bring along more options for them then?
“We mostly bring our clothes from Bangkok and there too there aren’t a lot of options for large-sized clothes,” he says.
The market these days is flooded with Korean clothes, and Korean styles for Kathmandu mean pretty cute dresses that won’t fit a regular size, let alone someone with a heavier built, because even if there are plus-size clothing available, they have yet to make their way to stores in the capital.
“It’s sad that people think heavier people can’t have well-fitting clothes. The belief is that we’re supposed to wear only loose stuffs,” Rakshya says.
Any sign of change in the present scenario? If we are to take a cue from the present, it does not seem likely. The only plus sized clothing store in City Center has closed down, and stores in and around the capital seem reluctant to bring in large-size clothing any time soon.
Sunita Gurung, owner of the Grace store at People’s Plaza at New Road, says she would be more than happy to display plus-size clothing at her store. As much as 30 percent of girls who visit her store are plus-sized but most of them have to walk out disappointed.
She says she is helpless, and explains, “With the media constantly telling you how only thin is beautiful, being fat or even healthy, is like choosing to be outcast,” she says, adding “a few internationally acclaimed designers have begun making plus-sized clothes, so let’s be hopeful that the trend catches up and we have proper clothing options for everyone.”