We are all very much aware of the fact that Aizawl is definitely a fashion hub in the Northeast India. It is clear in the way everyday folks gear themselves up in their daily lives. Every nook and corner is filled with someone or the other looking as though they have walked straight out of the pages of a fashion magazine. Ever since the advent of the British missionaries, the place has witnessed a drastic change in the lifestyle, food habits and evidently, the choice of clothing that people have chosen to adorn themselves with. Thanks to globalization, the influence of clothing in this small city is now universal and stems from European-centric to immensely oriental aesthetics. But where do these garments come from, where are the markets you should go to?
Surprisingly, very harmless to the wallet to say the least. The place for retail therapy in this town is none other than Millennium Centre that is right at the heart of the town. But there are certain complaints about the pricing in this shopping center, so where does one with a budget turn to you ask? Fear not, for the army of second-hand clothing has come to your rescue. If you further ask where it is exactly, you just walk downhill a little from Israel Point, to the main market area known as “Bara Bazar”, where the vegetable market is surrounded by second-hand clothing stores all around.
There are two main spots where you can get a platter of selections from. The first one is on the top floor of the main vegetable market, and the other is the white building right next to it, below the main road. You can find head-to-toe clothing, with a variety that spans simple handkerchiefs to designer-wear handbags that might have originally cost your whole education fee, including second-hand fabrics ranging from the simplest and cheapest to ultra-sexy laces. Most second-hand bales are shipped from Bangkok, Thailand. The clothing items, be it shirts, pants, dresses or shoes, are generally Asian brands from China, Japan or Korea. There are separate stalls for women and men, and the pricing also differs.
For guys, the price of t-shirts is Rs 10–250, jeans and cotton pants usually start from Rs 150–700 or more, depending on the quality and condition. Jackets are sold as low as Rs 50 to about Rs 1000! But again it all depends mostly on the condition, brand and quality of the products. However, the more expensive items, especially jackets made of genuine leather, would cost triple the price. It then gradually drops to 50s or 100s after a week or two after the bale has been freshly opened.
For women, tops generally cost Rs 10–500, shorts Rs 50–400, pants Rs 50–400 and jackets Rs 100–600. Dresses usually start from Rs 50 and can go to about Rs 500. Women’s bags that have been hanging for a while get reduced to Rs 200 that may have initially cost Rs 1500 if in good condition cost. Women’s bags used to cost a lot less, but the shopkeepers have cottoned onto the idea of brand names such as Zara, Louis Vuitton and Aldo, which have somewhat affected the pricing. Pricing for men’s selection drops every other week in 50s or 100s depending upon the sale or purchase.
There is a twist in the system, a little masala that adds excitement in the mundane time table of the Aizawl second-hand market. This can be experienced only on one day of the week, which is Thursday! These shops go all out on Thursdays, which means all of the items the particular bale is being displayed even if the seller feels that it looks weird or is torn or any other reason. The entire bale is up for sale and shopkeepers have stated that it does attract more customers and to their surprise, most of the items they decided to conceal end up being swept away by customers and actually draw more attention. On this day, shopkeepers expand their territory and spread from the entrance of ‘Bara Bazar’ to the main market in the centre where it is flooded with clothes. Sellers try to outsell each other with the help of vocal advertising, coming up with clever slogans to attract maximum customers with something like ‘Here you get five t-shirts for the price of one, I know, unbelievable!’ that not only catches a customer’s attention, but also puts a smile on your face. Then, the real sale happens as if magically when right after the sun sets; prices reduce to half. Jackets are often sold at Rs 20, t-shirts at Rs 5/10 and so on!!! The main reason behind this is primarily due to the shop-owners’ desire to completely get rid of the bale they are currently selling.
Second-hand shops open on weekdays and Saturdays from 5AM and close around 7PM. But on Thursdays they open at noon and close at the usual time. These are ideal one-stop shops for college students, parents or whomsoever, looking for an assortment of clothing that do burn a hole in the pocket, but are still trendy. Guys get the option of choosing anything from sportswear to caps and sweaters, and even gifts for the ladies while girls obviously get mostly anything they would find in a mall. So, if you are in Aizawl, now you know how to look modish without the need to empty your savings.