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Pakistan's New Metrosexuals

Pakistan's New Metrosexuals

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Pakistan is now seeing the rise of the metrosexual, says ad agency executive Hassan Kilde Bajwa. Though the country's economic picture is grim and poverty is pervasive, Pakistan's wealthy city dwellers are upending expectations in a country where Islamic militants decry anything Western. The relatively recent access to Western media is driving a new aesthetic in a country where the traditional dress, a cotton tunic called a salwar kameez, is still widely worn.

"Now people have a much greater disposable income because of all the banking reforms we've had over the past ten, 15 years where all of a sudden we have people being able to take loans, which was not a possibility in Pakistan before," says Bajwa, creative director of ad agency Synergy. That disposable income is being spent, in many cases, on men's grooming. The AFP reports that grooming salons for men are springing up in major cities.

"And the other major influence is the fact that we now have a flourishing media industry," he says. "When you're bombarded with all these new ideas, your consumption increases." He points to ad campaigns that endorse beauty products and trends such as the rise in men's hair transplants, facials, and manicures.

Yousuf Ayub Khan, a businessman and provincial politician, says that male pampering is not culturally inconsistent with the values of his country; even in tribal populations, men routinely dye their hair and beards with henna.

"It's a very traditional conservative society in Pakistan, but traditionally it's not a problem over here if you tell someone you've been to a salon, and had a facial or pedicure, no one will laugh at you," he says.

But don't bother to look for earrings or handbags on the well-groomed males of Pakistan, Bajwa says. "One thing that still isn't acceptable, even among metrosexuals, is accessories. It's a very common thing for men in Europe to wear a wristband or something, the Beckham thing," says Bajwa. "That's not something you ever see in Pakistan. Earrings, in fact piercings anywhere, socially is unacceptable. It's still a social taboo."

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