ethnic wear Jul, 04 2016

How to start an ethnic wear brand

For any aspiring entrepreneur with a humble investment appetite who wants to start an apparel business the first thing that comes to the mind is ethnic wear. Lets explore the current scenario and opportunities in the ethnic wear segment

By Utpala Ghosh
How to start an ethnic wear brand

Starting your business in ethnic wear – Why is it a good business idea

For any aspiring entrepreneur with a humble investment appetite who wants to start an apparel business the first thing that comes to the mind is ethnic wear. The reason behind this is that India is home to some of the finest fabrics, craftsmanship and availability of cheap labour in the apparel segment. Owing to the rich textile heritage most Indians have an inherent acumen pertaining ethnic wears. Hence it comes very naturally to people to believe that they can handle both the manufacturing and selling part of the business. And if you want to focus solely on retail, you have access to the huge whole sale market from where you can pick the product in bulk and sell.

The short lived out-of-home start ups

Ethnic wear has always thrived on the traditional retail outfits and out-of-home boutiques. While this ensured marginal bargain to the customers, the quality assurance that comes with a brand went missing. In such a scenario, the customer as well as the entrepreneur who lack adequate know-how stands a chance to be cheated. As long as you are dealing with the casual mass market it is fine. However with rising awareness and brand experience, the customers are increasingly looking for value for their money.

Journey from home to office

Ethnic wear is a category that has grown with the changing lifestyle of Indian women - from a regular wear at home to the board room. Brands like Biba and W were brands that created the new trend of indo-western fusion to connect with the end customers – the modern day woman. While traditional wear like saree and salwar suits has been restricted only to occasions like marriages and festivals, the kurtis have survived the rut at a time when dresses, formal western outfits are more preferred by the young and independent office goers.

Maximising the ethnic wear business opportunity

In order to prove the credibility through a strong customer base and brand recall, the entrepreneurs have to get prepared to work hard and invest a lot of money. They have to offer superior quality, wide product range, latest design and above all, a good shopping experience of ethnic wear to its customers, instead of just a purchase exercise.

Investment and Area

Ideally the investment for putting up an ethnic wear store ranges between Rs.80 Lac to 1.5 crore. The area required is approximately 1000 to 2500 sq ft.

Merchandise mix

In order to improve the profitability one should keep a generous merchandise mix of low to high ticket value products that are marketed intelligently and timely to get the product line moving.

Customer Demographic

Understanding the customer demographic helps the brand to position itself and create the merchandise mix accordingly. As the thrust moves from need base to aspiration led purchase, increasingly, the middle to upper-middle and affluent class are driving growth in this segment.

Location and cities

Ideally a mass-premium brand should be present in cities with a mature retail consumer market at malls and high streets.

Sourcing of the product

While India offers unlimited resources in terms of traditional apparel, one should be aware of the existence of the grey market. A robust research and development team should be in place to ensure uncompromised product quality.

Ensuring visibility of the brand

Ensuring visibility in the present time has moved way beyond getting a good catchment area. While it is of utmost importance for any brick and mortar outfit, it is also important to connect with and engage your customers through online portals as well as social media.

Who must franchise and why

Brands who want to expand their footprint through multiple outlets should opt for franchising. Franchising allows the brand to transfer the risk of investment to a self motivated entrepreneur who will take care of the operational aspects while the brand can focus more on the strategic development of the brand.

Who must takes up a franchisee and why

Any aspiring entrepreneur who wants to run a business and be associated with a well established brand should take up a franchise of an ethnic wear brand. It saves him a lot of time and money. The risk is reduced to nil as long he meets all the criteria and remains true to the brand’s philosophy.

Factors both should consider

The franchisee should have good financial background to be able to sustain till the breakeven. He should have experience in running a retail store and efficient management capacity. The franchisor needs to understand that he is handing over his intellectual property to a third party. He should be careful in the selection criteria. He should transfer the complete know how of the business through pre-launch and post launch support in selection of the location, setting up the store, training the man power and carrying out the promotional activities.

Ravi Modi, Managing Director, Vedant Fashions Private Limited, “Manyavar is a family of 250 franchise partners and 1 belief - we rise when our associates prosper.6 countries, 160 cities, 400+ stores and a new brand in 8 years. It began as a dream, and the journey continues. The market share of Manyavar in the Ethnic Wear Category of Men is growing by 20-25% annually.”

Ayush Mehra, Director Study by Janak, “SBJ follows the exclusive brand outlet (EBO) format to ensure strict quality control and standard operating procedures across the stores. As a brand into made to measure service, customer satisfaction is the utmost priority. To secure customer loyalty and superior customer service, you need to have a dedicated team headed by the tailoring manager sees that all the products are checked before trial and delivery to ensure customer satisfaction. The brand also has to runs different activities to engage with customers on different platforms, including social media.”

Related: A franchise touch to ethnic wear

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