"Aropostale has hit the sweet spot with the timing to enter India"

Retailer Media caught up with Kenneth Ohashi, Senior Vice President, International and Global Licensing, Aeropostale, Inc. and talked about the brand's India policy and future plans.
Kenneth Ohashi, Senior Vice President, International and Global Licensing, Aeropostale, Inc.
Landing an Indian address with a 2,500 square feet shop at the popular city mall, the New York headquartered high street label for young adults, Aéropostale is the latest name in the list of top International brands to tap into the thriving fashion market scene in the country.
Retailer Media caught up with Kenneth Ohashi, Senior Vice President, International and Global Licensing at Aéropostale, Inc., and talked about the brand’s India policy, its partnership with Arvind (Brands) and future plans in the price-sensitive retail apparel market.              
 
Why did Aéropostale take so long to enter the India market?
We have been looking at India for the last 12 to 18 months prior to connecting with Arvind (Brands). I think we have hit the sweet spot with our timing to enter the Indian market as there is a wide space here, particularly around the young adults segment. India is the world’s fifth-largest global destination in the retail space and Indian retail has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast-paced industries that accounts for over 10 per cent of the country’s (GDP).
Today the youth of the country is more aware and fashion conscious than ever before. Travel and consumption of the digital space have given them immense exposure. Aéropostale is a brand that appeals to the youth and with 40 per cent of India’s population below the age of 20, we expect Aéropostale to successfully cater to the growing fashion needs of the country’s youth.
 
Pricing here is competitive, especially after an increase in International brands taking space. What's Aéropostale’s preparation and strategy to tackle that?
Every brand has a different DNA and product offering. Aeropostale is an extremely youth centric brand and will largely be targeting consumers within the age bracket of 14-25 years.  It has a casual vibe which appeals to youngsters who have travelled abroad and been exposed to this style of dressing.
We are putting great emphasis on affordability. Since we are a youth centric brand, we want to keep the merchandise affordable. People who have travelled abroad shouldn’t think that there is a difference in the price points. We have T-shirts starting at Rs. 999 and lowers starting at Rs. 1199.
 
Why a partnership and not entering on your own?
Our presence is now in almost 20 countries across the world. Just in the US and Canada we are on our own. We have partners in all the other markets. Our history is one of humility where we feel the local partners know the market the best. Arvind clearly has its way with the real estate and operation along with bringing tremendous knowledge and expertise to building brands and operating licensed stores in India. We know we are going to make a lot of mistakes but with a strong local partner and the trust we have in each other we would be very comfortable operating in this market.
 
Is the global line on Aéropostale’s shelves in India or is it exclusive-for-India product range?
As a brand we know that we have to act locally as there are some differences in the market here. We are working with our team here to extend the product assortment exclusive for India. Arvind has amazing production capabilities and hence our design team in New York will work with Arvind’s team to execute that. Starting next year, we could have products exclusively made for the Indian market. At moment we are selling our global line.
 
Future plans in India.
Aéropostale will open 30 stores and 25 shop-in-shop locations over the next three years. Arvind will also launch online sales of Aéropostale products in India.
 
Going forward, wouldn't real estate become a problem for the brand?
We are confident that Arvind Lifestyle will help in finding the right real estate to rapidly expand our presence.
 
How many people visited the store on the first day? What do you think of Select CITYWALK as a location?
Over 2,000 People visited the store on the first day.
Select CITYWALK, is the best performing and ninth-largest mall in the country by size, and is a platform for the world’s largest apparel brands. The mall appeals to South Delhi shoppers, helping it to become an upscale location for a brand like Aéropostale. We felt it would be the right destination to start our Aéropostale journey from.
 
What all is Arvind as a partner helping you with?
This is a licensing arrangement which runs long term. The exact terms are confidential.
Kenneth Ohashi
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