Kishore Biyani-led Future Style Lab is all geared up to set the pace for India’s fast-fashion business. Manjula Tiwari, CEO, Future Style Lab, talks about the current agenda at the company and future plans.
Cover Story was launched to take on Zara and H&M in India. How far have you succeeded in achieving that target?
Cover Story competes in the fast-fashion market for western wear with all the international brands that are present in India. It is curated and designed in London, reflecting the latest global trends which are styled to flatter the Indian silhouette. We have new products in store every week which are at pocket-friendly prices. We are at par with the brands that are present in the market and truly see ourselves as the only brand out of India that is giving these international brands competition.
How do you define a Cover Story woman?
The Cover Story woman is a smart, confident and stylish Indian woman, anywhere between 21-35 years of age. This woman is the modern explorer seeking to experience novelty in travel, food, fashion and culture. These experiences can be long-standing or fleeting. She identifies with international trends and considers herself to be a global citizen. She is comfortable in her own skin, confident and feminine. She has many aspirations and shares them with her friends and family. Her life is all about new experiences and new discoveries.
What’s your current agenda at Future Style Lab?
Our current agenda at Future Style Lab is to set the pace for India’s fast-fashion business through integrating global fashion design with smart and efficient sourcing.
You have recently launched Ancestry’s second store in Ambience Mall. Could you please share some details about the brand and what’s in the pipeline?
As the name suggests, its soul remains rooted in heritage India, while it is equally modern and contemporary in its personality. It has a great mix of modern and traditional, classic and cool. Ancestry stands out with its out-of-the-box design and innovation thinking, making its offering unique and delectable. Simplicity, subtle understated elegance with an old world charm is where Ancestry’s ethos lies. It has a mix of organic, heritage-inspired products and yet international trend-driven.
Our print patterns are a balance of the traditional and the modern, a juxtaposition of Indian with global. European botanical illustrations and chintz prints to Indian geometric ikkat (dyeing technique) or temple border motifs – they fit beautifully in our versatile variety. Our inspiration comes from our Indian roots while our orientation of curation and signature style is modern and contemporary – much like today’s modern Indian women. We currently have two doors and are expanding at a smooth pace with next launches set at Palladium Mumbai and Mall of India, Noida in Q2.
What are the current insights on the changing buying patterns of consumers?
Fast-fashion is the need of the moment; it is a huge trend in itself – everyone is looking for new experiences and products frequently but is being cost-conscious towards a better understanding of value for money. The boom of social media has also allowed for information to be available and transferred across the globe so fast that the consumer sitting in a small town in India knows exactly what is in trend in London. The new generation of consumers believes in a ‘need it now’ mantra, which is a great sign for fast-fashion.
Which business model is working best for the brand: SIS versus EBOs versus online?
Both are important as they play different roles. EBOs are our core focus as we are in the stage of building a brand image. It allows us to showcase our product in an environment that we want to project. On the other hand, SIS has been a strong channel for us in terms of reach and for ensuring that we reach out to a mass audience, thus being a huge contributor to the business. The SIS partners we work with are all established with a fantastic audience who we are then able to capitalize on.
Cover Story is currently present across 74 doors – exclusive outlets, SIS formats and online. It has been an aggressive and fruitful growth plan which we intend to continue and make Cover Story available cross all metros and Tier I cities, as well as filtering into Tier II cities. Having a large presence online via our own platform and other marketplaces, we will reach all cities in the country.
What’s your personal style statement?
My personal style statement is contemporary classics that stand the test of time and easy to travel with as my work involves a fair amount of travelling. I keep things fuss-free.