Bringing affordable luxury
Bringing affordable luxury

Bringing premium clothes only for the fashionistas who live in style


The brand, famously dubbed 'Sevens' by fashion editors and stylists, grew to fame in no small parts because it became an instant favourite of Hollywood’s elites like Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Garner, Liv Tyler, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Affleck, and Ryan Reynolds. Varun Jain talks to Ramit Shakhdher, Managing Partner, Maxxis Retail, the man who bought the famous premium segment brand in India, on their current and future plans.

Varun Jain(VJ): How has been the journey of 7 For All Mankind in India?
Ramit Shakhdher(RS): The journey has just begun. We opened a store in January 2010 and it has been pretty exciting since then. We are still in the process of doing the place, negotiating, learning the market, learning the customers, knowing what their preferences are, what works best and what doesn’t.

VJ: What kind of marketing research you did before entering the Indian market, as the prices are on a very high side of the scale (denim starts at Rs 7,000 and goes till 13,000)?
RS: Let’s address the issue in several parts. The history says that it is the first premium denim brand. So, let’s talk about the brand pricing in India. You have your moderate priced jeans, then the couture jeans. As you may see the gaps between segments, we hit it on the advantage and saw the market that was still to be tapped. The product here is priced very similar to what it is priced in the US. So, we are not like other players, who come in here and price 30-40 per cent higher. We are cheaper here than Europe and the Middle East.

If I were to sell these denims at 30 per cent higher than the US, from where actually the brand has come, then it would have no business sense. We are targeting a consumer. So, forget about the aspiring customer and let’s talk about the consumer who knows 7fam and the customer who knows brand 7 and the person who follows 7; Even he would not come to me if I am priced higher than the other part. So, that is where we studied the market, we worked up and structured and did whatever it required to be priced similar to the US.

VJ: Who is Brand 7’s target audience?
RS: We are looking at sec A and A+ consumers for Brand 7. Having said that, we also want sec B to come to us where aspiration aspect works. But for now our focus is on the former.

VJ: Who all do you see as your competitor?    
RS: In terms of price point, our competition is with Ed Hardy and Diesel Jeans which are now present in this space. We at Maxxis retail is looking to provide affordable luxury. We are a bridge between the moderate and the high end luxury garments. And that is what we want to focus on.

VJ: Are you looking to move towards the accessories segment as well?
RS: The brand started obviously as a denim brand and is still recognized as one, but over the years it has evolved. We added women wear, sports wear, plus sizes and many other things. Again it’s evolving and we had women accessories like handbags, shoes, sunglasses, as we are looking to position ourselves as a premium lifestyle brand. So, it is not just denim anymore. We will be carrying them in our stores in near future.

VJ: What are the future expansion plans and what will be the investment amount for the same?
RS: We will be having a store in Mumbai and Hyderabad by 2011 and 2012 respectively. This is the kind of a time line set; it could be sooner as well. Apart from this, we are the only distributor of brand 7 in the country. So, we will be supplying the products to other multi brand outlets as well. The idea is to grow that business as well.
The investment for these three stores would be around USD 2 million.

VJ: Tell us about the brand’s presence? What all aspect your design team take into consideration while designing the products for the Indian consumers?
RS: We are present across the world. North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and many more places.

It takes many many years to perfect a fit of a jean and we see no resaon why we should change it for the Indian consumer. We don't want to mess with the fit that has made the brand so successful for the last 10 years. It is but the fit is the most important aspect of  jeans.

VJ: How is Maxxis retail bringing in Brand 7 in the country? Do we have any manufacturing unit here?
RS: We are the sole distributor of 7fam in India. Whatever stuff you see in the store are all outsourced. 90 per cent of the denim has been manufactured in Los Angeles and is washed there. So, we have great control on the quality. There is another line which is made specifically for Europe but open to all and is more fashion forward. That is manufactured in Italy.

VJ: Any plans for taking the franchising route?
RS: Not yet. But in future yes. Franchising will help us reach Tier  II and III markets and help create a strong foothold there.

VJ:The other two stores which are apart of expansion will also be in a mall or high street also an option?
RS: It could be either ways. In Mumbai, we have very exciting high streets which maintains the same like minded brands and everyone visits them. But again it can be in a mall. My priority is to represent brand 7 and Maxxis retail in an appropriate manner.

VJ: What is the time taken to change the products on the shelves?
RS: We get shipments every month. We change the fits, change the washes and keep the product which sells best. Speaking to the market is the key.

VJ: What is the average retail space of a Brand 7 store?
RS: We are looking to have a carpet area of around 800 sq ft per store, although the outlet in Select Citywalk is a bit smaller, but again it’s working fine for us. But for the next two stores, it will be around 800 sq ft.

VJ: What would be the marketing strategy to create an awareness about 7fam as not many people know about the brand?
RS: We will be focussing on print ads. We do ads seasonally as and when our new collection arrives. We will be doing events also to create awareness.

VJ: What are the opportunities you see in the Indian market, in the space you are playing in?
RS: Organised retail in India is around 12-13 per cent. Retail is a slow process. You have to constantly learn and have patience.

VJ: Where do you picture yourself five years down the line in India?
RS: We want to be the top denim brand but if things went in different direction, we might change our startegy. We are flexible enough.

VJ: What kind of changes you saw in the consumer buying pattern over a period of time?
RS: 10 years back, there was nothing available in the country. There were no malls, no international brands and people were forced to go abroad on a shopping trip. Since nothing was available, people used to buy whatever was available. Time evolved, retail evolved, brands came in, malls come up and people started buying. Now when everything is available locally, people come and buy. The other major factor is the increase in the income of the individual, the spending power evolved, great level of awareness also made people to look beyond value for money.


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