The designer duo, Mona Lamba and Pali Sachdev together known as Monapali, are amongst very few fashion designers in the country who make costumes for the mid-level segment of society and do prêt. In 1987, they launched their boutique by the name of Monapali, in Kolkata. They share their views on the retail aspect of the fashion industry with Varun Jain.
Varun Jain (VJ) : What channels do you retail your products from?
Monapali (MP) : We have stand-alone stores and franchised-stores. We have exclusive stores in Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Delhi. Apart from that we also retail through Ffolio, Mogra, Samsara, Rudraksh, Isshka, Anonymous, Elahi, Colours of India etc
VJ : What are those traits that have to be ingrained in a designer's retail outlet so that it stands apart? What are the areas you generally focus on? Support with an example.
MP : The store should have a unique selling point in terms of look and interiors. It should have a distinct character that is identifiable. In our Kolkata store in which the design is an ode to the city of Kolkata we have murals of Goddess Durga and Kali. The furniture is in wrought iron, which again is distinctly reminiscent of the city, the pillars are again inspired from the architecture of the old British Kolkata.
VJ : Throw some light on your expansion plans.
MP : We are currently expanding our product line. Line diversification is the current mantra. We launched a painting line at the India International Fashion Week that got a phenomenal response. The paintings are of Indian gods and goddesses.
VJ : How do you think the fashion weeks create an opportunity for the retailers?
MP : Fashion shows are the perfect opportunity for retailers to see a line of products and order at the spot. It’s a platform for international buyers specifically as they get a host of designers under one roof.
VJ : How do you think the corporate world and the fashion designers can work in synergy to give a boost to the retail industry?
MP : The corporate world and the design world are already working in sync with each other. We had retailed at Westside and the response had been very good. The prêt line really works very well there. Moreover, we are doing good business with our franchisee.
VJ : What is your take on the fashion and personality licensing? Any plans of making the most of the same?
MP : Fashion to us is our life, that’s what we understand the best. It’s the air that we breathe. Films stars, cricketers, sportsmen etc do it all the time so what’s wrong if designers do it? As long your work does not suffer and you are able to do justice to the designs it’s ok.
VJ : Why don't fashion designers design something for the mid-segment customers? Is it because it will dilute the brand image or there is more to it?
MP : We were one of the first few to design not just for the middle level but we also do prêt. Our prêt range starts at Rs 1000 onwards. We cater to each and every consumer category and don’t feel that the brand image suffers because of it. Each and every individual has a right to look good and we cater to each and every person who walks into our store.
VJ : What is the worth of fashion industry? What is your share?
MP : Emotionally the fashion and the industry around it are priceless and for a share etc we need to have a syndicated report. I don’t think anyone has done it so far.
VJ : What marketing strategy do the fashion designers employ? What is yours?
MP : Varied marketing strategies are employed by different designers. We cater to all sections hence the marketing for various sections differs. Since we export to biggies like the Max Mara group there the strategy is very different to our domestic retail or who lesal e or franchisee, we have the prêt line the diffusion line and the couture line, a home line and the export line and the strategy for all differs but the mission is similar we offer quality in design, material, production and after sales services. Our motto is to give the consumer the best value for money.