Indian retail has matured from being one size fits all phenomenon to a customised products and services industry and here, made to measure or bespoke products are creating huge demands. Realising this trend, Study By Janak, a bridge-to-luxury brand in India, introduced this concept to men’s formal and occasion wear segment, along with providing other class products and merchandise.
The retail market of the country is surely experiencing an exciting time considering the kind of growth prospects it is seeing in the designer labels, luxury and bridge-to-luxury segments. As per the newly published report by KPMG, the Indian luxury market grew at a healthy rate of 30 per cent in 2013 to reach to USD 8.5 billion in 2013. It is likely to continue growing at a healthy pace to reach USD 14 billion by 2016.
Also, a slowdown in the luxury goods market in the West has made the BRIC an attractive destination for brands looking to expand their footprints. A Crisil study says, BRIC countries account for 18-22 per cent of the world’s luxury market today, and is expected to touch 36 per cent by 2015. In 2010-11, India had 62,000 ultra-wealthy households and this will catapult to 219,000 households by 2015.
Moreover, with the emergence of ‘High Net Worth Individuals-who are not rich yet’ wanting to indulge in this luxury and ‘bridge-to-luxury’ retail categories, the categories are all set to see some stimulating growth figures in the times to come. Commenting on the same, Ayush Mehra, Director, Study By Janak (SBJ), said, “If I look at it across all categories- our clients belong to the higher income group and are globe trotters. They are keyed into the global trends, and expect the same flowing into their ensembles.”
Study By Janak opened its door in the year 1986, the retail concept was conceived by Manoj Mehra, who witnessed unmet demand gap in the men’s formal and occasion wear. And thus, SBJ was started with the vision to be the pioneer in offering ‘Stylised Formal & Occasion Wear’ for the Indian Men. Till date, everything that is being designed and manufactured by the brand is conceived on the basis of this mantra. The brand has in-house design expertise and a state-of-the-art production facility based out of Gurgaon, Haryana.
Tracking consumer sentiments
It is true that India, with its 1.25 billion population and nearly 65 per cent population falling under the age group of 35 years, is surely brimming with growth opportunity. Today’s evolved consumers want variety and to be exact, the specific dress and material that suits them best. And retailers who serve this category of niche consumers, wanting bespoke products are definitely going to see huge demand in the coming time.
Elaborating on today’s consumer sentiment, Mehra explained, “In bespoke- the client will be someone who understands and values a bespoke suit, who has been to a Savile Row street and knows that what a bespoke suit is all about. There is a certain price point that comes with it, so the client needs to understand why is it coming at such price and only when someone has experienced it and understands craftsmanship, they know that it’s the service that they are paying for.”
With the entire eCommerce retailing hullabaloo, can online luxury retail be a possibility in India? In mature markets of the West, there are exclusive portals like Net-a-Porter, Jetsetter or luxury deals site like Amazon Habit. Even, US-based department stores like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom have full-fledged sites dedicated to luxury.
In India, the online story will take a while to formulate. But that does not mean that the eCommerce luxury/bridge-to- luxury market is not possible. There are web-only luxury eCommerce players also who have forayed into luxury or bridge-to-luxury eCommerce retailing. Striking a similar note, Mehra, shared, “We are already in the online business. We started our eCommerce portal around one year back and there are constant changes that we do on it. We would be soon launching a new addition to our eCommerce site, which would be a game changer, and a revamped website, which I am excited about. In 2015 we would be tying up with some leading eCommerce portals too, to capture whole new consumers.”
Explaining about the objective of such initiative, he said, “Our objective is to percolate the areas where we are not physically present, as well as reaching out to the NRI market. We have a lot of clients who come to us from abroad and keep telling us that they would want to buy from us more frequently. Our own website is targetting these set of clients.”
Store designs and aesthetic
Whether it’s a luxury or a bridge-to-luxury market, designing store layouts to create awe is always a requirement of such stores. The store designs that soothe the senses and elevate energy levels are all pre-requisites of a luxury store. And Study By Janak stores, design their stores depending on two aspects-seasonal and festivals. Other than these two themes, they display latest collections along with a mix of present merchandise.
Study By Janak covers a retailing space of 60,000 sq ft across the six EBOs in NCR and Punjab, and has production facility of around 50,000 sq ft. As per Mehra, they have huge expansion plans to add around 25,000 sq ft every year from 2015-16. He said, “The brand has been built on values and has a financial structure, which is minimal on debt. The expansion plans are keeping in with its philosophy of no debt.”
The young face of Study By Janak, Ayush Mehra, the 27 years young Director of the brand, wants to transform Study By Janak from a family-run enterprise into a corporate power house, he highlights about the strategy that he has planned out so far.
Since 1986 till today, how has been your retailing journey? What is your biggest learning?
I joined the brand in the year 2009, when I came back from Birmingham after completing my Bachelors in Business Administration from Aston University. My retailing journey since then has been a learning curve, and currently, I can confidently say that I am at the helm of bringing about turnaround changes in the organisation at large. I started my journey with the conceptualisation of the franchisee model- SBJ 690.
The objective was to maximise the huge production facility available then with Study By Janak and expand the distribution network of fashionable prêt wear. During this time, I learned the nuances of production, retail expansion, and most importantly, number crunching. I formally joined the brand in the year 2011. Since then, I have been working on a series of changes in the organisation. My vision has been to turn the family-run enterprise into a corporate power house.
The biggest challenge to overcome in the business was to systemise the organisation for the internal functioning of the company to bring about efficiency. The first step was departmentalisation of organisation, from a three department to 14 systemised departments with set processes, JD’s, KRA’s of each individual, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and a systemised way of performance measuring, which made the organisation adopt a leaner and sharper outlook, where people became accountable and authority flowed through the hierarchy. My biggest learning has been that there is churning of human resources across industries, but it is the ethics and system of the organisation that helps in making it stable and propels growth.
Are you known as a luxury brand, or a bridge-to-luxury or a designer label brand?
We position our brand as a bridge-to-luxury brand, as our product offerings and price points are a fine balance of not being too expensive for the clients, but fulfills the preferences and expectations of the elite consumer. However, TAILORMADE is a new product line, which is a completely luxury category of ours and it has attracted many eyeballs with its presence at the Vogue Wedding Show.
What kind of changes in craftsmanship and consumer preferences have you observed lately?
Our TAILORMADE is a high level craftsmanship product category, and in India, only a select few retail brands offer canvas suits.
When it comes to wedding shopping, there hasn’t been much change that I have seen, as even then it was a family affair, and so it is now. The difference more or less is that now the client is more aware, about trends, colour palettes, ramp fashion and Bollywood news, of course, which influences their wedding purchases. But yes, there has been a seismic shift in how a man chooses his wardrobe today vis-a-vis three decades back. In those times, the term wardrobe did not really exist for a man.
A classic white shirt, trousers in greys and blacks, and 2-3 suits were all what he thought of. But today, he has become aware and selects clothes based on occasions and time of the day. He prefers specific outfits that suit a board room, a date, a wedding, or for a friend’s night out. Depending on clothes for such occasions, his wardrobe has expanded. Also, men now are keyed in to the trends that are happening on global fashion scene. Not only that, Bespoke Suits are now entering the vocabulary of each suave man- be it a corporate big wig or an entrepreneur. This wasn’t the case a few years back.
Among the different product categories you have, which one is the most popular category and how?
The Suits segment from Western wear is our popular category. We have always been known for ethnic, but since the last few years, people are coming to us for our tailoring expertise. The vast collection of fabrics that we have- from Cerruti, to LoroPiana, Zegna and even Special editions of Scabal (that are exclusively available with us), is getting the clients to us from different parts of the country. Our production facility is on par with the international standards of tailoring, and that is what is becoming popular with our clients. Apart from that, the design value that a client gets in each suit- even a corporate suit has detailing that you can’t miss- is what makes us different from others.
How do you differentiate yourselves?
Within my brand, there are different segments and each segment has its own USP. But overall, we see ourselves as a one-stop destination for all wardrobe requirements of a client. If you look around, there is hardly anybody who has multi-designer women collection as well as their own production, Indian ethnic wear for men, prêt collection, corporate wear, made to measure service and world-class bespoke service. Thus, rounding it off together, this is our USP. Nobody has that kind of products and services that we are offering at Study By Janak, today.