#10 Ways to Conquer What People Wear
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Textiles and clothing, by far is the most fun and versatile industry to be a part of. The range for experimentation is massive, from cotton clothing for babies to performance swimwear, the segments are endless. The India advantage lies in the numbers. Our country has over 10 million marriages every year, more than 20 million Indians travel abroad and 20% of India’s urban population is a working one. All of them need clothing!
Identify your niche / positioning
Most clothing brands that people are aware of tend to be fashion brands. These are popular with college students and youngsters but there are plenty of other segments waiting to be tapped. For example - swim wear for Indian bodies, outdoor clothing for the millennial generation, dry fit clothing in organic fibres and so many more. Large international brands already have a huge advantage in terms of awareness, cost and distribution. For new brands, the best way to start off is through a niche. ‘Go Colours’ has a specialization in Women's Wear and continues to build its expertise in the same. Similarly, ‘Papa Don't Preach’ has carved a niche for itself in the bridal wear segment.
Know your customer
Identify the demographics of those customers who constitute 80% of your clientele. Know what they do, what they read, which apps they use, which movies they watch, which days of the week they shop, their lifestyle habits and which social media channels they prefer to use. This will affect the type of product you manufacture and where and how you sell it.
Know where your customers are and how you want to reach them. Today, the ways to reach the consumer are endless. Don’t spend on every channel. That maybe expensive and may be difficult to do if you have limited resources and time. Identify one avenue, build on that and gradually keep adding others. I have met India’s finest designers who used just the exhibition model to build their business. Once they established a client base, they made their creations available in niche multi-brand outlets. There are companies which are online only. There are others who concentrate only on the B2B market.
Turn the spotlight on yourself and your brand
In this business it’s not enough if you have a great product and know your customer. If you are unknown, no one will want to buy your clothes. Step out, meet people, meet other founders, work on innovative collaborations and attend industry events. In my experience, photographers and brands are open to collaborations, we just have to try.
Simultaneously, invest in marketing your clothing line and constantly measure the return on investment. Gradually increase the marketing budget as the sales increase. Even a budget of Rs.5000/- month is a good start. Keep trying out new mediums and identify which ones work for you.
This has multiple benefits, a known brand not only helps increase sales, it helps get investor attention, employees feel a sense of belonging that their efforts are being supported, and you as a founder, are able to set the base for the future.
Ensure inventory is rolling every six months
If there is one metric that tests the health of a clothing business, it is the inventory turnover ratio. The higher the number of times you are sold out of stock in a year, the better your working capital management and higher your profitability.
Keep a constant eye on the bestsellers and the slow movers. Implement sales strategies to attract attention on the slow movers. It is better to sell at a relatively lower margin within six months than to hold inventory for 12 months.
Think of your garment as a box of mithai, that has to be celebrated and worn within a stipulated time; beyond which, it will have to be thrown or discounted heavily.
Build a rapport with your suppliers / manufacturers
The manufacturers, karigars and suppliers form an extended part of your team. Share the company vision with them, talk to them about consumer insights and understand their vision for building the business. Also, ensure that you address the challenges they face. Nothing can replace a strong buyer- seller relationship.
Engagement with industry bodies
These events give you the opportunity to meet veterans who have been through the same journey that you are going through. Talk to them about the challenges you face and you will be amazed by how willing they are to help.
The seminars they conduct give you a macro perspective of the industry. Under one roof, you get to meet various stakeholders, prospective customers, investors and sometimes even future team members.
Some of the industry bodies in India are: ASSOCHAM, FICCI, RAI, CMAI and AEPC
Stay aware of trends, but keep true to your purpose
In the clothing industry, the options in terms of fabrics, styles and sizes is infinite. As a business owner, it is a tough balancing act to please the customer and deliver results. If we continue to build on what we set out for, the customer begins to identity us with that aspect, this garners loyalty.
Start hyper local with a global vision
In India, tastes in clothing, especially colour preferences vary from region to region. Therefore, identify an area where you want to build your business and focus on that at the start. As your customer understanding deepens and brand recall increases, then choose to go to other markets. Monte Carlo, till date focuses on North India as it constitutes 80% of its overall topline. Shoppers Stop has a different selection for South India markets vs. Delhi markets.
Don’t forget why you are building the business in the first place,do just that. Enjoy yourself and you bring a smile to so many peoples’ faces by making them look good in your clothing, do the same for yourself. The energy that we exude passes on to all those around us.