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Abhishek Agarwal: The Fashionable Outsider Agarwal is a proud alumnus of IIT Bombay, where he earned a BTech and MTech degree in Aerospace Engineering. This 35-year-old is also the founder of Purple Style Labs, the country's largest omnichannel luxury fashion platform that has investments from actor Madhuri Dixit, Akash Bhanshali and more.

By Kavya Pillai

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Abhishek Agarwal, Purple Style Labs

A beloved television character, Carrie Bradshaw once said, "I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet." Embodying a similar attitude, Abhishek Agarwal in our recent conversation described himself as, "One of those rare engineers who likes to dress" and we were hooked. Agarwal is a proud alumnus of IIT Bombay, where he earned a BTech and MTech degree in Aerospace Engineering. This 35-year-old is also the founder of Purple Style Labs, the country's largest omnichannel luxury fashion platform that has investments from actor Madhuri Dixit, Akash Bhanshali and more.

Agarwal's journey in fashion is nothing short of unconventional. While he has a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Aerospace Engineering, he firmly believes educational qualifications are not all that one banks on in business. He explained how degrees or the content taught in schools and colleges can only take an individual so far. He said, "For general things like consumer business, which is very much about your understanding of the world, education doesn't play any major role." He illustrated his point by saying, "If you are an accounting graduate, it does not mean you are better at finance. All it indicates is that you know the theory and have the data while 'profitability', is a very simple formula" which does not always require prestigious qualifications to grasp.

Coming to Agarwal's journey, "It began in Rourkela, Odisha, and led me to Mumbai as an engineering student. Following my academic pursuits, I began my professional career, initially joining Deutsche Bank as an Equity Derivatives Structurer. Despite my banking and aerospace engineering background, I transitioned into fashion entrepreneurship with a bold vision to establish India's equivalent to LVMH. Although I lacked field-specific education, my determination was unwavering. Notably, during my foray into the industry, unlike the West, where Bernard Arnault started by buying Christian Dior and then LVMH, my venture commenced with nothing more than ambition. To bridge the gap, I delved into extensive studies of business models, seeking to comprehend the nuances of success and failure." For Agarwal, choosing the luxury fashion market was a decision that stemmed from a personal interest in fashion. A major milestone was "when I bought Pernia's Pop-Up Shop in Feb 2018 and scaled it to about 100X during the course of the last six years."

We concluded our conversation with a final question, what does the road to profitability look like? Agarwal gladly shared, "Purple Style Labs has achieved more than 100% Y-o-Y growth for the last 2 years, closing FY 22-23 with INR 372 Cr revenue on a consolidated basis. Furthermore, our March 2024 is expected to close over INR 500 Cr revenue with EBITDA profitability. We anticipate further growth, with a projected run rate of INR 1500 Cr by 2026."

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