Ask yourself what Raipur, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Surat, Ludhiana and Indore have in common, besides the fact that they are rapidly developing cities in India? The answer is that these and a few other Tier two cities are strengthening their affair with designer labels with an unheard of urgency.
Earlier you’d find the fashion conscious from these cities travelling to the nearest metro to get their fill of designer wear. But at WIFW this season, there are several buyers looking for creations fit to retail in smaller cities. The big buzz is that not just stand alone multi designer stores have set up shop but that some serious, planned fashion retail investments are on the anvil.
Topping the list of those ready to reap the potential of such developing markets is Pradeep Hirani’s Kimaya. Kimaya Fashions was invested into by Franklin Templeton last year. The money flowing in thanks to the deal was pegged at 110 crore rupees.
Using those funds, Kimaya now plans to open 60 stores across the country over the next 3-5 years. And leaving out a handful, ALL the stores will be in Tier two cities. The stores will be launched under a new brand name that will offer designer wear priced under 100 dollars. And the 10 top designers that have already been signed on to lend their name and creativity to this brand include the likes of Rohit Bal, Raghavendra Rathore, JJ Valaya and Ranna Gill.
From those investing to those designing, the focus unabashedly now will be on catering to smaller towns. “There is a sense of saturation in the metros, the acceleration to business now has to come from tier two cities,” says Pradeep Hirani.
And perhaps the time is now opportune for such massive investments too. When Rakhi Bhutani opened her first multi-designer label boutique in Nagpur twelve years ago, she was laughed at and faced apprehension from fashion designers too! “It’s a small town; you can’t stock sleeveless clothes or halter necks! Those were the initial hiccups. But over the years the awareness of fashion in Nagpur has grown and we have been able to not just sell our products but also educate people about new designs and designers,” says Rakhi.
In the past three years Rakhi’s sales have grown between 20-25 % annually. Rakhi feels that her clients in Nagpur are eager to experiment with fashion to stand out in the small social circle that they move in. In fact the growth in Nagpur encouraged her to open a 5000 square foot store in the city of Raipur! The start there has been slow as people are slightly more conservative in their dressing.
The increase in demand for designer wear in Tier 2 cities is perhaps the next best thing to happen to all those in the business of fashion. Not only are production volumes likely to go up, designer wear could now be available for lesser MRPs. This effort by domestic buyers also enables designers to spread their wings into unchartered territory and be accessible in non-metros. And of course, there can’t be better news for those who like to spend on designer labels. Should this trend grow and strengthen so will the profitability for the Indian fashion industry!
Blog by Radhika Bajaj