FashioN has one of the most powerful, immediate and universal effects on our collective imagination. It is a blend of our creative expression, cultural values, social issues and new technologies. And this is how an apparel brand decodes the mood and aspirations of its customer. Then there is the other side of the story too.
How does a customer read a brand, especially one that is foreign as per country, culture and product How should a brand catch the customers eye and make him buy the product How much investment would eventually make the brand flow, the apt advertising strategy, etc, etc. But more than all these, it requires lots of homework, an awareness drive, a larger heart that can accommodate the delay in profits among a few initially, replies Cristiano Corneliani, export sales director, who adds: We are not too worried about our operations in India. The market is on an upswing, customers well read, and this is good for us.
The confident manager at the luxury menswear brand is among many that have boarded the not-to-be missed bus called India: an aspiration for all. Corneliani, like his peers in the trade, too has done a thorough research on the market, its growth potential, et al, but he refuses to disclose and repeat what others have said.
Cornelianis Indian stint is not a number race where he aims to trounce others. For us, it is a market which is now getting mature and powerful enough to reciprocate to the brands ethos. Thats why we have more expectations of our Indian journey as compared to those in the neighbouring Chinese market. Indias democracy speaks everywhere even in its shopping behaviour: power to ask questions, word of mouth all leading to confidence in purchase. We are dealing with an informed community here, says Corneliani.
The fashion power house is slated to open 10 more stores by the end of 2008, with a focus on emerging markets in Russia, India and China, says the official. The company already has 23 stores and wholesale deals with around 700 retailers. It brought in $249 million for its fiscal year 2008.
The brand set up shop in India two years ago with a store at Blues Clothing in South Extension in the Capital. Its expansion plans include hitting the DLF Emporio next month, followed by cities like Mumbai and Bangalore. The brand is working on its plan to increase its global sales by 10% this year. Its exports account for 65% of its turnover, growing year by year, with particular success in the emerging markets, emphasises Corneliani.
Expansion is on everyones mind today, but for us it is not over our legacy of quality that we promise to our customer. Today, we see luxury brands talking about churning out X number of suits a year. We dont have that figure. For us, it is value, says the seasoned sales head, who avoids dropping names of politicians or Hollywood stars loyal to the brand. In fact, I have the Premio Qualita Leonardo (Leonardo quality Award), a reward for Italian companies that have obtained the best success on the international markets, he states.
Beyond retail expansion, Corneliani aims to strengthen its accessory category a segment that is growing globally. Accessories make 5% of our sales today and get us new and young and women customers. This is where we see great gifting too. Today, we offer a vivid range of shoes, belts, briefcases and travel bags to create a complete, structured wardrobe. While building our stores, we ensure that this section has a dedicated space, presenting variety to the customers, he says.