Staying relevant: Weaving a strong brand story

The recent comeback announcement by Garden Vareli is testament to the potential the branded saree segment holds

The Indian saree market is estimated to be worth `50,000 crore and is growing at a CAGR of 6-8%.
The Indian saree market is estimated to be worth `50,000 crore and is growing at a CAGR of 6-8%.

Just a few weeks ago, Garden Vareli, the popular saree brand of the 1970s and 1980s owned by Garden Silk Mills, announced that it had awarded its entire communications mandate to Rediffusion. In the announcement, Debi Prasad Patra, director of Garden Silk Mills, said, “Rediffusion launched the Garden Vareli brand in the ’70s and made it a household name with advertising that became famous. We are hoping to recreate that magic.” The brand, which was perhaps a little ahead of its time five decades ago, plans to reinvent itself for today’s consumers. 

Garden Vareli’s comeback plans are the latest in a series of big business conglomerates entering the branded saree segment. In March this year, Aditya Birla Group unveiled its range of contemporary sarees under the Navyasa by Liva label. About five years ago, Titan also entered the saree segment with the launch of its ethnic brand, Taneira. 

New look and style 

The Indian saree market is estimated to be worth `50,000 crore and is growing at a CAGR of 6-8%. Close to 90% of this segment is unorganised though organised players maintain there is a great growth opportunity in the branded saree business. Earlier this year, Taneira said it is eyeing a multi-fold revenue growth to reach `300 crore in FY23 and `1000 crore by FY27. 

Though the saree has its loyal users, the new players are bringing in yards of style and modernity to the garment. Sree Charan, VP – marketing at Birla Cellulose, notes that Navyasa is targeting young consumers in the 25-40 age bracket, for whom the saree isn’t a frequent apparel choice. “Our objective is to get them to wear the saree as an everyday garment, and that is why we created an imagery that is not traditional,” says Charan.

Speaking about the evolution of the branded saree, Sandeep Goyal, managing director at Rediffusion, says the emphasis today is on design and being contemporary. “Saree, in some cohorts, is no longer the favourite apparel. Relevance therefore is a potent attribute,” he points out. In the past, brands like Garden Vareli and Vimal tried to build a market for branded sarees, but their efforts could not sustain post the ’80s. That is why new saree brands are keeping their designs contemporary so as to appeal to younger consumers.

Formalising the market

The opportunity in the saree market is big and the category is under-served, says Ambuj Narayan, CEO of Taneira. “Titan’s endeavour is to organise this segment, much like it did with jewellery through the Tanishq brand. We are targeting progressive women who appreciate the rich craft and technique that go into the making of sarees. We are meeting the needs of these consumers with our authentic designs, natural fabrics and with an immersive retail experience across online and offline channels,” he says. Taneira has 26 stores across 10 metro and tier-I markets, aside from its online store. It has also expanded its apparel range to include kurta sets, which are aimed at younger consumers, and will reach out to smaller markets also. “Consumers who buy from Taneira seldom go back to unbranded or traditional saree stores, which tells us that there is demand for branded sarees,” he adds, noting the differentiated proposition has enabled Taneira’s growth. 

Birla Cellulose’s Charan observes that brands are striving to craft a unique identity for themselves in this industry. “In urban centres, consumers have started to identify saree brands and are able to differentiate them. The saree for consumers is sacrosanct, and the brands that have been successful here are those that do not want to replace the image of the saree, but rather give it new visualisation and identity,” he adds. Within five months of launch, it already has five brick-and-mortar stores in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru and is working towards shaping its omnichannel presence.

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