Fashion retail: Scoring ‘plus’ points in fashion

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New Delhi | September 24, 2018 1:27 AM

Plus size consumers are unfortunately at the receiving end of high apparel MRPs. This limits the category to urban areas, but players are hopeful.

Fashion retail: Scoring ‘plus’ points in fashion

The perfect fit as a concept in apparel remains forever elusive — more so if as a consumer you do not fall under the predefined sizes on offer. Being on the heavier side or fitting into a larger size only compounds this problem. While demand in the market exists, the category remains underserviced.

Brands like Gia and Diza from Westside, Future Group’s aLL and Pantaloons’ Alto Moda are trying to bridge the gap. Players like FabAlley’s Curve and Indya, Amydus from Begin101 Lifestyle and the luxury design brand Half Full are also in the fray to cater to the plus size consumer.

Of awareness and body positivity

For online players, the task becomes relatively easier with online marketing. Offline is a different story, where trials happen. For a consumer who may be discovering her true size in a ready-to-wear format rather than opting for, say, a salwar kameez that can be altered post purchase, trials are even more important in this category. Take, for example, Half Full, launched in July, 2017 which has a presence across multi-designer stores in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Ahmedabad. It sees a 90% conversion to sales from in-store trials. Rixi Bhatia, partner and designer of Half Full notes that the brand aims to reach consumers in tier II and III cities with a price-sensitive range via e-commerce within a year.

Westside’s Gia was launched almost six years ago which contributes 5% to the company’s revenue. Gia offers western wear while Diza, launched in March, 2018, offers ethnic wear with both brands catering to 18-32 year-olds. Madhulika Damani, buying head, ethnic wear, Westside, shares, “For Gia, cities such as Chennai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Surat are doing really well and for Diza, cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru are receiving good traction.”

The problem of awareness, however, persists. And it is not something that can be addressed merely by advertising. Future Group’s aLL associates annually with Lakme Fashion Week, where each year a fashion designer launches his/her plus size collection called aLL Primero. The collection is presented on the runway by winners of auditions for plus size models. Hetal Kotak, CEO, aLL, notes that the online presence launched late March this year complements its 71 exclusive brand stores and 40 shop-in-shops.

Rather than the selling point being about a larger size, the category has found its sweet spot marketing on the plank of the body positivity peg.

Tanvi Malik, co-founder, FabAlley, shares, “Body positivity is something that brands need to speak about. What is currently being offered in the market is not form fitting and doesn’t keep Indian body types in mind.” Currently 15-20% online sales come from its plus size offering, Curve. FabAlley’s fusion wear brand Indya has sizes available upto 2XL, with an aim to cover the entire gamut of plus sizes in the near future. As recent as last week, the brand rolled out its #FabFitsAll campaign which aims to promote body positivity.

No escaping physical retail

A large chunk of traction for companies happens in the offline environment. By early November, Half Full aims to turn a part of its Mumbai studio into the brand’s standalone store. Begin101 Lifestyle’s Amydus was launched a little over four years ago and now has three standalone stores spread across Chandigarh, Chennai and Gurgaon, with an upcoming store in Indore.

With a limited number of players catering to the plus size segment, the pricing typically reflects the exclusivity. Kartik Sapra, CEO, Amydus provides the rationale, “When you make something in small quantities, overheads are high. Secondly in plus sizes, the regular consumption of fabrics is 25-30% more than regular sizes. We try to match up and keep the multiplier as low as possible.” Amydus ended FY18 with `8.4 crore in revenues and is seeing an addition of 10,000-15,000 customers every year.

Alagu Balaraman, partner and MD, CGN Global India, believes pricing strategies will see a revision as the category grows.“The marginal cost of making a slightly larger or smaller garment is negligible. So, premium pricing for ‘non-standard’ fits is probably not going to last,” he says. “Competition will bring it back down to regular pricing.”

Kotak emphasises, “At best, there is a basic consumption that is a little higher in the plus size garment but that doesn’t really impact the MRP too much. The product we are giving covers a little more of the raw material and that is a basic cost to cover.” From January to March, 2018, aLL saw `38 crore in retail sales, as per Future Lifestyle Fashions’ FY18 investor update.

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