Go­ing Dig­i­tal

Brinda Gill pro­files Farida Gupta, a Delhi-based eth­nic wear la­bel for women, whose dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion has brought it success and ac­co­lades.

Apparel - - Contents -

Pro­fil­ing de­signer Farida Gupta, who has taken her de­signs on­line

The past few years have wit­nessed a phe­nom­e­nal growth in the dig­i­tal pres­ence of com­pa­nies. Whether a gar­ment com­pany can step into the dig­i­tal space suc­cess­fully is a sub­ject that of­ten in­ter­ests var­i­ous sec­tions and par­tic­i­pants of the ap­parel in­dus­try, from man­u­fac­tur­ers and de­sign­ers to con­sumers. This is mostly be­cause of the in­her­ently tac­tile na­ture of the prod­uct and the cus­tomer’s en­gage­ment with it – want­ing to touch and feel the fab­ric, see the colours and sur­face de­sign, try it on to check its fit and fall, to ex­am­ine it for its qual­ity of stitch­ing and more.

In this con­text, Farida Gupta, an In­dian eth­nic wear la­bel for women, launched by New Del­hibased de­signer Farida Gupta in 2011, shines for its well-planned and ex­e­cuted ini­tia­tive of go­ing dig­i­tal since Septem­ber, 2016. Ob­serv­ing a huge po­ten­tial in the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing space, the com­pany de­cided to cre­ate a sim­ple, easy-to-use on­line shop­ping plat­form that would mag­nify their pres­ence, ex­pand the reach of their prod­ucts across In­dia, and in­crease sales. This ini­tia­tive was so suc­cess­ful that the com­pany closed down all its brick-and-mor­tar stores in 2016, and now show­cases its col­lec­tions ex­clu­sively at gar­ment ex­hi­bi­tions and on its on­line por­tal, which is www.faridagupta.com.

START­ING UP

An in­ter­est in hand­crafted In­dian tex­tiles led Farida Gupta to step into de­sign­ing gar­ments. While she grew up in Mum­bai, she moved to New Delhi in 1987 to pur­sue her post-grad­u­a­tion. In the cap­i­tal, she ob­served women wear­ing stylish In­dian at­tire, crafted with hand-wo­ven fab­rics and em­bel­lished with hand-crafted tech­niques such as block­print­ing and em­broi­dery.

Sourc­ing fab­ric from Jaipur, she started de­sign­ing gar­ments for her­self. As th­ese gar­ments re­ceived ap­pre­ci­a­tion, she started de­sign­ing gar­ments for fam­ily mem­bers and friends, em­ploy­ing two em­broi­der­ers work­ing from her res­i­dence to cre­ate mo­tifs as per her de­signs. Apart from the joy of cre­at­ing at­trac­tive ap­parel, Farida was happy to have an op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide em­ploy­ment – and thus, in­come – to the women and help them de­velop skills, con­fi­dence and pride in their work. Af­ter a few years of show­ing her work at ex­hi­bi­tions, Farida launched her epony­mous la­bel (in 2011) pre­sent­ing eth­nic In­dian wear for women with hand-wo­ven tex­tiles em­bel­lished with hand-block print­ing and hand em­broi­dery (in­clud­ing hand-stitched el­e­ments such as se­quins and beads).

TAK­ING STOCK

An of­fice-cum-pro­duc­tion unit was setup in Delhi, which is where her fab­rics ar­rive, and the de­sign­ing and stitch­ing takes place. All the prints for the gar­ments and em­broi­dery are de­signed in-house, mak­ing the gar­ments unique to the la­bel. The de­signs on the fab­ric and base colour of the fab­ric used for the gar­ments are typ­i­cally of light, pas­tel colours or deep colours; the mo­tifs are mostly flo­ral or pais­ley; the look is of quiet el­e­gance; and the fit is com­fort­able and of­fers mar­gin for the wearer to be at ease.

The prod­uct range, that has grown since 2011, fea­tures kur­tas (straight kur­tas, A-Line, An­grakhas, solids and Anarkali); bot­toms (shararas, pants, farsi pants, palaz­zos); and ac­ces­sories (du­pat­tas and stoles). The la­bel launched with a store at La­j­pat Na­gar, and sub­se­quently two more stores were set up in South Delhi. The fab­rics con­tinue to be sourced from tra­di­tional tex­tile cen­tres in Ra­jasthan, Gu­jarat, and South In­dia as well as from Luc­know, UP.

CON­SUMER IS KING

“The fo­cus of the la­bel is the con­sumer and each gar­ment is crafted with an equal amount of love and pas­sion. Con­sumers are at the fore­front of all

our ini­tia­tives,” says Farida Gupta. All gar­ments are de­signed with a cer­tain aes­thetic and with the wearer’s com­fort in mind. In ad­di­tion, a con­scious ef­fort is taken to cre­ate an emo­tional con­nect with the buyer in small ways such as the tag say­ing ‘Made in In­dia with Love’, and each prod­uct be­ing given or shipped to the cus­tomer in a printed cloth bag.

GET­TING ON­LINE

“For a stand­alone la­bel like ours, not want­ing to lever­age the con­sumer base of an on­line mar­ket­place, go­ing dig­i­tal was like ven­tur­ing into un­char­tered ter­ri­tory. We started out lean, by putting to­gether a bare­bones ver­sion of our web­site and in­vest­ing ju­di­ciously in ba­sic dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing cam­paigns to see our prod­uct-mar­ket fit. To our sur­prise, we got an en­cour­ag­ing re­sponse and it was clear that we needed to in­vest in the right team and tech­nol­ogy to over­see our dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. One of the ma­jor rea­sons for our dig­i­tal success is our hu­man cap­i­tal,” says Sahil Gupta, Busi­ness Head, who ini­ti­ated and man­aged the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion of the com­pany.

The team de­signed the web­site to be at­trac­tive as well as easy to browse and order gar­ments from. Pho­to­graphs of gar­ments (as worn by a model that gives the viewer an idea of its cut and fall) with name, sizes it is avail­able in and price, are dis­played on the main page of a par­tic­u­lar gar­ment type. Click­ing on a par­tic­u­lar im­age leads to an­other page ded­i­cated to that gar­ment, show­ing it mod­elled from dif­fer­ent an­gles, a de­scrip­tion about the gar­ment, other prod­uct de­tails, and suit­able pair­ings with other gar­ments from their col­lec­tion.

The fil­ters are dis­played to the left and the gar­ments are fea­tured to the right on each page. The fil­ters de­pend upon the gar­ment type a cus­tomer is look­ing for. The main pages for top wear, bot­tom-wear and ac­ces­sories fea­ture Cat­e­gory (dif­fer­ent styles of the gar­ment), Colours, Size and Price. If one is look­ing for For­mals (that spans top wear, bot­tom wear and du­pat­tas) then the fil­ters are Colour, Size, and Price. For the dis­count cat­e­gory named ‘FG Steals’, the fil­ters to be ap­plied are Colour, Size, Dis­count and Price.

A con­sumer is able to se­lect gar­ments eas­ily, given a choice of up to ten colours as per the cat­e­gory (black, white, off-white, grey, blue, indigo, mus­tard, pink, red, yel­low and green for top wear and less for the other gar­ments); an as­sort­ment of up to seven sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL and 3XL); a wide price range (six

op­tions each, start­ing from R501-R1000); and an ar­ray of dis­counts (10 per cent to 50 per cent). Fur­ther, each gar­ment also of­fers sug­ges­tions for com­plet­ing the look with other gar­ments from the Farida Gupta col­lec­tion. Other in­for­ma­tion such as FAQs and ship­ping and de­liv­ery de­tails are pro­vided in a lu­cid man­ner.

ALL SYS­TEMS GO

Once the site was up, the Farida Gupta team found that con­sumers who had been to Farida Gupta’s store or an ex­hi­bi­tion were or­der­ing gar­ments on­line, as they were aware of the qual­ity of the gar­ment, the size that fit them, and the colour pal­ette they pref­fered. The fil­ters on the web­site helped th­ese con­sumers to nar­row down their choices.

While Farida Gupta has taken an om­nichan­nel ap­proach of pro­mot­ing its prod­uct range through in­te­grat­ing dif­fer­ent meth­ods of shop­ping (on­line and ex­hi­bi­tions), the com­pany has also de­vel­oped its pres­ence on so­cial me­dia. “We have over 70,000 or­ganic fol­low­ers on Face­book and over 8,000 on In­sta­gram – a num­ber that’s grow­ing by the day. We have an ac­tive so­cial me­dia team which will typ­i­cally re­spond to all your queries within 10 min­utes,” says Sahil.

AWARDS AND AC­CO­LADES

Farida Gupta’s dig­i­tal ef­forts led to a grow­ing aware­ness of the la­bel, and sales in­creased man­i­fold dur­ing FY 2016-2017. This achieve­ment was recog­nised by Google In­dia. In July 2017, Farida Gupta was a na­tional win­ner of ‘SMB He­roes 2017’. The award, con­sti­tuted by Google In­dia as part of its ‘Dig­i­tal Un­locked Ini­tia­tive’ recog­nises small and medium busi­nesses (SMBs) that have used tech­nol­ogy for the growth of their busi­nesses. Farida Gupta re­ceived an award in the ‘Busi­ness Im­pact through Dig­i­tal’ cat­e­gory.

“Till 2016, we were a team of just 15 peo­ple, in­clud­ing our pro­duc­tion staff. Af­ter we moved to a dig­i­tal plat­form in 2016, our busi­ness grew 400 per cent within a year. As a re­sult, we scaled up our pro­duc­tion. We now have a team of al­most 100 peo­ple, and are in touch with many more ar­ti­sans. We closed down our three phys­i­cal stores and cur­rently show­case our work on­line and through ex­hi­bi­tions,” says Sahil. With the women’s seg­ment of In­dian wear slated to con­tinue grow­ing, the com­pany is look­ing for­ward to pre­sent­ing new col­lec­tions, in­creas­ing its pres­ence and sales, and go­ing global.

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