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