Har­ness­ing Western Trends in In­dian Hues is the Key for Kidswear Re­tailer Gini & Jony

Bal­anc­ing Western trends with In­dian hues and colours, stake­hold­ers from the kidswear brand Gini & Jony talk about com­pet­ing with strong in­ter­na­tional brands, tap­ping Tier-2 mar­kets and the power of the In­dian cus­tomer.

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The boom of the kidswear seg­ment in ever-dy­namic In­dian ap­parel mar­ket is a re­al­ity no one can deny. Es­ti­mated at Rs. 66,904 in

2017 as per stud­ies un­der­taken by in­di­are­tail­ing.com, a CAGR growth of 8.1 per cent is be­ing pro­jected for the In­dian kidswear ap­parel in­dus­try to reach a whop­ping fig­ure of Rs. 1,45,445 crore by 2027. This res­onates with the fact that In­dia is home to the largest pop­u­la­tion in the age group of 0 to 14 years to­talling to 29 per cent (337 mil­lion) of its to­tal pop­u­la­tion.

With these num­bers, nu­mer­ous in­ter­na­tional brands have paved their way into the In­dian kidswear mar­ket and a sud­den con­ver­sion to the on­line com­merce sec­tor has been wit­nessed. To keep up with the fastchang­ing mar­ket dy­nam­ics, In­dian kidswear brands are re­vamp­ing their re­tail game to cater to the newly aware cus­tomer – the one who has greater dis­pos­able in­come and a strong urge to fol­low in­ter­na­tional fash­ion. They are also ex­plor­ing the realms of Tier-2 mar­kets for ex­pan­sion.

One of such brand is Gini & Jony – which prizes it­self as be­ing one of the first In­dian kidswear brand to have en­tered the mar­ket in 1980. With about 1,300 points of sell­ing span­ning 100 cities in In­dia, Gini & Jony has a strong­hold on the In­dian mar­ket.

Their strength is high­lighted through the fact that they spot­light qual­ity over price – a feat they achieve by man­u­fac­tur­ing all their prod­ucts in-house via two main man­u­fac­tur­ing units. Based out of Hi­machal Pradesh and Da­man, these units are utilised for end-to-end pro­cesses, right from de­sign to de­vel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion to in­house qual­ity checks. An­other unit lo­cated at Vapi is in the pipe­line.

COM­PET­ING WITH IN­TER­NA­TIONAL BRANDS IN THE CHANG­ING IN­DIAN MAR­KET

In the In­dian mar­ket where econ­omy changes as fast as the trends do, Gini & Jony has found nu­mer­ous ways to stay at par with its in­ter­na­tional coun­ter­parts and make way for oth­ers to fol­low suit. They changed their prod­uct of­fer­ing to tar­get the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion of par­ents and kids in 2010 by sim­ply do­ing what in­ter­na­tional brands do to en­tice the In­dian pop­u­la­tion – bring in the lat­est trends from across the world and serve it to In­dia.

Shed­ding light on the en­tire pro­ce­dure, Sailesh Lakhani,

VP of the Boys Cat­e­gory for the com­pany says, “Trends used to come

Ear­lier it took about a year for an in­ter­na­tional trend to reach In­dia, but now it sim­ply takes days, or max­i­mum weeks. We use In­dian colours with Western trends, so our prod­ucts are a mix­ture of both.

a lit­tle late to In­dia be­fore, as it took about a year or so for a trend to reach In­dia, but now, it is com­pletely dif­fer­ent, it sim­ply takes as less as a day or max­i­mum a week. We use the In­dian colours, with a Western twist – so our prod­ucts are mix­ture of both.”

Due credit is given to the his­tory of col­lab­o­ra­tions they have had with in­ter­na­tional brands such as de­sign­ing for Benetton, man­ag­ing pro­duc­tion to dis­tri­bu­tion for

Levi’s and Puma, etc. “They en­tered the In­dian mar­ket through us. Through Levi’s, we in­creased our knowl­edge, we got their li­cense and our fac­tory be­came In­ter­na­tional Stan­dards com­pli­ant. Our mea­sure­ment and siz­ing be­came very good. All these col­labs gave us a lot of knowl­edge,” says Sailesh. Con­form­ing to the eco­nomic changes such as de­mon­e­ti­za­tion and GST,

For kidswear, fo­cus is on the wearer in­stead of pleas­ing the par­ents. Our merchandise con­forms to kids to pro­vide op­ti­mum com­fort. Even for fes­tive, we utilise fancy fab­rics while avoid­ing un­com­fort­able ma­te­ri­als like mesh and se­quins. Our clothes are not ‘just cute’.

the com­pany had to un­dergo sev­eral changes. By re­duc­ing their ware­houses from 15 to 2, they slashed their over­all prices by about 10 per cent, a step that was also un­der­taken by their com­peti­tors such as UCB and USPA kids, de­spite their in­ter­na­tional roots.

THE ERA IS ON­LINE AND DIG­I­TAL

In the pre­vi­ous years, a whop­ping in­crease of about 300 per cent in their on­line sales was seen de­spite the fact that no ex­tra mea­sures or cam­paigns were held to pro­mote the same. They give the en­tire credit to the con­ve­nience pro­vided by e-com­merce as Jay Lakhani, the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the com­pany states that, “On­line shop­ping is very con­ve­nient. We feel dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing can boost these sales fur­ther. We sell through all the ma­jor on­line play­ers like Jabong, Ama­zon, Firstcry, Flip­kart and Myn­tra, but not that much from our site.”

They point out that this boost did not af­fect their off­line sales as they sell pre­vi­ous sea­sons’ stock on­line at a cer­tain dis­count. Call­ing it an ‘en­tic­ing’ en­deav­our, they did state their re­luc­tance to ex­pand on­line at the cost of giv­ing heavy dis­counts to cus­tomers by the seller web­sites. “The ap­proach is wrong for the brand. Brands who give too much dis­counts lose their hold – they should have the power to sell prod­ucts at price they want. That is how brands grow. Just be­cause it’s tempt­ing – we can’t dis­count too much. E-com­merce has a 10 per cent share in our over­all sales,” adds Sailesh to the ar­gu­ment.

CUS­TOMER IS EV­ERY­THING

With an ex­ten­sive sys­tem of Vis­ual Mer­chan­dis­ing in place,

Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and dis­counts def­i­nitely boost on­line sales. But brands who give too much dis­counts lose their hold; they should have the power to sell prod­ucts at prices they want.

Just be­cause it is tempt­ing, it shouldn’t be a reg­u­lar prac­tice.

the stake­hold­ers at Gini & Jony be­lieve in the power a cus­tomer holds. As a trial run for new col­lec­tions, stylists are placed in their stores to sur­vey the cus­tomers vis­it­ing them. They use cus­tomers’ feed­back to make com­bos of cat­e­gories while pro­vid­ing them with al­ter­nate ways to shop if they find some­thing miss­ing. Ki­ran Lakhani, Cat­e­gory Man­ager for the Girls’ seg­ment says it is cru­cial to try new things and get feed­back as, “Peo­ple like that and we are pay­ing at­ten­tion. In In­dia it is still all about ser­vice.”

The brand uses its of­fer­ings, loy­alty pro­grammes and USP of cre­at­ing prod­ucts that are not ‘just cute’ to in­crease their pop­u­lar­ity. They are con­formed to the wearer rather than the par­ents. They want the kids to feel com­fort­able in their own skin and strictly avoid the use of un­com­fort­able fab­rics like shiny polyesters, rex­ine, etc. even for the fes­tive col­lec­tions.

Ki­ran sheds fur­ther light on this as she talks about Gini & Jony Gold, a brand which deals with boys’ fes­tive of­fer­ings like linen kur­tas. “We work with fancy fab­rics, while still avoid­ing un­com­fort­able ma­te­ri­als like mesh and se­quins; it gets hard for the kid. Girl’s cat­e­gory isn’t too big as the ac­cept­abil­ity of such west­ern­ized cloth­ing is less. Boys wear is our strength. It sells re­ally well, we are very good with ba­sics – no­body does graph­ics bet­ter than us,” she adds.

STRIV­ING FOR NEW: THE IN­NO­VA­TIVE AND SUS­TAIN­ABLE TRENDS

When asked about trends, the cat­e­gory spe­cial­ists showed en­thu­si­asm for Al­lOver-Em­broi­dery, and their re­cent ven­ture that ex­plores sev­eral washes for their col­lec­tions to give them an edge over com­peti­tors.

Ki­ran fur­ther states that, “A very new trend is washes. We have done many ex­per­i­ments in washes like or­ganic wash, bub­ble dye­ing, cold pig­ment dye­ing, re­verse dye­ing across all our cat­e­gories. We some­times fuse washes with AOP, washes make fab­ric soft.” Washes res­onate with den­ims, and Gini & Jony strives to make denim an in­no­va­tive and sus­tain­able prod­uct cat­e­gory as Sailesh chimes in,

“We use dif­fer­ent fab­rics and we def­i­nitely avoid polyester.

We are now ex­plor­ing a lot of blended fab­rics – cot­ton+ten­cel, linen+vis­cose, rayon, and bam­boo fab­rics. Our mills are al­ways up-to-date with fab­ric trends. We pre­fer in­no­va­tion at fab­ric level too. Ten­cel and linen are great fab­rics. They keep you both cool and warm. We use linen in denim and non-denim both.”

FU­TURE PLANS: METROS, TIER-2 MAR­KETS AND BEYOND

Gini & Jony has ef­fec­tively di­vided the prod­uct range and price points con­form­ing them best to suit the places they are be­ing sold in.

They re­tail their sub-brand, Palm Tree, in the Tier-2 cities at 30 per cent cheaper rates. They be­lieve that the Tier-2 mar­ket has bet­ter prospec­tive for the In­dian brands due to in­cli­na­tion of met­ro­pol­i­tan con­sumers to­wards big­ger brands and the in­creas­ing ac­cess to dis­pos­able in­come of Tier-2 cus­tomers.

Ki­ran adds, “The re­tail av­enues might be bet­ter in Tier-2 mar­kets as cus­tomers in metros are more aware of the big­ger re­tail brands. The Tier2 cus­tomers are show­ing in­ter­est in in­vest­ing in cloth­ing now and it prom­ises po­ten­tial. To en­hance our hold in the metros, we are go­ing to re­tail via new MBOs like Shop­pers Stop (with about 60 stores), Cen­tral (35) and Life­style (60-70 stores). Even Reliance, with about 2,000 out­lets, is show­ing in­ter­est as they are look­ing for B2B op­er­a­tions av­enues.” Tar­get­ing larger MBOs in metros and smaller EBOs in Tier-2, Gini & Jony is ex­pect­ing about 250 store open­ings next year. The brand is also eye­ing Nepal with a re­cent in­au­gu­ra­tion of a seven-store fran­chise there. Their only aim is to make a pi­o­neer brand for kids spun out of Western trends wo­ven in In­dian hues.

Sailesh com­pares the In­dian re­tail sec­tor to a jun­gle that runs on the rule of sur­vival of the fittest and fur­ther adds that, “Within this en­vi­ron­ment, In­dian brands have to prove their worth, how they are bet­ter than their in­ter­na­tional coun­ter­parts. They can grow by un­der­stand­ing the sen­si­tiv­ity of In­dian con­sumers and make them re­late to us. We have loyal cus­tomers. We try to con­vince the new mil­len­nial par­ents to use our prod­ucts; we do a lot of in­vest­ment in them. We look to pro­mote trust on in­di­vid­ual ba­sis and pro­mote tech­ni­cal com­fort. Our prod­uct is our main weapon.”

Re­tail av­enues show po­ten­tial in Tier-2 mar­kets as cus­tomers in metros are more aware of big­ger re­tail brands. The Tier-2 cus­tomers now have in­creased ac­cess to dis­pos­able in­come and de­mand is boom­ing there.

Ex­per­i­ments with washes, fused with AOPs

Gini & Jony new col­lec­tion cam­paign

(L to R) Ki­ran Lakhani, Jay Lakhani and Sailesh Lakhani

Up­com­ing prints in trend for the Girls’ col­lec­tion

Min­i­mal em­bel­lished de­tails for kids’ com­fort

Up­com­ing prints in trend for Boy’s col­lec­tion All-over em­broi­dery has re­placed AOP as a trend as AOP was very com­mon. An­other new trend is washes. We ex­per­i­ment with them and some­times fuse washes with AOP too. We strive for in­no­va­tion at fab­ric level too.

Fun patches for boys’ po­los

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