Be­ing Hu­man – A line with a heart for fash­ion and a knack for re­tail

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THE ON­SET

As the fa­mous Chi­nese proverb goes, ‘The jour­ney of a thou­sand miles be­gins with a sin­gle step’. For Be­ing Hu­man, it meant a step in the right di­rec­tion.

For a new In­dian brand to touch a turnover of Rs. 250 crore in the first 5 years it­self is a com­mend­able feat, but the ride wasn’t al­ways easy for this midto-pre­mium brand. Af­ter fac­ing re­jec­tions in the In­dian mar­ket on the pre­text of it be­ing a celebrityled brand, Be­ing Hu­man found its first lucky break with the Land­mark Group which gave it 120 doors for the GCC – in­clud­ing UAE and Pak­istan. This move, cou­pled with Mand­hana’s foothold in ex­ports, gave the brand an im­me­di­ate boost. A wealth of con­tacts in the West earned the brand a dis­trib­u­tor in Europe which in­stantly con­nected it with the mar­kets of France and Spain.

Do­mes­ti­cally, the first year saw the open­ing of three stores – two in Mum­bai and one in Chandi­garh, which picked up post Be­ing Hu­man’s in­cred­i­ble per­for­mance in the in­ter­na­tional sec­tor. It didn’t take long for the brand to prove its met­tle ow­ing to its in­ter­na­tional trends and qual­ity stan­dards, which straight­away po­si­tioned Be­ing Hu­man in the league of other in­ter­na­tional re­tail­ers such as US Polo, Levi’s, Jack and Jones, Benet­ton, etc.

To­day, the brand boasts of 70 plus stores pan-In­dia, with more than 500 points of sale among large for­mat stores such as Shop­per’s Stop, Life­style and Cen­tral. In­ter­na­tion­ally, the brand has ex­panded to Mau­ri­tius and Nepal, with a 10-door Cana­dian en­try just un­der­way.

In the on­line space, Be­ing Hu­man is a hot-seller at the likes of e-com­merce gi­ants such as Jabong and Myn­tra, the suc­cess of which led to the brand un­veil­ing its own web­site in Au­gust 2018.

“We are one of the pi­o­neers in In­dia to have in­tro­duced a pure om­nichan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence – peo­ple have been talk­ing about it since the past three years but we are the ones to have ac­tu­ally gone ahead and in­cor­po­rated it into our busi­ness model. Bridg­ing the gap be­tween the phys­i­cal and on­line store for­mats, the mer­chan­dise is shipped di­rectly from the near­est store to the con­sumer within 3-4 days of or­der­ing on the Be­ing Hu­man web­site,” told Ku­nal Me­hta, VP Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment & Mar­ket­ing at Be­ing Hu­man to Ap­parel On­line.

MAR­KET SCE­NARIO

Built on the cor­ner­stones of good­will and hope, the brand’s USP lies in Char­ity, Celebrity and Fash­ion. Chan­nelling the three into on-trend pieces, teamed up with a solid cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, makes Be­ing Hu­man a force to reckon with, for both buy­ers and con­sumers. This di­rectly af­fects the rate at which the brand has been ex­pand­ing.

“Metro cities ac­count for more than 50 per cent of our ex­pan­sion, though it has been in­creas­ingly ob­served that the growth in Tier-1 and Tier-2 mar­kets has been tremen­dous. We are try­ing to lever­age this in­ter­est and are put­ting our fo­cus on these ar­eas be­cause we have seen that the to­tal as­pi­ra­tion of our brand comes from the Tier-1 and Tier-2 mar­kets,” Ku­nal said.

In­ter­na­tional brands en­ter metro cities first, cre­at­ing a wealth of op­tions and com­pe­ti­tion for do­mes­tic play­ers, put­ting Tier-1, 2 and 3 mar­kets on the top of the po­ten­tial list for do­mes­tic play­ers. The reign of fast fash­ion has af­fected each and ev­ery brand in the re­tail space, urg­ing re­tail­ers to be on-trend, fast, var­ied and af­ford­able. This has led

“To­day e-com­merce has not evolved in In­dia, ev­ery­one is look­ing for a deal, bar­gain but to come with a brand web­site and hav­ing such an ex­pe­ri­ence, where you see so many or­ders are be­ing paced, we know that cus­tomers are look­ing for brand ex­pe­ri­ence and not just a bar­gain.”

– Ku­nal Me­hta

“The en­tire world has moved to­wards value re­tail. Talk­ing about In­dia, with the ad­vent of H&M, FBB, do­ing so well, peo­ple are get­ting great styles for a good, com­pet­i­tive price, and the cat­e­gory that we are in is ‘fast fash­ion’ ba­si­cally. Peo­ple don’t want any­thing to last more than 3-4 months, they want to change fast.”

– Ku­nal Me­hta

Be­ing Hu­man to re­vise its en­trylevel pric­ing from Rs. 899 for a T-shirt com­ing down to Rs. 699, and Rs. 2,999 for den­ims com­ing down to Rs. 1,999.

“We haven’t com­pro­mised on qual­ity but we have ex­per­i­mented with dif­fer­ent kinds of fab­rics and blends which we weren’t us­ing ear­lier – even a Rs. 1,999 jeans or Rs. 699 tee will carry the same brand ethos. We’ve seen other brands mov­ing to­wards the lower end of price point as well and it’s be­come the need of the hour to match com­pet­i­tive pric­ing,” stated Ku­nal.

“Work­ing for both the ex­port and do­mes­tic mar­ket, I have seen that the do­mes­tic mar­ket is a stronger and more dif­fi­cult mar­ket as the de­mand for qual­ity from the In­dian con­sumer is re­ally high. The In­dian cus­tomer wants ‘value for money’. It doesn’t mat­ter if a prod­uct is re­tail­ing at Rs. 799 or Rs. 699, he has to be sat­is­fied. So qual­ity has to be fore­most, whether at a lower or higher price. Qual­ity is the key fac­tor that can­not be com­pro­mised at any price,” averred Purvi Joshi, VP In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness and Sourc­ing at Be­ing Hu­man.

PROD­UCT MIX

Fol­low­ing the Spring/Sum­mer and Au­tumn/Win­ter for­mat, the brand re­leases two col­lec­tions ev­ery year in­clu­sive of 85 per cent menswear and 15 per cent wom­enswear. The brand works on 500 SKUs com­pris­ing the com­plete cat­e­gory, man­u­fac­tur­ing 15-18 lakh pieces per sea­son, or around 35 lakh per year.

The brand fea­tures a mix of cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories out of which, de­pend­ing upon the sea­son and its cor­re­spond­ing trends, 25 per cent of the mix is the core range, 50 per cent is raked up by mid fash­ion and 20-25 per cent is pre­mium or ex­per­i­men­tal fash­ion.

Ow­ing to Mand­hana’s strong roots, ma­jor­ity of the man­u­fac­tur­ing that is around 85 per cent, is done in In­dia it­self (in-house in the brand’s fac­to­ries based in Tara­pur and Ban­ga­lore, and ex­ter­nally out­sourced through ven­dors). About 15 per cent of Be­ing Hu­man’s to­tal buy­ing comes from China and Bangladesh, which they pre­fer for the im­port of their jack­ets and denim cat­e­gories.

“Qual­ity, pric­ing, de­liv­ery time – Bangladesh is known for these things. We get very good den­ims from Bangladesh, and it has been our prime ven­dor for the denim cat­e­gory. We are also im­port­ing win­ter­wear and

“Ven­dors and sup­pli­ers are re­viewed based on qual­ity, de­liv­ery per­for­mance, at­ti­tude and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. We don’t select them on as­sump­tions and his­tory.”

– Purvi Joshi “The do­mes­tic mar­ket is a stronger and more dif­fi­cult mar­ket as the de­mand for qual­ity from the In­dian con­sumer is re­ally high. Qual­ity is the key fac­tor that can­not be com­pro­mised at any price. The In­dian cus­tomer wants

‘value for money’, whether a prod­uct is re­tail­ing at Rs. 799 or Rs. 699, he has to be sat­is­fied. So qual­ity has to be fore­most, whether at a lower or a higher price.”

– Purvi Joshi

jack­ets from China,” Ku­nal said, adding, “In In­dia, we pre­fer Tirupur in the South for knits, Ahmed­abad for shirt­ing, so our shirt ven­dors are based in Ahmed­abad and Lud­hi­ana. Both our in-house fac­to­ries man­u­fac­ture our den­ims and chi­nos, and our pants come from Ban­ga­lore.”

De­scrib­ing the de­sign­ing process to Ap­parel On­line, Purvi said, “When our de­sign­ers are about to start work, we give them a prod­uct ma­trix ac­cord­ing to dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories along with price points and select quan­ti­ties. If we con­sider price points at a higher stage, there is a risk of the col­lec­tion go­ing into com­plete loss. The en­tire ma­trix is bro­ken down into price-points cat­e­gory wise, post which the de­sign­ers start work­ing on the tech files.”

She fur­ther elab­o­rated on the sourc­ing process, ex­plain­ing, “Tech files with dif­fer­ent guide­lines are given to our sup­pli­ers. The big­gest pol­icy of sourc­ing is: ‘Don’t put all eggs in one bas­ket’; so we can­not de­pend on 1-2 ven­dors, if they fail, we are busted! Quan­ti­ties are taken into ac­count to plan sup­pli­ers along with sup­pli­ers’ re­view re­ports be­fore plac­ing fu­ture or­ders. All sup­pli­ers can­not be per­fect all the time, so we re­view them af­ter each or­der. If one per­forms well, we in­crease busi­ness with them, if not, then we re­duce it af­ter is­su­ing a warn­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to Purvi, lead time varies from 90-120 days for all prod­ucts, with a case-based fast track op­tion that works on 60 days at max for cer­tain styles. Re­plen­ish­ment time­lines vary be­tween 8 to 10 days with core styles be­ing given the most pri­or­ity, and in mid to high, only sizes that re­tail fast can be re­ordered. “We are a young brand; we fo­cus on cre­at­ing more va­ri­ety in sales rather than re­plen­ish­ment to en­sure that our cus­tomers don’t get too bored. The greater the op­tions, the bet­ter,”

Purvi ex­plained.

Dur­ing their Spring/Sum­mer and Au­tumn/Win­ter buy­ing, the prod­uct team al­ways keeps a set per­cent­age of the col­lec­tion on standby. “If we see some style which is in trend right now, then we will keep that as a 5 per cent ra­tio buf­fer, so that we can get it im­me­di­ately within 30 days lead time. So we keep that buf­fer and a 5-7 per cent of the standby stock which we can im­me­di­ately put into pro­duc­tion as and when re­quired”.

BEST PER­FORM­ING STYLES

Ku­nal at­tributes 40 per cent of the brand’s turnover to its T-shirts which are the fastest sell­ing cat­e­gory.

These are man­u­fac­tured both in­house as well as out­sourced.

To put it in his own words, “We’ve seen that for us, any cam­paign mer­chan­dise does very well – what­ever we shoot or what­ever Sal­man Khan is seen wear­ing, that does ex­tremely well.” He then states, “Through mar­kets, we have ob­served that South doesn’t pick up on trends as fast as the North and the West.” This year, Be­ing Hu­man has opened its doors in up­com­ing cities like Silig­uri, Jamshed­pur and Bhubanesh­war. They are also tar­get­ing Shil­long as a high fash­ion state which, be­cause of its border con­nec­tion to China, is deemed to be ex­tremely fash­ion for­ward.

To test the mar­ketabil­ity of the prod­uct in a new lo­ca­tion, the brand ini­tially starts off by open­ing one store in ev­ery city and there­after upon see­ing its po­ten­tial, an­other store is added. Store size on an av­er­age is about 100-1400 sq. ft.

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