Ogaan: Confluence of Established and New Designers Under One Roof
CONFLUENCE OF ESTABLISHED AND NEW DESIGNERS UNDER ONE ROOF
As Indian customers become more and more discerning, keeping them happy is a challenge for even the best-of-store concepts. Companies that have found the right strategy are growing and one such concept is the multi-designer store ‘Ogaan’. Considered as one of the best designer boutiques in India, Ogaan is also one of the first stores in the country to house beautiful collections from well-known designers under one roof. The balance that the store has maintained with respect to leading designer collections and fresh offerings from new designers, makes the customers come back for more and more. The story of Ogaan mirrors the growth of Indian luxury fashion. In a candid chat with Apparel Online, Saurabh Naithani, Buying, Merchandising and Planning Head of Ogaan India Pvt. Ltd., shares this new store’s unique strategies for success in the luxury retail market.
When wearing designer clothes was still a dream for many, Ogaan was started in New Delhi with a thought for promoting and showcasing the exquisite designs and craftsmanship from all over India. With a handful of labels in its first few years, today the retailer stocks a well curated mix of over 240 designer labels, and the list is growing gradually. What has also supported the growth of the store is its upfront approach to move along with the changing dynamics of business and the preferences of its clients. The biggest proof of the business acumen of the Ogaan team is its omnichannel presence with bricksand-mortar stores as well as online website. It has six stores in India, five of them situated in the prime locations of Delhi and one in Hyderabad. Right from its first flagship store in Hauz Khas Village that opened doors in 1989, Ogaan has been selling Indian, contemporary and pret collections by established designers as well as younger, upcoming brands that are very experimental with textiles and craft in exquisite new ways. From leading designers like Tarun Tahiliani, Aanamika Khanna, Sabyasachi Mukherjee to Rajesh Pratap Singh, who sold their first collections at Ogaan, it also nurtures new talent including Pero and Yavi.
Among the core team formulating strategy at Ogaan, Saurabh started his career in apparel exports with the buying house Impulse, taking care of brands like Esprit and Debenhams (menswear category). After seeking expertise in exports and core manufacturing, he forayed into the retail sector with Fabindia. This combined knowledge and understanding of retail and buying
Right from its first flagship store in Hauz Khas Village that opened doors in 1989, Ogaan has been selling Indian, contemporary and pret collections by established designers as well as younger, upcoming brands that are very experimental with textiles and craft in exquisite new ways.
helped him when he joined Ogaan as the Planning Head. “Since Ogaan is a luxury concept, one has to get very personal about everything. It is a confluence of different designers coming together to sell their exquisite work. It is not the same as in Fabindia, where we are promoting a single brand,” explains Saurabh.
DESIGNER SELECTION CRITERIA AT OGAAN
As the discussion moves on, Saurabh explains how new designers are picked for this first-of-its-kind store. “We are always looking at different designers and meeting new people. We pick up new talents keeping in mind that their work should reflect their souls and of course the exclusivity factor should be present as that is what the customer demands. We also see their social media presence like the Instagram following they have.” He believes that there are so many small stores in the luxury fashion market that lack exclusivity and hence it is really vital to have that ‘wow’ factor in order to survive in the luxury space. Ogaan works on the idea of giving equal opportunity to all the designers because it believes in a long-term relationship which is not based on how big the designer is. Saurabh explains the process of how the stores of the new talents are selected to be showcased at Ogaan’s outlet. “Our team looks into the indexes and the customer profile at various outlets and then decides how this can be achieved. We also look into individual designer’s strengths and then make a strategy for our stores about what can be selected or showcased and at which outlets.”
The fashion market, especially the Indian wear market has emerged tremendously in the last few years and the international buyers are also appreciating the work of designers, but their main concern is that most of the products are exorbitantly priced, be it the special techniques like tie-and-dye or use of natural fabrics. Saurabh shares how things work at Ogaan. “It’s a trade-off, if retailers do well in the market, the designers do well and vice-versa. At Ogaan, we try to work for 5 to 6 months in advance with the designers so that we know what exactly they will present and hence there are no blank spots.” The multi-brand retailer follows the ‘80-20 rule’ that is 20 per cent of the designers (mostly the old ones) associated with Ogaan always give 80 per cent of the business.
Price point is a very subjective term for Ogaan, as for them, a brand is not just about the price, but also about its saleability… whether the perception of the garment matches the actual price of the garment. In case there is a variation, then the designer is asked to sell the particular ensemble at a higher or lower price point. “We also see the position of the particular designer vis-à-vis other brands placed next to it on the basis of price points and how intricate the work is and match price points accordingly,” avers Saurabh.
The retailer works on the business format wherein the mark-ups are updated automatically. Every store works on a certain amount of minimum revenue, as the store has to be profitable. And this is possible only if the pool of designers associated are working well. Every month, a designated team works on the analysis of every designer and sees what all designs are working well, for instance, if there are ‘x’ number of racks, the racks have to give productivity irrespective of how big the designer is. The team has set a minimum benchmark that a particular designer has to generate in business terms. If some designer is falling below that benchmark, they have to be replaced by someone else.
There is set agreement with every designer as they also do not want inventory. The team also gives feedback to the designer explaining the loopholes as this keeps the sanctity intact within the relationship along with keeping the designer spirit alive. Ogaan is very flexible with its designers and listens to their feedback too, not only in terms of price points but also in terms of what is selling well in the market, what is being projected about the brand, etc.
RETAIL STORE: THE OGAAN FEEL IS SAME EVERYWHERE
The multi-designer store works in a very organised manner. There are minimum 2-3 pieces of every designer showcased in every store. But the focus changes based on customers. For instance, Malcha Marg store has a diplomat crowd and they generally buy garments that are subtle. Hence the store has more of pret and contemporary collection. For exclusivity, the retailer tells the designers to create 50 unique pieces of Average Selling Price (ASP) with different colour parities.
Talking about the rack placements in the store, Saurabh shares that it constantly changes depending on the mood, season, promotion as well as in-store activities. He explains this concept by quoting an example, “If there are two designers to be promoted, one will be placed in the front while the other will be placed in the angaan area for the next few days. Our job is to promote the designer’s work by posting on Instagram, sending out messages to the customers, doing the area VM according to the theme.”
“Even the feel of each store is very personal,” says Saurabh. There are a lot of special things about the store as it features natural stones and wax finishes with natural light and comfortable seating space with large spacious changing rooms. All the racks look the same and the smell of the store is same everywhere. As there are distinct designers at each store, therefore the display is different but the feel of each store is same. It cannot be varied according to the separate designers representing the individual stores.
ONLINE v/s OFFLINE
Since Gen Z is the new segment for growing brands, apps are used to capture their loyalty. Gen Z, unlike their millennial counterparts, differ in thinking. The ability to touch and try on a product before making a purchase is less of a concern. Instead, the brand coverage, social media presence and overall lifestyle affinity wins Gen Z. “People shop online at their pace and peace. So, curation becomes really important in terms of what is selling and what is not,” says Saurabh.
Moreover, while shopping, factors like brightness, the resolution of the screen have to be taken into account, as in this case, eyes are the only senses that are doing everything. “The resolution of the screen has to be bang on and that is why brighter colours sell more during online shopping,” reasons Saurabh. He also mentions that bricks-and-mortar and online have to co-exist today because if a person is somebody’s bricks-andmortar customer and later at a particular moment, he or she shifts overseas, then that person will become the other person’s online customer as the brand’s goodwill follows everywhere.
It is worth noting that the brand is retailing 70-80 per cent of the products via online medium to foreign countries with a delivery timeline of 4-6 weeks.
OGAAN-CENTRIC EVENTS REFLECT THE BRAND
With retailer-designer collaboration being the most trending concept in the luxury fashion retail space, a new market has emerged wherein the retailers ask the designers to customise the collection specific to their customer base. Such collections are very exclusive and niche keeping in mind the style and details that perform well in the market.
Ogaan follows this approach wherein it conducts various events at its property which are very Ogaan-centric. Recently, the brand conducted Artisans Bazaar at the Banjara Hills store in Hyderabad where 22 designers participated to exhibit their unique designs and artwork under the price band of
Rs. 10,000. The retailer partnered
“We are always looking at different designers and meeting new people. We pick up new talents keeping in mind that their work should reflect their souls and of course the exclusivity factor should be present as that is what the customer demands.” – Saurabh Naithani, Buying, Merchandisng and Planning Head, Ogaan India Pvt. Ltd.
with LBB (Little Black Book) Hyderabad wherein the LBB people organised the entire event.
Apart from Artisans Bazaar, Ogaan also organises events such as Summer by Ogaan, Ivory Bazaar, Diwali in the city and Ogaan at Oberois. The designers are generally asked to create something very niche, elegant and event-specific reflecting the essence of it. Generally, for such events, about 10 designers are handpicked and asked to create ensembles based on the occasion, for instance, during Summer by Ogaan, designers are asked to make garments of light colour hues such as beige, off-white, white and coral as customers prefer to wear light colours during summer time.
“Our main aim is to promote the event along with the designer in the best way possible. We take weeks to dedicatedly promote the designers on various social media platforms such as posting on Ogaan’s Instagram handle,” explains Saurabh.
Similarly, there is ‘meet the designer’ event in which customers are invited to meet the designers in the store. “Customers have to seek appointments; we also fix appointments with designers on behalf of the customer. They meet the designer personally and tell them about their choices and preferences. Thereafter, it’s the designer’s job to create something very exclusive for the customer,” says Saurabh.
Tapping onto the future generation, the Gen Z is easier as compared to the millennials as they are very experimental with designs, work and silhouettes. But the future generation is very mindful of pricing and this is the reason Ogaan offers its two-day event ‘Artisans Bazaar’ where designers exhibit exclusive garments under Rs 10,000.
FUTURE EXPANSION PLANS
The multi-designer retailer is planning to open a new store in Mumbai in the upcoming months. Likewise, it is also investing in IT interventions as the brand is getting fabulous response in online selling. “At Ogaan, we create customer environment. Our priority focus is not only on selling but also on creating that relaxed experience of shopping which brings the customers back asking for more,” concludes Saurabh.
But the future generation is very mindful of pricing and this is the reason Ogaan offers its two-day event ‘Artisans Bazaar’ where designers exhibit exclusive garments under Rs 10,000.