Indian Premier League (IPL) enthusiasts would have noticed the TV anchors and commentators dressed in Fabindia apparels this season. The anchors, interestingly, aren't dressed in the ubiquitous Fabindia kurtas but in shirts and jackets.
The popular made-in-India ethnic wear brand is eyeing a 35 per cent growth of its Western wear portfolio. Though the retailer has been trying to enhance this portfolio for a while now, with the launch of sub-brands such as Fabel, Western wear still contributes just about 10 per cent to its overall revenue. A lion's share of 60 per cent comes from the ethnic wear. In fact, Fabindia has never been a top of mind recall brand for a consumer, who seeks to buy a Western outfit.
"There is a lot of opportunity in Western wear, especially in the men's segment. Indian ethnic wear constitutes not more than 12 per cent of a man's wardrobe," explains Karan Kumar, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, Fabindia.
While one wonders whether the retail brand's (which essentially celebrates Indian craftsmanship) scale-up of its Western wear portfolio will actually resonate with consumers, brand gurus say that it's not a bad idea as long it is able to maintain its Indianess.
Fabindia's portfolio doesn't really consist of formal Western wear, which the likes of a Louis Phillippe or Allen Solly offer. If one were to browse through Fabindia's offerings, it mostly consists of kurta-style shirts or casual shirts, made up of Indian handlooms such as Ikat, Kalamkari or even linen. It also offers Nehru jackets, which can be worn with formal shirts. "It's an interesting thought to Indianise western wear. However, the challenge for the brand will be to ensure that it continues to bring forth the Indian style statement, else, it will run into the risk of becoming any other casual wear brand," points out Kannan Sitaram, Venture Partner, Fireside Ventures.
Senior marketing specialist, Peshwa Acharya also sees a huge opportunity in creating a stylish Western wear collection out of Indian fabrics. "The product needs to be more from the earth. In fact, natural garments by Fabindia will be considered better than those offered by the other apparel brands."
Apart from sprucing up its Western-wear offerings, the retailer, which has 300-odd stores across the country, has also been focusing on creating experiences. It has set up twelve 8,000-12,000 sq.ft. experience centres and would be adding 25 more in the next one year. These experience centres, apart from the usual merchandise, offer an interior design studio, an alteration studio, a play centre and a cafe. "Consumers today are seeking engagement more than ever before. It, therefore, becomes important for physical retailers to rediscover themselves," says Kumar of Fabindia.