Hidesign, the home-grown handbag brand, is all set to position itself as a premium lifestyle and accessories company with the launch of Hidesign sunglasses, pens and more recently, men's footwear. Hidesign also plans to launch footwear for women shortly. In an interview with Ajita Shashidhar of Business Today, Dilip Kapur, founder, Hidesign, talks about how the company has managed to create a niche for itself in the global market.
Q. You have been showcasing the Hidesign icon collection across cities. You have also launched a book. Can you tell us the idea behind this?
A. As you expand, there is always a danger of losing who you are. We needed to go back and re-look at who we were. We needed to go back to our roots so that we continue with the same values. That's one of the main reason we wanted to do the icon book and the icon exhibition. When Louis Vuitton invested in us, they told us not to make the mistake that most of the Indian companies have made: pretending to be European. They told us to tell the world who we are.
We have never copied others styles. Most Indian brands, apart from having European brand names, have also copied styles of international brands. Since we have never copied, the question of who we are becomes important. We are always natural. Our leathers are not painted over, that makes a huge difference. Our craftsmanship is all handmade. We don't have line systems, our story is the opposite of mass production. Our workers learn how to do hand stitching, they know how to hand cut. The one thing that permeates all of that is we are constantly innovating.
Q. Louis Vuitton has invested in your company. How different are you from Louis Vuitton?
A. We are completely different. One time the question came up if we could do production for them and I flatly refused. If I start doing that, I would lose who I am. Every brand has its own way of doing things. I don't see people doing Hidesign and then moving on to line system of production.
Q. How different are you from other international hand bag brands?
A. Our product is natural. I don't mind if a consumer tells me why is it so flat here and so grained there. In most of the international brands, all the leather has been embossed with an artificial emboss so that it looks perfect and like the exact colour.
Q. You were the first handbag brand in the country. However, today there are quite a few brands such as Lavie, Caprese etc which are not made out of leather and hence much cheaper than Hidesign. Do you consider them as competition?
A. Everyone is competition for us. The biggest competition in India would be Chinese imports. Our challenge is to keep connecting to consumers, talking our language and building a brand. We have built our brand step by step.
Q. Is Hidesign profitable?
A. We were always profitable. We are a Rs 160-crore company. We have been growing at 20% year on year.
Q. How much does India contribute to your overall revenue?
A. We got most of our business from the international market till 2006, but now it is more from India. Today, just 35% of our production goes international.
Q. You have recently forayed into accessories like sunglasses and more recently shoes. How do you plan to position them?
A. It's going to be for the same customer as Hidesign.