Quality and selling highly fashion products at affordable prices is a big step that many of the homegrown brands have taken. They want the customers to pay within their budget and still have a taste of handmade or couture level apparel. “We try to organise production in a systemic way so that there is minimum wastage and optimum utilisation of manpower and resources. It has been a tough year for everyone due to the pandemic. We have recently launched our new collection and have got a good response, as we always keep in mind to provide pieces that are timeless, and the consumer could have them in their wardrobe for years to come which justifies the value for money spent,” mentions Aaina Mahajan, Creative Director & Founder for Mellow Drama.
Carving the niche
Mellow Drama was born to serve the need gap of selling affordable high fashion to anybody and everybody and “ensuring that the product stays in our optimum price point has been my aim, but having said that I never compromised on my creativity and the quality of work. I would not compromise on a fabric or materials to cut cost if the desired result is not achieved. We do end up launching a few limited editions styles which are just a notch higher than the usual pieces,” Aaina adds.
Sagrika Grover, Founder at Essgee agrees to the point of not compromising on quality production and says, “Essgee is known for its signature fabrics and we make sure to order in bulk for the year together to get a better price for griege fabric that is the base of any garment. We haven’t seen much of a difference between pre-Covid and post-Covid eras because our prices are already affordable and worth the price we ask for. I would say there has been a change of gears in what the customer is purchasing. We did see a rise amongst consumers in purchasing comfort over fashion which we predict is a trend to stay.”
“For affordability, balance is key. If we use premium fabric, we cut down on value additions. If we use a comparatively less premium fabric, we love to add on embellishments, laces, embroideries, etc. This actually helps in the creative process of designing and provides a foundation for the designer to work on. As a designer, compromising is something we do not understand. I would say brainstorming to come up with something beautiful at a particular cost only creates more stimulation and the results are always better than expected. If I feel, there’s a compromise, I drop the idea and start with something that doesn’t feel like it,” Sagrika adds.
“We plan ahead – that has always been the key. This is especially essential while ordering raw materials. We make sure that we plan at least 2 collections ahead so that we’re able to get the right price. We also make sure to minimise our fabric consumption as much as possible by making multiple styles of the same fabric/colour/print. We launched Summer Somewhere in December 2019. As soon as we started to see real interest in our products (by March 2020) the world went into lockdown. In the initial few months of the lockdown, we were unable to make any sales with all the restrictions but had constant queries coming in from customers from all over the world. Some were even willing to prebook their orders and wait for deliveries even if it took weeks or even months! We believe that our customers can see the value in our offering (in terms of price, quality, and uniqueness), hence our sales remained unaffected,” Meghna Goyal, Founder – Summer Somewhere mentions.
Meghna is very grateful for the response they have received so far and hopes to reach out to a wider audience beyond India in the year ahead. “Our growth so far has been via word-of-mouth. We have plans of scaling up operations and additionally we’re very excited to build a community of like-minded individuals. We are spending the early stages to get to know our consumers and build a more personalised relationship with them. There’s always something new to learn. I want to know how they feel when they wear the garment, where they wore it, how they styled it and so on,” Meghna adds.
Premium on budget
“When I started KOSH, the idea was to make fashion premium yet affordable. Having worked at Sabyasachi, I have realised the value for quality and attention to detail. But unfortunately that still remains aspirational for a lot of people because of the high value of luxury fashion. We keep a fairly smaller rotation cycle of inventory and stock. We have our vendors in place for the raw materials and other production processes, from dyeing to hand printing to embroidery, etc., so it is a close knit process. Well, we are a start-up and earlier this year, we launched our first collection which happened to fall in the Covid era. I can’t forget that I am a consumer as well. I understand that pockets are tight and people are keeping their finances close. My customers fortunately have recognised the quality KOSH is offering and have responded positively towards the value of it. Moreover, my pieces are multi-functional and come in sets which can be broken down and worn in ways more than one,” Sreyanshi, Founder, Kosh responds.
“Design is something you can never stop contemplating on. When I started designing my first collection, ideas ran amok-as in any ideation. I definitely had to keep a check on the cost every now and then. But all in all, the final product was a result of pure creation and I am very proud of it. Keeping affordability in mind, I wasn’t apprehensive about experimenting and using multiple techniques because design does not necessarily correlate with labels and high expenses,” she adds.
The right price
“The process we follow is after keeping in mind that in each process, we are restricting ourselves from making new designs variants but at the same time we love to experiment with our embroideries and silhouettes, reuse older khakas and bring it out in the best possible way by using different embroidery techniques and colours. This way we can do the production with limited resources without compromising on the quality. With the pricing of the clothing that we offer, we have our customer base. Now with changing trends, there has been a change in buying patterns too; with adaptability in place in terms of styling and pricing, we are continuing to cater to our customer base according to their needs,” Chandni Mehrotra, Founder, Aeri by PC mentions.
“When it comes to designing, compromising is not an option. At Aeri, we use pure fabrics although to keep it in our price point, we love introducing new contemporary and modern silhouettes and embroidery to meet the expectations of the customer. With this pandemic, we are designing more of comfortwear and as time is allowing, have been focusing on small capsules for weddings and functions. Concentrating more on price point and still being able to deliver the quality we stick by, seeing the scenario. We want to see Aeri in major cities soon by the end of this year. Hoping to see things ease out soon,” Punita Mehrotra, Founder, Aeri by PC further adds.