Affordly started with the drive to do something extraordinary for the women of this country. The founders have actually grown up wearing clothes stitched by their local tailors. Since childhood, the three sisters Bushra, Sadaf and Nida were accustomed to visiting markets, choosing fabrics and getting them tailored as per their requirements. Therefore, they knew that a lot of dresses that are sold at whopping prices can be made affordable despite keeping the profit margin.
“We are aware that there are multiple brands selling Indianwear. We neither see them as competition nor do we want to prove that we are better than them. Our main goal is only to make fashionable ethnicwear affordable for our customers and to generate employment for our female artisans and workers,” Bushra Shakeel, Founder, Affordly, throws light on their inception journey. Further, she takes us through the brand’s journey to explain how they have been able to create a niche for themselves.
“When we entered the market, we saw how some home-grown brands were selling kurtas and kurta sets at exorbitant rates. We realised that they were targeting only the upper class buyers. Our main concern was that in this rat race, the middle class customers who look for stylish, good quality outfits have to compromise with either the style or the fabric because of the price. It’s heartbreaking, and we aim to shatter the class divide and open our arms for all the women,” Bushra shares.
The two most common customer pain points for an all-women brand like Affordly, Bushra highlights, are as follows:
- Productivity pain points:They have reduced redundancy and friction within the buying process by implementing things like fewer steps in the checkout process and by using intelligent agent routing for customer service. They believe the more positive the experience the customer has with the product, the more likely they are to use it. For customers who are particularly prone to productivity pain points, comfort can be an excellent way to increase their productivity.
- Process pain points:These are areas where the business is creating friction or pain for buyers due to sub-optimal processes. Thus, to ensure elimination of these sub-optimal processes, Affordly ensures a 99 per cent uptime and immediate resolution of all customer queries.
At Affordly, through continuous effort, the brand has been able to overcome these pain areas gracefully, and since the very beginning, they have believed a good brand lives and evolves in the minds and hearts of consumers. Being accepted as a new brand for women in the Indian subcontinent has been a lot more about delivering quality than anything else. To sustain rigid competition in the market, Affordly has upgraded their technology to match international fabric weaving and sewing standards.
“For all of us at Affordly, this pandemic has awakened reflection and provided an opportunity to do things differently, relate more compassionately and kindly to one another and to oneself. Indeed, as the world turns slowly and cautiously towards reopening, it’s time for those in the fashion industry to do some soul-searching, to challenge themselves and commit to some rethinking about these fundamental questions. Greater involvement of women at Affordly has also resulted in gaining a much broader perspective on the crisis, and has paved the way for the deployment of richer and more complete solutions than if they had been imagined by a homogeneous group.
The fashion and lifestyle industry in India is witnessing a surge, with strong drivers of growth and a host of other factors resulting in its progress. The growth of e-commerce and favourable Government regulations on apparel manufacturing have driven growth. Factors that could hinder the growth of the clothing and apparel market in the future include reductions in free trade and the growing production of counterfeit products. Our country is going through an interesting time and is on verge of changing cultural discourse. This diversity presents to us a huge opportunity to reach out to consumers in innovative ways on the backdrop of changing consumer lingo. Here, our affordable pricing has come to the rescue as even after reduction in average purchasing powers, most of our products fall right in line with most consumer budgets. In terms of reception, it would be too early for us to be able to give a statistical analysis, but we would go as far as saying that the people out there are already starting to love us and have been very welcoming in that perspective,” Bushra talks about their competitive pricing.
Quite understandably, people are facing massive cash crunch due to the pandemic, and that in turn is impacting their purchase capacity. Being grounded and staying in sync with the reality has actually helped Affordly win customers.
Making the production agile
“From the beginning itself, we knew that we are going to be sourcing our products from our local artisans and small manufacturers and tapping their skills to the fullest. What we often see is that our craftsmen remain ghastly underpaid despite having world-class skills. Many foreign brands get their products manufactured in Indian subcontinent at minimal cost and go on to sell the final products at exorbitant rates with a huge profit margin. Our aim is to make profit, but at the same time, not make profit off of our craftsmen and manufacturers. Paying them exactly what they deserve is our funda and we aim to stick by it, no matter what.
In the beginning, we even had to bear losses owing to this, but we knew that it’s a small sacrifice for a long-term benefit. If the employees are satisfied and happy, they are going to keep the employers happy by their dedication and quality work. For our collections, we depend on market trends. We try to provide what is in trend, while also giving priority to comfort. We try and research about different manufacturers who have the capabilities and skills to cater to our needs. We provide them with our in-house designs for reference, and sometimes accept their existing designs as per the market demand,” Bushra mentions.
“We’re on the precipice of a seismic time that could spell a permanent change in the textile industry. In the 1920s, waists dropped, hemlines rose and hair was shorn in a post-war reaction. In the 60s, hemlines rose further, ready-to-wear was born as a result of the Youthquake. In 2020, we have a generation of designers, stylists, photographers and creatives coming to the fore with a post-globalised, post-pandemic mentality. Values and aesthetics need to go hand in hand. Lateral thinking is required for when it comes to how Affordly produces, showcases collections and sells our vision to the public, whose appetite for fashion has changed. What we wear and how we buy should – and hopefully will – change to reflect a world that needs clothes to do more. Thus, our entire future outlook has been dependent on the way the world is recovering from the pandemic and how working from home has become the new norm,” Bushra highlights.