Born and raised in Mumbai, Payal Singhal grew up in an environment steeped in fashion, films and art. From a very young age, she was drawn to sketching and designing.
To add to that, her father, designer and entrepreneur Dinesh Singhal of London Fashions, also comes from the fashion business. Hence, creative thinking is not just in her DNA, but was also an essential component of her growing up years, and it didn’t take long for Payal to start showing signs of someone to watch out for.
At the tender age of 15, Payal created her first couture look which won her the ‘Designer of the Year Award’ by Shoppers Stop.
Post that, Payal went on to sharpen her design knowledge and skills by pursuing a degree in Fashion Design from SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai. She also pursued summer school at The Parsons School of Design, New York and certificate design courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York before launching her eponymous label in 1999.
Today, Payal Singhal is a leading South Asian fashion house that emphasises on modern Indian bridal and occasionwear intermingled with a global flair of design. While history and culture pose as starting points for the label, tradition is approached with a renewed outlook to lend a present-day relevance to each collection.
We get candid and up-close with the woman behind the successful brand – Payal Singhal, upon completing 21 years in the industry, building a sustainable and ethical brand, the importance of collaborations, and the way ahead.
PRODUCT ASSORTMENT AND COLLABORATIVE ENDEAVOURS
“Payal Singhal is an inclusive design house in that we have something for everyone at a range of price points, starting with entry-level accessories and moving upwards towards our bridal couture. We want the world of PS to be accessible to anyone who identifies with our ethos,” Payal Singhal, Creative and Design Director at Payal Singhal told Apparel Resources (AR), in an exclusive interview.
The quintessential #PSGirl is well-travelled, individualistic and fashion-forward. She is rooted but isn’t afraid to venture beyond boundaries. So, the hallmark of each Payal Singhal ensemble is an easy transition from traditional to non-traditional settings.
“Since most of our creations are bespoke and made-to-order, size is not a constraint. Off the rack, our womenswear runs up till XL, menswear from 38 to 44 and kidswear up to the age of 12 years,” Payal stated.
Payal Singhal – couture, occasionwear, bridalwear range starts at Rs. 20,000 and features traditional Indianwear reimagined for the global Indian bride — a versatile mix of heritage weaves and embroideries with modern silhouettes, as well as a contemporary take on Indian wear that can transition from traditional to non-traditional occasions.
PS Pret by Payal Singhal starts at Rs. 3,700, and offers fuss-free tunics, bomber jackets, twin sets, dhoti-sarees and more in the brand’s signature prints, whilst PS Men by Payal Singhal starts retailing at Rs. 14,500, and offers kurtas sets, bandis, sherwanis and accessories such as ties, safas and pocket squares for the urban man.
PS Kids by Payal Singhal retails onwards of Rs. 4,500, and offers a selection of occasionwear for children that are fun, comfortable and age-appropriate in a series of prints and light embellishments. PS signature prints further allow kids to twin with the family’s next generation or customise coordinated outfits for siblings.
Lastly, Payal Singhal-Accessories range starts at Rs. 695, and features a slew of collaborations with brands such as Joey & Pooh for handcrafted headbands; Fizzy Goblet and Paio for quirky footwear; with Wella, Ranavat Botanics and All Good Scents for various skincare, hair care products and fragrances; Macmerise for luxe tech accessories; with The Label Life for affordable capsule collections; and with Gaia Gourmet on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, wherein the brand created festive DIY kits for kids with upcycled #PSGanpatis and matching PS apron and oven mitts.
Additionally, 2019 also saw the launch of #PSHomes, with the first collection presenting a stylish range of wallpapers in signature #PSPrints, created in collaboration with Marshalls Wallcoverings.
BRAND USP, TECHNIQUES AND DETAILS
The DNA of the brand is a global approach to Indian crafts and techniques which lends relevance to its pieces across destinations and occasions. The brand’s approach can best be summed up as India Modern, wherein it combines the beauty of craft details and techniques such as Benarasi and Bandhani or Mukaish, Zardozi, Gota, Nakshi, Pitta or Kutchi mirror work.
These craft forms are extensively used on Payal Singhal’s contemporary occasionwear, creating a medley of the old and the new. For its latest collection ‘Suroor’, the brand worked with Bandhani for the first time.
Developed in Jaipur, they put a spin on the technique by using it over tussar instead of silks.
“Our most recent work includes Bandhani from Jaipur, Chikankari and Mukaish Work from Lucknow and Brocades from Benaras,” Payal highlighted.
The brand is also known for its deconstructed Indian/ethnicwear silhouettes with low crotch pant sarees and churidar skirts, and its best-selling styles include kaftans, hybrid lehengas, dhoti saris, kurta sets, back-tie choli and signature #PSPrints.
MANUFACTURING AND SOURCING
Payal Singhal started its operations in 1999, and is a 21-year-old brand today, with its team headquartered in Mumbai.
An experienced and skilled team of more than 140 people support the sourcing, production, quality control, design, sales and marketing set-up at Payal Singhal Design House which is spread out across 15,000 sq. ft. of factory and office space.
90 per cent of the brand’s manufacturing is carried out in-house, but as required, Payal Singhal also outsources certain processes such as fabric printing and dyeing.
“We work with karigars and units, jobworkers across Jaipur, Varanasi, Surat, Lucknow, Maharashtra and Karnataka,” Payal said, adding, “Our ethos is centred around using Indian techniques, fabrics and crafts in a modern context, thereby making our work with artisan clusters an important part of what we do.”
The brand usually works with fabrics such as silk mul, cotton silk, georgette, dupion silk, crepe and velvet, that are procured in Kora and subsequently dyed or printed as per the collection’s requirements with their house signature #PSPrints.
India is famous globally for its local markets and hubs. Therefore, Payal Singhal works with units based in Varanasi, Surat and Jaipur to source their fabrics, and Surat and Mumbai for fabric dyeing and printing.
While the brand drops two flagship collections and two pret collections a year along with adaptations for men and kids, Payal Singhal has largely been a season-agnostic brand since it was launched in 1999.
Commenting on the same, Payal said, “Our archives are always open for our clients to choose from, and we still get orders on pieces from our decade-old collections as well. Our collections are designed to be timeless and relevant over the years — which is why we have always encouraged our patrons to mix, match and re-wear long before these became buzzwords in the industry.”
Being a made-to-order brand, Payal Singhal is always well-stocked, especially on its e-store. In-store stock replenishments, on the other hand, are demand-based, since every store has a unique shopper profile.
In this regard, the brand looks at sales data and projections along with engaging in discussions with all their stockists on a daily basis for restocking their products in stores.
SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL PRACTICES
As a brand, Payal Singhal has always believed in mindful and conscious consumption and championed the same by creating collections and separates that are versatile and easy to be re-worn in multiple ways across occasions, through the years.
Notably, the brand also recently worked with sustainable fabrics made from recycled PET bottles from R-Elan for its Indian Athleisure collection titled ‘Kismet’.
Since Payal Singhal is a made-to-order brand, there is minimal wastage of raw materials or resources.
“Our team is our priority, for which we have necessary HR and labour processes like ESIC and PF to safeguard the welfare of our employees.” Payal corroborated, adding, “We have also offered lifelong service to all our customers from the time we launched to help them wear their garments longer by altering and repairing their pieces at no cost or minimum cost of repair. And this was way back when sustainability wasn’t even a buzzword or even a consideration in the Indian market.”
A HOLISTIC BUSINESS
Payal Singhal boasts of a strong global presence through its many retail and e-commerce partners in India in Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Goa, as well as internationally in the UK, USA, Canada, Hong Kong, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Nepal.
In addition to this, the brand also has two exclusive flagship stores in Mumbai, at Altamount Road and Khar West, apart from its online global e-commerce store www.payalsinghal.com
The brand has shown consistent high double digit growth in turnover continuously over the previous cycle of 4 years largely attributed to category expansion, channel expansion and collaborations.
Furthermore, continuous channel expansion and collaborations across retail, online and international markets have led to a sharp rise in sales over the last 10 years.
Over the last 20 years, product categories like menswear, kidswear, resortwear and accessories have reduced the reliance on the flagship category sales of bridal and occasionwear, with newer category expansions planned via collaborations.
THE WAY AHEAD
Payal Singhal’s brand is rapidly growing into a coveted lifestyle brand with new launches in the fields of décor, weddings, stationery and more. With a vision and zest like the one Payal possesses, it is hard to pull the brakes when the world is your oyster – and with design and art, the sky is the limit!
In this regard, Payal Singhal Design House aims to pursue its sales goals of being at least a Rs. 100 crore set-up in the next three years, being present in relevant national and international markets, through the offer of fashion, luxury and high quality products diversifying into related categories, and operating in compliance with laws of ethical and genuine practices.
“We are focused on expanding our product lines, channel spread and #PSFamily around the world, alongside some exciting collaborations. So stay tuned! We are focused on making Payal Singhal a lifestyle brand housing all the products under one roof,” Payal revealed.
|TAKE 3 WITH PAYAL SINGHAL
AR: What are some of the steps that the brand has taken to initiate retail and stay afloat during COVID-19?
PS: It was important to understand the pulse of the market and pivot during turbulent times to stay afloat. E-commerce and expanded online presence was a key focus during the pandemic, as was the introduction of a wider range of products in our pret and accessories categories, that were more accessible during the time. It’s also important for brands today to focus on lean inventory and production management at times such as these.
AR: What is driving consumption in fashion and apparel categories in the Indian market?
PS: I think fashion consumption has moved from a want-based to a more need-based industry in the Indian market. People are definitely more mindful of their purchases and look for quality and value for money over trends and fast fashion.
AR: What do consumers look for in a brand today? How can brands build loyalty?
PS: The modern consumer is very savvy and clued-in. They don’t just want to buy a product — they are equally interested in the brand’s storytelling, values and ethos… the ultimate desire is to be a part of a community. Turning consumers into patrons is a result of providing both an inimitable product and POV. Designers cannot just create as they please, it’s important to listen to your consumers and give them what they most need.