The menswear market has now established itself as a viable business space globally, rather than a new business opportunity, as brands and retailers are now making the segment more progressive than earlier times, owing to the changing attitude of men towards fashion. The present-day utopian men want fashion that is fast-evolving and utopian, styles that are experimental in nature yet reflect royal nonchalance and answer to their desire for latest trends rather than fulfilling a simple need. India is offering itself as the latest retail avenue for the menswear players to tread successfully upon, as players right from the market leader such as ABFRL’s Louis Philippe, Peter England, Van Heusen and Allen Solly, to international successes such as Zara and H&M have recorded growth comparable to many womenswear brands.
The numbers say the same, as menswear bagged sales of about US $ 27,672 million in India in 2018, as per statista.com. Their reports also suggest that the menswear space will show more growth than womenswear for the year 2022, as revenue growth percentage for menswear is expected to rise from 9.86 per cent in 2020 to 12.75 per cent in 2022, while womenswear is projected to be at 12.35 per cent for 2020 and 10.3 per cent for 2022.
The boom has now entailed heavy demand from men, but as the fashion trends are steering towards smart casuals and luxe occasionwear, a gap is felt in the market by many male shoppers. Dressing up is the new black, and customisation is now a necessity for the diverse population of India that champions inclusivity while keeping individualism alive. Many made-to-measure companies have been in the run, but in order to cater to the needs of different customers right to the t, they can sometimes stray away from the trends in the market, directing the younger crop of shoppers to high-end labels and designers.
Catering to these needs to bridge the market gap for classic yet in-trend occasionwear garments tailored for men, is the bespoke label Minizmo, the brainchild of a shopper-turned-entrepreneur, Rohan Khattar, who talks with AR about the needs in the market that gave birth to the brand. He avers, “I wanted a tailored suit, maybe a good shirt with it, but I realised my options were very limited. And this was not because there weren’t enough players, it is just that there were no options for what I wanted in a place like a mall, that offers something for everyone. Raymond’s made-to-measure was there, and there was Creyate, but I found the design language suitable for a more mature crop of customers. The only other options available were brands that were extremely high-ended, where clothing ranged between Rs. 3-4 lakh and is not affordable by everyone. It was then that I realised there was a gap for a young fresh brand for menswear, that also includes customisation and gives bespoke fashion vertical due importance while being accessible, placed in popular places like malls.”
The label’s design language justifies the name, which stems out of the phrase ‘MInimal Iz MOre’, as the offering includes shirts, suits, blazers, Nehru jackets, accessories such as ties, pocket squares, draping pins, cuff links and casual westernwear comprising of chinos, shorts, round neck T-shirts. It is also looking at launching polo T-shirts as well. Adding value to this assortment is its bespoke division, that caters to the needs of the customers right from detailed sizing to pattern manipulations that befit the wearer.
The venture is a joint effort of Rohan, who started the ideation process in 2017, with Devender Gupta, the experienced industry veteran reigning the buying house Asmara International. Rohan shares, “Asmara has a very strong back end and I shared my idea with Devender. The concept was very different, as we were introducing an untapped space and you need very small margins to sustain your business in retail, and creating value requires building a brand from the scratch. That is the journey we decided to take: creating a brand that enhances classics in a way that the customer wants.”
Minizmo’s manufacturing is handled by an internal sourcing team based out of Udyog Vihar, and about 60-70 per cent of the production happens in Delhi, while the other chunks are distributed between Daman and Bangalore. The brand is known for top quality and fabric excellence, offering about 800 fabric options that are machine washable and durable, to suit the busy lifestyle of today’s men promising premium products that justify the spend. The fabric is sourced from top providers across India, while the ones that constitute the high end bespoke suits are Italian, while the rest are sourced from China and Hong Kong, the two countries known for providing top fabrics for tailored garments.
Location is everything
The label started its operations via DLF Promenade, a prime location that welcomes large volumes of shoppers, and it recently opened the doors of its second store at DLF Cyberhub, ticking off the third USP of the brand, accessibility. “I personally feel that menswear is a big market, and the malls are best locations, so if we open even three more stores, we are in for good business prospects in Delhi,” says Rohan, while further discussing the locational value of the Cyberhub outlet, “This space houses exactly our captive audience that is the working men of India.
He also projects Delhi as the best city for a label like his own, owing to the weather which is comparatively colder compared to other corporate cities such as Bangalore and Mumbai. Giving due importance to each location, Rohan’s team cleverly divides the assortment between the two stores, differentiating on the basis of the kind of clientele that visits them. “Both of the stores function very differently because the kind of customers that come to Promenade take out time to shop, while in Cyberhub, the customers are pressed for time, but are more willing to buy. The average transaction rate here is 60-70 per cent among the total walk-ins. It really depends on the kind of market we are in.”
Location is also one of the factors that make changes their assortment as Rohan confirms, “Our readymade shirts are priced at Rs. 2,499, and the MTM ones start at Rs. 3,499. When we opened Cyberhub, we realised that there is a market gap for readymade suits that are affordable and we thus started selling the RTW suiting collection from here at the price point of Rs. 9,999. Our average in readymade suiting is about Rs.14,000, while bespoke ranges from Rs. 16,000-17,000 to about a lakh, depending upon the kind of fabric we are using.”
The offline-online game for bespoke brands
The brand recently started its online portal, where its RTW collection is garnering more demand. It is devising ways to achieve smooth transition of the bespoke segment from offline to online, so that it can have a customisation portal by the end of this year. “The idea is basically that we will keep records of the customers and their sizes, and they will just have to choose a fabric, and we will ship the product directly,” asserts Rohan, by further identifying the boost it will offer to bridge the gap between the offline and online experience, where former’s tangible in-store experience will intersect with latter’s reachability to different pin codes.
When it comes to e-commerce, the Minizmo assortment will be exclusively sold by its own channels, as they avoid other online portals and market places. Rohan explains, “We made this decision to maintain our quality and brand image, as we don’t want anyone else to control the digital representation of the products, the shoots, styles etc. Secondly, your stock is stuck with them once you send it, and if it doesn’t sell, they simply send it back. Also, we don’t want the same discounting image associated with popular online portals.”
Tapping the potential markets
The brand has recorded profitable sales in the accessories segment, and it plans to invest in the same, tapping on the trend of corporate gifting, where customers come in to buy small sets of accessories for gifting purposes, or simply buy these items in combination with other products such as suit-sets.
It is also looking at occasionwear as a big opportunity pool, as per Rohan, “One thing we have noticed in India, especially in Delhi is how easily people spend over weddings, and I feel that adding the value of bespoke garments to occasionwear suiting will definitely increase our business.” The fact that big fashion weeks aimed for bridal segments exclusively such as DLF Emporia’s bridal shows are now also featuring menswear, is emblematic of this growth.
Rohan believes that the new corporate generation is his target market, and they will be investing in the propagation of the brand by reaching out to the ‘real influencers’, the entrepreneurs who are inspiring many aspiring businessmen, and the people who actually hold influence in the commerce sector of India. Moving forward, the label aims to strengthen its roots in India, as Rohan states, “We aim to open 5 more outlets in the next two years and build our online business which has already launched. The Indian market is changing and we believe that the label is going to be a go-to for many like myself who yearn for top quality tailored dressing, made just the way I want.”