After test-marketing in Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad
and Kochi, Madura Garments is taking its Allen Solly womens
wear national. For the garment division of Indian Rayon
and Industries, the first step towards this ambitious
goal is the launch of the brand in Chennai. This will
be followed by the Delhi and Mumbai launches.
In a years time we will open 10 exclusive
showrooms across India, vending Allen Solly womens
wear, apart from using the existing multi-channel distribution
network, says Indian Rayon brand director Shailesh
Chaturvedi. On the drawing board is a 4,000-sq ft exclusive
Allen Solly outlet in Chennai to retail both mens
and womens wear.
Now, there is a hitch. Disturbing questions are doing
the rounds about Madura Garments strategy on the
Allen Solly brand.
First, is Madura Garments getting into a dangerous alley
by retailing womens wear under its nine-year-old,
Rs 100-crore-sales mens wear brand Allen Solly?
While the greatest advantage is that the company saves
a lot by not creating another brand, there is a peril
involved: Will men, that egoistic creature, ditch Allen
Solly and opt for other pure male brands? The simple logic
being, How can you have a family brand in garments
like in soaps?
then, Madura Garments is not the first company to convert
a male brand into a unisex one. Indus League Clothing
did so with its Scullers brand, and now it plans to do
the same with the Indigo Nation range. Ditto Colorplus
Fashions with its Colorplus brand, and ITC from the beginning
had a single garment brand: Wills Sport.
Allen Solly is not a unisex brand for the simple
reason that the shapes and sizes of garments vary between
men and women, says Madura Garments design
consultant Stephen King. I dont expect men
to switch over to other brands just because womens
wear is also available under the same brand.
Here is a female voice. Says Madura Garments brand operations
manager Bulbul Khera: In the four cities where we
had launched the womens wear, there is no downward
revision in demand pattern in the Allen Solly mens
range. Sales have actually increased and as per our market
research many men feel happy that we have extended the
brand to womens wear.
them is Indus League managing director Sriram Srinivasan:
Our experiment with Scullers womens wear has
given us enough confidence to go ahead with Indigo Nation
womens wear. The sales of Scullers mens wear
continue to be robust and have grown significantly over
the last few months. That is the only change we have noticed
after the introduction of Scullers womens wear.
But we cannot conclude that the brand extension automatically
led to the growth of our mens wear range.
Srinivasan says Indus League will extend the Indigo Nation
brand to womens wear soon with a similar pricing
and market positioning. If you look at brands internationally,
the most successful ones cater to both the sexes. The
reason for having an umbrella brand which covers both
sexes comes from the benefits in terms of brand-building
and retail distribution.
But there are others in the industry who hold different
views. In the long run, there will surely be an
impact with men switching over to other pure male brands,
says SM Fashions vice-president G Shankaranarayanan. SM
Fashions, which sells the Natalia range, is the first
Indian company to introduce western wear for women when
other players feared to enter the segment.
Shankaranarayanan says for in-store garments brands
owned by retail stores it is fine to have a single
brand for both the sexes. But when it comes to garments
that are to be sold in multi-brand stores, it is better
to have independent brands for different segments, like
mens, ladys and kids wears.
Madura Garments has kept its communication strategy simple
to address this issue. The visual will show an Allen Solly
male model welcoming Indrani Dasgupta, the female model,
with the ad-line: Allen Solly introduces work wear
The second issue concerning Madura Garments is its categorisation
of womens garments based on body fits. Madura Garments
has divided the body types of Indian women into four categories:
Trim (hourglass figure equal build at the top and
bottom with a narrow waist); Comfort (small at the top
and wide at the hips); Regular (wide shoulder and narrow
at the waist and the hips); Straight (equal on the top
and the hips).
This will result in Madura Garments and the retailers
holding large inventories. And this assumes greater significance
as the shelf life of any womens wear is just 45
days; new style and colours should adorn the retail shelves
to ensure repeat visits. Khera believes that Madura Garments
will have higher inventory levels compared to other industry
players. But it is part of the business that customers
exact needs need to be met.
The western womens wear segment is going through
the same phase that the mens wear underwent some
years back, she says. Initially, there was no standardisation
in mens wear and shirt sizes used to differ from
city to city. But today, a 42-size shirt will measure
the same throughout India. And this standardisation is
what we are precisely trying to bring into the womens
wear segment in the country.
Khera says Madura Garments will be the first company
to talk about body types, and not sizes. The choice
of the garment fabric and the cuts are made keeping in
view the body type. For instance, for women with broad
shoulders the fabric and the cuts should de-emphasise
the shoulders while enhancing the shape.
Rs 10-crore brand communication strategy has taken this
aspect into account and will accordingly address this
issue too, she adds. The store salesperson will
be trained properly to help a shopper to choose the correct
Its a fact that Madura Garments, the leader in
mens wear, is making a delayed entry into the womens
wear segment. When it found the sales of 26 and 28 inches
Allen Solly trousers were higher than other sizes, it
decided to check out. Realising that those sizes were
largely bought by women, it got the message that any further
delay will turn out to be costly already several
others had entered the market and were expanding their
For instance, SM Fashions had announced its plans to
open 80 Natalia outlets across the country. Other bigger
players like Pantaloon Retail (with its Annabelle and
Srishti brands) and Colorplus Fashions were already there.
Madura Garments found the total womens wear market
size to be in the region of Rs 6,000 crore (as per an
IMRB study commissioned by it). Of that western
wear accounted for Rs 600 crore, says Chaturvedi.
Curiously, the size of the womens wear market equals
(normally it is bigger) that of the mens wear market.
The womens wear market can grow up to Rs 2,000
crore, he adds.
Indian womens wear is classified into two segments:
Indian wear (saree, salwar kameez and others) and western
wear (tops, skirts and trousers). Barring sarees, womens
wear in India was unbranded till recently. Export surplus
and rejects, and some unorganised players, catered to
the demand for western womens wear, mainly catering
to middle-class aspirations.
organised Indian western womens wear industry is
still in its infancy, facing all those problems the branded
mens wear encountered in the eighties, says
Chaturvedi. But the market is set to grow what with
lots of young women now becoming figure conscious and
entering the corporate workplace.
Shankaranarayanan says womens and kids wears
are the two growth segments now with mens wear reaching
mature levels. The womens wear segment is
growing at 25 per cent per annum, while we are logging
a growth rate of 35 per cent.
For most players the target segment is women between
22 and 40 years, while for Madura Garments the core target
is women between 22 and 32 years, who swings from western
to Indian wear. This is the group which is self-assured
and employed, says Chaturvedi.
Madura Garments has pegged its rates competitively. The
knitted tops are available between Rs 499 and Rs 899,
woven tops between Rs 599 and Rs 999, and bottom wear
from Rs 799 to Rs 1,099.
Chaturvedi hopes to earn at least Rs 30 crore from womens
wear in two years time. Our internal target
is that the womens wear segment should generate
sales which is 30 per cent of the total Allen Solly sales.
not an easy task. To reach that target he has to increase
the offerings fast. Currently, the Allen Solly womens
range does not have skirts. In terms of fabric though
there is Tencil and Lycra, linen is what is missing in
the Allen Solly range.