Satarupa Paul & Aastha Atray Banan, Hindustan Times
Updated: Jul 18, 2015 20:21 IST
Shop for looks that are tailored for you Should I buy the red A-line dress or the blue maxi for my next office party? The black wedges or the brown pumps? What about accessories – the little golden clutch or the silver sling bag?’
If you also go through such dilemmas while shopping online, there is some good news. A few of the newer websites now provide entire looks styled around themes and occasions, and some even suggest wardrobes based on your measurements – customised by stylists, fashion experts, and regular style-conscious users.
On LimeRoad.com, you will find beautiful scrapbooks of some of the most fashionable trends of the season, which look right out of the pages of a glossy fashion magazine.
What such scrapbooks really do is assemble different pieces of a complete outfit – shoes, accessories, bags et al – in one place, and save you the trouble of piecing together the jigsaw style puzzle.
One scrapbook called "Garden Party", for example, suggests a printed red dress, a pair of beige heels and a pearl necklace in one pretty look that you can wear to, well, a garden party!
"We have a strong community of scrapbookers who are essentially helping brands to make their products look gorgeous, and thereby reach out to millions of potential buyers. The community posted nearly two million style statements as scrapbooks last month alone," says Suchi Mukherjee, founder and CEO of LimeRoad.
The site has a "style council" with 23 influencers like actress Neha Dhupia and several fashion bloggers who inspire and support the scrapbooking community.
"Our Style Council is also about acceptance of different style ideologies. So we’ve got on board a very interesting bunch of women – from the young singing sensation Barbie Rajput and India’s youngest female bike stunt athlete Anam Hashim to celebrity makeup artist Heema Dattani, amongst others."
Another e-com portal called 20Dresses.com has two in-house experts who help you figure out the right look for you based on a quiz that assesses your body type, your complexion, your vital stats, and the kind of styles you like. "The style quiz is designed to get a basic understanding of our customer’s fashion profile," says Sneha Singh, one of the style experts at 20Dresses.
"Through a series of fun, playful and visual questions we get to know about our members’ fashion preferences and body profile. Our personalisation offerings coupled with real time styling support has helped thousands of members efficiently make their buying decisions. The overall experience of product selection, styling help and personalisation has struck a chord with our members."
Roposo.com is another website and mobile app where regular users, like you and me, put up photos of themselves sporting the things that they buy on the site, so that you get an idea of what the outfit looks like in real life, how well it fits, how good it looks paired with other products and the like.
Co-founder Mayank Bhangadia calls it a social network for fashion. "Whenever someone is wearing something she bought off the site, she can post a photo of it, and other users can comment on that," he says.
"Other fashion-conscious women can actually post longer ‘stories’ about say, how you can wear a crop top in five different ways, or DIY posts on how you can transform your old pair of jeans into a tote bag."
Glam up that lingerie drawer Haven’t you squirmed and squirmed some more while trying to explain just what kind of bra you wanted to wear under that halter top to your friendly neighbourhood bra salesman?
Or tried to find the right size at the big branded store that just keeps the four sizes all Indian women are "supposed" to fit in? Online lingerie shopping has drastically changed the way Indian women shop for that "essential" commodity.
Privacy and the liberty of choice are top draws. Web portals like Zivame.com (which was one of the first online lingerie websites) and brands like Amante, Clovia, Bwitch and Pretty Secrets have all won over the female customer with their expansive range of sizes (yes, their cup sizes go up to F) and trends.
"There is more scope to experiment. You can also buy sexy lingerie away from prying eyes," says Smita Murarka, head of marketing and e-commerce of Amante.
"Another great thing about shopping online is that all the trends are available in all different sizes — that’s because there isn’t a space problem as compared to the big branded stores."
Most websites have a comprehensive sizing mechanism to help the customer, but if you still end up with a bra that doesn’t fit, you can always just send it back.
"The exchange rules are much more flexible online. That’s because online stores know they lack the try-and-buy system, so they make up for it with return policies. The lingerie outlets in stores have just about four sizes because of space constraints, so they try and convince the customer that that’s the size to go for, and so, many Indian women end up wearing the wrong size," says Karan Behal, founder and CEO of Pretty Secrets.
He has also noticed a few other trends that point towards the changing aesthetic of the Indian woman. "We sell more bikinis than one pieces, and more push-ups than minimisers. If 50 per cent of our traffic is from the big cities, the other 50 per cent comes from smaller two-II cities, who now want to be trendy," he says.
"It’s not a utility product any more. And the only platform that is catering to the growing demands of the customer is online."
Your designer fix for peanuts That Shivan & Narresh bikini you have been wanting ever since you saw your favourite celebrity wearing it in that fashion magazine?
Or that Nishka Lulla beach skirt you’ve been dying to get your hands on? You can buy them now, for maybe a fraction of the price. Designer wear is now online and is right within your reach.
On Stylista.com, for example, a one-stop shop for buying designer wear online, you can buy a Shivan & Narresh swimsuit for Rs3,150, a Masaba dress for the same price and a Wendell Rodricks jacket for just Rs1,475, which would usually cost above Rs15,000.
"When we first conceptualised Stylista, the aim was to make designer wear affordable and accessible," says Amtosh Singh, business head at Stylista. "What we do is this: the designer designs exclusively for Stylista and we produce it in the Stylista factory. Designers usually just produce 10-15 outfits of each style, but we mass-produce and come up with at least 50 samples of each design. That’s how we control costs."
Stylista has a mix of new, mid-rung and established designers and as Singh says, focuses on quality. It also has an even cheaper alternative in their Stylista Select and Stylista Original brands.
On NETE.in, you can shop from edgy designer brands like Huemn for Rs5,000 and below. Many designers now create prêt lines exclusively for online retailing, and hence keep the costs low.
NETE founder Mariya Khanji Timbadia has an important observation, "When you are shopping for designer wear, you want to think about it properly. Online portals give you the liberty to come back again and again, until you’re absolutely sure."
She also points out that at most times, e-commerce websites have clothes on sale. "So you are getting an even better deal."
From HT Brunch, July 19 Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch