Say you’re young, funky, fashion-forward and want an outfit by Masaba Gupta. But you’re living on a pittance that passes as a first salary. What do you do? Well, you could buy an outfit by Masaba Gupta. Only, the label would read Masaba Lite, because this is the designer’s recently launched affordable second brand, more high street than haute couture.
Gupta’s decision to launch a second, more mass line was a brave one. She could have taken the tried and tested route to better financial prospects by launching a fail-proof bridal line, but that’s not what she wants to do. Her target group is youthful, so Masaba Lite, with fun separates, night wear and accessories, is more appropriate.
Munkee See Munkee Doo, Huemn and Quirkbox all have second lines too, and Yogesh Chaudhary will launch his own mass line next season. None of these brands is more than a few seasons old, yet each one is confident of success in this new market.
Huemn, a four-year-old label started by Lucknow poet Pranav Mishra and Bangalore cartoonist Shyma Shetty, is known for experimenting with patterns. With elegantly quirky designs, its fans include actresses Deepika Padukone and Neha Dhupia. But a label cannot survive on actresses alone, so about six months ago, Huemn launched a more pared-down line called Hue.“I see prêt becoming big business in India,” says Mishra. “It’s a market boom waiting to happen.”
That’s because young designers tend to create funky, experimental clothing, which young buyers love. “They’re keen to buy Indian designers, provided they’re offered great designs at good quality, priced to fit their budgets, below Rs15,000,” says Anita Dongre, one of India’s most commercially successful designers with an estimated turnover of Rs250 crores thanks to her labels AND and Global Desi.
Dot com retail
One of the major reasons for young designers taking the high street route is the online push. With websites like Jabong and Myntra looking at fashion in a serious way, young designers have seen the opportunities.
Jabong’s CEO Arun Chandra Mohan believes young designers are making a sensible decision in starting these second lines because the online market needs them. “Prêt is more popular online, and price points need to be slightly lower than they are for brick and mortar stores,” he says.
Both Jabong and Myntra are in talks with designers to launch second lines. “Retail sites are able to take on production which really means you look at a big growth plan,” says Gupta.