Click and pick designer wear? No, not Indians
About three years ago, some style gurus like Ashish Soni, JJ Valaya and Rajesh Pratap Singh joined hands to sell fashion on the internet and came up with a website.
But bouganvillia.com floundered. "The initiative didn't take off as we had anticipated," Soni told IANS.
For international lifestyle brands, the internet is a vehicle for selling fashion, but for India's nascent design industry, fashion e-commerce still seems a distant dream.
"In the US, UK and Europe, international brands are doing well on the internet. However, I don't think we (Indian industry) are ready for it yet. One must have the stock ready to meet demand, as delay in product delivery would earn a bad name for the label and industry," said Rathi Viany Jha, director general of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the country's apex fashion body.
According to the latest Nielsen Global Online Survey, fashion is second only to books when it comes to shopping online. About 36 per cent of internet users said they had bought clothing, accessories or shoes online, three months before the survey.
Geographically, Britain tops the list where 44 per cent of all Netizens did online fashion purchases. Germany and the US are runners-up, with 42 per cent and 41 per cent users buying fashion online respectively.
In the case of Indian internet users, more than 70 per cent said they bought airline tickets/reservations online but buying fashion via the internet didn't appeal to them.
Some of the well-known multi-brand fashion e-commerce sites include the Milan-based Yoox, Net-a-Porter and new player My-Wardrobe. They sell labels like Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, to name a few.
Commenting on why shopping fashion online doesn't attract Indian customers, Soni said: "The connectivity between customers, internet and fashion stores is lagging.
"Moreover, the conventional way of shopping fashion from bricks-and-mortar stores is not very old. As the multi-brand fashion store concept is not very old in the country, people are not bored yet."
He also said as far as tier-two cities are concerned, consumers are not very open to the idea of sharing their credit card details online, which proves a great hurdle.
Said Raghuvendra Rathore: "India is a country of touch and feel. Until the buyer tries the garment, touches it and feels the designer garment, he is not convinced about picking it.
"Also, ours is a country of diversity and sizing is a very important part of retailing. So clothes where size is not an issue, like T-shirts, socks and knitwear, it's good to shop online but surely not designer wear."
Creative experts, however, feel "it is just a matter of time". Soon the maturing fashion industry would take a plunge into fashion e-commerce, as it promises good business.
"Some designers are already selling online. E-commerce has a great future and customer base to target. For instance, most of my customers are NRIs and it would be much easier for them to trade via the internet," said Rina Dhaka.