Visit any mall today and chances are that almost half, if not more shops would be selling garments. In a highly competitive environment where brand names are increasing on the fashion and lifestyle clothesline, garment brand promoters are working on customer pull and retention strategies.
Whether it is Madura Garments, with brands such as Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Peter England and Esprit, or Raymond, or SKNL with subsidiary Brand House Retail handling Reid & Taylor and Belmonte, or standalone brands Provogue, Levi's, Wrangler’s or Lee Cooper, the widespread attempt is to create footfalls and repeat visits at the retail level.
"The primary attraction for a consumer is the brand name itself," says Hemchandra Javeri, president, Madura Garments, which is stepping up its retail presence by adding on retail space in key locations for each brand. "The added quality of the retail experience plays an important part in the overall customer experience."
Whether it is visual merchandising or showroom layouts, brands are getting particular about giving a complete brand experience to its customers. "Visual merchandising plays a huge role in the overall customer experience," says Nitin Kasliwal, MD, SKNL.
Standalone brand stores understand this. "It is very important to have your own store to leverage the best of visual merchandising," says Kasliwal. "In co-owned stores or multi-brand outlets, you can never be sure if your brands are being displayed properly."
Javeri says, "If you were given all that the brand has to offer in one space, it definitely improves brand experience." Kasliwal points to Reid & Taylor’s Monday to Friday range as an example.
Raymond would second the idea surely. Across its stores, the Raymond experience is constantly renewed through display. The brand has largely centralised its suit tailoring operations to ensure consistency. Its stores now show the fabric and send in the measurements to the centralised tailoring facility.
In fact, the fit and feel are very important for apparel brand experience. Precisely why Morarji Textiles launched its subsidiary, Integra. “We manufacture apparel for Levi's, Esprit, Cottons by Century, Woolworths and Ben Sherman," says Morarji Textiles' executive vice chairman Harsh Piramal, who also looks after Integra's operations. The initiative has been so successful that facilities are being expanded to include trouser making by June 2008. “Our design studio is already in place and is moving forward well," says Piramal.