With the country’s two men’s wear biggies Aditya Birla and Raymond getting into customised clothing for men, the dynamics are changing in men’s wear. They see it as an opportunity for value addition and building loyalty among existing as well as potential new customers. These days, with quality fashion going mass, the industry is once again seeing renewed consumer interest from discerning fashion-conscious buyers for made-to-order and customised tailoring services.
Detailing the change, Vishal Talwar, Dean, School of Management, BML Munjal University, says this is an apt opportunity for organised retail players like Raymond and Aditya Birla Group to tap into growing desire for personalisation in fashion. With bespoke service, players are well-placed to extract more value from fashion-conscious buyers who are ready to pay a premium for customised products.
But at the same time it’s not easy to compete with so many players both organised and unorganised. Talwar feels, to be able to stand apart and compete with scores of specialised neighbourhood tailors and other family establishments offering bespoke service, organised retailers need to get various aspects of the service commitment right. These include: getting the product (garment) right, ensuring consistent quality, and on-time delivery. Most importantly, since, tailoring is still not considered fashionable unlike Western countries, players offering bespoke service have to build in innovation with designs to justify the premium they charge from customers.
The value proposition
Van Heusen’s ‘Myfit’ has re-engineered its manufacturing facility to produce garments in three days with low inventory levels. Vishak Kumar, CEO, Madura Fashion and Lifestyle (a part of Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd) points out encouraging people to opt for bespoke service is akin to change of habit. And for changing customer habit you need to offer him more comfort and value than say a neighbourhood tailor. Ramesh Sharma, Business Head, Raymond Made to Measure (MTM), feels people tend to compare an MTM product with a locally tailored product. There is a need to differentiate between mass tailoring services, which is available all across, and the custom-made offering in the luxury space.
It’s the competency of organised bespoke service providers in offering a wider fabric and style choice, a higher level of customisation, quality consistency with standardised manufacturing practices, and capacity for timely doorstep delivery that will score over their unorganised counterparts. In lieu of this, both players, Raymond MTM and Van Heusen Myfit, have made huge investments in end-to-end integrated technology for quick turnaround and delivery. Both players are leveraging data analytics to arrive at the best fit taking into account different body types. For example, Raymond MTM works on the principle of ‘craft meets science’. It uses data analytics to work on different body shapes and accordingly comes up with various patterns (slim, classic, plus etc.) and style preferences. Van Heusen, on the other hand, has built a digital interface that is simple and easy to use. Customers can access digital display screens at its stores to explore different fabrics, fits, and styles all by themselves.
However, brands n need to deal with many challenges on the way. One of the key challenges for organised retailers providing bespoke service, according to Kumar, is creating a flexible manufacturing line. Most units are built for mass manufacturing and require significant changes to operate real-time and produce a single and customised garment. Myfit has re-engineered its manufacturing facility to produce garments within three days with low inventory levels. On-time delivery is another issue facing bespoke players. Myfit relies on in-house resources coupled with third-party logistics partner for timely doorstep delivery. Myfit service is available across 200-plus Van Heusen stores spanning 100 plus towns.
There is a huge cost associated with such a high level of customisation and craftsmanship. A fine MTM suit price can start from Rs 25,000 and can go up to as high as Rs 1,450,000. With individual pieces being custom-made, costs for customers go up as the service comes at a premium.