Surprisingly Indian Women Aspire to Sri Lankan Ethnic Fashion Wear
Fashion Market.LK’s biggest market is India (not Sri Lanka) and is looking at tying up with India’s ethnic fashion ecommerce company Jaypore.
Photo Credit : Fashion Market.LK,
“If you have deciphered the right fit of a garment, then you have cracked the code on what chic Asian and Indian women want to wear. And Indians love the fit of Fashion Market.LK clothes”.
The fashion-forward Linda Speldewinde was brought up to have skirts below the knee and garbs that were conformist. Little did she know her yen for creativity meant she would be a pioneer in taking Sri Lankan ethnic fashion to the world. Speldewinde is founder and managing director of Sri Lanka’s first dedicated school for design, a slew of other local fashion events and brands, and of the newest brand founded in mid-2015, Fashion Market.LK.
The funny thing is Indians seem to be loving Sri Lankan ethnic fashion more than Sri Lankans themselves, and are willing to pay more for it than Sri Lankans according to Speldewinde’s presentation at the ABAF 2017 forum.
According to estimates from Alexa Internet (owned by Amazon), the ecommerce site has the most visitors from India. 39.8 percent of the visitors to the ecommerce business comes from India, followed by Sri Lanka (23.7 percent), the US (21.8%) and Canada (11.3%).
“Our Indian customer base just took off. And that’s what really encouraged me. Sri Lanka too caught up with the brand but of course the numbers won’t match India for sheer size of market. The fan mail from Indian customers was inspiring. Some say that what we have done in Sri Lankan textiles, is yet to be achieved in Indian textiles” said Speldewinde. “The fact that we put a brown skinned model and was proud to show off our heritage, has spoken to our customers.”
The ecommerce company does not sell in India through Flipkart, Snapdeal or any of the mainstream large ecommerce sites. Speldewinde feels that the brand image and the specific Indian woman they cater to simply does not align with selling on a mass market ecommerce site. However they are in talks to have products made available through niche Indian ethnic fashion portal Jaypore.
It makes sense since Jaypore had a similar epiphany. Jaypore was supposed to be an iPad- only platform for customers in the US. The other shoe dropped when in 2013 after a beta launch in 2012 just for the US, Jaypore decided it should focus on India. Now India is said to account for three quarter of Jaypore revenue with the rest coming from the UK, the US, Canada, Singapore and Dubai – the same regions fashionmarket.lk sees customers from.
“India started delivering the kind of numbers we went beyond expectations, that the European and US launches that I was planning have been put on the backburner. I want to focus on growing in India.” That may explain why the Indian market gets some added bonuses. Like a 20 percent off promo code you don’t see on the ecommerce site’s Sri Lankan subdomain, fashionmarket.lk.
For Sri Lankan customers, free shipping only applies if purchases exceed 4500 Sri Lankan rupees (1900 INR). For international customers it’s for purchases over 10,000 INR - except if they are from India. Then you get your shipping free of charge regardless of purchase value.
On the company’s Facebook page it shows that sarees broadly start around 4500 INR (it is so assumed since it had the Indian rupee symbol) to about 8000 INR. You have the youthful crop tops and off shoulder tops in batik and bags woven out of Palmyrah all typically in the 1250 INR - 2000 INR range.
Speldewinde is dialling a westernized feel for Asian attire. “From our Diwali collections to wedding wear, everything is subtle and sophisticated. It is not typical handloom clothes; we keep things modern and chic. That’s the kind of idea the Indian and Asian customer is buying into.”
She is even more proud of the business’ social impact: “Everything we have is designed and made in Sri Lanka. The batik material we use is mostly made and handwoven in the villages of Sri Lanka…. I could see that if we broke through India and delivered the kind of numbers we were going to deliver, instead of helping just a hundred weavers in Sri Lanka we could be delivering the livelihood of 5000. This is not just relevant to Sri Lanka; we could make this work for India, Bangladesh and other emerging economies.”
Forthcoming Speldewinde was not about the vitals of the business’ financial health. Ergo the resort to Amazon’s Alexa estimates.
(Estimates as at 26 October, 2017, IST. While the numbers may be iffy, the general insight of whether the website performance has improved on selected metrics compared to other websites is largely considered by marketers to be close enough to the truth.)
Engagement with users seem to have moderate appreciation across three major metrics. Bounce rate has decreased by 17 percent to land at 44.9 percent. Daily page views per visitor has increased by 30 percent to 3.8 and the daily time spent on site has increased by 6 percent to reach 3 minutes and 47 seconds.
Given how it’s difficult to get away from Fashion Market.LK ads on Facebook, it’s not surprising to see a majority of its unique visitors coming through Facebook (22 percent), followed by Google domains.
The site is casting its net wide; the audience for ads is not targeted to a tee. It’s an observation made given that users who may fit the target description of a fashionmarket.lk buyer but who never browsed the site, nor clicked on any of their Facebook ads have continued to see their ads over the past two years.
And there have been instances regardless of whether it’s a man or woman, where if you browse the site, even from Africa, the user is likely to have ads appearing for them later on. So how wisely the ad budget is being put to use is questionable.
Nevertheless the growing power of Sri Lankan fashion ecommerce is the culmination of 15 years of hard work the local fraternity has put into the local design, fashion and textile industries.
It’s nice to see it going places.
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