612 League has Become a 100 Cr Company in Five Years
There was a clear segregation between different age groups in the pre-teen bracket. That thought matured in 2011 and led to the creation of 612 League, a brand that they wanted to have the adaptation of international design to the sensibilities of Indian parenting.
While on a trip to the USA with their two little daughters, Manu Indrayan and Mohita Indrayan found that clothing options available for children were far more versatile and differentiated than in India.
There was a clear segregation between different age groups in the pre-teen bracket. That thought matured in 2011 and led to the creation of 612 League, a brand that they wanted to have the adaptation of international design to the sensibilities of Indian parenting. This ‘imagined in India, international in outlook brand’ came about at a time when branded apparel market for kids in India was at a nascent stage with the intention of putting on the shelves design and quality of global apparels.
Manu, a first generation entrepreneur with his management background together with his wife Mohita who is a NIFT alumni, commercially launched the brand pan-India in 2011. They started on a small scale through partnerships with Shoppers Stop and Reliance Trends.
The market for kidswear has undergone a phenomenal change, from a time when the apparel was not even differentiated to a time where global trends are frequently shared and discussed on different social platforms. The industry has come a long way and still continues to grow.
The unique proposition that the brand offers is differentiated and fashion forward offerings for the pre-teens.The clothing is western inspired. Mohita, co-founder and Chief Creative Director mentioned, “The western trends could not be blindly replicated in the Indian atmosphere. The brand found it essential to marry the western design with Indian sensibilities. For instance, when Scottish skirts were a rage, we designed them with in-built shorts. Another example to cite, ripped jeans was a trend that picked up fast in India. The brand tweaked the ripped jeans for tweens with patches underneath. Kidswear is a lot about the comfort that it gives to the parent.”
612 league designs clothes for kids pan-India, they understand the Indian parents quite well and are very well aware of the sensibility and design appreciation of Indian parents which changes every few kilometers as India is a very diverse country. In order to cater to ethnic sensibilities of people across regions and cultures, the brand hires designers from across geographies.
Out of the 500 SKUs that get manufactured in a season, 200 are quintessentially 612 League products, that is, international in outlook, while the rest 300 SKUs are designed with respect to regional and cultural preferences. These attributes give the brand an edge over its competitors.
In India, there were three principle challenges that defined the market for kids’ apparel. First 30% of the market is school uniforms. Second, the market is not brand driven and in that sense quite localized. Third, kids outgrow their clothes very quickly. Therefore, the propensity to buy is impeded by price points.
Manu believes that one of these challenges have changed. He says, “Kidswear has become far more brand conscious. Parents today look for wardrobe solutions as a result of which clothes are bought for a range of purposes. Although the branded kidswear segment has recorded higher growth in recent years, it still remains a largely unbranded market, with products sold mostly through unorganized retail channels. Brands and retailers also have to ensure better penetration beyond urban pockets and cater to the price sensitive children’s segment in semi-urban and rural India.”
Kidswear is an involved product category. It is as much about utility as it is about style along with being performance oriented. Clothes have to be a wardrobe solution for the active life of the pre-teens. For a baby, clothes are not part wear and home wear, therefore comfort is the key rule.
The biggest challenge is also to appeal to two sets of consumers which are also two generations- the child and the parent. The western design inspirations cannot be blindly replicated. They must correspond to the Indian context.
The low average lifespan of children’s apparel, a result of the growing height of children, has forced many value-conscious parents to hold back on spending on children’s apparel, especially in the medium and lower end of the market. At the time they entered the India market, the Indian retail industry was undergoing transformation. Manu adds, “We were lucky to have judged the increasing affinity for branded kidswear in India and entered the market at a time when the market was ready for such a transformation. Kids specific fashion labels are still countable on finger tips in India. So we could cash on the early movers’ advantage”.
He added, “Parents take their kids’ wardrobe far more seriously, thanks to global design inspirations. Kids are far more conscious about their taste and style and actively participate in purchasing decisions. It was inevitable, we believe. We are only too happy to have contributed to this pleasant advent in our own small way.”
On the positive side, kidswear is a basic necessity, something that cannot be compromised on. It does not fall under discretionary shopping. When retail sentiment affects tendency to shop, this category gets affected the least.
Due to the already prevalent upward trend in the category, they have been able to capitalise on the investment raised in 2014. Kidswear is a 40-50 thousand cr market, 30% of which is dominated by school uniforms. Branded apparel in kids segment is less than 15%. Their idea is to capitalize on the left over 85% share.
612 League has become a 100 cr company in five years. It is targeting to triple the turnover by 2020. It has grown from 176 touch points in 2013 to 460 outlets spread across 140 Indian cities in 2016. The number is projected to further increase to 800. With 50 EBOs currently and the number projected to double in the next 2 years, the brand is all set to become India’s largest. EBO is where consumer enters the brand space.
A lot of investment has gone into creating of digital real estate. All their efforts are geared towards 612 League becoming the last word in kids’ clothing. Apart from that, they also have plans of expanding their product line to include ethnic wear, innerwear and even shoes by 2018 so that they become an umbrella brand for kids.
The brand seems to have understood the nerve of the Indian consumer is steadily working its way up the ladder by catching on the newest trends, the latest one being virtual try on. It has a wonder store that is a device to try on clothes with gesture control. Understanding that children find it cumbersome to try on multiple outfits, the brand has been fast to catch up on the latest trends in fashion.
They are focused at attracting consumers through the right product assortment, better visual merchandising, and focused advertising and promotional strategies. India doesn’t seem far off from standing at par with its global counterparts so far as fashion industry is concerned, thanks a world made much smaller by social media!
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