Will Patanjali crack the fashion code?

Patanjali’s much-talked about foray into the $10bn branded apparel industry finally took shape last week through its Delhi-based store Paridhan

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Nov 12, 2018 8:37 AM

Homegrown FMCG brand Patanjali’s much-talked about foray into the $10bn branded apparel industry finally took shape last week through its Delhi-based store Paridhan. Targeting men and women across age groups, the range offers denim, casual, ethnic and formal clothes under brands Livefit, Aastha and Sanskar.

We spoke to brand experts to understand if the desi company will be able to make a space for itself in the competitive and fast-evolving apparel category.  

According to Saurabh Uboweja, International Brand Expert and CEO Brands of Desire, there is enough headroom for a value fashion retailer to create a brand and position itself. “While Patanjali may not create a huge dent in the revenues of existing fashion retailers, it will end up expanding the organised retail market further,” he pointed out.

While Sanskar would be a range of menswear, Aastha is a women's brand and Livfit would have sportswear and yoga clothes.

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, says, “It’s a tricky game to go into this category, especially denim and casual which are highly competitive categories.”

The Haridwar-based firm plans to open around 100 outlets of Paridhan by the end of this fiscal and have a network of around 500 stores by March 2020, mostly on franchise model. According to media reports, Baba Ramdev has said that in the textile industry, 90 per cent sales take place through the unorganised segment. Branded segment accounts for only 10 per cent of the sales and the category has “hardly any Indian brand”. But Indian brands such as FBB, Pantaloons and Westside are quite active in this segment. So the question here is whether playing the indigenous card can work in favour of Patanjali in driving sales?

Harish Bijoor of Harish Bijoor Consults doesn’t think so. He points out that India is a major producer of textile and hardly imports. As a result, he finds the indie-story “a bit of a stretch.”

“Baba Ramdev and Patanjali need to discover a different positioning stance and USP for this business,” he advises.

Also, this factor doesn’t count as a brand USP in the apparel category. “This is a force-fit of the ayurveda distinction that exists and existed in the case of Patanjali FMCG products such as the skin cream and toothpaste,” Bijoor points out.

For brand experts like Uboweja, Patanjali will eventually have to focus on winning in each category.

“Having said that, there is enough headroom to build an Indian origin fast fashion brand in the country which no one has particularly attempted with such focus. The marketing strategy for Patanjali will largely revolve around building a large retail footprint across the country offering low price/medium value products endorsed by a highly influential brand ambassador, Baba Ramdev,” he pointed out.

Also, for a brand like Livfit to succeed in the space dominated by Levis and Lee, it needs to distance itself from Patanjali, Chandramouli insists.

“In the complex space of fashion, it needs to be at an arm’s length from the main brand. Even with other apparel brands, it needs to cut down on the Patanjali association.”

Patanjali is eying a turnover of around Rs 1,000 crore in the next fiscal.

Ubveja says, “With a store size of 500-1200 square feet, you are looking at an annual sales per square foot of over Rs 60,000 and above, which is at the levels of a brand like Zara at its peak. I would be highly doubtful about the revenue guidance of Patanjali here.”

Chandramouli agrees, “They have promised many things earlier which didn’t happen. Now they are overconfident about it.”

Bijoor, on the other hand, thinks it’s possible. “The rag trade is large enough for Patanjali to achieve this, if only it were to crack the right positioning stance for its garment business.”

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