Bangalore Online Fashion Space

Why the City leads the Online Fashion Space - Bangalore Mag - May 2013

It’s a hip city filled with young people. They’re tech savvy and they don’t have time. And they like shopping online, on their cell phones, tablets and computers. Move over brick and mortar, Bangalore’s online retailers are here to stay. 

Styletag, Footsy, Totally Hot Stuff, Natsy By Design, Breakbounce and ItsHandMade are online brands marking their territory in cyberspace and have this in common: they are all Bangalore-based.

While India experiences a boom in the number of retailers taking their brick and mortar enterprises online (as well as those who set up shops online exclusively) the question is, why Bangalore is the centre for online fashion shopping?

While the owners of the online stores in this story spoke of many reasons why, we found that at the heart of the matter is the fact that Bangalore rocks a certain high-tech, high-competency vibe; an atmosphere that is conducive to innovative thought. Some said that the presence of educated professionals makes it easy to run a tech-based business.

While those reasons may come as little surprise to resident Bangaloreans, Natasha Chanda, said it’s in the air. “…culture that supports and encourages enterprise. If you have an idea, this is the city that makes it achievable.”

The business of garment manufacturing is not exactly new to the city. In the early 90s the Hinduja family ran some of the best-known enterprises such as Gokuldas Images’ Wearhouse and Weekender brands. The city has spawned brands such as Indigo Nation and is also home to garment giants Arvind, Madura and Levi’s. One of the country’s best-known high end fashion stores, Folio is Bangalore-based (they own Styletag.com).

But because the online space is not entirely predicated on brick-and-mortar rules, the young, the funky, the new entrepreneurs might establish new rules to play the game.

Q: Why Bangalore?

Natasha Chanda Acharya (Natsy By Design): Bangalore has a culture that supports and encourages enterprise. If you have an idea, this is the city that makes it achievable.

Q: Bangalore has a large number of online fashion retail companies. Are other cities also equally active in this space?

Natasha Chanda Acharya: Bombay is equally active in this space. It has always been the biggest fashion retail market in India and the next generation is exploring the same business in the online space. Bangalore has been the design capital for years and coupled with easy access to technology resources, ecommerce was a natural progression.

Q: How have you been funded?

Natasha Chanda Acharya: Natsy By Design is privately funded.

Q: What is your USP?

Natasha Chanda Acharya: Exclusive products that are handcrafted and handpicked. Our endeavour is to offer our patrons products that they would not normally find in regular retail stores, shopping malls, or large-scale online portals.

Q: Do you have an industry (fashion/ clothing) background?

Natasha Chanda Acharya: We partner with a panel of resources bringing together different core competencies from fashion and design consulting, revivalists, artisan scouting and collaborating, craft promotion agencies to various operational and logistic experts.

Q: Can you hold your own if the big brands in the garment business go online?

Natasha Chanda Acharya: Absolutely. While the traditional retail houses have a strong understanding of the business and can definitely succeed if they put their minds to it, their business model, their motivations, their comfort zones are vastly different from that which an online venture entails. Also, I have always believed there is enough for everyone out there. If you have a good product you shouldn’t worry overtly about competition.

Q: What is your brand building strategy?

Natasha Chanda Acharya: At this stage, all our resources and energies are focused on offering better products every day, every month, every season. We have very personalized customer servicing since we cater to a niche segment, and we have excellent returns on word of mouth.

Q: What, according to you, is the biggest decision driver for a customer to shop online?

Natasha Chanda Acharya: While the obvious answers seem to be convenience, or gratification on demand, I’d like to maintain a healthy respect for good old-fashioned price factor. The Indian buyer is discerning, but nothing delights more than “value for money”, in the real market or in the virtual.

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