Raghav Mohan, Director, Surreal believes that for his brand to succeed, it should have exclusive alliance with only one retailer in each city. Calling Surreal a brand not for the masses, he shares with Images Business of Fashion the menswear brand’s journey so far, his plans to increase their customer base, and future plans of expansion.
Tell us about Surreal and its journey so far.
‘Only great minds can afford a simple style’ is something that captures the essence of Surreal. I would define the brand as intelligent, minimalist, eclectic, elegant, modern, refined, sharp, chic, prêt, edgy, dapper, stylish, zestful, luxurious, and a mark of perfection.
It has been four years since the brand was launched, and the journey has been really interesting throughout. We started with one EBO, with primary focus on shirts. Over the next three years, we added two more EBOs as a result of a tie-up with two premium retailers in Delhi/NCR. We are very detail oriented and work very closely with our customers. As we increased the number of outlets, we were also in touch with our customers and got a lot of feedback from them.
Give an insight on your retail presence. What are your plans to increase sales and number of outlets?
Currently, we have three EBOs and a partnership with two premium fashion retailers. Moving forward, we are aggressively looking to partner with more like-minded and fashion-forward retailers. However, we are more inclined towards quality rather than quantity, be it merchandise or our partnerships with our associates. So, we are looking at exclusive alliances with retailers and would want to have only one retailer in one city. In the next three to four years, we do plan to again focus on EBOs.
Tell us about the stores, the product display and visual merchandising.
We follow a fashion model rather than a business model. Fashion is dynamic. At our stores, and also at our partner retailers (SIS), we give a fresh look every week. At the same time, new designs are fuelled into the store every third day.
Also, our visual merchandising is very different from the rest of the brands. For example, for Spring Summer 2013 collection, we had a huge syringe made with a caption ‘A Dose of Colour’. Our concept of visual merchandising is a lot based on the idea of touch and feel for people who are passing by, so they not just see but also experience it. As our brand name suggests, we keep doing a lot of such surrealistic things.
What is the trend for the current season?
For the Autumn Winter 2013–14, it is subdued wintry trends. The colours that will make a mark are charcoal, black, navy and chocolate. The look is going to be understated but refined. The dynamism would be conveyed via surfaces and texturing. Quilting will play an intrinsic role, because of its insulating properties and subtle textures. Surreal, being a fashion-forward brand, has incorporated these elements in its clever detailing and intelligent patterns.
Are all the products manufactured in-house or sourced as well?
Our main forte is the concept and creating fashionable value for the customers. For that, we have an in-house team of fashion designers who come with a very rich experience. Our range is conceptualised and designed in our design lab.
Which are the new and promising markets you are targeting?
We are quite keen and targeting fashion retailers in cosmo markets. At present, we are exploring Mumbai and Chandigarh.
Tell us about your plans of having stores in Tier-II and -III cities.
Tier-II and -III cities have tremendous scope, as is evident from the data and the purchasing power, as well as exhibited by retail brands from all spheres setting up shops there. At Surreal, we are quite optimistic for a great response from Tier-II cities. We are still in the process of deciding which cities to open stores in.
Our ideology is that it is better to have less stores but provide the true essence of the brand in these and servicing them in the best and most consistent manner than opening outlets everywhere just because of the retail footprint.
We are not a mass brand and would not like to be seen in too many places. We are targeting top-end MBOs and we go to any length to ensure that secondary sale is happening at the retailer’s store by creating loyalty with the retailer.
How do you decide on the catchment area?
We stand for urbane fashion and hence look for cosmo cities, markets that are mature and have a young customer base.