A Creyative Kind of a Guy -An interaction with Kulin Lalbhai

A Creyative Kind of a Guy -An interaction with Kulin Lalbhai

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Kulin is an MBA from (USA), and also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Science (Electrical Engineering) from Stanford University, USA. He has held several leadership positions during his academic role including serving as Co-President of Family Business Club at Harvard, Associate Director for Stanford Asia Technology Initiative and also serving as Conference Co-Chair for the Harvard-India Conference. He is passionate about retail industry and B2C businesses and has researched extensively on disruptive business models and online space.

And yes, at the interview, a vibrant was sporting a blue origami lotus pocket-square.

Excerpts from the interview

Team BoF:

Why did you choose name Creyate? What is the core thought behind the brand?

Kulin Lalbhai:

The spark or the idea of Creyate is to say that personalisation is becoming a global mega trend. Whether it is a car industry wherein a Mini Cooper allows you to customise every bit of it, or it is Nike Id to choose your bits, or it is plan-my-plan, every industry today in the world realises that customers want to personalise products, personalise services and personalise experiences. So, we look at Creyate as a concept that that brings personalisation or customisation to the world of apparel. The idea is in empowering everyone to be their own designers. We are putting a factory at everyone’s fingertips. The whole brand is about creation, about creating your own clothes and looks. Clothes is where we have started but the concept can be expanded to other categories as well, whether it is shoes or the like. So, in essence the brand name Creyate, in a way, represents the inspiration behind the brand. Also, this is not like a regular apparel brand that is formal lifestyle or sports lifestyle, it’s a platform, and it’s a concept brand that stands for customisation.  The heart of it is creating that is why the name of the brand is Creyate.

Team BoF:

We have gone through the experience of the brand and it looks quite comprehensive, however, automated body sizing possibilities are missing. Any reasons why?

Kulin Lalbhai:

We actually have explored this over a last year and a half. Hopefully, Microsoft connect will emerge as a technology that will do 3D mapping. The problem with all the technology options available today is that they are good for sizing you in terms of predicting whether you are small, medium, or large, but none of them are robust enough to take very accurate body measurements. In Creyate we have about 26 body measurements to get your fit absolutely perfect. This is such a critical kind of process in order to get the perfect garment, that any technology which is say 19 out of 20, is just not good enough. As and when technology catches up and we can get the right level of accuracy and consistency we will definitely be getting in automated 3D body sizing into our model. Yes, that is on our cards.

Team BoF:

The Creyate concept perhaps cannot be measured by conventional sales per sq. feet benchmarks. How do you measure your success so far? Also with prime retail spaces being at a premium are other mass interaction points a possibility?

Kulin Lalbhai:

Although at the store level also we are expecting each store to give returns. But it is not supposed to be cost leader. For example Ahmedabad store is already very profitable. It is giving us very, very good response. In a month we have seen incredible improvement. We broke even in the first month. And you made a very good point that retail spaces are at a premium. But for us it is a three-step journey. It is not really a sales store, it’s an experience store. These garments are not for sale, these are for look validation as to how the final product will come out. You start the experience at our store, if you don’t have time, you call us to your home and you will be serviced by our style stewards. You will be measured and once you are done and experienced, then you don’t need to do anything. You can call for fabrics at your home or design online and place an order.

So, the permanent retail store is a very small part of this idea. The home visit model is a much larger model for us today. We also capture a lot of customers through Facebook, Youtube and Google ad world. They come on the website, they book an appointment and go to their home and we serve them the entire store in a way on Ipad and swatches. Similarly, pop up stores is very powerful concept. We will be creating semi-permanent pop up stores that will come up in a Bandra-Kurla complex and cyber hubs and airports. It will start engaging the customers in a creative way. You will see this in the months to come.

Team BoF:

The ability to customise and buy from the relaxed environs of a home sounds great news for men, however do you feel women who love shopping will enjoy the concept equally?

Kulin Lalbhai:

For women being able to personalise and create a garment that is absolutely, uniquely their own is the exciting thing. If they do spend much more time taking the trouble in the quest for uniqueness, it is in-fact all the more reason that they will actually love what all they can do with Creyate.

Team BoF:

What next? India is awaiting fresh new retail concepts but it is also a huge country. Will you franchise the concept to take full benefit of the opportunity?

Kulin Lalbhai: We are not going to make this a franchise store because the touch point is so important. It is not a sales point, it is an experience point.  The people selling to you are not sales people. They are style stewards. They have been trained for three months and they are really fashion forward youngsters who are helping to have a conversation with you on fashion. So the kind of experience, service and training is required to pull such a difficult and complicated sale, we are not happy to give out that to anyone else. The brand is all about customer experience so we are trying to own each and every aspect of it, even the delivery is guy will be from our own company. He will be delivering and checking whether it is right or not. It is not a normal courier delivery.

Team BoF:

The biggest challenge in fashion is often not what to make but what not to make. It is very difficult serving all types of fashion customers. So, who exactly is the Creyate customer that you are targeting?

Kulin Lalbhai:

In my opinion, that it is very conventional way of thinking about an apparel lifestyle brand. That is in terms of formal wear brand, young brand, casualwear, etc, and so on. I think that is the way how you build a lifestyle brand. But ours is not a lifestyle brand. It is a concept brand.

Let me elaborate—when you think about an iPhone, you don’t think about whether it is going to be in the hands of a 16 years old or a 60 years old. Because when iPhone came in the market it stood for what it can restructure to music. This is a customisation concept. And customisation will mean different thing to different people. So the way we think about Creyate is by, one–what are the different kinds of use cases, and two,–what are the different kinds of customers. We are not going to limit the brand by saying that it is for a 18-year or 30-year old. Because the idea and the concept is so wide and big that it can hold different product types and different age groups trying to solve for varied needs.

There is a 25 to 35 years old who loves socialisation, individuality, who loves to take the trouble to design and share it friends and post it on Facebook. He will come to Creyate to design. Perhaps he will be more enamoured by the casual lifestyle.  So, that’s one customer. The other customer is much more aspirational customer. He is coming to Creyate for best fabric, best fit and who wants no unnecessary superfluous embellishments. He is the senior VP, CEO and buys our luxury collection Linea Dor. Then there is a guy who is coming for an occasion. Who is saying that this is for my son’s wedding, or my wedding, and I want to look stunning. He will come in and take an occasion wear attire.

So when I am saying that our idea is broad. When the idea is to stand for customisation as a concept what you can do with the brand and the amount you can extend it is always more than you can do it with a conventionally planned brand. It is very critical to expand beyond the very traditional way of thinking about brands.

Creyate is not an apparel brand, it is a concept. And you create a concept brand because it can become bigger than a lifestyle brand.

Team BoF:

We hear that . is targeting 1000 crores in the next three years. What new concepts can we expect from . along this journey?

Kulin Lalbhai:

A 1000 crore turnover is the overall planned vision for Arvind Internet Limited and Creyate is the first launch from Arvind Internet.

You will see another major launch from us in the middle of next year, which will be much larger. It will be more conventional model focused on our main bread and butter ready to wear business.

For Creyate our next immediate short term target is that we want to be present in at least 10-15 towns either with stores or the home business model. Our next goal would be to drive visibility into our global expansion plan. Creyate has not been launched as an only Indian brand. India is our test bench for a global launch. This idea is in fact even more powerful for developed markets like US, UK, Europe and Japan. So as soon as we are confident that we can execute 1000 custom garments a day at efficiencies of 99.9 percent first-time-right, we will roll out our global expansion.