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Vishal Trehan

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Business Head

comes with a rich experience of over two decades in all aspects of the garment trade industry ranging from quality assurance to production, sourcing, operations and finally retail. He specializes in building businesses and brands holistically.

In 2007, he was associated with Forever New – the ‘bridge to luxury’ brand — with an aim to make it into the first choice fashion destination at affordable prices for Indian women.

As one of the fastest growing Australian fashion brands, Forever New emerged in late 2006 as a start up retailer and now trades over 250 stores in seven countries globally. The brand celebrates the feminine beauty of women, a signature style flowing through every creative element. Collections are inspired by global trends in art, film, music and theatre as well as haute couture runway shows in Paris, London, Milan and New York.

Having entered India in 2007, in calendar year 2014, the chain logged a sales turnover of Rs 95 crores from 43 doors across India, with the 44th opening today (April 15, 2015) in Ludhiana.

Trehan has carefully shaped all departments under his leadership including day to day operations and handling the technical as well as consumer aspect of the brand. He passionately represents the ‘Proud Behaviors’ philosophy at Forever New – which is being ‘customer centric in all we do and making things simple’. He believes that adhering to the ‘ ‘Proud Behaviors’ is a significant reason behind the brand’s success worldwide.

[“You need to identify the physical store as a resource. It is where a brand tells its story and — if you do it right — creates incredible experiences that connect evocatively with the customer.”]

India has evolved enormously with in a very short period of time with respect to fashion which has now reached ordinary households, Trhean notes. “And this will penetrate further with the booming evolution of online shopping. Today the consumer wants to experience fashion every day — and by the most convenient means,” he points out.

Referring to product differentiation, he says, ” In 2014, Forever New focused on statement wardrobe separates like crop tops, midi skirts and denims. The brand created a denim wall, displaying the complete collection across silhouettes like denim jeans, denim jacket, denim dress and denim shirt. This gave special attention to the category and also added a different shopping dimension to Forever Now girl, and further resulted in 150% budget achievement,” he expalins Forever New stores have a ‘story change’ every month, Trehan adds. “We work on an eight to 12 weeks’ stock turn schedule.”

With steep rentals (accounting for just under 20 per cent of costs) in India, coupled with import duties (all Forever New merchandise is imported), should he perhaps not be considering sourcing in India to counter the cost pressures of setting up physical stores?

“Yes, we should, absolutely,” Trehan responds. “But the biggest problem in India is the non-adherence to deadlines. And in a fast-fashion scenario, that is simply not tenable.”

And Trehan’s formula for physical stores staying not just relevant, but also ahead-of-the-curve, is to use the physical spaces as an artist’s canvas. “You need to identify the store as a resource,” he asserts. “It is where a brand tells its story and — if you do it right — creates incredible experiences that connect evocatively with the customer.”

At Forever New stores, for instance, qualified stylists counsel shoppers on optimal styles, colours and sizes for their appearance. “It is actually a small detail in personalisation, but it has made an incredible impact on our shoppers and the entire brand experience.”

Trehan is committed to pushing the envelope on the physical store communication. “I think we may be looking just a mite dated,” he says of the Indian outlets. “But we’ve been putting our heads together with the team in Australia to develop a new in-store identity. We should have the new look out by end of this year.”

And what does he want the new look to reflect? “Look, we’re always feminine, always classy. But looking ahead, definitely a little more bling, a little more colour are in order.”

By Nupur Chakraborty