India has been touted as the promised land for international fashion and lifestyle brands, but it remains only a promising one where marketers are trying to work around challenges and problems that still plague the retail landscape.
India CEO, Gap, Oliver Kaye, said at the India Fashion Forum 2017, “Localization is an important factor if an international brand wants to succeed in India. Having your own designs to make it relevant to the customer is crucial. For example, Gap India will add a lot more color to its India designs.”
Gap’s India operations has become the first franchisee globally to be allowed to do their own design and Kaye projects that by the end of 2017, 50 per cent of what they sell here will be designed and manufactured in India.
However, localization is not the only hurdle. MD & CEO, Tommy Hilfiger Apparels India, Shailesh Chaturvedi, singled out the difficulty in finding retail manpower, the high duties on import and a depreciated Indian rupee as the key challenges global fashion brands will face in 2017 and beyond.
He said, “The Indian rupee is the most depreciated in the world, we are the worst in the purchasing power parity index and this encourages Indians to buy fashion abroad from the same brands rather than buying them here.”
The finale session at India Fashion Forum saw untold stories and success mantras of the top brands in India.
Succeeding in the Indian market also depends on being bold, innovative and learning from one’s failures. 20 entrepreneurs and CEOs led by Board Member, L Capital (LVMH Group), Bijou Kurien, and Motivational Speaker, Harish Mehta, shared their stories about such outcomes in a set of presentations at the Forum, which was the closing event.
MD, Puma India, Abhishek Ganguly, said, “Even though Puma is rated as one of the most exciting global brands and was one of the fastest to become profitable in India, we had early failures like trying to copy the market leader and hire from competition. You have to chart your own path to success in a market like this.”