Leather fashion brand Da Milano, the maker and retailer of premium bags, footwear, and accessories, has been following a unique regional customization strategy in India, with customized prices for the South Indian markets which the company officials say is a price-sensitive region.
Talking to IndiaRetailing, Da Milano Leather’s Managing Director Sahil Malik said: “The South Indian market prefers a particular price range, so we have priced our products lower in the South compared to North where the same products carry somewhat higher prices.”
He said that the brand is differentiated between the two regions in many other ways, such as color. While the company sells products of subtle colors in the South, in the North fashion colors are preferred. “Customization is a must for retailers today because India is a vast country with a huge diversity in cultures and tastes. So what sells in the North doesn’t sell in the South, and vice-versa,” said Malik. He added that the Da Milano products are customized in terms of size and designs for the south.
The company says it opens new stores after doing a proper survey on customer profile, age groups and geographical locations. “We give enormous importance to residential areas since handbags contribute the highest to our sales. The location has to be dominated by footfalls of ladies,” explained Malik.
According to the company, the premium leather accessories market in India is clocking a strong growth of 25 to 30 percent every year, with rising disposable incomes being the biggest driver of the segment. “It is going to be a very positive phase for the next five years because the acceptability of premium leather accessories is moving up. People are increasingly spending a lot of money on their lifestyle,” said Malik. In 2001, India accounted for only 6 percent of Da Milano’s overall business while exports accounted for the rest. However, this figure has now gone up to 65 percent due to the rising consumption.
Malik said that infrastructure issues remain a major challenge for players in the premium leather market in India. “Price is another challenge – a product like ours finds acceptance in very few tier I and II cities. Tier III and IV cities have no organized retail presence as of now. There are a limited number of malls and high streets are not very well organized,” he added. The metro cities currently contribute 75 percent of Da Milano’s total sales, with the remainder coming from smaller towns. “We are ready to enter the tier 3 and 4 markets once the right kind of malls are available,” Malik said. The investment required to set up a Da Milano store spread across 800-1,000 sq.ft. is Rs 35-40 lakhs.
Product-wise, ladies’ handbags account for 36 percent of the total sales of Da Milano, followed by men’s bags (19 percent), travel bags (18 percent), footwear (13 percent), wallets and belts (9 percent), and accessories (6 percent). The company runs a design studio in Italy to keep itself updated about the latest in fashion. The products are made of imported leather from Italy and metal accessories from Korea and Taiwan.
Da Milano is currently focusing on Punjab and Bangalore as well as the East India market for expansion. The brand was launched in the Indian market in 1989 and has 32 exclusive outlets across the country, including stores at the Delhi and Mumbai airports. Da Milano plans to open 10 stores in the coming fiscal.