The Bangalore-based Turquoise & Gold (T&G) is built around an interesting concept – luxury resortwear for women. Back in 2007, the founder of the brand, the late Betty Mahindra, while on a holiday in Goa noticed the complete absence of a clothing label that catered to people out vacationing. What to wear on the beach and in the resorts?
Realising the business potential of the idea and believing in the motto that shopping is best done on a holiday, she bought a store in Calangute – the busiest beach in Goa – for a crore of rupees, as there were no malls in the state at that time. Her target customers: foreigners visiting the state as well as wealthy Indian tourists. Mahindra’s already existing manufacturing and exports business helped her set up the sourcing and retail operations quickly. The store began selling garments which were so designed that they could be worn from the beach to the office and even for a night-out. It soon became popular with tourists, encouraging the company to expand its network.
Currently, T&G has a store each in in Goa and Bangalore. The Bangalore store opened last year in the UB City mall with an investment of `60 lakh. Another store in Delhi’s DLF Emporio mall is set to open this month. Spread across 1,000 sq.ft., it will be T&G’s flagship store for North India.
The T&G brand is today being steered by Mahindra’s three children: Dimple Varma, Creative Head; Manoj Varma, Head of Business Development; and Samara Mahindra, Head, Marketing.
According to Dimple Varma, T&G was launched to tap into the emerging market of resort-wear which is growing at a rapid pace in India. Says she: “Women aspire to wear beautiful clothes that look good and fit well. Silhouettes that are constructed to perfection were yet to be found in India. In addition, there are almost zero resort-wear brands in the country. Resort-wear is not necessarily beachwear and can be worn on various occasions. It can range from flamboyant gowns to a playsuit for a day-out.”
According to Varma, it is important for a retailer to distinguish between the ideal target customer and the actual buyer. “There is the brand ideal that the design team uses to create products and then there are people who actually buy them. It’s important for the products to reflect this philosophy,” she says. “Our target customers may be women in mid- 20s to late 50s, but we want to turn ourselves into an inspirational and aspirational brand. Our actual buyers may not have to live that lifestyle, but they are the people who want to buy into that lifestyle, and these are the consumers we target.”
Price Points and Designs
The price range of T&G offerings starts from Rs.3,500 for a solid top toRs.25,000 for a flowing printed maxi or jumpsuit. “Our sell-through reports indicate that our printed dresses ranging from Rs.8,000 to Rs.10,000 are the best selling, while jumpsuits, flowy silhouettes, and maxis are very popular with customers,” says Varma.
T&G has tied up with the Londonbased womenswear designer label Belle & Bunty. Its designers come to India twice a year to observe the fashion trends. Before launching any collection, they visit parties and night clubs to get a feel of what is popular here and design the prints accordingly. These are then manufactured at T&G’s own facility in Bangalore.
The biggest challenge for T&G is the expensive luxury retail real estate in India. “Most of India’s high streets don’t have the right positioning and environment for a brand like ours. Only luxury malls offer the right ambience, atmosphere and customer service, but these are few and far between,” says Varma. Another difficulty the brand faces is the “wear and throw” perception among women consumers about resort-wear. “Luxury resort-wear is still to make its mark and be fully understood by the Indian market,” says Varma.
Trends and Learnings
Travelling to international locations is almost becoming a norm in India. This is beginning to have a positive influence on the growth rate of the holiday and leisure market. Though Indian spending on leisurewear is increasing gradually, the market size is still quite small, as evident by the absence of big brands in the segment. “But we do predict the market to expand considerably over the next few years because of the rapid increase in its growth rate,” says Varma, adding that T&G witnessed a 100 percent growth between 2011 and 2012.
The key learning in her business? “It is imperative not to compromise on quality in favour of quantity. When a garment is purchased, the customer looks for the feel-good factor. They want it not only to look great but it should also make them feel great,” she says. For marketing, T&G plans to hold fashion shows and tie-up with companies related to travel, such as luggage brands.
Footprints and Plans
T&G intends to add three more stores to its tally next year and another two in 2014, taking the total store count to eight in India. It will be investing around `10 crore for expansion over the next two years. There are also plans to target famous global tourist hotspots like Bali, Phuket and Singapore in East Asia, and Ibiza and Marbella in Europe. Setting up a T&G store requires an investment of around `80 lakh to `1 crore, depending on the location, according to Varma.
The company plans to expand its portfolio by launching the “T&G Luxe” luxury couture products. Also on the cards are “T&G Mini” (children’s-wear for two to eight year olds) and T&G Curvaceous (clothing for women). Varma says she wants to stick to EBOs for the time being as these offer more control over the brand as well as a better VM, customer experience, merchandise assortment, pricing and margins. T&G will be opening its e-commerce portal this December in time for the year-end holiday season to better cater to customers beyond the metros.
T&G is on target to earn revenues of about `10 crore by the end of the next fiscal, says Varma.