Rachna Aggarwal


Indus League, a division of Future Lifestyle Fashions Limited
Rachna Aggarwal, an MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad, started her career with Coats Viyella Plc. She worked on Van Heusen and went on to launch Allen Solly in 1993, when she introduced the concept of `Friday Dressing’ to the country, an achievement she regarded as one of her smartest business ideas. Until, as CEO of Indus League, she effected the stunning success story of women’s jeanswear brand Jealous 21.
In 1999, Aggarwal co-promoted the venture capital funded brand-marketing firm, Indus-League Clothing Ltd along with seven other colleagues. It was acquired by The Future Group in 2005, and Aggarwal took over as CEO of Indus League in 2008.
As a division of Future Lifestyle Fashions Limited, Indus League now designs, manufactures and retails readymade apparel and accessories under multiple brands, including Indigo Nation, Scullers, Urbana, Jealous 21, Urban Yoga, Privilege Club, Mohr, Lombard, John Miller, Giovani and Mother Earth and licenses international brands such as Daniel Hechter and Manchester United in India.

[“Allowing people to think and work like entrepreneurs is really about organisational culture”]

“We bought the Jealous brand for a crore of rupees in April 2005. Today, Jealous 21 is a Rs 200-crore specialist women’s jeanswear brand,” Aggarwal says. “One of the factors of this incredible growth is our innovation on sizing — three different hip fits for a single waist size. Driven by this sizing re-think — conceptualised to tailor the product for Indian women’s shapes — the hip-fit innovation has definitely been an achievement!”
Making the transition from entrepreneur to employee came with apprehensions, but Aggarwal credits Future Group, and especially founder Kishore Biyani, for supporting Indus League with its vast infrastructural power and operational experience, while also offering tremendous operational and intellectual freedom to the Indus League team.
“They have allowed us to maintain a separate identity. We’re still called Indus League, and have a lot of freedom and independence to continue the Indus League sensibility,” she states. “Allowing people to think and work like entrepreneurs is really about organisational culture. And Future Group is characterised by this mindset — letting people dream for the long haul, not just for annual targets, and letting them make mistakes on the way.”
As someone who has made a remarkably successful transition from entrepreneur to employee and has converted change to opportunity, what is her advice to Indian retailers beset by the dramatic upheavals brought on by technology and e-commerce?
“The most successful and relevant companies are smart enough to recognise the writing on the wall,’ she says, “and they adapt, fast. Many of the global giants from 50 or even 30 years ago are either extinct or a shadow of their former selves. Why? Because they simply did not accept in time that the marketplace had changed.”
“Instead of swimming against the current, Indian retailers need to accept that the consumer universe has transformed, and be wise enough to convert change into a new opportunity.”
By Nupur Chakraborty