American Swan, an online fashion and lifestyle brand exuding American spirit and lifestyle, can be best described as youthful, urbane and casually chic. Having become a rage in India, the brand is mulling overseas expansion next year.
Not so long ago, The American Swan Lifestyle Company (TASLC), a Gurgaon-based fashion and apparel-led lifestyle company, came up with ‘American Swan’, an online urban fashion and lifestyle brand. TASLC is a subsidiary of ‘To The New Ventures’ (TTN), a premium internet products company creating and operating businesses targeted at social and mobile-first customers. With expertise in emerging markets, especially China, India and ASEAN region, TTN has a network of end-to-end digital services, specialising in social, mobile analytics, content and knowledge areas. No wonder, the promoters decided to launch American Swan online.
Anurag Rajpal, Director and CEO, TASLC, states, “The idea of American Swan was conceived in 2012, seeing a dearth of authentic western designed but reasonably priced casual wear in the Indian market for young, smart and savoir-faire Indian consumer who are part of a global workforce. The brand is inspired by chic urban Americana lifestyle and the styling is markedly modern and trendy, with focus on design, innovation, quality and affordability. Our journey has been quite exciting so far. We plan to scale up and continue to be customer-focused.”
The brand has been creating ripples in the Indian fashion space ever since its inception, having caught the fancy of hordes of young fashion enthusiasts who seem to live by the maxim ‘clothes maketh the man’ and regard clothing as an expression of one’s unique spirit and individuality. With 100 percent online distribution, American Swan mainly retails through its official online store (www.amiercanswan.com); it is today among the front runners in its segment. Additionally, it is available on other known online shopping portals also, namely Snapdeal, Jabong, Amazon, Myntra, Fashionandyou, etc. Its casual yet elegant apparel and accessories range caters to both men and women living in urban and semi-urban India, with the age group of 18 to 35 as its core clientele. “This segment is fashion aware and privy to global brands and trends. It aspires for international brands but is price-sensitive and seeks value for money,” notes Rajpal. “Our brand has been very well received across cities with positive consumer feedback around its range, quality and customer service,” he informs.
Talking about the current state of the Indian fashion industry, Rajpal says that the industry at present is undergoing significant changes as the online retail has disrupted the traditional brick-and-mortar ecosystem in tier -I and -II cities.
Describing the highs and lows of e-commerce, he says, “On the higher side, online retail allows the brands for quick market penetration and enables them to cater to the pulse of young buyers. The consumers also benefit as it provides convenience of shopping, ease of SKUs availability, attractive deals and discounts, etc. On the lower side, while the model is grappling with increasing fulfillment costs, the tier-III cities and smaller towns are still off its radar.” However he affirms, “Our audiences are digitally savvy and connected on social media and we have strongly established ourselves to cater to the aspirational quotient of modern day buyer.”
American Swan’s rapid rise to success as the country’s leading online fashion destination is noteworthy. It achieved a gross merchandise value or GMV of roughly `40 crore during the first year of operation; Rs. 70 crore in the second year and projections for the third year are pegged at Rs. 300 crore.
Giving insights into the brand’s own online store operations, Rajpal explicates, “Our website encourages registered users so that we can provide targeted service, integration into our future loyalty program as well as provide our members with regular updates on our brand, new launches and unique content. However it’s our attempt to keep our website high on usability and user experience. We have a guest checkout as well as a social login for one-time users who wish to purchase without having to register. Regular fulfillment allows us to offer free shipping and most of our orders get delivered within 3-5 working days. What we additionally offer as a choice to our users is the option of gift packaging, express delivery, overnight delivery and delivery by appointment which allows a user to specify what time slot they would like to receive the product.” As per him, the customers can select from various payments methods as in cash-on-delivery (COD), internet banking or through credit and debit cards. “We also have a unique feature of allowing a customer to cancel an order within an hour of placing it. Though we treat this as a convenience factor, we hope that a person who shops with us does not have second thoughts”, he quipped, adding that the company’s returns policy is also very customer centric and it accepts returns on all products except jewelry and socks (for hygiene reasons). To make the process hassle-free, they take care of all the arrangements to facilitate the same at no extra cost.
Being an online brand, American Swan constantly strives over innovation in technology (IT in particular). Rajpal apprises, “We are following mobile-first approach. We have a mobile responsive site and we are in process of setting up an app for iOS and android”.
The USP of American Swan lies in offering a refreshing twist to ‘preppy fashion’. It offers an exceptional range of men’s and women’s apparel, accessories and footwear at affordable smart prices. Rajpal points out, “We have got the lowest prices that you’ll find around. We keep our margins low for our customers who would like us for this.” In apparel, the product range includes t-shirts, tops, polo, shirts, denims, trousers, leggings, jackets, sweat shirts, sweaters and alike whereas the footwear collection consists of casual leather sneakers, boat shoes, moccasins, wedges, ballerinas, etc. In accessories, one can pick from a wide range of watches, eyewear, totes, bags, belts, wallets, socks, jewelry, scarves and so forth.
Moreover, a greater focus on design and development enables the company to churn out distinctive merchandise that generates wider consumer interest. Rajpal shares, “We study the latest trends and forecast evolution of trends, and use latest technologies like WGSN and Style Sight. After launching, collection AS Core (for 25-35 age group), we launched AS Original (for 18-24 age group) with Americana styles.”
The brand brings in specific collections on a regular basis. Like this year’s spring-monsoon collection of apparels and accessories in colourful hues and flowery prints; or a ‘travel range’ for vacationers that comprises stylish and smart range of t-shirts (for both men & women), shorts, skirts, scarves, jumpsuits, backpacks, shoes and other accessories, and all priced within Rs. 3,000. And its latest offering, the Fuchcha’s range, caters to college goers through an array of products such as trendy crop-tops, printed trousers, sling bags, stylish bagpacks, glares and classy jewelry, with prices upto Rs. 2,000.
Marketing and promotions
Recognising that online retail is witnessing a heavy overlap with social networking and search due to aggressive marketing and strong inclination towards social commerce, American Swan’s marketing strategy is to build a customer base through a strong digital marketing and activation approach. It is fairly active on social media so as to engage with more and more people. Rajpal maintains, “We are very focused on our core target audience – the young, dynamic, digitally conscious and well-connected denizens of urban and semi-urban areas. We understand that the segment we cater to has rapidly growing aspirations in both professional and personal spheres and have clear and defined loyalties towards brands. We are also mindful that it is aware of global trends and willing to spend on ‘experiences’ and for a value that goes beyond price: for fashion, convenience, service, innovation or quality.”
Of late, the company has been vigorously promoting the brand through celebrity endorsements and music-tie ups. Young Bollywood heart throbs Siddharth Malhotra, Kriti Sanon, Tiger Shroff and Shruti Haasan have endorsed the brand. Adds Rajpal, “We launched a music video featuring Siddharth Malhotra and Kriti Sanon in a song called “As I am” composed by Meet Brothers, sung by Benny Dayal and Jankee Parekh, and choreographed by Remo D’Souza. It has already got four million views on YouTube. The song was featured in reality show – Nach Baliye on Star Plus.”
Apropos competition, Rajpal opines that it always exists and keeps the brand and marketers on their toes. Everyone wants to outperform rivals and do well. The key to success is to stay completely customer friendly and spot the fashion, lifestyle and youth trends early on, he says. So what’s next? After home market success, the brand is gearing up for expansion overseas as Rajpal shares, “As of now, we are growing month-on-month in India and this will keep us busy for the better part of the current year. Next year, we intend to introduce American Swan to newer geographies such as Middle East, China, South-East Asia.”