Hidesign is a brand that has become synonymous with high-quality leather accessories such as bags, belts, and wallets. What began as a hobby of entrepreneur Dilip Kapur in 1978 has seen its revenue grow from Rs.11.3 crore in fiscal year ended March 31, 2010 to Rs.97.72 crore in fiscal year ended March 31, 2014.
Hidesign bags are made of the best vegetable tanned leathers, coupled with solid brass metal hardware – a complete ‘Make in India’ initiative. In an exclusive conversation, President, Hidesign, Dilip Kapur shares insights about the brand.
Where does the accessories industry stand right now? What are the current trends?
Like most new economies, India has seen a tremendous change in the consumer landscape in the past decade. With more access to lifestyle stores, newer brands, more fashion programs and a burgeoning fashion industry, the average consumer has become a lot savvier. They are well read and on-the-ball with global trends, expect great quality and service and want their money’s worth. The rising awareness has been a boon for the retail industry, with more and more consumers making the right decision of picking up an eco-friendly product, which may be less polluting, easily recyclable or promotes sustainability.
The shoe segment is top-selling and most growing in the accessory industry followed by bags and handbags. The major growth driver in this industry in the recent times is the adoption of social media tools by retailers as well as high e-shopping tendency among the people.
Is this a separate industry or still an add-on industry to clothing and apparel?
The accessories market has evolved and shifted base from functionality to being a prime attraction. From handbags to sunglasses to shoes to even hair ornaments, the accessories industry works in tandem with the apparel industry. For me personally, one is incomplete without the other, which is why you will witness most of the apparel brands whether Indian or international having an accessories section as well.
Men and women are demanding accessories that add style and colour to their wardrobe. It is no longer just a necessity but is an expression of one’s personality and sense of style.
Give us a brief understanding of the journey of the brand.
While studying in the States, I had taken an internship with this leather factory for a few months. This short stint was what made me re-look at leather and became a lifelong passion for me. I decided to return to Auroville and wondered what to do next. To keep myself occupied I started making leather bags. What started as a hobby soon caught on the interest of people passing by and I landed up with larger orders.
Hidesign was born out of the need to be distinct from the uniformity and synthetic flatness of the mass market. It was almost like giving shape to my instinctive aversion to painted, patented leathers that lose all semblance of naturalness. Hidesign’s brand values are always consistent and provide Hidesign a unique identity and great customer loyalty.
Share details about the product portfolio, USP, TG and market share.
Product Portfolio: Every Hidesign product is uniquely handcrafted. There is no mass manufacture at Hidesign, we have a heritage of fine craftsmanship with a team of three-six artisans individually handcrafting each product. Our brand carries immediate credibility among customers, and the product quality is a key differentiator since we control it from tanning to retail.
USP: We have our own leather tanneries and a loyal set of artisans that understand the brand ethos, therefore we have great leeway to create a product as per our design sensibilities in a sustainable manner. We do not cover its leathers with layers of pigments and paint or emboss it with artificial patterns to hide defects in low quality materials. Nor does Hidesign use electroplated steel or zinc fittings that do not age well.
Also, our customers understand that our brand is an original brand with a unique brand story and a true heritage. Our heritage adds to the premium perception of the brand, and our marketing, for instance the Art of Re-use, the Icon Collection and the ongoing Green Story marketing campaigns, are really among the best and most interesting marketing initiatives.
Target Group: Our TG includes urban, educated men and women ranging from the age of 25- 40 years and is mostly is tech-savvy and a working professional. Our customers tend to have a good understanding of the product and have a fashion sensibility that skews more towards classics. Our TG usually also includes people who have inclination toward environmental sustainability and conservation.
Market Share: Around 20 per cent of the overall revenue comes out of online sales and 55 per cent from brick-and-mortar sales and the remaining comes from multi-brand partners, corporate sales and a wider distribution network.
What are the major trends in India now and how far are those different from the time you have started?
These days, glamour, rather than sedateness, perhaps even ‘nouveau riche’ flaunting of glamour is important in some parts of India, especially north India.
When it comes to the product – Indians love colour far more than the Europeans, while seasonality is less important (look at our constant hot weather). Their taste and self-confidence in Indianness is greater than in the Far East, led by the family-oriented social occasions (especially the huge role large and expensive marriages play) when even the most westernised become very Indian.
A fusion and mingling of Indian design and western themes works well. The soft power of India is greater–as seen through Indian movies, the fusion with which young modern Indians dress in western clothes with Indian tops (kurtis is probably the single biggest item in Indian clothes).
What are the most popular in the product portfolio of your brand?
We take great pride in some of our iconic bags which are legendary for our brand. In 2014, we relaunched 11 of our most beloved bags, calling them ‘The Icons’. These bags with their whimsical designs are individualistic and full of character; they stood for what we loved best – a spirit of adventure, clean designs and the use of natural materials like the Boxy bag which was awarded the ‘Accessory of the Year 1992’ by Accessory Magazine UK and the felicitation of the same was done by none other than, the gracious Princess Diana. Another very iconic bag from Hidesign is the GRaia bag, which has a signature shape that is identifiable with Hidesign,
Elaborate the challenges in the industry and strategy of overcoming those.
The big challenge is that the expansion within India is becoming harder as not many malls are coming up, so now expansion will happen through e-commerce and a lot of our energy will go in international expansion.
The other challenge is the education of the customer and teaching them about quality v/s glam. Glamour, rather than sedateness, perhaps even ‘nouveau riche’ flaunting of glamour is important in some parts of India, especially north India.
Share your plan for the future.
In the next few years, we will have about seven stores coming up. But that’s about it. We will also look to increase the share of its sales through e-commerce platforms.
Currently, we are focusing on Hidesign’s Luxury collection- Atelier Collection is made of exotic Deer and Ostrich leathers. It is segregated under the two categories Champagne and Caviar Collection. The price range of the collection starts from Rs 2,595 onwards and goes up to Rs 25,900.