Taliorman, a bespoke men’s wear chain, has come to be known as a sophisticated, progressive fashion and accessories brand. It has nine stores spread across key Indian cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. The brand now adds another dimension to itself, with its all new private label, Revelry.
In a candid interaction with Images Business of Fashion, Co-Founders, Vidya Nataraj and Gautam Golcha, tell how they sought to create an entirely new market in men’s fashion. The ultimate goal is to make Tailorman India’s largest premium men’s wear clothing brand, they say.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves and your entrepreneurial journey.
Gautam Golcha: I hold an Apparel Manufacturing Management degree from Fashion Institute of Technology, New York and have been in the global retail, international sourcing and fashion, for over two decades now. I founded, Silver Crest Clothing, a company which has grown to become South Asia’s largest manufacturer of formal clothing catering to luxury brands such as Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Hugo Boss as well as high-end ateliers on Saville Row with exports to seventeen different countries.
Vidya Nataraj: I come from a retail background. I worked with Landmark, a family business, before we sold it to Tata Trent. Post this, I went on to do my MBA from Insead, France. In 2011, I co-founded online jewellery store BlueStone which has received funding of more than US $30 million from investors, including Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital and Ratan Tata. I then started Tailorman with Gautam. Both startups were a result of my passion for retail.
Brief us on the history and concept of Tailorman.
Vidya Nataraj: We founded Tailorman in early 2013. The first store, along with the web store www.tailorman.com, opened in Bengaluru the same year. Tailorman was created to make high quality, great fitting and trendy men’s wear easily accessible. The idea was to create an entirely new market in men’s fashion – a combination of craftsmanship with the use of the finest fabrics, European style, unbeatable in-store service, 3D online shopping experience and an attainable price bracket, something which the current market did not possess. We moved very quickly on the opportunity, an opportunity which other brands are now catching up with.
What led you to enter the bespoke men’s wear segment?
Gautam Golcha: In our view, there was a clear gap in the market space for affordable, trendy and good-fitting clothes for men. Ready-to-wear clothes are a big compromise for them. In the made-to-measure segment, there were either clothes designed by local tailors where quality suffered due to sub-par fabric and interlining, while the evolved brands do provide great quality, but at ridiculous prices.
What is your business model? Share current presence across sales channels, and define your positioning, target audience.
Vidya Nataraj: Tailorman delivers a seamless Omnichannel approach through 9 stores across Chennai (3), Bengaluru, (4), Hyderabad (1), Kolkata (1). We also provide 3D online shopping at tailorman.com and a fine travelling tailor service experience, as well. Our revenues continue to come predominantly from physical stores.
Gautam Golcha: The positioning has always been for luxury to be accessible at affordable price brackets and multiple channels. Our biggest market is young professionals who want great fitting custom clothing without the unaffordable price tag. We also cater to young educated men on way to turning affluent, sophisticated grown-ups; both with an eye for style and fit. We have an unlimited appeal among the techies, consultants, industrialists and expats.
What kind of opportunity and challenges does the Indian market have for an upmarket bespoke menswear company like yours?
Gautam Golcha: We have an opportunity to address the gap between the local tailoring and made-to-measure brands and increasing awareness of the Indian man in terms of style. Men have started taking themselves seriously and want the top of the line products with distinctive styling; companies have come up with special products for their grooming. However, getting customers to be comfortable enough to measure themselves is one challenge. We need to invest more in technology and help a customer measure himself accurate enough to give a well-fitting garment. The ever-shortening delivery time that customers demand is another.
What can you say about the customer evolution, present demand landscape?
Vidya Nataraj: Since the days of the royals, made-to-measure clothing for men has been in vogue. Recently, this trend has been adopted by many Indians who are embracing it for many occasions, marriage being the most important one. This coupled with increasing preference for customised formal and semi-formal wear, is emerging as a fast-growing business that Tailorman, like others, wants to be a part of.
Many of our customers are those who are about to get married and looking for style or those whose body shape doesn’t suit ready-to-wear garments and therefore had to compromise. About 80 per cent of our customers are those who could have gone for ready-to-wear but opted for Tailorman due to the variety we offer. So, it is a mix of both, the marriage wear segment and the formals and semi-formals.
What makes your brand different? What is the product mix: made-to-measure to ready-to-wear?
Gautam Golcha: Our offerings comprise shirts, suits, jackets, trousers and ethnic wear – casual, formal, semi-formal. We have made-to-measure; personalized approach with 1,000’s fabrics and styles and 100’s of sizes and fits; access to the fabrics from the best international mills, including Zegna, Loro Piana, Scabal and VBC besides Indian and Asian mills; stylists-recommend lightweight linens, exquisite velvets, and handsomely textured wool and silk summer tweeds that result in uniquely refined looks; Ready-to-Wear Collection; ‘Light as a feather’, deconstructed linen sport coats; eye-catching party wear; Travelflex suits with breathable stretch fabric which is wrinkle-shedding – they have multiple hidden pockets and gussets for extra comfort. What’s more, we also have designer collaborations.
We are still highly concentrated towards our core which is made-to-measure. The product mix of made-to-measure to ready-to-wear (RTW) would be 80:20. Though, we are set to launch RTW in a big way in the coming months.
Elaborate on your efforts to introduce well-crafted, quality products.
Gautam Golcha: We offer the highest quality – crafted on the same production lines as US $500 shirts and US $2000 suits you see in high-end boutiques all around the world. We offer perfect fit and easy re-order through state-of-the-art automation, ensuring that the errors rife in manual processes are minimised. State-of-the-art manufacturing and cutting technology allow us to generate and store a customer’s individual patterns in order to re-create the exact fit each time they make a purchase.
Tell us about your newly launched private label, Revelry. What is its USP?
Vidya Nataraj: The growing demand for designer wedding/ ceremonial wear coupled with bringing out the talent of niche designers is what gave birth to Revelry. In the literal sense it means celebration, celebrating the modern man who has Indian roots but an international taste.
It suits every palate – ranging from innovative and modern designs to elegant, timeless couture – using only the finest fabrics and materials. Owing to this, the collection is a composite of bandhgalas, Nehru jackets, achkans, kurtas, pathanis and breeches that are high on style and relevance. Revelry will encompass collections by Tailorman’s in-house designers, as well as novel designers like Sounak Sen Bharat and Rohit Kamra. This confluence of creative styles will look to bring couture into each Tailorman retail store, whilst making luxury more accessible. From soiree’s to the red carpet to festivities, Revelry caters all.
Walk us through the Tailorman store, how is the ambience like?
Vidya Nataraj: We have a simplistic and sophisticated approach towards the look and feel of our stores. You may find some jazz classics playing when you enter, it adds to the overall aura. Attention to detail is always our high priority.
How are you creating synergy between online and offline channels, and leveraging technology in retail operations?
Gautam Golcha: Our online-offline sales ratio is 20:80. However, with our further investment in technology and new website coming up, we are looking to ramp up sales through the online platform. Our online presence along with the offline one, we are able to cater to different customers in different cities across the globe.
We are investing significantly in technology to strengthen our backend processes. The website is already attracting customers far and wide, from both Tier-II and -III cities like Mysore and Surat, and international markets like the US, France and Australia. We plan to streamline and automate the order taking process in terms of the accuracy of fits made by our masters, inputs given by the store managers and implementing feedback from customers. Revamped website will be launched soon.
What about the marketing approach? How are you engaging with the customers?
Vidya Nataraj: Up till now, we have not heavily invested in marketing. Our core offering is of so much value to the customers that it draws their attention automatically. Word of mouth has been one of the most efficient tools that helped us increase our customer base. For our customers to experience madet-to-measure themselves and increase awareness in the menswear category across different markets, we do intend to invest in marketing further.
Please share your key learnings so far and the plans for the coming future.
Vidya Nataraj: We have learnt that staying close to the customer is all that matters. Men value ‘Fit and Time’ and by meeting the need for clothes that fit well with a fast and easy buying process, we have built very strong brand loyalty. The success of Tailorman indicates that Indian men were waiting for quality products, which are also trendy, fun and unorthodox.
We aim to make Tailorman India’s largest premium menswear clothing brand and have 30 stores by 2018. We also believe that growing our online channel will be the key to achieving this goal.