Athleisure segment poised to grow 30 pc Y-o-Y: Afsar Zaidi, Co-Founder, HRX

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HRX, India’s homegrown active wear brand, was founded in November 2013 by Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan and Exceed Entertainment in a bid to revolutionise the fitness scenario in India, as a value-for-money, high quality alternative to international brands.

The brand offers a range of products including sports shoes, men’s joggers, T-shirts, backpacks and select womenswear (joggers, sports bras, t-shirts). Product categories include HRX Active Wear, HRX Casual and HRX Yoga and are available on e-commerce platforms including Myntra, Flipkart and Jabong.

Dominated by vibrant colours, HRX’s lightweight products are made of premium fabrics to give the wearer a contemporary fit.

The Hrithik Roshan-backed fashion brand is eyeing Rs 500-crore turnover by 2020 from its apparels and footwear section, fueled by expansion in product categories and offline presence next year.

Talking about this, Afsar Zaidi, Co-Founder, HRX says, “The first store of HRX will be opening in Bengaluru and then we will be expanding to other cities like Pune, Delhi/ NCR and Mumbai.”

The brand is currently weighing both the options – malls and high-streets – to open the stores. The average size of the store is expected to be around 2,000 sq. ft.

“We will continue to sell online through Myntra and Jabong. Offline stores will let consumers touch and feel the product and will help us get instant feedback. This will further increase the scope of product improvement and developing new categories,” states Zaidi.

HRX – which has been growing 100 percent year-on-year – is targeting Rs 300 crore revenue for the current fiscal. According to Zaidi, “Footwear has seen a great upsurge lately. From contributing 35 percent to the overall sales the numbers have gone up to 50 percent.”

Besides this, the company, is looking to foray into personal care, sunglasses and backpack categories as well.

In an exclusive interview with IMAGES Business of Fashion, Afsar Zaidi talks about future of athlesuire wear in India along with the performance of his brand. Excerpts from the chat…

Throw some light on the market size of athleisure wear in India.

The Indian athleisure/ active wear industry is currently estimated at a whopping Rs 8,500 crore. It is expected to continue growing at CAGR of 12 percent and touch expected sales of approximately 6x at Rs 54,000 crore by 2020.

According to you, what are the growth drivers of the athleisure segment in India? 

With Indians becoming more health conscious and image sensitive, their pursuit for fitness has increased. The average age bracket for Indian fitness enthusiasts is 20-35 years, which makes for the majority population of young Indian students and professionals.

To be able to tap into this big chunk of the Indian population with available disposable income and the affinity for fitness, brands have started focusing on active wear/ athleisure segment.

What are the factors limiting the growth of this category in India? 

Any new brand in a credibility driven category like sportswear/ active wear/ performance gear needs a certain incubation period and several trials and errors till it becomes good enough to help athletes, sports people and common people in general for providing performance enhancing features and technical advances. This process takes anywhere between 5-7 years with sustained efforts and focused communication plus constant innovation and improvement before we are home with a credible and acceptable product.

What are the price points at which you sell your athleisure range?

Our average price point is approx. Rs 900. It varies from category to category. We can safely say that any given day our pricing is 30 percent lower than the other big international players in the market.

What are the fabrics that you use for your athleisure range? 

Vibrant styles, signature cuts and lots of mélange would be found in the upcoming capsules. We use fine stretchable, knit, mesh and breathable rapid dry fabrics which are usually finished with N9 and UV protection layers to enable people to train or perform better while in HRX clothing.

What have been the technological advancements and innovation in the athleisure segment at HRX? 

We have recently launched our first performance range of shoes called Metagrip. It has a unique cushioned and light flexible sole enabling runners to run long distance with lesser effort. In clothing it is almost hygiene for us to now provide rapid dry, N9 or anti-microbial layer and UV protection.

How are Tier I and II cities faring in this segment?

Fitness no more is an urban phenomena. The top metros contribute maximum and at the same time other cities like Pune, Lucknow, Jaipur, Indore, Ludhiana etc. are not far behind in their contribution to the fitness industry.

Has e-commerce changed the athleisure game in India? If yes, how? 

E-commerce makes it easier for people to access different products even from distant geographies. One doesn’t need to go to a mall today to shop, even trials and returns are easy given the kind of policies e-commerce players offer.

Price is a clear advantage because e-commerce provides deeper discounting than offline retail. Hence, it works for today’s consumer who is time-pressed anyway and still wants to shop.

What is the future of this category in India? 

Fitness industry in India is a sunrise sector poised to grow at least 30 percent year-on-year.

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