Pepe Jeans London was launched in the year 1989 in India and over the years, the brand has become synonymous with denim fashion and casual wear in the country, all the while growing at a breakneck speed. The brand now has decided to foray into a new category – Innerwear. Their innerwear category, dubbed ‘Innerfashion’ was successful in the southern region of the country where it was initially launched, and the brand is now planning on venturing north.
Currently, the collection is available at 1,200+ multi brand outlets, 110 Pepe Jeans exclusive brand stores, select departmental stores, along with e-commerce portals like Amazon, Myntra and Flipkart.
Suresh Nambiar, Chief Executive Officer, Pepe Jeans Innerfashion is positive that the brand will receive the same amount of appreciation which it got from the initial launch in the South, stating that Pepe has always worked on strategic progression by tapping new markets across each region having immense growth potential.
Excerpts from the interview:
Why did a renowned denim wear brand like Pepe Jeans decide to enter the innerwear category?
Pepe Jeans London has been at the forefront of international denim-led fashion for the past 45 years. The entry into the innerwear segment is a natural extension for us to get to the same consumer base and drive on that success.
Pepe Jeans entered into an agreement with Dollar Industries in 2017. When we started doing research and development, as a global brand we realised that the business model, focus and the DNA required in innerwear is extremely different for innerwear and apparel. It is very important that you tie-up with somebody who understands the nuances and who already has the DNA of a good innerwear brand. We went about looking in the market and met a lot of partners and finally shortlisted on Dollar Industries. Dollar Industries has manufacturing units in Kolkata, Tirupur, Delhi and Ludhiana, and it enjoys a 15 percent market share in the branded hosiery segment in India. Together, we will be investing Rs 70 – 75 crore into building this category to the next level.
With many well-established fashion players entering the segment, what is your approach to the competition?
There will be competition with many brands actively participating in the category. Earlier there were limited brands and customers were loyal to their respective brands. They accepted black and white undergarments for a long time, unlike customers today who ask for trends, colours, fabrics, etc., and are keen to experiment with new styles and fabrics. We are actually going with that fl ow and trying to invent and innovate within that requirement.
Having said this, our advantage over the new entrants is that we have a brand salience already working for us across the country. And with regards to competing with existing brands we believe that we will understand the trends, be aware of consumer preferences, recognize competition and be completely focused and work each day as it comes.
How is the innerwear market evolving in India?
If you look at the market per se, till about recently, there were not too many players in the innerwear category. It is just recently that a lot of players have come in. Consumers today are more conscious, more aware and they are demanding unlike 10 years ago when they bought plain undergarments and were loyal to one brand.
Who are your target customers?
Through Pepe Jeans Innerfashion, we are targeting 18 to 40 years old consumers who are exposed to digital media and global trends. The consumers might be already using certain brands but at the same time are aware of and use Pepe Jeans.
What is your pricing strategy?
Considering our quality, trends and feel, we have kept the positioning absolutely mid-premium and premium. We have attempted to keep the price band very aggressive. We are at par with mid premium brands that are available in the country.
What will be your retail strategy?
We have started the placement of products across North India and will complete the launch by the end of the calendar year. The plan is not just to sell through the exclusive brand outlets only. We are will be present through hosiery multi brand stores, which is a huge marketplace when it comes to the Indian context. There is also the departmental store business wherein Pepe Jeans is a strong brand. Also, e-commerce is moving at a very fast pace and we are already available online, where we see good traction. So, the strategy is to make the product available across multiple channels. Currently, we are available in 1,200 points-of-sale in South India in about 75 cities. Now we intend to enter North India – starting with Delhi and various other cities around it.
Tell us about your marketing and promotion plans.
Our brand salience is extremely strong and that makes very easy for us in terms of connecting with the consumer. We just need to remind the ardent Pepe Jeans’ enthusiasts to take advantage of this brand loyalty and come to us for innerwear too. In this regard, we have been investing in digital, outdoor, BTL and in-store activities, etc. We are trying to communicate to our consumers that a category like innerwear can also be fashionable.