The women’s fashion retail in India has broadened from basic salwar-kameez and jeans and T-shirts to designer wear with emphasis on styling and comfort. With rising incomes, passion for fashion and need for comfort, this segment has evolved greatly over the last few years and is poised to grow even more in the near future.

And who better to understand the business of women’s casual wear than the women who wear it? IndiaRetailing brings you women leaders in the casual wear and lingerie retail segment in India who are making a difference and are crucial in building successful businesses.

To know more about these women in fashion retail meet them at 20th India Fashion Forum.

1. Lavanya Nalli, President, Nalli

7 top women in fashion retail

Lavanya Nalli is a Harvard and McKinsey Alumni. She started her career with the Nalli Group – a US $100 million national retail chain – focusing on new business developments and growth opportunities, retail store operations, and private-label.

She launched a sub-brand that penetrated untapped markets, and incubated a venture that empowered artisanal communities by bringing design-led products to market. During her tenure, Nalli doubled its revenues, and expanded from 14 to 21 stores.

She graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA in 2011, and worked at McKinsey & Company (Chicago) advising CXOs of Fortune 500 companies on issues ranging from top-line growth and profit improvement initiatives, change management programs and multi-channel strategy.

2. Nina Lekhi, MD and Chief Design Curator, Baggit

7 top women in fashion retail

Nina Lekhi, an entrepreneur by profession and a role model for many aspiring young women entrepreneurs started her journey of success from scratch. Her positive attitude, cheerful and upbeat nature always endeared her to her friends, family and colleagues.

From a young age, she was passionate about painting which inspired her to take up a diploma foundation art course at Sophiya’s. But in her initial years she had to face upheavals and this experience ignited a spark within her and a determination to be successful. It also gave her a lot of clarity on her business vision.

Balancing two part time courses – one in textile and another in interior decoration along with a job as a salesgirl on the side; she learnt a lot of important lessons and gained customer insights on the shop floor. Her immense positive energy and strong passion to succeed drove her vision. She picked up the tools of the trade very quickly and started on a journey in 1985 called ‘Baggit’ which is now one of the leading handbag brand in India.

Lekhi is a stronger believer of ‘beauty without cruelty’ which motivated her to put together a cruelty free brand. This futuristic vision of hers has made Baggit stand apart from others and has also gained awards and recognition for the brand. Lekhi has not only earned credits for her brand but also has been acknowledged by the State of Maharashtra with the prestigious Business Karmayogini Award for her excellence in the field of women entrepreneurship. Lekhi was conferred Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2015 by Hon’ble Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajiv Pratap Rudy. Her achievements in the field of women entrepreneurship was been featured in the book ‘Follow Every Rainbow’ by renowned writer Rashmi Bansal.

In her personal life she is a strong follower of Siddha Samadhi Yoga that inculcates a balance of inner peace and tranquility with the functioning of daily life and business. Lekhi not only follows it in her personal life but has also instilled these practices within her organization.

3. Apeksha Patel, CEO, DEAL Jeans

7 top women in fashion retail

Born to a businessman having strong hold in garment industry, fashion has always been imbibed in her genes and she knew where she belonged to in the future. That’s why she chose to pursue Fashion Designing and cracked her first job at the age of 18. That achievement in itself was worth all the celebrations but she rather took it as an opportunity and gave all the possible efforts in understanding various segments in her role.

A journey that began at a mere age of 18 years as a fashion designer at Deal Jeans holds great pride in being acknowledged as the CEO of Deal Jeans today. After gaining substantial experience at Deal Jeans through this journey, Apeksha Patel decided to launched a fashion accessories brand, E2O Fashion in 2012 that complements with the apparel line and fills the void in accessories segment which back then had few players.

This art of putting herself out there with a sense of self-assurance has been instrumental in being a woman of substance today.

4. Jacqueline Kapur, CEO, Ayesha Accessories

7 top women in fashion retail

The multi-talented and multi-faceted Jacqueline Kapur dons many hats with practiced ease. The mother of two, homemaker, equestrian sportsperson, businesswoman and star mom was born in Germany and moved to Pondicherry in 1989. She studied Japanese at the University of Bochum and the Japanese Language Institute in Tokyo, Japan.

She started Hidesign’s garment division in 1989. She oversaw and designed the jackets for Hidesign till 2005-06. She runs Casablanca one of India’s first multi-brand department stores which opened in 1999. With Titanic she opened up her personal shopping paradise to the people of Pondicherry in 2000.

Equestrian sport has been Jacqueline’s personal passion since early childhood. In 2000 Jacqueline and a group of friends started The Red Horse Riding School (RERS) with 2 horses only. In 2009 RERS was proud to host the Junior National Equestrian Championship and is home to nearly 30 horses.

Ayesha, her daughter, often accompanied Jacqueline on her merchandising trips and enjoyed the process of sourcing interesting jewellery and artifacts. Over time Casablanca’s hot selling accessories section became a fusion of Ayesha and Jacqueline’s tastes. In 2010 Ayesha and Jacqueline started their new brand Ayesha Accessories.

5. Ayushi Gudwani, CEO and Founder, FableStreet

7 top women in fashion retail

Ayushi Gudwani is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FableStreet.

Unable to find well-fitted and comfortable western work-wear for herself in the Indian market Ayushi had the vision of manufacturing and delivering international quality work-wear especially designed to fit body types and cater to the like and preference of Indian women.

Having completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Calcutta, she worked with McKinsey & Co. for over six years where she was a Senior Engagement Manager. After working on several public health and welfare projects in Bihar and U.P., she wanted to establish her own venture, one that would create a positive impact and alleviate the challenges associated with fit and sizing for women’s western work-wear. She observed that there was an untapped potential in the professional work-wear space for women in the Indian market.

She then undertook an extensive, hands-on R&D program wherein she spoke to and measured over a 1,000 Indian women in order to understand the problems associated with the western work-wear options available in the Indian market. She was able to identify the commonalities and distinctness of shapes and sizes amongst Indian women. After accumulating an invaluable data pool on the various types of body shapes, she devised a ‘Tailor Fit’ algorithm that requires just 3 body measurements (chest, waist and hip) along with the height to extrapolate the remaining measurements with great accuracy. With the algorithm in place and having interned over a course of six months in an apparel house to understand the construction and sizing of garments, she founded FableStreet in 2016.

Sensing the opportunity she was able to take advantage of the e-commerce boom, lack of good work-wear in the Indian market, increase in the number of women who prefer to wear western attires in the workforce and her vast knowledge to carve out a niche for herself in the Fashion and Lifestyle E-commerce sector.

She has since assumed the role of team builder and visionary to pave the way for FableStreet with a keen eye on the development of the product, ensuring uniformity in quality of fabric, stitching and manufacturing of great fitting western work-wear. She is now looking at establishing FableStreet as not only the go-to brand for professional-wear but as transitional work-wear that can be alternated between formal and semi-formal clothing along with a new range of accessories; all while keeping premium quality and, great size and fit in mind.

6. Amisha Jain, CEO, Zivame

7 top women in fashion retail

As the CEO of Zivame, Amisha Jain has always been extremely passionate about building ‘innovation-led’ consumer-centric brand. She is now leading the fastest growing women’s organization for intimate wear and is all set to catapult the business to greater heights.

She is a firm believer of ‘One Team, One Voice’. And this has been her foundation to build teams that are all individually strong and collectively effective at delivering business results.

An alumna of INSEAD and Mckinsey, she has had over 16 years of experience in technology, consumer and retail sectors. Prior to joining Zivame, she was heading the Arvind Sports Lifestyle business and the Digital Centre of Excellence for the Arvind Group. Through the course of her career, she has been leading the growth and transformation initiatives for various multinational consumer goods, and apparel brands.

During her stint as the Head of Sales at Nike, she was also chosen for the prestigious ‘40 under 40: India’s Hottest Business Leaders 2015’ and ‘India Inc’s rising women business leaders 2015’ award by the Economic Times & Spencer Stuart, respectively.

7. Tanvi Malik, Co-CEO and Co-founder, Faballey and Indya

7 top women in fashion retail

Tanvi is an Economics graduate from Lady Shri Ram College and an MBA from MICA Ahmedabad. She has worked at L’Oreal for the launch and retail expansion of their luxury brand Lancome and at Titan Industries Limited where she worked as an Asst. Sales & Retail Manager in Mumbai before moving on to a Brand Manager role for Titan’s high-end watches.

At FabAlley, she is responsible for setting up the entire website, from design to functionality, leading the brand’s marketing efforts, especially the Abby-award winning “Unfollow” campaign & heading the design team to ensure FabAlley’s products remain edgy & design-differentiated.