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Bespoke men’s suit maker PN Rao plans a separate line, standalone stores for women

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Shiv Joshi
Shiv Joshi
An editor with over 20 years of experience across industry verticals and content formats from tabloids to magazines, he is the Deputy Group Managing Editor at Images Group.

While the long-term plan is to have a separate vertical for women’s business wear, the 100-year old men’s suit specialist PN Rao will begin with offering women’s tailoring at two of its outlets from 1 April

New Delhi: Bengaluru-based fashion brand PN Rao, that offers bespoke tailoring services to men, aims to get into women’s business wear with a goal of opening standalone stores and a ready-to-wear line in the next three years,  a top company official said.

Bespoke men’s suit maker PN Rao plans a separate line, standalone stores for women
Naveen Pishe, partner, PN Rao

Naveen Pishe, partner, PN Rao, told IndiaRetailing in an exclusive interaction the brand will first begin by offering tailoring services for women’s business wear comprising pantsuits, jackets, skirts and shirts at two of its seven outlets from April. The services will be first available at the brand’s MG Road and Indiranagar outlets.

“By the end of the year, the service will be rolled out across all our outlets. It’ll be a premium offering,” Pishe said. “Eventually the PN Rao women’s line will have its own brand name and standalone store.”

PN Rao comes a full circle with its foray into women’s wear after almost a century. This is the second time that PN Rao is entering the women’s wear segment. The brand which is celebrating its centennial year in 2023, had actually started off as a women’s bespoke tailoring brand in 1923 before gaining a reputation as a men’s suit specialist in the following decades.

“My grandfather late Shri Pishe Narayan Rao started this business as a women’s tailor, catering to the wives of British officers posted in our area. There were 16 horse races every season and the ladies needed fresh outfits for every occasion. Soon, he became popular and gained more clientele,” shared the third-generation entrepreneur.

When the British started to leave India in the 1940s, the founder had to change tactics. He moved on to becoming a vendor for the British garrison and got into men’s tailoring. “Then my uncle PN Panduranga Rao got trained as a pattern-making master for menswear. That’s how the business evolved over a period of time, and we got focused on menswear because we were really good at it,” Pishe said.

That said, the brand did cater to a handful of women clients from time to time. The clothes though were made using men’s patterns. “Women’s clothing requires a different kind of handling, right from the pattern to the material and stitching, the pockets, the shoulder pads and lining, for instance. We can’t run it like a menswear business,” said Pishe.

Bespoke men’s suit maker PN Rao plans a separate line, standalone stores for womenAs the brand completes 100 years, Pishe and his partners Machender Pishe, Chandramohan Pishe, Naveen Pishe and Ketan Pishe decided to get into full-blown business wear for women fulltime realizing the latent demand in the market. “We see a huge market that’s going to open up; some of it already has. Companies now have women on their boards in India. Women are taking up leadership roles but they don’t have too many options where they can go to get professional suits made using top-quality fabrics,” explained Pishe.

Pishe explained that the team started the process about a year ago. They hired Paul Verscegen, a third-generation master pattern maker from the Netherlands for the same. Together they are building patterns and trying outfits for the brand’s women’s line.

Eventually, women’s business wear will become a separate vertical with its own CEO, and distributorship, he said.

In addition to this, PN Rao is also looking at aggressive expansion of its existing business. “In the next three to five years our aim is to touch Rs150 to Rs200 crore turnover from the current Rs60 crore with about 15 showrooms to be added in South and West India,” Pishe said.

The geographies the brand is considering for its expansion initially are South India (Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad), Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.

The company has been working on a franchise model where it can use the local knowledge of the franchisee to its advantage and reduce investments.

It will follow a hub and spoke model for tailoring while all other apparel will be centrally manufactured at its factory in Bengaluru, which is fully-powered by a 120kw solar plant, according to Pishe.

 

 

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