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Century-old suitmaker PN Rao to take its ready-to-wear range online

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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.

The 1923-established brand is also working on expanding its footprint in South and West India and considering launching a franchise model

New Delhi: Bengaluru-based bespoke suit specialist PN Rao, which was established in 1923, is planning to take its ready-to-wear products online, partner Ketan Pishe told IndiaRetailing. “The company is working on setting up an online presence for its ready-to-wear brands which should be fully operational in the next 6-8 months,” Pishe said.

Other plans include expanding its footprint and launching a franchise model.

“In the next 3 to 4 years, PN Rao has envisioned adding about 15 more showrooms across South and Western India with a vision to record 60 – 70% revenue growth in the same period,” shared Pishe. The cities the brand is looking at are Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune, the other partner Naveen Pishe told IndiaRetailing in an interaction last year.

“We are on track to bringing this to reality. To begin with, we are in the process of signing up a store in Hyderabad this financial year,” added Ketan Pishe.

While the brand still holds on to its traditional values and heritage, it embraces modernity by aggressively harnessing social media platforms to promote its clothing line.

The company has been working on a franchise model where it can use the local knowledge of the franchisee to its advantage. Naveen Pishe had explained earlier that the idea is to follow a hub and spoke model for tailoring while centrally manufacturing other apparel at its factory in Bengaluru, which is powered by a 120kw solar plant, a first-of-its-kind initiative.

“We have received expressions of interest for setting up franchisee formats. We will evaluate them and arrive at a decision at an appropriate time,” Ketan Pishe said.

With bespoke suits starting from Rs18,000, the brand is one of the few in the segment that is still standing strong with seven stores across Bengaluru (5) and Chennai (2) and a current revenue of Rs 60 crore under the leadership of cousins and partners Naveen and Ketan Pishe, grandsons of the company’s founder.

In addition to bespoke suits, the brand is also into made-to-measure and ready-to-wear (priced at Rs13,000 onwards) offering full suits in different colours, fabrics and designs. It offers achkan, business wear, ceremony wear, ethnic wear, long suits, smart casuals and tuxedos. Over and above these, P N RAO also deals in fabrics for trousers, shirts, coats and others.

“On the product front, we have reimagined the traditional South Indian dhoti (achkan), questioning the way it has been worn and we have attempted to give it a chic, fashionable and modernistic look appealing to the younger generations of today and make it a fashion statement,” shared narrated Ketan Pishe, Partner at the company.

Naveen and Ketan Pishe, parnters at PN Rao
Naveen and Ketan Pishe, parnters at PN Rao

Coming a full circle

As the brand celebrated its centenary last year, it came a full circle to where it had started—offering bespoke services for women. When it was incepted in 1923 by the late Pishe Narayan Rao, PN Rao started as a ladies’ wear brand, dressing up the erstwhile British ladies who went to the races. “Each season had 16 races and the ladies would tailor 16 dresses—one for each race,” narrated Pishe.

When the British started leaving India in the late 1940s and early ’50s, the founder’s eldest son Panduranga Rao learnt the art of pattern making of men’s suits and eventually P N RAO branched off fully into men’s suits. In May last year, PN Rao previewed the women’s wear range at a glittering fashion show and launched Bespoke for Women’s wear at its M G Road store which remains its flagship store for a century. “We have a specialized Master Tailor as well a stylist who can guide a lady walking into the store looking for a suit. And we are seeing a constant flow of ladies into our store clocking over 100 ladies over the past 4-5 months,” shared Pishe.

International reach

The brand boasts patrons from across the world who are its loyal customers—a mix of individual as well as B2B customers. “We also cater to suit sellers in countries like Australia and Africa for whom we make made-to-measure suits for their customers. We also make ready-to-wear suits for them to sell in their stores,” shared Pishe.

 

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