By  on December 7, 2011

NEW DELHI, India — Savile Row Company, the London-based brand that specializes in shirts for men and women, is making inroads in India.

The brand — which also offers ready-to-wear, accessories and bespoke suits for men — has inked two licensing deals in the region for its Savile Row Company brand and its higher-end 40 Savile Row bespoke line.

“The most exciting market in the world to me is India,” Jeffrey Doltis, managing director of the brand told WWD during an interview here. “It is one of the fastest growing, and we have a lot of faith in this market.”

The first deal is with the Mumbai-based Alok H&A, part of the Alok Industries Group, a textiles supplier. That deal foresees the opening of 50 shops-in-shop for the Savile Row Company by the middle of next year, 10 of which are already open. The shops will all be in Alok H&A stores, and the shirts will be sourced and manufactured by the parent company. The Savile Row Company offers mainly shirts and trousers with the average price of a shirt ranging from 40 pounds to 50 pounds, or $62 to $78 at current exchange.

The licensing deal is for an initial period of five years and could evolve into a joint venture, both parties said.

“We are making the shirts with extreme care and working closely with the design team in London to maintain the quality and style of Savile Row Company,” said Rishabh Raizada, president of Alok H&A.

“It is very important to have a partner who is vertically integrated,” he added. Alok H&A has an understanding of the entire value chain of the industry — from yarn to garments to retail.”

Brighter colors will also be manufactured for the Indian market, Raizada said.

“Traditionally, the colors sold in Europe are more whites, blues and grays, whereas here pinks, light greens and more shades of color are popular. In Punjab, for instance, many men match their turbans with their shirts, so a far wider range of colors is needed here.”

He also said he’s on the lookout for a brand ambassador from Bollywood. “We’re looking at Bollywood because this creates a strong brand recall — that is important in India. Once we have established our positioning, it will not be hard to keep on growing at the market average rate of 15 percent.”

The second deal is for the 40 Savile Row brand, which offers bespoke suits, with an average price of 1,000 pounds, or more than $1,500. The British company has signed that deal with Study by Janak, a high-end Indian retailer. Two shops-in-shop have already opened, while three more are planned for the next two years, in northern India.

Vandy Mehra, the director of Study By Janak, which opened in 1986, said the branded men’s wear market is evolving rapidly. “Tom Ford suits have been very popular,” she said. “We have carefully studied the segment and feel that Savile Row will have a strong market.”

Doltis said he has high hopes for both labels in India: “It may take three to four years to start breaking even, but I’m a patient man. In the next five years, we should have 5 percent of the market in the diffusion range, which makes up 75 percent of the total market,” he said.

Doltis said his target market is made up of 50 million to 60 million men, a figure that is growing at 20 percent a year.

Savile Row Company had an earlier partnership with Forbes Gokak Ltd., which began in 2004 and was terminated amicably two years ago when Forbes closed out its retail business. At the time, Savile Row had five stand-alone stores in New Delhi and Mumbai.

India isn’t the only country in which Savile Row is looking to expand. Doltis, whose family founded the firm in 1938, said Asia — Malaysia and Singapore, in particular — has been a big growth area in recent years. Japan is Savile Row Company’s biggest market outside Europe.

“Japan is responsible for more than $100 million of the global brand sales of more than $250 million,” said Tarun Gupta, managing director of T&A Trade Solutions, a boutique advisory firm that assists companies looking to break into new markets.

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