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Saturday, September 23, 2023


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SALT Attire’s Dipti Tolani expects 200% growth in 2 years

Founded by Dipti Tolani in July 2016, SALT Attire is a homegrown, affordable luxury brand whose main purpose is to give women clothing that has a sense of fluidity; clothes that can move from desk to dinner, functionally and aesthetically.

The brand focuses on clean-cut designs with finer detailing that make all of its clothing comfortable, chic, and sophisticated. Its core philosophy is simple and straightforward – to design a nine-to-nine wardrobe for its target customer base.

Salt Attire addresses a crucial market gap in the fashion sector by understanding the needs of the contemporary woman who needs to move around all day while feeling stylish and at ease. The brand’s take on what the formalwear market for women lacked and why it should change, has stirred a buzz in the industry and put it on top of its retail game in the country and beyond.

In an exclusive interview with IMAGES Business of Fashion, Founder of Salt Attire Dipti Tolani shares insights on her vision behind the brand, its retail journey, future plans, upcoming stores and more.

Excerpts from the exclusive interview…

Tell us why you founded SALT Attire and your vision behind the brand.

I observed and recognized a void within the Indian market concerning premium business casuals and professional attire for women. As the number of women entering the workforce continues to rise, there’s a growing demand for such apparel. This realization led me to conceptualize a comprehensive store catering to clothing needs from 9 AM to 9 PM, where every item selected serves both work and post-work purposes. As I delved into the discrepancy between what working women seek in their attire and what’s available, several key aspects, including design, fabric choice, and fit, became notably apparent. This propelled me into extensive field research, closely studying the industry and the intricacies of the design process.

What is your core business model?

The vision underlying SALT Attire was to establish a singular destination offering high-quality wardrobe solutions for professional women, all while maintaining an affordable women’s workwear brand. We offer our customers an omnichannel experience with our online presence and several stores across Delhi and Mumbai wherein we try to offer a seamless shopping experience to our clients. Salt Attire offers bespoke tailoring services to give our customers their desired fits without compromising on aesthetic and garment qu

What is the range of products that you offer and which is the fastest moving of them all?

Currently, our primary concentration remains on women’s professional attire. Our key product categories are tops, shirts, jumpsuits, co-ords, pants, shirts, blazers, and dresses; these have garnered significant popularity among our clientele. However, there are a couple of categories that undeniably stand out as favorites: Dresses and Pants. Our Dresses stand out due to their cuts and silhouettes, which are exquisitely designed to complement the Indian body structure. As for our Pants, the combination of our fabric choices and impeccable fits has resonated exceptionally well with our Indian customers.

Give us some insights on your plans to venture into the accessories segment

We currently offer jewelry, scarves, and belts, and we’re in the process of expanding into more categories of accessories. This will provide our customers with a comprehensive range of options to achieve a complete and coordinated look.

How important is technology for the fashion retail business? What are the top 3 technologies that you have adopted?

To facilitate efficient large-scale and on-demand production, we’ve developed a resilient technological infrastructure. It automatically populates manufacturing specifications using customer measurements and preferences, eliminating the need for any designer or manual intervention. On the manufacturing front, we provide personalized attire meticulously crafted to individual measurements. Our dashboard employs historical data, forecasts, and customer inclinations to anticipate the success rate of forthcoming designs.

What according to you are the technologies that will drive fashion retail in India in the future?

AI and ML will enhance customer experiences through personalized recommendations, trend analysis, and inventory management. Retailers could use AI to understand customer preferences and tailor their offerings accordingly. 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize fashion retail by enabling on-demand and customizable clothing production. This could reduce waste while offering unique designs. Blockchain technology could be used to improve transparency in the fashion supply chain…The emphasis on sustainability and ethical practices is expected to drive the adoption of various technological solutions, such as supply chain tracking, recycling technologies, and eco-friendly materials.

What are your most recent growth and expansion plans; do you have any upcoming store launches?

We are currently present in Mumbai and Delhi and we’re determined to make our collection accessible to a wider audience. We are looking to expand to other parts of India. This expansion will not only allow us to connect with more people but will also enable us to cater to the evolving fashion needs of PAN India. Currently, we have 5 retail stores: three in Mumbai and two in Delhi-NCR. We have 2 more stores coming up in Saket, New Delhi, and in Noida.

What marketing strategies and initiatives are you undertaking to position yourself for long-term success in the industry?

Our approach encompasses a comprehensive examination encompassing design, product research, and garment development. We delve into the exploration of trends, preferences, and user actions by leveraging insights from social media analytics and interactions with customers. Additionally, we maintain a close partnership with a dynamic PR and marketing agency, ensuring our connectivity with industry dynamics and engagement in trending initiatives, including collaborations with influential figures and bloggers.

Could you share some insights into the thought process behind your store layouts and visual merchandising strategies?

The concept of our color scheme is centered around minimalism, sophistication, and timelessness. The store’s interior design, displays, and fixtures all reflect this brand identity. The neutral color palette allows our merchandise to pop in its vibrant colors and playful prints. We have incorporated digital screens to enhance the customer’s shopping experience and give them an immersive experience.

The store layout is organized into carefully curated zones, each dedicated to a specific fashion category or style. Each zone is designed to evoke a unique atmosphere while maintaining the overarching black and white theme. For instance, we have a wall dedicated to our wide variety of formal fit pants that range from wide leg, bootcut to straight fit and slim fit. This dedicated wall explains the different fits, rise and what would suit their body type, helping customers to explore and shop better.

What sustainable and ethical practices does your brand follow in terms of sourcing materials and manufacturing; do you aim to become a sustainability-first brand?

Most of our styles are designed to be versatile and crafted in premium fabrics to ensure lasting wear, leading it to be an investment rather than an expense. The brand operations are run locally, boosting the local economy, thus empowering the people that work with us. We also don’t keep a large inventory of products but work on a made-to-order module.

Yes, we do aim to become a sustainability-first brand. Our brand is driven by a deep belief in responsible practices that positively impact both the fashion industry and the environment. We prioritize the use of sustainable and eco-friendly materials in all our designs. This includes sourcing organic, recycled, and renewable fabrics that have a reduced environmental footprint compared to conventional materials. Our focus on timeless, versatile designs aims to encourage customers to invest in high-quality pieces that have enduring style and functionality, reducing the demand for frequent replacements.

How would you describe your journey so far in the fashion + retail segment?

I recall plotting a list of manufacturers using Google Maps and traveling across Noida and Gurgaon to personally connect with various manufacturers. It was through persistence and referrals that I eventually connected with the right person, enabling me to create the first four garments. I immersed myself in the manufacturing process, observing and collaborating with workers as they transformed design sketches into finished products. This hands-on involvement provided invaluable operational and business insights, spanning from tailor remuneration to workflow efficiency, and from conceptualizing a clothing item to its realization.

SALT has evolved significantly since those initial steps. We now boast an in-house team responsible for design, development, and production of our clothing line. Our products are available on our website, and we’ve established five brick-and-mortar retail outlets: three in Mumbai and two in Delhi-NCR.

What is SALT Attire’s annual turnover and financial growth prospect over the next 2 years?

Marked by a strategic expansion, this year, we have forayed into online marketplaces while also strategically expanding our offline footprint. We are looking at over 200% growth in this financial year. From an ARR of Rs 4 crore in the last financial year, we are looking at an ARR of over Rs 12 crore in the upcoming financial year.

In the next 2 years, we have planned a rapid expansion in terms of offline and online presence and are looking to be the one-stop shop for women looking for thoughtfully designed fashion forward and premium clothing.

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