India in its current size is indeed a large market, and truly gargantuan if we consider the future potential. It is almost like a continent in itself. With its huge diversity, it also has a huge number of consumer groups and each one has a different need. The sum market need in India is exponential higher than anywhere since consumers groups multiplied by need sets create the total market. There are many apparel brands that have acquired substantial scale and these brands which are sizable like to have higher and higher share of this market of many markets. That’s the dream that every big brand pursues and we at Peter England are no different.

For long, India was a shirt country. It held only latent opportunities for brands to apply the process
of segmentation with any hope of mass acceptance. That said, we at Peter England have always had the fundamental wisdom to avoid becoming a product category centric brand. We believe in evolving and being able to continually connect to consumers, and becoming not just a complete wardrobe but diversified multiple-wardrobe brand. That is the road to continuous relevance and surely the quest for every brand should be to be as widely relevant an apparel label as possible. Recently, the market has indeed responded and segments that weren’t there say 10 years ago have emerged. More positively, the market has grown with every segmentation movement. India bottom-wear, in particular and the preferences within it have substantially evolved over these years. Categories such as polyester viscose, cotton, wrinkle-free, formal viscose, washed cotton, chinos, and premium or aspirational terylene and rayon trousers; woolen plus and woolen blended trousers and a huge variety in jeans as a form of bottom-wear; are getting accepted and defining the bottom-wear category in India. It is quite clearly evident that the bottom- wear market has grown substantially.

We are today one of the largest menswear brand in India and sell more than 10 million garments every year through almost 600 EBOs and 2,000 plus MBOs, spread across 350 towns.

What we are today and where we are headed is largely due to a back to drawing-boards initiative that we undertook in FY 2011-12. It was then when we decided to take a complete re-look at what we are and the fashion we make. We realised that we were a part premium brand, which meant that we were neither fully premium nor fully mass. Rather than swinging either way, we decided to capitalise on the advantage. Thus began the process of re-creating ourselves as a “mass premium” brand. With this definition in mind we embarked upon a journey of learning and experimentation that began to show fruits an year later in FY 2012-13. Besides other areas, a large focus of the experiments was on denims. We were determined to create a mass premium jeans brand for the younger consumer. We knew that we were onto something that would generate a new category that was cut-out for the long haul.

There was a certain method to be followed. Perfecting fits was an issue and we did several series of actual consumer trials. We worked with the finest experts and systematically looked at the competition even
the future emergent when we benchmarked several international brands. All along we insisted though that Peter England denims were to be “mass premium.”

This meant that every jeans had to have a soul. We insisted that every jeans at Peter England had a certain amount of innovation and design principle applied in it. Each pair of jean was to be different and there had to be some guiding principal philosophy in it. This philosophy may be fashion based, fusion based or sustainability based. For example, a certain Peter England jeans is made with cross look with corduroy, some jeans are extremely colourful and they stay bright over a long period of time, and some get brighter when one starts using them. We also have a very special line of premium jeans comparable to the finest available anywhere in the world. We call these jeans ‘Best Jeans’. These are my personal favorites too.

Technological is the empowering force behind the progress in every Peter England jeans. We even went ahead and took the next step. We created a denim-oriented retail model that revolved around the jeans as the core. The whole process was a completely internal and homegrown experiment as we wanted to see how a casual theme performs in comparison to the traditional mix. The first experimental store was opened in Phoenix Mall, Bengaluru, and subsequent ones followed. We were pleasantly surprised that the results were satisfactorily close to what our brand delivers in our traditional well- entrenched stores.

While the percentage margins that accrue from denims are comparatively lower than our formalwear, however, the absolute margin you get from a piece of denim apparel are quite healthy since it is a now a value-added category. It is because you are selling a premium product. For say, today one doesn’t buy a jeans which is below `1,500 but one can buy a shirt for `1,000 or lower. The 50 percent pricing differentials adds to a healthy accrual. So, it is a product which is 50 percent more premium than shirt. And, it is not just these absolute margins that convinced us about denims. The denims have a massive impact on the other categories that are sold in the store.

Every brand has two types of consumers – current and potential. Jeans as a category performs for both. Firstly, the brand creates jeans to meet the latent need of current customers. But, while buying a pair of jeans they also buy t-shirt, belt, jacket and that is a welcome value-addition. Secondly, when a brand launches jeans, a lot of new customers come in. They were not the brand’s customers before. So, here is a new customer coming into buy jeans and this customer is also ultimately buying a pair of casual shirt, t-shirt, belt, etc., apart from the jeans he came into buy.

Denims are definitely a venture that helps from both sides, meeting the demand of existing customers and ability to attract new customers. That’s purely from the business side. On the soul side, such categories help the brand re-invent itself within the process of learning about a new product category. So, besides the opportunity to deal with completely new set of consumers that had not yet come to the brand, it helps the brand stay relevant with the changing time. I got my first pair of jeans in 1990, when I completed my junior college and entered graduate college. It wasn’t a ready-made. I took an Arvind fabric and got my jeans stitched by my tailor.

Synopsis – The absolute margin one can get from a piece of denim apparel are quite healthy since it is a now a value-added category. Read on to know how….

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