'Bespoke menswear is staging a comeback'

Made-to-measure clothing for men has been in vogue in this part of the world since the days of the royals. Of late, it has found many takers in India who are embracing it for many occasions, marriage being the most important one. This, coupled with increasing preference for customised formal and semi-formal wear is emerging as a fast-growing business that Tailorman, like others, want to take advantage of.

Based out of Bangalore, Tailorman was co-founded by Vidya Nataraj (VN) and Gautam Golchcha (GG) last January with a seed capital of Rs 2.5 crore. The duo launched their first store in March last year and have steadily expanded since then, with a presence in Chennai as well and planning a slew of launches in Hyderabad and Kolkata in the coming few months.
While Vidya Nataraj is a management graduate with experience in investment banking,  retail chain management and   co-founder of jewellery portal Bluestone.com, Gautam Golchcha is founder and managing director of Silver Crest Clothing, a 20-year-old firm in the business of manufacturing and export of garments.

In conversation with S V Krishnamachari of Deccan Herald, the duo share their views on the lucrative made-to-measure menswear market in India, trends therein and their business plans. Excerpts:

Please tell about the genesis of Tailorman.

VN: In our view, there was clear gap in the market space for affordable, trendy and good-fitting clothes for men. Ready-to-wear clothes are a big compromise for them. In the made-to-measure segment, there were either clothes designed by local tailors where quality suffered due to sub-par fabric and inter-lining, while the evolved brands do provide great quality, but at ridiculous prices.
What would be the size of men's wedding apparel market in India?
VN: There are no estimates available. The men's formal and semi-formal wear market is estimated at about Rs 35,000 crore, we are tapping into this segment and the wedding apparel market.

Who are the major players in this business?
VN: Reid & Taylor, Raymond (Made-To-Measure), P N Rao and many localised ones. Manyawar is essentially into marriage market and not made-to-measure, while we are into both marriage and non-marriage market space, as far as bespoke clothing is concerned. Bespoke menswear is staging a comeback.

Who are your customers?
GG: Most of them, about 80 per cent are those who could have gone for ready-to-wear, but heard about us and decided to try out our offerings. Many of them are those who are about to get married and looking for style. Then there are those whose body shape doesn't suit ready-to-wear garments and therefore had to compromise. So, it is a mix of both, the marriage wear segment and the formals and semi-formals.

You mean to say these men are gradually shifting to customised clothing?
GG: I would say the shift is radical.

How fast is the market growing?
GG: It could be three-digit growth for some, but overall it is growing at about 10 per cent. As of now, it is a nascent market and therefore would see more entrants.

What is your business model and what are the entry barriers to this lucrative business?
GG: Our unique selling proposition is our back-end, which is scalable. Scalability also enables us to hire top designers. We have access to a range of Indian and global fabric brands, through Silver Crest Clothing, while other established names do not have that advantage. Scale is the biggest entry barrier for aspiring entrepreneurs.

What are your revenue streams?
VN: We have three channels, the physical stores, online format and home visit, where our tailors visit customers. Our revenues continue to come predominantly from physical stores. We have three in Bangalore and one in Chennai, we plan to open one each in Chennai, Bangalore and two in Hyderabad shortly. The response from customers is highly encouraging.
Are you not looking at New Delhi and Mumbai?
VN: We want to saturate the southern markets first and then look at other cities. Of course, we do plan to open one store in Kolkata shortly.

Have you gathered insights into buying behaviour of men?
VN: Men in general hate shopping and tend to buy in bulk for their work or party wear. They come once, get measured and the details are stored with us. Future purchases online become easy. As regards marriage wear, the person realises that the garments would be used only once and so ends up compromising on quality. This would change over time, when he gets more demanding with increasing awareness.

What is the average spend per customer?
VN: The average transaction size is in the range of Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000, the extreme ones go up to Rs 1 lakh.

What is the profile of your customers? Do you also cater to corporates?
VN: Most of them are individuals. We haven't really gone out for corporate orders because it involves huge discounts and margins tend to be low.

What are the margins like, in this business?
GG: They are good enough, but we can't disclose.

What would be your approximate turnover this financial year? Do you plan to raise funds from venture capitalists, given your expansion plans?
VN: It's likely to be around Rs 12 crore. No, we are not contemplating fund-raising at this stage.
DH News Service

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