It was in 1987 that Asif Merchant got into the business of wholesaling of footwear. He bought from small factories and sold to the big brands of Mumbai, but could not find the success he yearned for. In 1989 he set up an unauthorised portable structure at Breach Candy, and then found a shuttered property under the Kemps Corner flyover. He managed to raise the Rs 18 lakh needed, and Catwalk was launched in 1990 with a unique proposition: pay as you like. Merchant bought out the majority shares and friendly loans and set up Catwalk Worldwide Pvt Ltd to provide affordable and disposable fashion in 2001. Since then it has been a success story, with Catwalk registering consistent growth. Merchant talks about 'Make in India' and shares his Catwalk experience in the context.
For entrepreneurs in the business of Fast & Forward Fashion (FFF), the initial conditions one would face while working towards a 'Make in India' will be harsh. With infrastructure being what it is, things will be extremely difficult for early movers, who of course will eventually benefit the most in the long run.
For things to work, an organisation will need to be technology-backed and must have robust processes with Just in Time (JIT) and Just in Case (JIC) incorporated into scheme of things. These would be the key differentiators among local players, and would be in sync with globally accepted norms too. Moreover, the FFF industry demands a minimal lead time, and a brand cannot afford to be stuck with outdated inventory. Faltering on these counts would inevitably flare up the costs.
The entire zero deficiency objective of getting saved from "currency volatility" and "import's direct costs" will come to nought the moment any of the above requirements entail manual interventions. Therefore, the following processes have to be incorporated as per the global industry standards.
The JIT process is meant to take on any global giant, and beat him at his own game with additional margins earned from 'Make in India', besides the geographical and cultural knowhow required:
- Ensuring timely sourcing from national and international certified component manufacturers with a track record of timely supplies of quality products;
- Ensuring zero tolerance in raw material inventory building or quality (test reports, etc);
- Enabling cross-docking processes to save on costs, double taxations and lead times;
- Synchronising with global standards for FFF;
Enabling timely hits for better scope of selling at full prices before getting into discount seasons.