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Tantra aims to be T-shirt 'super-specialists'
Jun '12
Steve Jobs once famously said that ‘you should find what you love to do, then do it’. We love to make T-shirts. We love to tickle, communicate, humour and re-arrange mind-sets, via copy or art. We are artists and writers first, and we use the T-shirt as a canvass, to carry our message.

Tantra was the first company in India to look at the humble T-shirt as an important brand category. When we started in 1997, the field was barren, and filled with monotonous and self-flagellating ‘logo’ Tees.

Suddenly, here was an upstart with funny images, talking to, and not talking down. For the first time, a T-shirt brand spoke the language of currency. You could wear us, like us, write to us, and be our friend.

Now, over a decade down the line, our target audience remains the same. We are as nutty and irreverent, and hungry for ideas, as we were on day one. Each new addition in the market excites us.

From one single brand, we have launched a plethora of brand labels-‘Barking Dog’, ‘Line Maro’, ‘Loose Motions’, ‘Tantra Club’…and have expanded the brand category to include winter wear (fleece), womenswear and kidswear.

Often we are asked: “Is it wise to bank on only one product in times of increasing competition?” Our answer is: “absolutely”. Like surgeons, we want to be ‘super-specialists’. And we want to stick with doing what we love. It is all about focus, and staying sharp.

As long as we stay in the T-shirt/knits domain (preferably with the Tantra spin), we stay focused. Making shirts and denims may make us more money, but it would make us a ‘generic’ brand. Why not create more T-shirt labels instead? That is exactly what we are doing.

So, in effect, we can own 20 brand labels, all of them T-shirts, each with its own USP. That sounds like a lot of fun. With a range as wide as this, it is imperative that we showcase the complete range in exclusive brand stores. Tantra currently operates 45+ exclusive brand outlets (EBOs), apart from offering its products through malls, online mediums and distributors.

For the malls, Tantra ensures campus walk-ins, or, in retail lingo, ‘footfalls’. What is interesting is that in spite of the huge increase in input costs, and excise and other such impediments, Tantra is still one of the cheapest Indian brands on the mall floors. This ensures that the pocket-money/campus customer still has something to grab onto, as many foreign labels are either too expensive or disconnected via communication.

In terms of growth, what is really interesting is that most of those who do business or initiate with us, are users of our products first; and business partners later. Our new EBOs are often second-generation store owners who want to break-away, and start anew.

Tantra has capacity of 250,000 T-shirt pieces per month for export and domestic markets. Besides India, its clientele countries are New Zealand, England, Japan, U.S.A., France, South Africa, Poland and Fiji.

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