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Reliance steps on the gas with Unformals clothing range

January 10, 2014 (India)

When the ambitious Dhirubhai Ambani started Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) many decades back, one of the first segments targeted at the mainstream audience was textiles. With the launch of 'Vimal,' RIL competed with industry giants in this segment.

Vimal was launched in 1966 by the iconic businessman and achieved phenomenal success in the 70's and 80's. It was during this time that the brand expanded massively and by using a meticulously crafted marketing strategy that involved the use of the top models at the time, achieved cult status.

However, with time Vimal garnered a slightly lesser focus from RIL as their primary attention was diverted towards Oil & Gas, petrochemicals and retail. However, the company is aiming to make 'Vimal' one of the top brand in the clothing segment again.

After a hiatus of sometime, RIL has decided to rechristen 'Vimal' as 'Only Vimal.' It has also launched a new range of clothing called 'Unformals.' Its Unformal range is now geared to meet the youth's changing preferences in work wear. The brand's Unformal range of fabrics has been increasingly making noise, getting in step with the changing customer and winning back the parent's interest in a low-margin sector.

The aim with the new range of clothing is to move away from office-wear that is traditional, dreary grey, blue and black and bring in some fresh new ideas into this segment. Also, the growing trend of wearing semi-formals at work, of wearing a blazer with jeans and without a tie, is something that the brand is keen to pounce on.

Anand Parekh, business head of the textiles division of Reliance, when talking about this said, "We have been studying this market for a long time and there has been a significant change in the way men have started to dress. We realised that people have started to wear formal clothes in a very different way."

Vimal has many features in its clothing line that retain traditional aesthetics and sensibilities but rank high as far as fashion quotient is concerned. Its Fashion Jacketing fabric feels woolen but is lightweight enough to be worn through the year.

The country's largest fabric exporter also has Fashion Cottons for shirts that keeps the cloth wrinkle-free and colour fast, despite the look and feel of cotton fabric. Taking cue from the success the brand had achieved in the 70's and 80's, the parent company, Mukesh Ambani's RIL is yet again placing a huge emphasis on marketing; and rightly so.

Vimal started in its latest campaign by Scarecrow Communications in August 2013 with a 'No Tie Day.' The concept here was to have flash mobs in malls and also host tie burning parties. Another range called 'Fashion and Feel' which a blend of polyester and viscose was launched. Using digital and print media, Vimal' sunformal category received a heavy dose of advertising on public forums.

For an industrial behemoth such as RIL, textiles form a small percentage of its revenues. In spite of this, the company has been trying to bring Vimal to the forefront after years of living in the shadows. "We have been trying to revamp the brand in the last seven to eight years," says Parekh.

Only Vimal's flagship range, Unformal's contribution to Reliance's textile revenues is 10 to 15 per cent and is expected to increase to 30 to 40 per cent in the coming years. Reliance is looking at 22 per cent growth in textile revenues this year. But with fabric brands underlining the perfectly-tailored garment to make the customer stick with fabric-buying (most brands now offer tailoring at their stores, for example), Vimal too is stepping up its marketing.


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