Interview with Lubeina Shahpurwala

Lubeina Shahpurwala
Lubeina Shahpurwala
Mustang Socks and Accessories
Mustang Socks and Accessories

Socks industry is growing faster than any apparel category
Mustang Socks and Accessories, which holds over 50 per cent share in the organised sector in India, is one of the biggest socks manufacturers in the country. Lubeina Shahpurwala, co-founder of Mustang Socks shares some industry insights and the expansion plans of the company with Fibre2Fashion.

What is the size of the socks market globally?

Nobody can accurately say, how big the socks market is; but as of last year, it was reported to be around US$ 5.6 billion. What is interesting is that the socks sector is growing faster than any other apparel. It is noticeable that the humble sock is poised for a cool, stylish make-over.

How big is the market in India? What is the ratio in terms of organised versus unorganised players?

It is hard to determine how big the socks market in India is. Over the last couple of years, it has grown much more than in the previous years. Still, the unorganised players heavily outplay the organised market. The estimate is that over 90 per cent of the socks market is still not streamlined. This figure is something which should really be brought down. Not only will the industry be at an advantage, it will also be beneficial to India. If this sector is organised, India can strive to officially become the best manufacturer of socks globally. With the new Make in India initiative, I hope that the hosiery sector isn't overlooked.

Which are the countries that specialise in socks?

The countries that specialise in socks are India, Turkey, China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, to a lesser extent.

Who is the biggest manufacturer of socks in the world? How do you deal with competition both in the Indian market and in terms of exports?

As the industry is extremely unorganised, it is difficult to know the biggest manufacturer. But competition doesn't really worry us. At Mustang Socks, we know that once someone wears our socks, they are hooked. As someone from the industry, I know that our products are brilliant in quality, and our style and comfort is one of a kind. This is the reason that our clientele is loyal and varied.

What innovations are coming in, in this now style-oriented category?

I would say that "it is" a design and style oriented category. For a long time, hosiery was considered a necessity, and not a fashion accessory. Now that is changing, and people are realising that it is not only an extremely personal item that needs to be of great quality, but can also be used to make quite a fashion statement. The innovations coming in also highlight this fact. There are now socks designed for health, sports, anti-fungal, anti-sweat - these innovations are just going to go on and on.

What has been your growth percentage in the last two years? What percentage of your sales come from e-com?

The growth percentage in the last two years has been 10-15 per cent for Mustang. Out of this, e-commerce is not that big a percentage, as we have a strong distribution network. We are looking to grow even more in the next few years, as we have many initiatives in the pipeline. It is an exciting time for us as we have a loyal clientele, and now we are only looking to expand. Currently, we are concentrating on increasing our distribution in the south and east of India.

What are the plans on the anvil?

I am actually quite excited about our future plans. We have been experimenting with cool new styles and designs, and will continue to do so. Our USP is that we cater to all age groups, and offer them brilliant quality socks with styles that will appeal particularly to them. We have also tied up with various brands to bring out a range of character socks - the Marvel Avengers range has been particularly well-accepted. We want socks to add a dash of personality and flair to every foot that wears them. Apart from this we are also expanding into undergarments, scarves, etc. We also have a couple of new ranges that are fantastic - but unfortunately, you will have to wait for a little while more for them.
Published on: 08/05/2015

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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