Interview with Arvind Saraf

Face2Face
Arvind  Saraf
Arvind Saraf
Director
Triveni
Triveni

The indutvas market space is largely populated by unorganised players. Each region of the country has strong players. How do you tackle this?

A few recent trends in the industry are challenging the regional players' dominance, forcing them to think in terms of bigger or more national level pictures:
  • Customer style preferences are converging, partly due to the presence of television and online medium. It’s very common for a customer in a small town in North India or South India to aspire to the same styles as a customer in Mumbai.
  • Customers have been moving away from shopping at local stores to shopping online. When online, regional brand visibility does not matter – as a level playing field, customers will decide based on the product styling, pricing and brand perception.
Our design team has now been focusing on this converging style preferences, bringing in different regional elements in our designs - yet, maintaining the national appeal. We had a vision to foresee the growth of online medium and have set up a strong team to focus on Triveni's online presence, making it one of the few pioneering brands with an equally strong online and offline presence. The overcrowding of manufacturers and players in the market has also eroded the domestic margins, forcing the companies to keep wastage and inefficiencies to a minimum. That by itself is also forcing companies to organise themselves.

Triveni has been a pioneer in its segment. What are some of the significant changes you have seen in the industry? How has the industry evolved?

Ethnicwear industry has evolved along multiple lines:
  • Customers have become much more selective about styles and preferences. A strong focus on constant innovations in design and styling is required, with most of the leading brands now keeping an in-house design team.
  • There have been constant innovations in production techniques, adding to the range of the product and styles available in the market, e.g. machine embroidery, especially with machines from China, has made surface ornamentation much more achievable. Digital printing has expanded the range of prints and colours a manufacturer can offer.
  • Looking at brand positioning much more carefully, especially with the prevalence of the digital medium, both for retail and wholesale, brands are looking at using the digital media effectively to spread their word out.
  • Industry has been moving towards getting more organised, with written processes and SOPs now replacing the oral communication. Structured reports and responsibility demarcation is replacing the ad hoc styles of working in the past. ERPs and workflow tools are becoming even more important, with adequate and proper MIS and reports coming from it.

Triveni went online in 2011 with TriveniEthnics.com How is e-commerce adding to the growth? What percentage of revenue comes from online?

Triveni's online jump was a leap of faith - back in 2011 when e-commerce was still only a small part of the industry. We saw the future potential of the industry. While the sector has been fast growing, the movement to online has helped in more ways than just revenue. Triveni's prior customer outreach was (and still continues to be primarily) through a network of distributors and wholesalers. E-commerce was the first form of direct retail practiced by Triveni - and this direct interaction with customers brought us more direct feedback on the products and brand perception. It forced us to document our vision and mission, to redo the brand identity and gave us a direct way to get customer feedback which directly or indirectly went into our future designs. E-commerce has also opened up other opportunities. We are actively developing e-commerce channels not just as retail but even a B2B channel. Only recently, the e-commerce revenues jumped into double digits of the total Triveni revenue, and we expect that to continue.

What changes have you seen in consumer behaviour and demand?

Women's ethnicwear industry, being highly competitive, customers have become more discerning, and get easily influenced by national and metro trends, especially the celebrity appearances in a much talked about movie or a saree carried by some daily soap actress. Many preferences are seen as converging, when we talk of the different styles being carried in metros and small towns or different parts of India. With prevalence of western brands, customers have started looking for and identifying brands in their purchases.

Tell us something about the trends in fabrics as far as ethnicwear is concerned?

The ethnicwear industry is more diverted towards blended fabrics - combining the feel of natural with comfort, faster prints, weather friendliness and surface work that polyesters offer. There have been various innovations in weaving patterns, which brought in brassos and jacquards. Brassos and jacquards give the 3D textures while retaining the longevity. Even different sections of fabrics go for warps and wefts. Linens and linen blended fabrics are very much in demand now. Recent innovations have also blended linen with polyesters.

What kind of R&D in the fabrics are you involved in at your factories?

We work closely with our vendor weavers making them aware of the industry trends. These weaving units try out different fabrics as per inputs by Triveni - and share with us for feedback. Much of the innovation is driven by inspiration from natural fabrics, the need to appeal to younger audiences, and combining the natural fabric appeal with the strengths of the polyesters.

You are present in both segments - medium and premium. Which is the fastest growing?

Numbers are coming from medium. While premium is still very touch-and-feel and individual designer centred. As brands become dominant, you'll see established brands and labels instead of direct designers also entering the premium segment. However, even our medium segment is based on offering highest product quality - for which complete care is being taken. As the market for indutvas evolves to more office / daily wear adoption amongst the younger generation, we expect the mid-segment to grow faster. Premium growth will kick in a little later.
Published on: 11/11/2015

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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