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Interview with Anupam Arya

Anupam Arya
Anupam Arya

Proprietary designing to remain in-house focus

Jaipur-based Fabriclore Retailing Pvt. Ltd. is attempting to revive consumption of both traditional and modern fabrics available across India by offering a range of Indian handloom and contemporary fabrics with numerous innovative design crossovers in an online platform. Its director Anupam Arya speaks to Fibre2Fashion on its fabric collection and the craftwork that it offers. 

Please take us through the journey of Fabriclore?

The idea behind Fabriclore came from broadly three things: in-depth understanding of the textile industry, analysing various players in the supply chain and considering different phases of the fashion trajectory. Right from the darzi (tailor) era, which was taken over by the retail stitched garments and further with the influx of e-commerce, it was the readymade garment sector that completely took over the conventional designing trends.

With the advent of customisation and fusion era, we have now entered an age where couturiers are extensively experimenting with boho fusion designs. We realised fabric is one thing that has been common in all the phases and thought of concentrating only on fabrics. 

With this thought we rolled out the orb of Fabriclore in March, 2016. From choosing the right colour palette, to designing a descriptive logo, from creating an easily navigable website to building our presence on various social media platforms, our strategy was to create a strong brand identity, communicate our brand's ethos to our audience by narrating the lore of Indian handlooms and various textile crafts available across India.

Where do you source the fabrics from?

We have a dedicated sourcing team, which, along with our in-house textile designers, travel across India, curating different types of crafts and materials. So far, Fabriclore has associated itself with more than 15 artisan communities and we are planning to increase the number to 25 by the end of 2018. While we have successfully covered west, south, central and select areas of north India, we plan to cover the North East in the near future, bringing in myriad varieties of silk. We are constantly working on cultivating a strong process of suppliers, curation and supply chain without really letting any stagnation seep into our collections, given that the business of fabrics constantly demands enticing new stuff every day. 

At present, we offer 19 kinds of materials ranging from cotton, cotton silk, khadi, georgette, poplin to chiffon, raw silk, modal silk, chanderi and satin; and 24 kinds of crafts, including ajrak, kalamkari, shibori, indigo, ikat, leheriya, bandhani, bangalgiri, dabu and bagh. The range of varieties and art and craft forms that we offer gets updated on a regular basis.

As touch, sight and feel are key to buying fabrics, what are the challenges of retailing online?

Keeping the importance of touch, sight and feel in mind, we built a strong in-house photography team that regularly conceptualises collection shoots. Each fabric is shot from three different angles, offering customers an easy visual experience while shopping online. Unlike other players in the online fabric industry, we offer a unique return policy.

The biggest challenge founding teams of bootstrapped businesses typically face is the transition period from their already established professional pursuits to new uncharted waters, which in the initial phases are not economically viable. This was the case with Fabriclore as well. Without any external source of funding to bank on until the venture gets on its own, the moment when you are required to choose a single definitive path has been the biggest challenge. 

An inventory-based business requires a constant injection of fresh capital to grow and fulfill demand. After the initial traction, when Fabriclore needed that additional push without relying on any loan and funding, all earnings and even more from our own, had to be incessantly injected into the business. On the brighter side, we learned to optimally manage our operations, understanding the key pain points and channelling money only to the priorities.

Any plan to go brick and mortar?

We will not opt for brick and mortar for the fabric business, but we certainly plan to get into that model doing vertical integration by getting into custom stitching and designing so that our platform could be leveraged even more and its potential could be best utilised.

Who are your key buyers?

Our key buyers are predominantly women, who are either individual buyers or have their own boutiques. A lot of indie designers, fashion ideators from all across the country buy fabrics from us. Along with individual customers and designers, a lot of wholesalers procure fabrics from us.

Do you have your own manufacturing facilities?

For all top brands, manufacturing is a matter of standardisation and quality control in production. So we too engage manufacturers and artisans to produce fabrics based on our quality and design standards. We will always outsource manufacturing so that our in-house focus remains predominantly on proprietary designing and setting up production procedures.

What is your USP?

Our core strength lies in an in-depth understanding of the crafts available across India and the supply chain mechanism, backed by a comprehensive knowledge of fabric production. Our USP rests in offering a comprehensive range of Indian handloom and contemporary fabrics with numerous innovative design crossovers. By bestowing the yarn of inspiration to every individual, we are enabling them to explore the designer within themselves.

What is the focus in terms of sustainability? Please elaborate.

Our emphasis has always been on building processes. Bringing in a lot of automation and technology and being customer-centric in our processes makes our business sustainable and way more resilient to respond to market changes. The traditional fabric industry has always been an inventory-based system. However, we are becoming more and more customer-centric wherein we are eliminating the hassle of managing the inventory and making the sourcing and curation process smoother and viable. 

We are introducing sustainable packaging wherein we will design bags made from our own fabrics, eliminating any kind of plastic usage in the packaging process. For this, we are in the process of roping in a non-governmental organisation, where we want to empower women who can take up the stitching task and at the same time earn a decent livelihood. 

Tell us about your unique return policy?

Returns and cancellations are a part of the business. Despite the fact that a cut fabric cannot be used for re-sale, we still have a favourable return policy. If the customer does not like the fabric, we take it back and return the money, if the reason conforms to our policy guidelines.

If the customer wants to return or exchange full or partial order, either because it is not as per specification or the product failed to meet his expectation, he can place a request by sending us an email, with the order number, images of the particular areas of fabric where there is an issue and a brief write up within seven days of the receipt of the order. Apart from this, if a person changes his mind and wants to return the fabrics, we do take back the orders provided the customer bears the shipping charges and the fabric has not been washed or used in any way.

Indian handloom and textile have evolved with time. What is the growth of the industry in the coming years?

Handloom in India enjoys a rich cultural heritage. Each state has its own identity and crafts. Kalamkari of Andhra Pradesh, chanderi of Madhya Pradesh, bandhani of Gujarat, bhagalpuri of Bihar and countless others are all crafts with unique intricacies and skills being cultivated by artisans for generations.

With the ministry of textiles ardently working towards reviving the handloom sector, its future is bright. Moreover, the youth has warmly started accepting ethnic trends and styles. They are taking conscious steps towards sustainable fashion, following trends that revolve around fusing Indian crafts with contemporary designs. Moreover, factors like increased awareness and brand building, innovation in design and standardisation will also emerge as key contributors to the growth of Indian handloom and textile industry.

What are your future plans?

We would like to explore more opportunities in the vertical and horizontal integration on the forward as well as the backward side of the business. Fabric, being at the centre of the value chain of the apparel industry, puts us in the right position to leverage our strength. We are already evaluating a lot of possibilities both on the supply and the consumer side of the business. (PA)
Published on: 13/11/2017

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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