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‘We are focusing strongly on the innerwear category’

Kavindra Mishra, Managing Director, India Business and Asia Pacific, Pepe Jeans, speaks exclusively to DFU Publications about the brand, its initiatives and the global denim industry.

Pepe Jeans Kavindra Mishra pic

What is Pepe Jean’s mission statement as a global brand?

Pepe Jeans stands for cool people and coolness is not the function of age, it is about the mindset. We always work on our approach which centres around denim fashion and coolness.

Does your brand restrict you to things like fixing the jeans wear or a story around jeans wear only?

No, globally we offer everything. But as a subsidiary, we have to stick to our brand portfolio. We can’t suddenly start making kurtas tomorrow because some other brand is performing well. We have to stick to the global norm.

How closely do you follow global trends?

While we launched all global trends simultaneously with international brands, they were launched in smaller volumes in the first season. They will be launched on a commercial scale across all stores and formats in the second season.

What are your expectations from coming season?

Our business in the upcoming season is likely to be primarily driven by weddings, festivals and other occasions. Although according to conventional theories, suits or ethnic wear sell more during weddings and festivals, denims sale also register an increase as people tend to opt for casual wear for some days of the festival or occasions. Last year, lack of weddings negatively impacted our business. But this year we expect business to pick up and plan to launch our Spring/Summer ’19 collection to leverage the wedding season.

Summer weddings don’t generally translate to as much business as winter?

No, that’s not the case. People would still wear denim while shopping for weddings. The only category that is likely to witness a slowdown is winter wear.

Please elaborate on your color range

Being denim focused brand, blue and indigo form the essential colors of our line. Internationally, there is a big trend of archives so the old logos are being introduced. Sustainability being a growing trend internationally, we have launched a sustainable line of denims called ‘True Blue’ based on laser. Tips/ Tapes continue to be our strong feature across both genders. Also, stripes are back again in business.

Is the consumer ready to pay extra for sustainability?

No, our plan is to make our clothes cost-effective. We believe as we use sustainable technologies, the cost of our garments will go down.

As a youth-centric brand, how do you connect with the masses?

We interact with our consumers on a daily basis. We try to capture all information and build into structure. Brands today need to be sharp and surround themselves with sharp, young and intelligent employees. We have young team which speaks the language of youngsters.

How do you handle the brand’s distribution?

As long as you are able to give customers value for money, even online, you will be able to sell a priced product. Retailers have tried to engage in easy selling by giving heavy discounts. We need to ensure a proper balance between offline and online sales. E-commerce provides a lot of value. We use both to create brand awareness. Our offline stores grow our distribution channels.

What is your retail footprint?

We have about 250 EBO’s; 600 departmental stores, only LFR’s. Besides, we have around 1,000 MBO’s, of which around 300 to 350 are shop-in-shops.

You recently showcased your range of innerwear at trade show...

A lot of work has gone behind the scenes and we want it to be a strong category. In 10 years, we aim to be Rs 500 to 600 crore independent standing business. It is not ambitious but reasonable.

Do you need to take a standalone approach for innerwear as it is an emerging category?

We are focusing strongly on the innerwear category. There is a separate campaign for it and whatever is required to drive distribution for the brand. The first challenge is to ensure the product is placed correctly. Secondly, we plan to provide adequate marketing support for our products.

Tell us about your digital initiatives

Though digital initiatives form a miniscule part of our operations, they are growing at a fast rate. Digital does not include only Facebook ads but also encompass apps. People today have moved from boxes to laptops, set top boxes to laptops, etc.

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