For most of us, fashion is synonymous with glittering runways and size zero models; a hobby for the rich and elite. But one cannot confine art to five star hotels. It transcends all human boundaries. There is a treasure trove of art hiding in the bylanes and evening markets.
It was an amalgamation of two obsessions — a love for art & fashion and wanderlust that took Deepali Pangasa to these artists and their work.
“In my many travels I have come across so many artists who are making a dent in fashion through their designs. I only wish that there was enough space in my suitcases to pack these sublime pieces of art in the forms of flowing hemlines, bohemian bags, beautiful bracelets and charming shoes,” exclaims Deepali.
She started AndItsNew.com to bring the art and the uniqueness of fashion from these undiscovered artists from across the world onto one platform. Deepali explains the vision — “It is an attempt to bring the most inimitable, exceptional fashion to your doorstep. It is a way of honouring and celebrating the artists and the crafts-persons behind these designs, to hear their stories, their inspiration and the journey that each piece undertook to reach your hands.”
Deepali completed her MBA from IMT Ghaziabad and her passion took her to London College of Fashion where she completed a course in Fashion Marketing Management. Last year, Deepali completed eight years as a management consultant with one of the leading consulting firms. But her love for fashion and zeal to start something of her own meant that she could continue no more.
Having lived and worked in various countries across the world, she wanted to create an online store focusing on exclusive eclectic fashion apparel and accessories from emerging designers.
Late last year, she started the website with a handpicked group of 20 designers, who were producing such eclectic merchandise. “The initial few designers were carefully handpicked by our team of fashion stylists and experts. We brought on small to medium size designers, producing unique merchandise. It was a challenge to get the first 20 people on board, but I think a shared sense of values goes a long way in creating lasting partnerships,” says Deepali. Within no time they have grown to about 100 designers.
“And It’s New wants to be new and original; not run of the mill. Hence the name,” she adds. “We constantly ask ourselves — did we provide our customers something which they would not have otherwise had access to?”
After the launch, the momentum set in and now they get active requests from many designers to join the website. The team of fashion experts at And Its New actively scouts for new talent every day apart from vetting all the requests.
The sign up process for designers involves filling up an online form, and once the team approves the application, the designer gets access to the website. They can then start creating their collection and uploading their products online. The interface is quite simple and the team provides active support to designers to upload their catalogues.
What is the USP of And It’s new?
“Firstly, our effort is to bring unique, eclectic merchandise to people; merchandise which is not usually accessible and available at most other online stores. Secondly, Most of the websites out there either cater to a mass market which sell clothes but do not sell fashion. Or, they cater to very high-end customers who buy runway clothing. We have positioned ourselves somewhere in the more relatable mid segment, where we bring extremely well curated fashion to our customers. Thirdly, we believe in providing a more complete fashion experience to the visitors to our website and other associated pages. Our content, our products, our branding is very clearly aligned to a contemporary fashion conscience audience who want to be frontrunners when it comes to personal fashion,” pitches Deepali.
The And It’s New team
Neha Mathrani, a creative writer, helps with social media and content. Payod Panda, a digital artist, helps every visual look unique and special. Priyanka Chopra looks at the operations. Other than the trio, three interns help update catalogues, provide operation and marketing support, content writing etc.
How do they reach out to their customers?
And It’s New targets fashion conscious women who are not limited by brands and are willing to accept beautiful articles without the stamp of a multinational brand on it. The typical profile is that of an independent, working woman with high levels of awareness of fashion and trends in India and across the world.
The audience engagement is through social media, digital marketing campaigns, newsletters and mailers. Club Nouveau is the exclusive And It’s New club for members for discounts, deals and promotions on the website.
The revenue channels, traction and funding plans
The website makes money primarily through three channels – e-commerce sale, custom wear and institutional sale to bigger buyers. While the e-commerce payment model is the obvious one, the custom model often leads to a lot of back and forth on payments by the client. The institutional model of payment works well as usually they sell to bigger companies who have a clear process in place for payments. The website charges a 25% commission on every sale that happens via the website.
The venture is currently self-funded. “This was largely a personal experiment to begin with. What started as a hobby is now on the verge of becoming truly disruptive and we would be looking at funding from external investors sometime in the near future,” Deepali tells us.
What’s in the works?
To improve the user experience on the website, And It’s New will soon be launching a new look which will improve product visibility and discoverability for the customers, showing relevant products and blog posts based on their past searches and order history. They expect to drive greater customer engagement through the new UI. “Enhancement in the UX and UI is a continuous process for us,” Deepali notes.
“You can also expect our catalogue to grow and new categories of products to be added especially in menswear and kids wear ranges. New international designers are also being brought on board,” she adds.
Even as the Indian fashion scene evolves, the mass of the online customer continues to hunt for discounts. The designers onboard the website have to still rely on exhibitions for bulk of their selling. Customers are warming up to the idea of buying new and unique items online, but the process is slow.
“There are some extremely big players in the market who spend a massive budget on digital marketing making it almost impossible for smaller and newer players to get noticed. We have luckily grown organically through our social network and through our engaging content but to scale further now we will be increasing our marketing spend many times over and to try and reach out to more and more customers,” says Deepali.
What’s working for And It’s New? YourStory’s take
- Niche and focused demographic profile
- Unique and hard-to-replicate product – Artists/Designer relations
- No inventory model – pure play marketplace – inventory is transferred directly from seller to customer
- Almost zero return rates
What keeps Deepali going every day?
“The learning associated with starting up on your own, the challenges that you face every day, the fire fighting, the ambiguity, the drive to evolve every day, finding new avenues and creating more and more professional relationships, meeting more and more interesting people every day, hearing the stories of designers and artists who are passionate about their work are the things that keep me excited,” says Deepali.
How do you see the niche fashion online commerce business shaping up? Does it have the legs to go the distance? We are eagerly awaiting your responses.