How Myntra plans to create a force of fashion entrepreneurs in IndiaAlok Soni
The great thing about fashion is that it always looks forward.
This attribute of fashion as identified by Oscar de La Renta suits well for startups. And who will understand it better than a company which was started as a t-shirt merchandising business and has now evolved as India’s largest online fashion store!
Fashion might be mistaken as something associated only with glamour, and which maintains a distance from affordability. For someone like me, the word fashion was almost intimidating. However, in the wake of entrepreneurship spirit, how could the young talent in the field of fashion not challenge the status quo? And, to take them to the next level and bust the myth around fashion by bringing it closer to masses, Myntra Fashion Incubator has selected 11 talented fashion entrepreneurs.
These designers (brands) will be groomed for a year under the mentorship of some renowned designers from the fashion industry, and experts in the retail industry along with Myntra’s leadership team. This development is expected to boost the growth of the thriving fashion industry in India.
YourStory explored the importance and impact of MFI (Myntra Fashion Incubator) and what it means to you and me.
What you need to know about the fashion and design industry
Fashion is a style statement and something closely associated with your sensibility. It is not necessarily something expensive,
says Rohit Gandhi, an eminent designer. He adds, “Fashion industry wasn’t glamorous when we started. I started with a small store in a garage. It’s relatively easier today to venture out in the fashion industry.”
However, the challenges in fashion designing industry today are:
- Lack of corporate backing (funding).
- Majority of designers choose fashion designing, and accessories segment is neglected. This trend is reverse to that of the one prevalent in western countries.
- A designer has to remember that (s)he is designing for others and needs to keep a check on his mark, sensibility and commercial viability.
- Students from institutes have not seen the real world and need to work to get the right exposure.
- Fashion is a high risk sector as the trends last for a season or two (less than an year).
MFI by Myntra at this stage!
According to Gautam Kotamraju, Chief Creative Officer of Myntra, MFI is an obvious next step in the natural evolution process undergoing at the company. He says,
We started with modifying t-shirts, followed by selling big brands and then we created our own brands. Now, it’s time to think if we can continue this spree and help other brands to establish in the market.
The idea behind setting up the Myntra Fashion Incubator is to mentor young talent who do not have access to industry expertise, capital, supply chain and distribution platforms, and empower them to create sizeable indigenous fashion brands in the long run. This is also an attempt to strengthen Myntra’s commitment of building sustainable and aspirational fashion brands within the country.
Abhishek Verma, Sr. VP Fashion Brands at Myntra, believes that being an online platform this step creates a two way access—consumers can access the content and designers get access to consumers.
Also read: How Myntra wows its customers
The process and designers’ perspective
Fashion is subjective, and hence short listing from the 700+ designs and design based ideas for MFI involved a lot of debating among the jury members. After the first round, 30 promising applicants were asked to present their creative and scalable business ideas to the jury explaining their strategy on how their designs and ideas can be transformed into a sustainable business venture through the MFI platform. Live demonstrations of sample designs were displayed by the applicants for the benefit of the judges and audience. The judges – Wendell Rodricks, Rina Dhaka, Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna and Paras Bairoliya – analyzed each participant’s design concept and announced the best applicants.
Dhaka mentioned some of the parameters used to further short list the designers (their designs):
- Consumer market potential - Easy to sell on internet.
- Make a mark on the saturated fashion market – certain amount of uniqueness in design.
- Relevance over time and not something just for now.
- Have the elements of creativity, development and aspirations.
For Bailoriya, it’s more about the 4 P’s; product, pricing, positioning and promotion. Young talent (in design) lacks the business sense where Myntra steps in to help. He says,
We (designers) basically bring joy to people’s life through clothes and accessories. What will make people happy? Can the designers keep coming with the new collection? I look for the answers to these questions.
What do the winners get?The one-year ‘Designer in Residence’ (DIR) program will provide the following support to the selected applicants to curate their own fashion label in fields of clothing, footwear and accessories:
- Necessary design and work infrastructure (studio at Myntra).
- Capital support.
- Mentorship from a team of acclaimed designers.
- An opportunity to showcase their brands in various platforms as well as to be retailed on Myntra.com.
- The DIR Program would cover essentials like branding, consumer behaviour, product design and development, pricing, inventory planning, retailing and financial planning among others.
- Monthly stipend for taking care of their living expenses in Bangalore.
The first batch of the incubator program will occupy the design space inside the Myntra campus by January 15, 2015, and work full-time on their brand. After completing one season, they can also pitch their fashion designs to MFI advisory board for investments to scale their business.
And the chosen ones are…
The participants were majorly from metro cities (Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi) along with surprisingly good number of applications coming from Ahmedabad and Jaipur. Most of the jury members admitted that they saw themselves in these young designers. They just need confidence and an appropriate platform at this stage.
On this festive season, we would like extend our wishes to all the finalists hoping some of them will make it big in the future.