Indian exposure to global fashion and the visibility of its own products in the international market has increased greatly in the last decade. To give an idea; from 2006 to 2012, exports almost doubled from USD17 billion to USD33 billion, and the size of the Indian fashion market is expected to reach USD 223 billion by 2021.
Several young Indian entrepreneurs have ventured into the fashion industry attracted by the economic and creative opportunities the sector is offering. They are experimenting with new materials, shapes, colours, as well as different ways of perceiving and wearing clothes, thus rejuvenating the tradition of clothing design which has always characterised our country.
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Every fabric is a story that takes us to the origin of the product and tells us about the hands that picked, cleaned, and weaved it. The Mumbai-based fashion brand OnuOru – which sells both online as well as offline, has created a name for itself thanks to the colours and originality of its clothes that have been designed keeping comfort in mind.
Sisters Onu and Oru from Bengal had never thought of starting a fashion brand until August 2013, when a few glasses of wine eventually persuaded them to join forces and start up. In the past 10 years, the two of them had walked their own ways in advertising and air-hostessing respectively. However, neither had found the jobs creatively satisfying.
Oru quit her job as an airhostess to become a professional singer. At the same time, she started designing the clothes she would wear on stage during her concerts. When people started appreciating those the two gave serious thought to taking up fashion as their next profession.
“In November 2013, we created our Facebook page and were immediately inundated with enquiries and orders to customise sarees. We kept adding to our collection. Within months, we were not only known for our unique sarees but also our range of nomadic wear which included skirts, pants, waistcoats, shrugs, kurtas, and kaftans,” they say.
OnuOru has 7500 regular followers. The brand sells an average of 10 pieces a month through its website and during exhibitions it even touches 50 sales a day.
“Fashion trends keep coming back,” says Onu. “A certain sleeve length might go out of fashion today, only to resurface a few years down the line. What changes, or evolves, is the attitude with which it is worn. Our creations stand by what we preach -- you cannot be fashionable if you are uncomfortable,” adds Oru.
The brand has not become profitable yet, but since very early times it broke even. The duo say they have regular sales online and also participate in exhibitions where they manage to sell almost everything.”
Onu and Oru explain that their focus so far has been on material, hand crafting, originality of style and versatility. “We experiment with different fabrics, ranging from hand-spun cotton and jute to silk. Each saree that we make is handcrafted to make it unique. Though we started out with designing sarees, we quickly added a nomadic line to our repertoire. Since we understand cuts and patterns to suit a specific body type, we are known for our creations across sizes,” they say.
The ladies want to make their products available on some chosen online portals and are planning to stock with some of the renowned retail chains. They also want to start a male line of clothing in the near future and also participate in exhibitions outside Mumbai. Through the income generated, the sisters plan to open an OnuOru store.
Excitement is high, and the duo is putting great effort to deliver the best quality. However, competition in fashion design in India is now very fierce. Emerging brands should put a great effort in describing since the beginning, not only the characteristics of their collections (which in case of OnuOru is comfort and elegance) but a more precise identity. This includes defining the type of impression the outfit wants to deliver. Social networks are an imperative in this regard, because they are fundamental to determine and consolidate a brand.