Craftsvilla launches third in-house brand Anuswara in Bengaluru


With the glitz and glamour of any fashion show, Craftsvilla along with Femina India launched its third brand—Anuswara—the focus of which will be contemporary ethnic wear. The daily apparel range for women will be a part of four collections—Ikat, Kalamkari, Summer Hues, and Indigo Collection. The entire collection will be available online. Bengaluru being one of the top three cities for Craftsvilla, the launch event was held at the IT capital and startup hub.

The other in-house brands launched by Craftsvilla include Avanya and Jharokha. Speaking of the need to launch a third brand, Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, Craftsvilla, told YourStory,

“I have always been a marketer. So my focus has been towards building brands that are lasting and have a unique identity. When we spoke to our customers, we realised that while they came to Craftsvilla for anything that was festive-ethnic, they needed something dailywear and contemporary as well. So from last October we have been researching and looking at the different designs and fabric and now have finally launched Anuswara.”

Manish believes there was a need for a clearly differentiated identity, and that they needed stylish business wear. Anuswara products are priced between Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000. The products are designed and styled in-house, which required the hiring of designers and the building of an in-house team.

“I myself went to several villages, Manoj (Gupta – Founder and CEO Craftsvilla) went to Andhra Pradesh to source the products directly from the manufacturers,” said Manish.

The team felt pricing was the key. If they went completely hand-woven and hand-blocked, prices would shoot up, which was why they decided to go with a mix.

Craftsvilla believes there are hundreds of crafts present across the country. So after every three months, the team intends to launch newer prints and fabrics under the Anuswara range. “The idea is to find a balance between being crafts-oriented and at the same time being mainstream-focused on the modern user,” adds Manish.

L-R - Prashanti Subhash, launching the brand with Manish Kalra

However, private labels seem to be emerging as the path to profitability for most e-commerce platforms. Nykaa has launched its own range of Nykaa-branded products, and Amazon made its private-label debut on its home turf, the US, long ago.

AmazonBasics products—which include Bluetooth speakers, headphones, travel accessories, mobile accessories such as charging cables and cases, pet products, desk chairs, fitness accessories, etc.—were made available in India in September 2015.

In December 2016, Flipkart launched ‘Flipkart Smartbuy’, an umbrella brand to sell in about 50 categories. Over the last four months, Flipkart Smartbuy has started selling in 12 categories. Myntra had launched its private-label category as early as 2012. It now has 14 private labels, in addition to 2,000 brands on the platform.

Craftsvilla is bullish about Anuswara—the expectation is that it will generate 30 percent of revenues. Since Craftsvilla looks at its three in-house brands as separate entities, the team is looking to take them to other portals like Amazon, Flipkart, and Myntra and even retail outlets in due course of time. Craftsvilla believes keeping brands exclusive to their own portal will restrict reach.

Range of Anuswara

The team is also looking at going omnichannel after one or two years. “Brands will be built when you give access to the user. If you limit that access, the exposure isn’t enough for the users to buy the brand,” said Manish. Once the team scales operations and brings in the efficiency in the backend process, Manish believes there is no stopping them.

According to a study by RedSeer Consulting, private labels contribute the highest share in fashion—about 12 percent of GMV at present—and have the potential to reach 18 percent by the end of this year since new private labels are coming up. Also in the range that Craftsvilla has launched today are players like Bombay Paisley available at Westside, InduBindu, and iTokri. Manish, however, believes their range will keep changing. He said,

“The idea is to give accessibility of the given weaves and prints to a larger segment of the population.”

The Craftsvilla team believes they are in a unique position to become profitable, as the margins of their business are higher and they are also in the sweet spot of providing value to the global consumer. “There isn’t any other platform that focuses on e-commerce and the ethnic Indian product line,” said Manoj to YourStory.

The team claims to have over 3.5 million unique products from more than 25,000 artisans and designers across the country. The Mumbai-based venture, according to the team, reaches more than a million customers every day through its website and mobile app.

In late 2015, the team raised Series C funding of $34 million. In February this year, Craftsvilla acquired PlaceofOrigin, a marketplace for ethnic foods. The size and structure of the deal were not disclosed.

The team is focused on building their engineering and product capabilities, enhancing customer care, and scaling in the ethnic category to reach $500 million in GMV. The team today consists of over 260 people.