How two childhood friends bring inclusivity to fashion with their startup, High Street Essentials

Noida startup High Street Essentials serves up over 3,000 products across categories like clothing, bags, and jewellery, with three brands - FabAlley, Indya, and Zyra.

Noida-based fashion house High Street Essentials (HSE) was started in 2012 by two childhood friends Shivani Poddar and Tanvi Malik with fast fashion brand, FabAlley. In 2016 the duo launched Indya, an ethnic-fusion brand, in response to the growing demand for contemporary Indian wear. 

Then, to capture the burgeoning fashion accessories market, the startup recently launched a third brand, Zyra. Priced between Rs 600 and 3,000, Zyra will cater to millennial Indians who want daily wear jewellery. These will be sold on its website, at mall kiosks, and its Indya outlets. 

(L-R) Shivani Poddar and Tanvi Malik

Talking about the jewellery market, Co-founder Tanvi says,

“The market is worth Rs 50,000 crore in just fashion jewellery and is highly underserviced, which is where we always see ourselves in that mass premium space, where there is a supply gap. There are very few organised fashion accessories and jewellery brands. We wanted to do what we did with Indya, which is to have a lot of sharp aesthetics at strong price points. We want, with Zyra, to be the market leaders of Indian contemporary fashion accessories.”

With thriving websites, 30 brick-and-mortar stores, 350 shops-in-shops, and a scaled-up online marketplace presence across its two older brands, the startup has witnessed gross sales of Rs 125.5 crore in FY19.  

Its results come after a year of sustained efforts towards increased distribution, product expansion, and strengthening the startup’s technology backbone.

A variety of products - tailored for India

HSE offers apparel and accessories with more than 3,000 own-brand products in categories like clothing, bags, and jewellery. It also features Curve, a western wear sub-brand for plus-sized women. With in-house designers, the startup believes it can create affordable fashion by having its own manufacturing facilities in Noida.

Fashion in India is a vast market, and the founders always had a clear vision on standing apart from other brands.

“Now, a lot of western brands we know are from Europe, the US, etc. Clothes from these places don't have any sort of filter for what works for Indian women, whether it's our body types, climatic conditions, or even the socio-cultural ecosystem that we are in. We have always thought that FabAlley needs to be doing trendy affordable fashion, but centred towards Indian women,” claims Tanvi.

She explains, “Our cuts are not particularly revealing and our sizing is precisely done. We do ensure that Indian shapes are addressed well and the fabric that we use are always skin-friendly.”

With its curve line and larger sizes within FabAlley, the startup claims to have reached a stage where its brands are standing for inclusivity.

The founders wanted to make Indian wear relevant again and not something that you wear as a costume for special occasions or festivities. Hence, Indya was born.

“It needs to be as powerful as a pantsuit is and it needs to have that pride of place. Our design signature is strong. The cuts and silhouettes we do are something you won't see in other brands in the high street,” says Tanvi.

How it began

Tanvi and Shivani saw more and more women becoming aware of global trends in fashion and fast fashion with an increase in spending too.

“There weren't enough fast fashion brands in India to cater to this market of millennial women who had a certain purchasing power, but were still value conscious and looking at affordability. Indian brands that were doing western wear at that point of time were not really in the fast fashion space. They were more targeted towards late adopters of western wear, like the generation before millennials,” explains Tanvi.

Today, it is a team of around 750 employees across the country. This includes both in the offline stores and those related to online business. There are about 200 people in the Noida headquarters itself.

The company has presence across Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, and Chandigarh. It also has opened stores recently in Tier II cities like Ludhiana, Bhubaneswar, and Lucknow.

In 2013, the company raised its first round of funding from Indian Angel network. And around that time, it started listing FabAlley on Jabong and Myntra.

“We have always thought of building a sustainable, profitable business. That has always been our goal. And the first step to that was becoming an omni channel,” says Tanvi.

It had raised its Series A round in 2016, led by India Quotient, and followed it up with a round of debt from Trifecta Capital. In December 2018, HSE raised Rs 60 crore in a Series B round of funding by SAIF Partners, which is being strategically deployed towards growth. 

The next step

India’s apparel market will be worth $59.3 billion in 2022, making it the sixth-largest in the world, comparable to the UK’s ($65 billion) and Germany’s ($63.1 billion), according to data from McKinsey’s FashionScope.

Some of the other Indian brands in this sector include YepMe, Stalk Buy Love, LimeRoad, etc.

In its recent financial figures, FabAlley and Indya reported net revenue of Rs 90.2 crore, with an EBITDA of Rs 3.3 crore for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019. The startup has seen a YoY growth of 70 percent and has reported EBITDA-level profitability for the second consecutive year.

Speaking about the profitable fiscal, the founders say,FY19 marked our transition from a primarily online company to an omnichannel entity while ensuring that our infrastructure, supply chain, and product lines expanded efficiently to accommodate both online and offline retail growth with continued capital efficiency.”

In the next 12 to 18 months, it aims to expand its retail footprint by increasing its exclusive brand stores’ count to 50 and doubling its shop-in-shops to more than 600. 

The founders say that the startup is on track to close FY20 with gross sales of Rs 220 crore at a growth of 75 percent over FY19, with EBITDA and PAT-level profitability.

“There are more chains that we are going to be working with. In terms of online sales, we see a growth of 80-100 percent YOY,” says Tanvi.

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)


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