This D2C startup is tapping tech to solve fast-fashion woes, help tailors find work

Launched in 2019, Bengaluru-based Styched is leveraging a proprietary production on-demand tech solution to reduce problems associated with fast fashion. It has also developed an app that helps tailors find work.
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Fashion is the second largest category online after electronics,  and in an influencer-driven world of social media, we are becoming insatiable consumers of fast fashion and at the same time, its critics. We want the ease of fast fashion but also the uniqueness of tailored outfits.

Founded in 2019 by Soumajit Bhowmik and Durga Dash, Bengaluru-based Styched is a direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand using technology to solve fashion conundrums.

Fast fashion is a design, production and marketing method that focuses on manufacturing high-volume and generally low-quality clothes. Due to the way it runs now, the textile industry has become one of the world's worst polluters and drivers of climate change. 

The global fast fashion market is expected to grow to $163,468.5 million in 2025 at a rate of 19 percent. The market is then expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.3 percent from 2025 and reach $211,909.7 million in 2030, according to a report by Research And Markets.

Per an Avendus report titled ‘D2C Brands Disrupting the Next Decade of Shopping’, availability of low cost labour, yarn materials and proximity to Bangladesh, the world’s textile hub, has caused the proliferation of fast fashion in India. 

Soumajit explains issues related to fast fashion. “Any fashion brand would have between 50-500 different kinds of styles every season. Because of the way it operates, they have to spend a lot on warehousing, on bulk production, on storing them and then liquidating the inventory. Once it gets liquidated, only then can they get a new season in,” Soumajit tells YourStory.

“We thought that we have to solve this problem,” he goes on. “We have a mandate to upload 1,000-2,000 designs on our website every week. So people can refresh and see new designs every week. There is no seasonality that we follow.”

Styched says that its proprietary production on-demand tech helps ensure zero inventory, zero wastage, zero liquidation, and zero warehousing.

The startup has developed backend intelligence that breaks fabrics into scalable patterns. The company also has a machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence)-powered backend that drives efficiency in delivery. 

“No matter how many orders we get in a day, we can manufacture and ship that within 24 to 48 hours and no matter what the design is, we can do one piece of that or a 1000 pieces of one design,” says Soumajit. 

Tailored to perfection 

Styched’s latest innovation is a mobile application that allows tailors across India to find stitching tasks online.

“Think of a brand like Bewakoof, they have close to 500 tailors. This adds to a lot of fixed costs for companies and we do not know how quickly we are going to scale up,” explains Soumajit.

Bewakoof.com is a Mumbai-based D2C apparel platform that offers creative and quirky fashion at affordable prices. 

“So, we have created something like an Uber but for tailors,” he adds. 

     

Styched found traction during the COVID-19 pandemic as the lockdowns put  a lot of tailors out of work. Almost overnight, demand for school and college uniforms declined alongside outfit orders for weddings and other special occasions. 

“I faced hefty losses during the lockdown, my small factory was on the verge of shutting down. That's when I partnered with Sytched. Due to the stable and consistent orders, my artisans have work,” says Kurshid Alam Kurshid, a tailor who works with Styched. 

“We now provide approximately 100-150 pieces per day to the company from our factory,” he adds.

The mobile application lists down all available jobs based on orders received, and any tailor in need of a job may identify and undertake work that interests them. Subscribers are paid immediately upon completion of the task. 

Styched says it is on a mission to democratise fashion, which is why pricing is often kept affordable for the apparels. Tailors who work with Styched earn a percentage of the MRP of the apparel.

“The app was initially a moderation platform for tailors internally and in Bengaluru,” explains Soumajit. “We wanted to explore how a company can leverage local intelligence and work together with its beneficiaries to create employment in a way that is yet unavailable in the traditional structure.” 

The company provides tailors with ready-to-stitch fabrics, cut with the help of Styched's patented production on demand technology. This eliminates the need for any master cutter.

One of the key features of the app is that while enlisting their services for Styched, tailors are not making a commitment to just one company. The startup does not impose an exclusivity clause, allowing tailors to also take up tasks from other vendors along with the guaranteed orders they get from Styched.

Behind the scenes at Styched

The app is not visible to the public on app stores; instead it is provided directly to the tailors on their phones as an apk file.

“The way it works is tailors come and show us some of their sample work. Then, we visit their facilities and see what kind of machinery they have. Sometimes, we fund their machines but we deduct the amount from their subsequent work,” Soumajit explains. 

The app also gives visibility to the tailors about how much money they will make by the end of a week, or a work cycle. 

The company currently has tailoring hubs in Bengaluru and Delhi, and will soon open another one in Mumbai. It hopes to onboard 15,000 tailors in a year’s time, Soumajit says.

The startup raised $1 million in their latest funding round in October 2021 led by SOSV Global VC alongside investors like Vikas Jain (Micromax), Aneesh Reddy (Capillary), Sumit Jain (Ex-CTO Jabong). 

The company has earlier raised an undisclosed amount of funding from a clutch of angel investors including Anjan Dutta (IIT Kharagpur, IIM Ahmedabad, Ex-Sr VP Educomp), Iqbal Ahmed (CHRO, Capillary Tech),  among others. 

Soumajit has founded startups such as Fundora's Box, AdWize, RowdyAuto.in, and 6Ace Events. Before he founded Styched, he was employed as the Director of e-commerce at Capillary Technologies. He has also worked as the Head of marketing for Jabong

Co-founder Durga was employed at Amazon for almost nine years in various positions. Styched currently employs 40 people.

D2C fashion market and the road ahead

Styched recently started its operations in the UAE with a tailoring hub employing 32 people and is looking to expand to Europe later this year. The company also expects to raise $3 million in February 2022.      

According to an Avendus report titled ‘D2C Brands Disrupting the Next Decade of Shopping’, the D2C fashion industry is poised to become a $32 billion industry by the year 2025

India’s large and majorly unorganised fashion market has provided huge headroom for emergence of new brands, the report stated.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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