Battling Levis and Lee, Indian brand Spykar shows entrepreneurship runs in its jeans
The home-grown brand, with a focus on hi-fashion denims, now competes directly with its foreign counterparts, and has become a leading casual wear brand in India.Rishabh Mansur
As India increasingly adopts Western fashion styles, jeans have emerged as one of the most versatile clothing options. From metros to rural areas, donning a pair of jeans is common among several age groups. Whether it is work, college or family gatherings and parties, jeans can be worn everywhere.
There are a number of brands offering jeans in India, and the most popular ones include Levis, Lee, Wrangler, Pepe Jeans, etc. But these are all international brands.
Among Indian denim brands, Spykar Lifestyle stands out as one of the largest and fastest-growing brands here. Launched in 1992 by Prasad Pabrekar, the brand, over the years, has been through thick and thin in the Indian market.
Mumbai-based Spykar started small. But over the years, it was shaped into becoming one of the larger players, thanks to Sanjay Vakharia, CEO, Spykar Lifestyle. It has now become a leading casual wear brand with a focus on hi-fashion denims. The home-grown brand now competes directly with its foreign counterparts.
Spykar products are currently available pan India across 250 exclusive outlets, in more than 1,000 multi-brand outlets, large format stores as well as ecommerce sites. The brand offers casual topwear, bottom-wear, and accessories like backpacks, flip-flops, perfumes, wallets, deodorants, etc.
“There is a lull in the economic environment at the moment, but Spykar has managed to up the ante for the brand, and has achieved a phenomenal 20 percent growth in the current financial year,” says Sanjay. “Spykar’s customer sales grew from Rs 460 crore in FY 2016-17 to Rs 550 crore in FY 2017-18.”
This year, the company plans to touch Rs 700 crore and continue growing. Sanjay maintains that Spykar has sustained growth despite being affected by major challenges such as demonetisation and GST.
Getting the right fit
“We started as a pure denim player for men. Our denim range was well received by the youth. This eventually led us to venture into a destination shop to cater to all fashion needs for the trendy young audience,” Sanjay says. “Spykar then expanded its portfolio to become a one-stop-shop for casual wear for both men and women.”
To boost investments into the company, Spykar in 2014 became part of the Bagri family-promoted Metdist Group, a diversified portfolio of companies. This UK-based conglomerate focuses on fashion, hospitality, technology and metals industries.
Spykar’s success in India shows that Prasad and Sanjay were able to act on their insights on the consumer market and their knowledge of the product. This might often prove tricky for new businesses as consumer behaviour constantly changes and competitors develop new products. Targeting tier-II and tier-III markets was another reason for the brand’s success, Sanjay says.
Challenges and opportunities
But market share isn’t all. For India’s cost-conscious market, it is crucial to understand the price points of different sets of buyers.
“There are no other players at the price point at which we provide premium quality trendy products. Our national presence across all sales formats strengthens our reach too,” he adds.
Also, understanding the consumer is easier said than done. This is true especially when the young customers don’t inherently know what they want, and can be easily swayed by trends. “By focussing on youth, we are certainly serving a tough and demanding customer. They are the biggest consumers of the brand and the denim category. We have managed to keep them in our grip through great products and by trying to match our philosophies with theirs,” Sanjay says.
He adds that the youth are experimental and ensuring brand loyalty from them is no easy task. It is challenging for Sanjay to keep them hooked to Spykar. The brand also faces an uphill battle against the new culture of heavy discounts.
“Apart from these, growing real estate expenses are also something we deal with. At the same time, there is a large influx of international players in the same market,” he says.
Another challenge for the brand is the coexistence of offline and online formats. “To serve the consumer better, we need both the channels to serve at their full potential. Therefore, it is important for us to leverage digital and have a good presence on mediums where our customers spend their time,” Sanjay says. “We optimise these platforms to reach our audience and drive sales too.”
Despite uncertainty in the market, Spykar is looking to expand. “We aim to have our shop-in-shops and multi-brand outlets spread across 500 towns. We also hope to have our standalone stores spread to 200 cities in the near future,” Sanjay says.
To do this, the company plans to add around 30 to 40 exclusive brand stores a year. It also seeks to simultaneously strengthen its presence on ecommerce platforms. “The womenswear segment will also contribute in a noticeable way in the coming years. In terms of product line, we are also getting into the denim athleisure space,” he says.