One size does not fit all: This Gurugram-based urban ethnic wear brand wants to stand out for being size-inclusive
From salwar suits and sarees being the norm until the 90s, Indian consumers have, over the years, adopted various styles including jeans, Indo-western, fusion wear, casual wear and more.
One of the categories garnering popularity is urban ethnic fashion, andLifestyle is on a mission to ace this trend. The Gurugram-based company was founded in 2016 by the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi alumni, Udita Bansal.
trueBrowns’ USP lies in it being a size-inclusive brand. From 2XS to 6XL, it offers a range of clothes including blouses, kurta sets, sarees, dresses, gowns, jacket sets and more. The brand goes beyond 6XL and makes up to 10XL as well on special orders. The starting price for the clothes is from Rs 1,000 onwards.
About 80 percent of its clothes are manufactured in-house while the rest are outsourced from different parts of the country. trueBrowns was started with an initial capital of Rs 20 lakh amassed from Udita's savings.
This week, SMBStory spoke to Udita to understand the opportunity it found in this market and how it has grown in the last five years.
Catering to the millennials
India has one of the lowest median ages (26 years) across several countries like the UK, US, and China. Moreover, the Indian women’s apparel market is slated to reach $39 billion by 2025, according to a report by Statista. It is at the intersection of catering to the younger women population and being size-inclusive, that trueBrowns focuses on.
Udita realised that while India had enough ethnic and western brands, not many were catering to the urban ethnic wear segment.
Moreover, Udita wanted to be an online brand from the beginning.
Talking about why she decided to take the e-commerce route, she says, “The strategy was to be a brand for the younger generation. 2016 was also a time when ecommerce was coming up and there was a growing trend of online shopping.”
In the initial years, trueBrowns was selling mainly through ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Ajio, Tata Cliq, etc. However, over the years, the traction over the website has also picked up especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Udita points out. “Our website is contributing 25-30 percent to the overall business.”
Sustainability and inclusivity
One of the biggest debates happening in the fashion industry is size inclusivity. Over the years, several plus-size models have made their way in the fashion industry and have broken the traditional constructs of beauty standards. Designers have also taken note of this trend and are prioritising size inclusiveness. In the international market, Universal Standard, Curvy Sense and the Good American have stood out for their plus-size collection.
Udita says that the brand has embraced size inclusivity since the beginning and does not charge anything extra while offering plus sizes.
trueBrowns also has a specific option on its website where buyers can customise clothes in its catalogue according to their preferences including the colour, length of the sleeves and other size specifications.
Apart from clothes and masks, trueBrowns has also diversified to other categories such as jewellery (earrings, necklace, rings) and home collection (lamp, planters, vases, tableware, etc).
The company sees maximum demand from cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Kolkata, etc. Less than six percent of the revenues come from international markets such as Canada, Australia and Europe.
It also wants to become more sustainable by adopting environmentally-friendly means for production and selling. “We use locally-sourced sustainable raw materials and wrap our products in recycled paper.”
Going forward, it endeavours to completely abstain from using plastic.
Masks to the rescue
trueBrowns, like several other businesses, bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Udita says that apart from supply chain issues, workers fleeing to their hometowns added to the woes of the company. That is when the idea of producing masks came up. “We were shut for 20-25 days after the lockdown was announced. Thereafter, we got the necessary approvals for masks and that really saved the business.
She adds that in May 2020, 90 percent of the business came from selling masks. “We were selling masks every eight minutes.”
The demand then dropped to 10-15 percent by June this year.
Today, while the demand for masks is lower, the brand is gradually finding its way back. The brand, Udita says, wants to explore the offline market as well in the coming times. “We want to have an omnichannel strategy.”
She also adds that in the next 12-18 months, trueBrown wants to strengthen its presence across international markets especially southeast countries like Singapore. “We also want to focus on creating more content for our website as it is the best way to engage with our customers,” she concludes.