This Rs 320 Cr fashion brand sounds international but manufactures in Ludhiana
Indian fashion brand Madame was started in Gurugram in 1993 by CL Duggar Jain and his grandsons as part of their family business to cater to the growing women’s apparel market
In the 1980s, entrepreneur CL Duggar Jain realised that the Indian market for Western-style women’s clothing was ruled by Chinese and Thai imports. He noticed there was no Indian company making such apparel for women.
This is when the idea of capitalising on this gap occurred to him. He saw an opportunity and realised that his family business firm Jain Amar, a clothing company, can be a launchpad for such products in India.
Duggar relied on his vast experience in the textiles industry. His entrepreneurial journey had begun in the pre-Independence era, when he started Jain Amar in 1939 in Gurugram.
“At that point, Jain Amar was already making hosiery (socks and stockings) from knitwear bought from mills in Ludhiana. So, for Duggar, manufacturing wasn’t a hurdle. Competing with products from China and Thailand was the main challenge,” says Akhil Jain, 37, Director, Jain Amar, and fourth generation business leader of the family business.
Duggar took the plunge and launched Madame, a brand, to manufacture Western-style women’s clothing in 1993 under the parent company Jain Amar. He roped in his grandsons Sunil and Bipan to run the new venture.
Using their existing manufacturing setup in Ludhiana, they started making apparel for women using the flat knitting technique. To begin with, Madame’s market size was small.
“When Madame started small, the business did great in knitwear and customers knew the brand for its winter’s collection. We wanted to evolve with the changing needs of our customers, and hence decided to grab attention by starting a summer collection,” Akhil adds.
Building a strong market reach
Despite the small beginning, Madame had one thing going for it: customer loyalty. With its strength in manufacturing, Madame was able to win over customers, who became loyal to the brand. Women preferred Madame to other brands and continued buying from it for several years, says Akhil, who is also a director at Madame.
Its first mover advantage and customer loyalty propelled Madame into becoming a widely-known brand for women’s apparel in India. It started making a wide range of clothes and accessories for women. The brand provided fast fashion and in-trend merchandise as well as casual wear and party wear.
Today, Madame has over 150 exclusive brand outlets across India and retails in over 600 multi-brand outlets. The brand opens stores at premium locations to get the desired footfalls. It also remodels its stores each month and upgrades the ambience.
Akhil says the brand sells 11 lakh pieces of apparel each year through these exclusive stores alone. It also sells on Myntra, Jabong and Amazon.
Last year, Madame recorded a turnover of Rs 320 crore.
Jain Amar’s and Madame’s common manufacturing setup is based in Ludhiana and employs over 2,500 people. The facilities span seven lakh square feet, and feature semi-automatic and fully-automatic machinery from Japan, Germany and Korea.
“Our plants have a manufacturing capacity of over 20 lakh pieces of apparel per year. The central distribution system can hold over five lakh units of inventory,” Akhil adds.
Madame also makes handbags, shoes, sunglasses, jewellery and other accessories. “I don’t think there is any other Indian brand which sells different categories of products under one name like we do,” Akhil remarks.
Competition and future plans
Madame had a head start, but is now competing in a space where several brands are looking for a bigger piece of the pie.
The women's apparel market in India is growing significantly post 2015 and will touch Rs 2.9 lakh crore by 2028, according to Statista data. The spurt in the number of working women in India is attributed as a primary reason for this growth.
“Vero Moda, Mango and Cover Story are our competitors. With more brands entering the same space, it gets tough at times, especially with our issues with capital,” Akhil admits.
To stay ahead, Madame can rely on customer loyalty. In fact, the brand name itself helps boost its USP in the market.
Madame is originally a French word equivalent to “Mrs” in English. This helps the brand position itself as an international brand and bring a premium feel to its image.
“Most people don’t know Madame manufactures its products in Ludhiana and is headquartered in Gurugram. Our international brand positioning allows us to bring new styles every year with experimental fabrics. We are able to make bold fashion statements and keep up with international trends. Sometimes we are even ahead of them,” Akhil says.
Madame’s target customers are women between the ages of 21 and 35. The brand spends nearly five percent of its revenue on marketing and advertising activities. Its social media posts and ads help it showcase its collections to customers and also boost its ecommerce sales.
Soon, Madame will focus on building franchises across the nation. It will be investing more in new manufacturing technologies as well as on marketing.
“Our focus will be on outsourcing much of our fashion line, though our own factories will be used for making apparel for our forthcoming seasons’ lines. Growth of our own online store will also be a strong focus over the next two years,” Akhil says.
(Edited by Javed Gaihlot)