From 2 stores to over 170 points of sale, how Delhi-based KAZO taps into the Indian customer’s thirst for international fashion
Strolling through a mall or a high street market in metro cities, it’s hard to miss a warm ambient store called, known for its rich western designs. However, not many would be aware that this international-sounding brand is in reality, completely Made in India with its genesis in Delhi.
In an exclusive chat with SMBStory, Deepak Aggarwal, Founder, CEO and Managing Director of KAZO says that after completing his graduation, he wanted to do something of his own and not join the family business. This led him to start a small garment export house in 1991. Running this business for about 15 years gave Deepak a good understanding of the industry and he soon realised there was a wide gap in the western clothing market in India.
“There were no affordable, high-street, international fashion wear brands in India,” he adds.
To address the gap and bring a new dimension to women’s fashion in India, in 2007, Deepak started KAZO by investing approximately Rs 40 lakh of his own. Today, Deepak claims the company clocks a turnover of Rs 100 crore, with more than 170 points of sale across 70 cities in India.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
SMBStory [SMBS]: What is the inspiration behind KAZO and how is it meeting the demands of the customers?
Deepak Aggarwal [DA]: From a very young age, I was passionate about fashion and used my clothes to express myself. My inspiration behind the brand came into being with the aim to amalgamate international fashion and trends with a dressy fashion quotient and thus create an iconic style for the modern Indian woman today.
With KAZO, we target the fashion hungry trendsetting women of today who like to own their individual style and elegance and love making a statement with panache, flair, and confidence.
KAZO serves its customers pan India and the products are manufactured in Noida, Bangladesh as well as Tirupur. About 80 percent of our production is done locally in India, while the other 20 percent is outsourced from fully compliant mills across China and Bangladesh.
SMBS: How does KAZO differentiate itself from its peer brands like MADAME, AND etc,?
DA: KAZO is a women’s fast fashion brand with a vast collection that epitomizes the stylish, chic, and ornate lifestyle of today’s trendsetting women. With a design studio based in Milan, we aim to bridge the gap between ever-changing trends and premium occasion wear by mingling them into brands with attires that express uniqueness, dynamism, and a vibrant personality – therefore redefining fast fashion in a distinctive manner. The garments designed are not only fashionable and trendy but foster sustainability and functionality; whilst being retailed at reasonable prices hence targeting a wider customer base.
SMBS: How is the brand working around sustainability, given many brands are adhering to the concept now?
DA: The term sustainability is big and holistic, and Kazo is venturing into sustainability as we understand how important being sustainable truly is.
At Kazo, the best cotton, recycled polyester and fabrics are used in the making of products. The batteries used for manufacturing are also sustainable. The brand is also particular about working with factories that run on sustainable programmes like zero water discharge, solar energy to name a few.
Kazo is consciously working towards being a more sustainable brand, we strive to use 80 percent of sustainably sourced materials by the year 2025. The brand embodies environment-friendly values through minimising waste. For instance, last year, the label upcycled by making scrunchies and face masks from leftover fabric.
Kazo’s manufacturing units have solar panels installed which reduces energy consumption and promotes renewable energy making it extremely beneficial for the environment. The brand promotes equality and stands true to its values by supporting female employment. More than 55 percent of direct and indirect jobs at Kazo are fostered and created for females.
SMBS: How was the pandemic period for the brand, given its wide presence in the offline retail market?
DA: We saw a major success point for the brand with the expansion of the business, all thanks to taking and implementing the right decisions during the pandemic. The other key factor was negotiations and working and focusing on merchandising.
The entirety of the design team has been aggressive in its approach towards introducing new products and inculcating a new approach towards the design concepts.
Our focus primarily remains and is targeted towards the expansion of the brand. Last year, we opened 20 Exclusive Brand Outlets (EBOs) and accordingly the target for the current year is to open the same number of EBOs if not more.
SMBS: What are the major challenges in the business?
DA: I think one of the major challenges has been finding the right retail space and correct brand mix in malls. As of now, malls already hold established international brands and there has been difficulty in getting recognised as an international western wear brand.
Another challenge I have faced as a supplier to international fashion brands for a long time while running my export house parallelly, is understanding the retail business in the Indian market. This segment requires a completely different method of functioning and mindset as compared to what we’ve been doing in a private label manufacturing.
SMBS: What are your future plans with regards to KAZO?
DA: Our vision is to inspire all women in owning their individual style with confidence, elegance, and courage through fashion. This vision, therefore, fuels our passion for expanding further and having more than 500 points of sale across India. We also plan on diversifying our brand and diving into segments such as beauty, footwear, furniture, and home décor as well as ethnic wear.
We are also planning to foray overseas with expansion into the UAE very soon.