With Cover Story, Manjula Tiwari is putting an ‘Indian spin’ to fast fashion
Inspired from London runway fashion but maintaining its roots in India, Cover Story creates fast fashion tailor-made for the Indian consumer.
Fast fashion is the latest buzzword in the fashion industry. With trends changing in the blink of an eye, its reach, thanks to social media, cannot be ignored.
It comes as no surprise then, that brands are emphasising on it more than ever. Cover Story is one such brand, which draws inspiration from London runway fashion, yet maintaining its roots in India, creating fast fashion tailor-made for the Indian consumer.
That’s not all. Cover Story also serves as an online platform to serve consumer needs. Manjula Tiwari, the brain behind the brand says “A Cover Story Experience” is what the brand envisions every consumer walk back home with. “We at Cover Story consider our consumer to be the heart of the brand, and thus we work towards every touch point very precisely, be it the overall store experience, customer service both online and offline and most importantly the product,” she says.
With 23 years of experience in the fashion industry, Manjula has held key positions, building brands and retail businesses.
Manjula’s agenda is to maximise product efficiency through innovative product development, better logistics, and great designs.
How does fast fashion fare against conventional ideas of shopping in a market like India? To this, Manjula says, “In this era of Instagram and instant flow of information, fashion consumers are same across the world and trends reach the consumers in the blink of an eye. With the growing affinity towards international fashion and trends, we want to give our consumers an international fast fashion experience. An Indian brand offering them such an experience would mean offering the consumer the best of both worlds.”
While offering the international fast fashion experience in India, it is important to know the consumer, her aspirations and how it is different from that of her international counterparts.
Manjula has her finger firmly on the pulse of the changing scene. She acknowledges that each Indian woman is unique with her eclectic choice of colours, styles, and trends. “In order to take care of her aspirations and requirements, a brand has to keep its consumer at the centre, and the tone of the brand has to be built around the same. They may want to embrace the international fashion but without compromising their Indian roots which in itself is unique to every Indian woman,” she says.
Cover Story’s design house is based in London, and Manjula says she chose the city because it is the hub of art, be it fashion, design or music.
Explaining the process, she says, “Our team in London takes inspiration not only from runways but also from street style and social media like Instagram. Our London team amalgamates all ideas and inspirations, and our merchandise team in India acts as the link between the consumers and our designers by identifying global designs that will work for the Indian market.”
Then comes the adaptation process, wherein everything from Indian body-type to the weather patterns are taken into consideration.
“The shape and the fit are kept such that the designs flatter the Indian physique and skin tone. Even the weather is taken into consideration while deciding the fabric. We may take inspiration from across the globe, but will always remain Indian at heart,” she says.
Manjula has previously worked with brands like Esprit, Benetton, Wills, Lee Cooper and Jabong. As Senior Vice President (women's segment) for Jabong, she helped the business gain leadership in women's fashion segment. Prior to that, she has served as the COO of Esprit in India and as head of product, United Colors of Benetton.
She swears by the three essential one must have while working in the fast fashion space - knowing the customer and her needs, adapting to the fast-changing environment, and ensuring a complete brand experience.
She is opposed to the huge discounts and promotions that brands offer to lure customers and says she would like to see better in-store experience.
Launched in April 2016, Cover Story has expanded rapidly and is today present across 37 shops across 22 cities. There are 17 standalone stores in Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Surat, Coimbatore and Kochi and the company also has an online presence with Myntra and Jabong.
So, what does the future look like for Cover Story? Manjula says she wants to expand the line in multiple categories. It plans to open over 100 stores in the next five years, particularly in smaller towns where consumers are more likely to find unedited international styles too provocative.
Manjula calls herself “an entrepreneur with a dream”. Her personal style is minimalistic and fuss-free and she prefers independent designers and high street brands.