With the onset of the pandemic, when most of the retail went online and the trends became more suited to incorporate a comfortable WFH lifestyle, brands signed up for a learning curve. GUESS, the global fashion brand with a legacy of almost four decades in bringing trendsetting apparel and accessories, recently relaunched its first store at the DLF Mall of India, Noida. The brand has initiated its expansion spree with collections that are tailor made for the post-pandemic landscape. To learn more on this, Financial Express spoke to Manoj Kumar Nair, Chief Executive Officer at Gaurik Lifestyle. Excerpts:
What are the upcoming fashion trends in terms of accessories that will be big in 2021?
According to a Unicommerce Report, the online fashion industry has grown 51% in this financial year. Accessories are becoming the favourites of the new age consumer. We should be looking at bold, statement pieces to accentuate the more casual athleisure apparel. Chunky, gold-tune jewellery paired with pastel coloured, over the top sunglasses is something that balances the casual aesthetic. We’re again going extreme with the bags- from mini, shoulder bags to large totes, everything makes sense to Gen Z and Millenials.
Can you share the new product lineup by GUESS in India? What other new collections should we look forward to?
We are an iconic brand that caters to a wide age demographic ranging from a teenager to even a retired individual. We have relaunched in the market with the new Spring/Summer 2021 Collection that brings our trendsetting, timeless range of denims, dresses, apparel, shoes, and so much more to the consumers. The upcoming collection features vintage florals, fun prints and classic pastels, and it represents the young, contemporary and timeless vibe of the brand that it is renowned around the world. A key part of the collection will be the accessories and wide range of handbags- from satchels to totes and backpacks to luggage, there is something for everyone at the store.
The upcoming Fall/Winter Collection 2021 will witness the exclusive athleisure wear entering the Indian markets. This will feature chic, comfortable and playful designs crafted to suit the work from home, multitasking environment. The collection will give the consumers the comfort they are looking for, without compromising on the style.
We see a shift in trend to more comfort-driven clothing post-pandemic. What are some other changes the fashion industry is likely to witness? What is the USP of Guess’s athleisure collection?
Well, the fashion industry is definitely adapting to the post-pandemic landscape. The current state of fashion is comfort. It means that comfortable, casual-aesthetic clothing is becoming the consumers’ lifestyle now. Working from home without any limitations has cultivated this environment suited for multitasking.
Even beyond that, the modern consumer has also become more health conscious, they want to look after their wellness & fitness and athleisure is making it easier for them. They now have more designer fashion choices that are comfortable as well as stylish.
We are coming up with our Athleisure Collection this fall/winter season to address the same shift in trend. For far too long, there have been a restricted few options for activewear in our country. What the consumers need is a more fashion-centric, trendy approach to activewear which this collection will be introducing. Guess’ Athleisure Collection will be the bridge between comfort and style and sits right at the junction of exclusivity.
What will be the fashion industry outlook by 2025? What does it mean for the brands entering India?
I believe, in the coming years, it will be essential for a brand to leverage all the channels of communication with its consumers. We need to note that even though digitalization of shopping has gone up during the pandemic, brick and mortar is here to stay. It enables a brand to create an experiential environment for the consumer. So, one has to complement the other for the brand to survive.
Another key element to observe in the following years is the incoming sustainable revolution. Millennials and Gen Z, who account for more than half of the sales in the industry, are the flag bearers of this revolution and they wish to associate themselves with brands that align their values with eco-friendly and sustainable manufacturing practices. Moreover, being eco friendly and sustainable is more than just a commercial decision, it’s a moral responsibility.
Even at Guess, we are entirely transforming our production processes to be more sustainable and environment friendly. We’re looking into recycling plastic waste to create yarn and using organic cotton for our denims, introducing the Indigo Flow Process which reduces the water consumption for washes by 70% while increasing the dye penetration, and reducing the use of chemicals massively.
Can you share some Guess’ India business expansion plans and retail strategy for FY 21-22? What are the expectations?
As per the Retail Association of India, the retail industry achieved 93% of pre-covid sales in February 2021. The market size is projected to reach close to US$ 1.3 trillion by the year 2024. Things are looking good for the retail sector in India. At GUESS, we expect to reach the 300 crores mark in the next 5 years.
Guess is a global fashion brand with a legacy of almost four decades in bringing trendsetting apparel and accessories. As part of our expansion strategy, the brand first plans to expand the base to the tier-1 metropolitan cities and slowly penetrate into tier-2 metros, touching the top grossing malls for the ease of our consumers. Then, we will gradually look into approaching the micro markets and launching accessory stores in smaller cities that will carry our key categories like handbags, watches etc.
We opened our first store at the DLF Mall of India, Noida recently and are planning to further open up at prime locations in Mumbai and Pune in the coming months. The aim is to launch more than 10 stores by the end of this financial year.
The market sentiments post-pandemic have been quite buoyant in terms of retail. The consumer demand has continued to improve after the second wave which paves the way for our entry in the Indian Market.