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Future Lifestyle sets up design studio in UK

 
 

Sapna Agarwal, MINT

Mumbai, 25 September 2015

With brands like Zara and Forever 21 gaining acceptance and rapidly growing their businesses in India, Kishore Biyani-led Future Lifestyle Fashions Ltd has set up a design studio in London to tap into the vibrant fast fashion market. The studio will launch its first fast fashion brand with global design sensibilities in spring-summer 2016.

Located in Victoria, London, Future Style Lab houses an international team of designers and merchandising experts. It will infuse the brands Future Lifestyle sells such as Lee Cooper, Indigo Nation, Scullers, Urbana, John Miller, Jealous 21, UMM and RIG with a global design ethic, besides curating the new fast fashion brand.

“Indian fashion is evolving at a rapid pace and incorporating global trends and sensibilities. Women in India today shop for fresh fashion 8-10 times a year. Our design studio in London will develop a fast fashion brand that responds to these needs and infuses our brands with global sensibilities and innovation in design and sourcing,” said Kishore Biyani, managing director, Future Lifestyle Fashions.

London’s Victoria district has emerged as the new fashion hub. While the likes of designer Tom Ford and luxury label Burberry have their headquarters in the neighbourhood, offices of lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret, fashion label Dolce and Gabbana, luxury behemoth Richemont and shoemaker Jimmy Choo are in close proximity.

The company has hired Manjula Tiwari from fashion and lifestyle e-tailer Jabong to lead Future Style Lab. Tiwari has over two decades’ experience in the fashion industry and was invol-ved in introducing global brands such as Espirit and United Colors of Benetton in India.

The design team will be led by Ainsley Dart, who has directed large design teams of multi-product, fast fashion brands and worked with textile suppliers such as Courtalds and Dewhirst.

Biyani’s plan to launch a fast fashion brand comes at a time when Swedish fashion retailer Hennes and Mauritz AB (H&M) is ready to launch its first store in India in October. UK-based Arcadia Group’s fashion brands Topshop and Topman made their debut in the Indian market with fashion e-tailer Jabong in the past week. Topshop has about 400 new styles hitting its 300 stores in the UK every week. These are then available at all its global stores and geographies within a week of launch.

“The plan is to make these available in India as well,” said Jacqui Markham, global design director, Topshop.

Moreover, existing global retailers like Zara, Forever 21 and Gap are also expanding in India. Since its launch five years ago, Spanish fast-fashion brand Zara, which has 16 stores in the country, has clocked revenue of Rs.721 crore for the financial year ended 2015—a growth of 24% over the year ago period.

Los Angeles-based Forever 21 has nine stores in India and plans to add five to six every year. “On average, each Forever 21 store does Rs.35 crore of business per year,” said Deepak Agarwal, CEO, DLF Brands Ltd, the brand’s joint venture partner in India in an earlier interview.

Likewise, US-based Gap Inc., which launched its first store in May in a franchise agreement with Arvind Brands, will have nine stores by the end of the fiscal, said J. Suresh, CEO, Arvind Brands.

The fast fashion business model is different from that of department stores or traditional retailers. It takes global fashion trends and makes them available within a very short time span—which could be a week or so—in stores. It involves continuous refreshes that keeps interest levels high among consumers who are fashion conscious.

Analysts believe Biyani will benefit by making the transition. “For Future Group, the fact that it is entrepreneurial and has its manufacturing base located here will allow it to do the continuous refreshes in good speed. It could work to its advantage,” said Devangshu Dutta, CEO at consulting company Third Eyesight.

(Published in Mint.)

 
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