Shailesh Chaturvedi, managing director and CEO, PVH brands at Arvind, spoke of gradual recovery in apparel, fashion as a mood lifter and rise in online sales
On Tuesday, Arrow, the American menswear label from Arvind Fashions Ltd, announced the appointment of actor Hrithik Roshan as its brand ambassador. Talking on the occasion, Shailesh Chaturvedi, managing director and CEO, PVH brands at Arvind, that includes Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, spoke of gradual recovery in apparel, fashion as a mood lifter and rise in online sales. Edited excerpts from an interview:
The first milestone that we saw where the energy came back was the weekend of Eid and Rakhi. Very pleasantly, we saw a lot of customers come to shop, in stores, and also online. Online really took off that weekend. 15 August was also an encouraging weekend. Now with September, where Unlock 4 has happened, we are seeing almost all our shops are open—offline and online. And business has crossed 60% of last year.
These are encouraging signs of revival and promising early-stage of revival and we’re hoping that as we move towards Puja and Diwali, things will come very close to last year and we feel hopeful, that by spring-summer, that is, by Feb-March 2021, things should be normal.
Where are consumers shopping more?
Of course, online is growing much faster right now than offline. But we are seeing overall promising early signs. So, there is a lot of energy in that.
In the beginning, we saw high streets were doing better than malls. But all restrictions are now lifted since Unlock 4 and most cities and markets are open. So today, mall stores have also picked up; so, it is a stage-wise recovery. First online picked up, then the high street picked up, now malls have picked up. We’re still at 60%, so we should not overplay that number because it’s still 40% to go and we believe part of that will get covered in Diwali and part of it by early next year—spring-summer. So, it is still a journey ahead but it’s better than what it was, say, in May.
With continuation of work from home, formal wear brand Arrow must have been badly hit?
We are fortunate at Arrow that we have three distinct lines. One is the way the brand started in 1851—the premium formal. Second is a line—relaxed workwear, under Arrow Sports; we also have a young, urban, fashion fitted garments (range) called Arrow, New York. What happens is based on the season of the year, and also the market condition, we keep revolving our collection.
It’s quite obvious today people are working from home and not from offices as much. The way people dress up for work from home is quite relaxed—yoga pants, elegant T-shirts and relaxed footwear. Arrow Sport has a lot of those categories, so we have increased the proportion of Arrow Sports which is more than 30% of the Arrow business. With work from home continuing, we are taking bets on lines like athleisure.
Is this really good time to get a celebrity for Arrow?
I genuinely believe that fashion is like a vaccine, it’s a mood lifter. So, it’s a point where we are clearly saying, we need to spur demand now. A celebrity in a very well-styled glamorous ad campaign, will spur demand.
Is the store expansion for your brands on hold?
For Arrow, we opened 25 stores since February because that was our plan. We will open another 20 stores from now till December. But one has to be cautious, not take risky calls at this time. But opening a store in a good location, in a big city, could be a good idea, and also sometime in a slowdown you might get some good deals, whether it’s on high streets or in malls. So we will be cautiously optimistic, if it makes sense, we will open.
How much will online contribute to your sales, say, a year from now?
In Arrow and in the general portfolio, typically the online contribution to a brand business is now crossing 20%. And in covid times, if you look at only those three months of the lockdown, it could be higher. But on a steady state post-covid, I think the online contribution could be between 20% to 25% in brand Arrow and typically for other brands also.
With discretionary incomes down, how are your premium brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger being affected?
People spend when they are in a good mood and not necessarily directly related to their cheques per month. If we make people feel good, people will shop. It’s like a retail therapy.
We’re not talking about the real estate, multi-crore purchase decision here, or expensive car. This is a consumer product at a very affordable ticket size.
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