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Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Amazon Fashion to sell affordable designer wear in India

  • The brand will feature everyday essentials and occasion wear from designers Ashish Soni, JJ Valaya, Manish Arora and Suneet Varma priced between 999 to 9,999

NEW DELHI: With Indians becoming thriftier and missing out on large social gatherings and occasions, Amazon said it will retail a more affordable designer-led clothing brand, River, ahead of the peak festive season sales in India.

The move will help expand Amazon Fashion’s value offerings—as covid 19 has contracted household budgets especially for categories such as apparel among other discretionary purchases.

The brand will feature everyday essentials and occasion wear from designers Ashish Soni, JJ Valaya, Manish Arora and Suneet Varma priced between 999 to 9,999. The collection will comprise apparel across western and ethnic wear including dresses, tunics, sarees, jumpsuits, formal casual jackets, for both men and women.

Typically, designer ready-to-wear is priced much higher and appeals to India's more affluent shoppers.

Amazon Fashion will sell this collection through DBS Lifestyle—a design, sourcing and manufacturing company that will manufacture the apparel designed by the four designers. These designs will be retailed only on Amazon Fashion.

Mayank Shivam, director, strategic initiatives, Amazon Fashion India said even before covid, customers were looking for value. “We have seen more of the value brands do well. Now with post-covid lockdown those brands are actually growing and bouncing back faster than some of the more popular brands," said Shivam.

Retailers are dialling up tie-ups with value brands especially as they expect online sales to be robust this year. Amazon could line up more value offerings as the festive season progresses.

Last month, it on-boarded Landmark Group promoted value fashion retailer Easybuy that retails affordable fashion apparel in India's small towns and cities. Rival Flipkart on-boarded Max Fashion earlier this month.

For Indian designers, the move comes at a time when the wedding market and the market for occasion wear has crumbled. Designers are paring their designs and offering collections suited for small gatherings and selling casual wear.

Designer Ashish Soni, who designs high-end clothing for men, said the fashion industry’s business was down by nearly 60-65% over the last few months resulting in job losses.

Soni said the collaboration with Amazon will help designers like him expand their reach and access to India’s young shoppers without the expensive price tags. This is especially true for shoppers in India’s non-metros where fewer studios and stores selling designer-wear exist.

“Consumers are not splurging. In my case, specifically, we wanted to do a line around comfort, easy to wear (clothes). This collaboration could be a silver lining. That’s what people want—simplistic and minimalistic clothing—stuff they are comfortable in and where they don’t have to spend an arm and a leg acquiring it. These factors will play a big role in the way purchases will get influenced," he said.

The designer’s clothing line, designed only for Amazon, will be priced on an average between 1,999 and 4,999, down from the typical kurta that can cost above 10,000 or jackets priced upwards of 20,000

Soni said shoppers, even affluent ones, have turned more deal-seeking due to the pandemic and related restrictions.

Sale of apparel fell nearly 25% compared to a year ago period, Euromonitor said in a report earlier this week, while that of footwear is down by 30%. Limited and restricted mobility impacts fashion purchases, it said.

With people avoiding busy markets and malls, online retailers are expanding their seller base as they gear up for festive sales that are expected to almost double in two months to touch $7 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV), according to estimates by consulting firm RedSeer.

Shivam said Amazon Fashion had seen more than 80% of its new customers emerge from tier 2 to tier 4 cities. “My current customer base...more than 65% is from tier 2 and tier 3 towns and those customers are very aware of their fashion, they have exposure and they know what they want but they don’t have access," he said.

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