Trendy clothes are never out of fashion. We regularly want updates in our wardrobe, setting our hands upon the unique designs, comfortable fabric and getting a smart look. Upping the fashion game, the retailers fill that void or sometimes create that void by launching a unique concept, which has transformed India’s apparel business. The market is so competitive that only the best survives and one such exemplary example is Veirdo. From its name to its design, to its overall feel is curated keeping the youth in mind. What would Veirdo signify? Does it signify weirdness or does it subconsciously tell you that you are unique and that you don’t have to worry about the judgemental gazes? Well, I feel that clothing is an important part of your personality. It is not just the trends that matter, but what you convey and why you choose a particular brand matter. How it fits you, physically and mentally. It may or may not matter to many, but it is important to know that it conveys a message. The message is that you are unique, that you are a Veirdo and that it’s okay to be different. Well, if not until now, there is no harm in having a different perspective about clothing and brands. Just ponder on how your clothes speak for you.
Well, we spoke to Dhaval Ahir, Co-founder, Veirdo, how the brand talks about embracing the inner weirdness with style; misfits and the role of social media to establish a fashion culture and provide creative control to the consumers for choosing their fashion statement: Excerpts:
How did you come up with the apparel business idea? Also, why name it Veirdo?
We wanted a business idea that promoted weirdness. We met as a small group of friends on weekends and evenings to throw around ideas for years. It took several months to research, learn, plan and revisit all assumptions before doing anything concrete. In hindsight, we are fortunate to have dropped other ideas early on and gave Veirdo the time to evolve and develop to the great idea it was and still is. Every human being is weird in their own way, and we are all about embracing that inner weirdness with style! We thought, what can be a better medium to express the inner weirdness, if not by our clothes? Hence the name Veirdo.
How is Veirdo different from other fashion labels?
They call us misfits. They call us whatever they want. We know we are free-spirited, and we are embracing it with grace and style. We want every trendsetter to hop on the board and seize the opportunity to bring out their inner elements and let them speak with their fashion! It is like walking into a room and owning it. So, we bring you a variety of options to choose from. It can be something that suits your style or helps you enhance your existing wardrobe. With our fashionable range of apparel, one can decide on what to express and gives the power to recreate every moment.
The differential strategy adopted by you to break the clutter and create a niche for your brand?
Never underestimate the power of the fun factor. Experiences have a much greater impact on consumers than any static picture or message. Engaging campaigns presents a great opportunity to personalize the experience and get your audience involved with your brand. Involving them in a conversation by asking for their input on topics or opening up to questions helps build the connection. Developing participative campaigns have resulted in increasing our social engagement. This in turn gives us a better idea for shaping and adopting a successful and differential strategy to run these campaigns in the future.
Views on the growing fashion e-commerce space:
India is expected to become one of the world’s fastest-growing e-tail markets, driven by robust investment in the sector and a rapid increase in the number of internet users. Under Government initiatives like ‘Digital India’, the internet has penetrated among 400 million-plus users while 48,000-gram panchayats are connected by optical fibres under the Bharatnet Program and 120.8 million have broadband access. The increasing spectrum of Internet reach across geographies of the country coupled with the corporatization of the apparel sector is paving the way for the emergence of e-commerce as a major retail channel in the apparel category. We are optimistic about the growth in fashion and are expecting to see the boom in the eCommerce space continue for the next 5-10 years or even more.
What challenges have you faced while starting a business in the Indian market?
Common challenges are generally related to basics such as hiring and managing a team, dealing with customers, and developing a marketing strategy. We recognized and effectively controlled the preliminary challenges when we first started, and now have developed a successful internal system in place for the long haul. In our subcontinent market space, customers want quality at an affordable price. Therefore, we endorse quality products to meet the specific customer requirements and build satisfaction. Moreover, by offering good quality, we reap the benefits of cost reduction by making our product carry a competitive price.
How much initial investment did you have for Veirdo?
The three of us were always keen to start something of our own. After passing out in 2013, we were developing websites for our clients. During that process, we were witnessing the growth of the e-commerce business and realised that this was the future. Since our interest was clothes and fashion, we decided to start our venture with men’s clothing, mainly t-shirts. We started our research in 2015 and after doing our initial groundwork we launched our own company Veirdo. Our initial investment was Rs 5 lakhs, with an equal share by each of us.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
While you’ll have to wear a lot of different hats, especially during the business’s earliest stages, my advice would be to avoid assigning too much burden on yourself for too long or expect yourself to dive into a highly complicated task with no prior training. The key is to develop a strong understanding of your skills and weaknesses so you know where to best focus your attention. Having a passion for something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your all-time favourite activity or type of business. It does mean that you won’t quickly grow tired of running that type of business. A part of it appeals to you and, ideally, you can use some combination of existing knowledge or skills related to parts or all of the operations to your advantage.
What is the role of social media marketing in today’s apparel business?
Social media platforms allow businesses to project their brand to customers, especially when it comes to highly visual and scrollable platforms like Instagram or Twitter. For customers to connect with the brand and understand the overall messaging, fashion businesses need to create a cohesive visual and written message. When they click on our profile page, they should immediately understand what the brand stands for. With these platforms, it becomes more than just marketing our premium clothing, it becomes a way to build and establish a fashion culture and provide creative control to the consumers for choosing their fashion statement.
What marketing strategy you are adopting for the brand image?
Claiming that almost everyone is now on social media is not an exaggeration. Instagram itself has over a billion active users, and that number is still growing. That’s a market you just can’t ignore. For Veirdo, we leverage our popularity on social media because it takes our message to new audiences easily and overcomes traditional marketing barriers. Our campaign strategy focuses on building shareable ideas for users to spread and promote our unique offerings. This way we are reaching new audiences almost effortlessly. We ensure that our message stands out from the crowd to get recognition from potential customers and our existing audience also enjoys being associated with our brand.