“In India, the luxury sunglasses market seems to have augmented with the consistent lifestyle changes and increase of the urban culture”– Dilip Kapur, President, Hidesign
Dilip Kapur never knew that what started as a hobby crafting handbags and satchels in 1978 would turn into a Rs 150 crore enterprise by 2012. That is the story of Hidesign, a company which has carved a niche for itself in the bag and luggage industry. Now Dilip has trained his sights on the eyewear and launched Hidesign’s sunglasses collection in April 2013. He tells Vinita Bhatia why he decided to take a plunge into the eyewear business.
Vinita Bhatia (VB): Firstly, Mr Kapur let me congratulate you on the launch of Hidesign’s sunglasses. Now Hidesign is known for its bags and travel accessories? From this product domain why did the company not move into a segment like footwear or fashion accessories? Why did it decide to get into the eyewear space?
Dilip Kapur (DK): Thank you Vinita for your kind wishes. Coming to your question, in 2013 we chose to venture into sunglasses because India sees many people sporting sunglasses, be it for fashion or to protect their eyes from the sun. After permeating into the handbag market, sunglasses seemed to be a very distinct choice for us to extend into. Introducing Hidesign sunglasses adds to our natural progression into lifestyle categories. Sunglasses also make everyone look great and there aren’t many fashion-oriented sunglasses brands in the market that are natural and yet have great price points. We will look into other product categories in the near future.
VB:But the decision to diversify came more than a decade after Hidesign came into being. What prompted this shift?
DK: Well, though Hidesign has been around for almost 12 years, we have been in retail since 2000 when we began in India. The brand has become well established in last 3-4 years but increasingly we felt it was being identified as a category leader in leather bags and not a lifestyle brand. Therefore we believe the brand needs to expand into other lifestyle categories within accessories. You will now see a rapid expansion into other categories like shoes and scarves.
VB:What according to you is the year-on-year growth of the eyewear industry for the past 2 years? What are your projections for the industry and Hidesign’s eyewear range for the next 2 years?
DK: In India, the luxury sunglasses market seems to have augmented with the consistent lifestyle changes and increase of the urban culture. There seems to be an increased demand of hi-fashion sunglasses among the women since 2009. There is a huge underground market for sunglasses. Although the high end fashion segment of sunglasses is small but a very lucrative market; that’s what we’re looking to gratify.
We are expecting a return on investment of 32 percent on our new eye wear collection.
VB: According to various sources a majority of the market is dominated by the unorganized segment. Do you agree?
VB: So, if you agree that the majority of the eyewear market is ruled by the unorganized and unbranded players, why do you think will customers opt for Hidesign?
DK: In a market like India, even 20% (organised part of the market) is a huge opportunity. Sunglasses are increasingly being viewed as a fashion statement and natural area for fashion. We will be able to create good recall for Hidesign’s brands by laying emphasis on the values of a brand known to be natural and individualistic. Also the quality of our products will speak for themselves. Hidesign sunglasses are made of acetate and not plastic which is bio-degradable. We believe the customers will see value in buying sunglasses from a brand which lays a premium on being natural and creates quality products with a clear sense of fashion.
VB: Does your company manufacture the eyewear in-house or have you outsourced this to some other agency.
DK: The Sunglasses collection is designed by the in-house Design team at Hidesign. The branding is designed by our men’s accessories designer, Fabian Lintott. The sunglasses are manufactured and imported from the same company where the products of some of the top luxury brands are manufactured.
VB: Will Hidesign be working directly with the retail channels or will it appoint a national distributor?
DK: We plan to roll out sunglasses across India through our exclusive stores and will take charge of distribution for now.
VB:What is the price range of your eyewear?
DK: We are pricing our eyewear very aggressively between Rs 3000 to Rs 4500. This is priced just right for our target customers who are the highly savvy and sophisticated urban professional. We will also cater to this clientele by keeping our focus on a classic contemporary fashion statement with timeless yet edgy design. Hidesign customers are sensitive to ecology, appreciate our heritage of craftsmanship and value our vegetable tanned leathers. Hidesign hopes to address a wider TG with the launch of its Sunglasses collection. The target consumer falls in the age group of 20 years to 40 years (for both men and women).
The sunglasses collection aims to increase Hidesign’s offer and encourage repeat purchase with a distribution network of 40 exclusive Hidesign store across tier I and II cities in the first year.
VB: How will you tap these customers, who are not known to be very brand loyal?
DK: Launching the brand extension of sunglasses has led us to foray into a completely new market. Catering to customers of age 20 years and above, both men and women, has given us a chance to try out different avenues to market our product this time.
We launched an ad campaign exclusively for the Hidesign sunglasses advertised in the nationally circulated lifestyle and fashion magazines. We used our well oiled PR machinery to create visibility and value perception.
We are also focusing heavily on the non-traditional methods this time – Facebook, Twitter, blogosphere and more. Our Visual Merchandising team designed a completely up-beat window display for the launch of Hidesign sunglasses around the idea of – ‘Be Yourself’. We portrayed it through some of the worldwide famous eternal icons from music, movies and science.
VB:What will the design aesthetics of the eyewear models be? Since leather is Hidesign’s forte will the designs have a lot of leather embellishments?
DK: The collection consists of a wide range of retro-chic sunglasses with a contemporary edge. While blending vintage shapes with practicality and comfort, the sunglasses exude Hidesign’s philosophy of simplicity. Laying emphasis on the values of a brand known to be natural, the sunglasses are devoid of plastic and have been made using acetate, metal and leather. The collection has fashion staples like aviators, side-detail glasses and wayfarers for both men and women. Look out for the leather inlayed styles, which promise to become a Hidesign classic.
DK: Hidesign’s inhouse design team of designers along with Fabian Lintott in London and Alberto Ciaschini in Milan keep a tab of current fashion trends and will consistently update the collection in terms of shape and colours while creating a distinct Hidesign look every time.
VB: Will your focus for the eyewear sales be domestic or international since Hidesign’s products are available in international outlets as well?
DK: At present our focus is on the domestic market. We will look at our international distribution network for Sunglasses from next year.
At the moment, we have a total of 189 stores in India, either company owned or franchisee outlets. Internationally we have 12 stores, and more 1000 point of sales outlets.
VB: In India will your eyewear products be available only at your stand alone retail outlets or franchisee stores, or will it also be made available to opticians as well?
DK: We have come up with a strategy for a planned roll out of our eyewear pan-India in three phases. In Phase one, we will roll out our eyewear in 40 exclusive Hidesign stores across India. In Phase II we will enable our Hidesign website at www.hidesign.com. This website will help us sell directly to our end customers. And in Phase III, our eyewear will be available at all exclusive Hidesign stores as well as multi-brand outlets across India
At the moment, we have not decided to sell through opticians, but we might relook this option in the future
Expansion plans: By the next year, we aim to have over a 100 exclusive boutiques in India alone. Aiming for complete market saturation, we will cover all important areas and points, with wider expansion into tier II and tier III cities, like Siliguri and Nagpur.
Internationally we will continue to look at opportunities on a case to case basis, while growing our presence in existing markets.
VB: What was Hidesign’s turrover for 2012-13? What is the revenue addition you expect with the Hidesign sunglasses in 2013-14?
DK: Last fiscal year’s turnover was Rs 150 crore. We expect a revenue addition of Rs 11 crore.
VB: Thanks, Mr Kapur for outlining Hidesign’s plans for its eyewear business. We wish you all the best with this new venture.