Small batch brands and big ones can co-exist thanks to the power of digital and their individual brand identity. At the SheThePeople Digital Women Awards, we put the spotlight on “Fashion Commerce: What’s Next?” Ankita Bansal, co-founder, There! said,”Brands with a unique selling proposition will continue to see good interest and will be bolstered by digital reach.” Saudamini Mattu, CEO, AbuSandeep.com added to that saying, “Brands staying authentic will be the ones to ride any tech and scale change.” Neha Jhunjhunwala, founder of Studio13 also brought in the element of how commerce with a conscience is the way forward.

The Story Behind A Brand

The three panellists shared their brand motivations and what defines their distinctive brands. Saudamini Mattu elaborated upon her role of handling the business aspects of a luxurious, bespoke brand like AbuSandeep. She also drew attention to the brand’s efforts to diversify in order to cater to a larger market. Talking about how the brand has accommodated the changes in how women shop, Saudamini said, “Women have come a long way in the last 20-30 years. If women want to indulge themselves today, they don’t need someone else to come and do that for them. We all (women) are independent and know what we want.” Ankita Bansal defined her brand There!, a denim apparel store, as “a culmination of the love she has for people in general.” She explained that as any brand needs to have its USP, she and her sister, who is the co-founder, decided to make denim, a fabric they loved, the fulcrum of their clothing venture.

Ankita also explained that her brand caters to people of all sizes, something that she felt has been ignored by most fashion brands. Talking about her brand name that is open to interpretation, she said, “Someone told me that your brand name doesn’t need to have a story attached to it. It could just be anything as long as people relate to the story you’re trying to build.” Neha Jhunjhunwala described her brand as the result of her “need to fuel her creativity” and a “reflection of herself”. She also traced her brand’s journey from branding to concept invitations to tableware.

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Digital First?

In the era of digitalisation, fashion commerce, too, has incorporated aspects like e-commerce, social media marketing, and digital brand building. Ankita elaborated upon how her brand’s Instagram page and website have held it in good stead with customers worldwide, especially during the unprecedented times of the coronavirus-induced lockdowns. Additionally, she mentioned that her appearance in the Netflix series Indian Matchmaking boosted her and her brand’s social media presence. “Digitally, the kind of imprint you leave on people’s hearts and minds exceeds the benefits of having an offline store,” Ankita said. Saudamini, too, highlighted the value of “social commerce” for building a successful fashion brand. However, she said that digitalisation should be explored without foregoing “human touch” that makes shopping a personalised experience.

Neha said that the ongoing pandemic worked in the favour of her online store as people consumed more online content. “You can create a digital family when you post about your product on social media. You also come to know about the customers’ sensibilities through interactions,” she said.

Championing Indian Crafts And Sustainability

Neha mentioned how her brand champions the cause of sustainability through recyclable packaging. Additionally, Saudamini explained how AbuSandeep has incorporated traditional Indian designs, fabrics, and silhouettes in most of their designs. She said, “Our story has always been about India and its crafts.” The panellists also highlighted how they have modified their business operations in response to COVID-19. Ankita talked about ensuring a stringent delivery pattern with minimal contact, trying to reduce returns as much as possible, and constant sanitisation.

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Advice to My Young Self:

Ankita advised that one shouldn’t be afraid to fail, while Saudamini advocated authenticity. Neha advised against imitation and hailed creativity.

Tarini Gandhiok is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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