Monday, June 15, 2009

with Mr. Sridharan Ramprasad, CEO, LERROS Fashions India

Fashion in India goes back to the ancient Indus valley civilization with rapid advancement taking place in the7th century. Each region of India boasts a unique culture and tradition, translating India into one of the most fashionable country in the world. But the current situation is not that exciting with fashion industry falling behind other industries in meeting consumer expectations. We interacted with Mr. Sridharan Ramprasad, CEO, LERROS Fashions India and had a healthy discussion on a wider aspect of issues related to industry and Lerros as a whole. A graduate of IIM Ahmedabad (‘96-’98 batch), Mr Sridharan was the Director of Sales and Retail at Reebok India prior to the current assignment.

What do you think about the potential of the Indian fashion market as a whole and the premium wear market in particular?
The Indian fashion market is at a very early stage of its evolution. Considering that I believe that the potential is immense. The premium wear market is particularly underdeveloped with only a handful of the international brands present in the market. This I believe would be one of the fastest growing segments of the fashion industry. The key for the players would be to make the consumer believe that they are getting in the stores in India the same product at the same price at the same time as time is of essence in the fashion market. Every fashion article has a use by date.

How do you suffice your entry in India in the heights of recession?
Business cycles are imminent and unavoidable. Recession will be followed by a period of growth. While recession has affected our growth plans, we are setting up a solid base to take advantage of the growth period that will follow. One of the advantages of the recession has been that the real estate rentals have fallen to more reasonable levels and will stand us in good stead in time to come.

Lerros is a new player and how does it feel the heat of competition, with large number of brands playing around viz a viz designer brand?
Differentiation is the key for success in a competitive market. The differentiation has to be relevant to the consumer. One of the key target segments for LERROS is the 25 to 40 year old men and women. We feel that especially in the women’s category there is very little choice for the consumer as far as western casual wear is concerned.

Does the current way of marketing practiced in the Indian fashion industry need to be course corrected with respect to their low penetration in the garment industry?
One of the key’s to fashion is that you cannot please everyone. Every brand has a core target consumer segment and has to market itself to this consumer in media and touch points relevant to the consumer base. Hence for a brand like ours that does not have a wide reach yet, in store Retail Marketing and direct contact with consumers will provide the key. Activations and creation of consumer experiences at various touch points will also be critical in reaching out to the target audience. To answer your question every brand will have to look at its consumer segment and plan its marketing activities accordingly.

Can you elaborate on the role of fashion events in showcasing products and enhancing the brand equity?
Fashion events set the trend for the season. They also educate and inform the consumer about the trends and possibilities.
What in your view is the solution to plagiarism in the Indian fashion industry?
As the industry evolves and matures we will see this issue affecting us less and less. Over a period of time Indian fashion will establish its own distinct footprint. Finally, we would like to hear from you the opportunities for management graduates in the Indian fashion industry and also the skill sets required for making big. Fashion and fashion retail is one of the fastest growing industries in the country. For management graduates it offers a unique opportunity of working across segments. In this industry one can move across the streams of Sales, Marketing, Product Management, and Retail Operations. This horizontal mobility in the sector offers a huge learning and growth opportunity

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