Designer Raghavendra Rathore says the demonetisation of high value currency notes has forced players in the Indian fashion industry to rework their business strategy in the face of growing competition from international brands. Rathore said with the November 8 move adversely impacting the real estate sector, a shake-out phase is on in the significantly cash-driven fashion industry, which is now seeing a paradigm shift and a clean-up following the advent of more transparent transactions. “I think a new order of sorts will emerge, and designers need to be prepared to modify their products and the environment they sell their products in, and get ready for competition which is going to be now global, because India that we knew till before November eight is going to change forever,” Rathore, a leading name in bespoke luxury men’s wear, told media.
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“I think, rusticness and charming part of India will not be the same because it’s more homogenous and we are competing now with international brands, because everything is on the credit card and everything is on the white. Big correction has taken place,” he says. Noting that demonetisation has led to “big changes” in the real estate, Rathore said there would a lot of cleanup in the fashion industry, where designers would have to calibrate to sustain business.
“Garage design days are over. One will have to slip into the big boy’s shoes and calibrate around. Prices of products will shoot up. There will be new price points. Comparative narrative of how luxury products in the Indian context are priced will correct itself. “It’s a big change. In the next two years there will be a very different India as we know it in terms of designs, labels and brands of India,” Rathore said.
Rathore opened his sixth bespoke boutique in the country, in Hyderabad last week. In addition, he has launched two stores – in Mumbai and Jaipur – ready-to-wear designer label under the brand name Imperial India Company, which is retail-oriented. He said he is looking to sell a stake to raise funds from strategic investors and private equity players. “We believe that we have a sound EBITDA, and the returns are out there for us to see. We are in talks. It’s very important to find right partners. We are looking at a certain dilution (of stake).
“We are in deep discussions with one party for different ventures, including luxury business and designer line that we have launched,” Rathore says. He also acknowledged that the biggest problem he is facing today is to find designers for the new century. “It’s difficult because everybody who is graduating is now coming out of the system which has been taught 20 years ago.”