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Jacqui Markham of British high street brand Topshop on taking the e-retail route in India and gauging the desi customer.

Written by Kimi Dangor | Updated: October 7, 2015 12:00:49 am

After years of speculation and a deal with Trent (the retail arm of the Tatas) that came to naught, Sir Philip Green’s much-coveted clothing brands — Topshop and Topman — have finally arrived in India. ‘Meet your new jeans’ read the flyer on Jabong.com, as the e-retail website announced its exclusive tie-up with the British high street womenswear and menswear brands. Even as both brands went live online last week, Jacqui Markham, Global Design Director, Topshop spoke to us about e-commerce strategies and digital dialogues:

High street brands such as Zara, H&M and Gap have entered India through standalone stores. Why has Topshop taken the e-retail route?
In India, we have chosen the e-retail route as it is an effective and convenient medium to understand the market and gauge the reaction of customers across the country. In contrast, the logistics of opening physical standalone stores will only get us a very localised response, conditioned by the locality of the stores that we have. Also, the vast choices that we can offer online is efficient to examine trending categories and varied target customers. Our presence in eight territories — namely Taiwan, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Belgium and Norway — is purely online.

Having worked with Asos.com, what have been some of your learnings vis-a-vis the online market?
E-commerce is evolving in India at a great pace and has a huge potential to turn it into a fashion dominant market. This kind of scenario extends many opportunities for experimentation and exercising flexibility to a brand. My brief experience of working with a pure e-retail player like Asos.com did give me an insight into the kind of rapid growth it offers and how consumers prefer convenience to shop on their mobile and ease of delivery. It definitely is a different dynamic when you are developing a product conscious of the fact that it is only going to be shown in an online space.

Are there any plans for starting physical stores in future?
We are exploring e-retail as the sole medium in India for now. We have closely witnessed the remarkable growth in the Indian fashion market and are looking forward to reaching out to the masses through Jabong. We might consider a physical presence in India depending on the response we receive.

Will the collections online be on par with internationally retailed lines or will there be India-specific curating?
The collection available at Jabong is exclusively for Indian consumers, curated after a thorough study of the country. We believe that Indian consumers are receptive to global fashion trends and adapt themselves to the styles very easily. Hence, the style and collection will be at par with the international market, but will probably vary depending on the season, making it suitable to India.

What is the mood-board for Topshop’s Fall-Winter 2015 collection?
The Topshop collection encapsulates a bohemian, ’70s-inspired mood and features laid-back, effortless pieces in an array of autumnal colours and floral motifs across clothing, shoes and accessories.

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