Can you tell us about the origin story of TIGC? What inspired you to start a fast fashion
D2C men’s wear brand, and how did you come up with the idea?
I come from a family of garment manufacturers, which inspired me to pursue a career in the fashion industry. I started off by organizing an exhibition of surplus branded garments during my college days. To gain further technical expertise, I worked at my uncle’s factory for 2 years, which was one of India’s leading apparel manufacturers. I gained invaluable production and fabric knowledge, which gave me the confidence to start my own brand in The Indian Garage Co. was launched to bridge the gap in the value fashion market for menswear in India.
The Indian Garage Co. initially established an offline distribution channel to offer affordable fast fashion for men’s casual wear in India. However, we soon realized that there were factors that were a deterrent to our growth. The first one is product lead time, which would take anywhere between 3 and 4 months for products to reach stores. Another major factor was when retailers imposed their preferences and filtered the product catalog, hindering the brand’s fashion offerings. This deprived consumer of fashionable choices, forcing them to buy what was available.
To overcome this challenge, we recognized the potential of e-commerce and pivoted towards establishing a strong direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand, which gave consumers the freedom to choose their fashion and designers the freedom to experiment with designs. We were able to make real-time adjustments and swiftly provide customers with innovative fashion solutions. As a result, TIGC built a robust infrastructure that enabled the brand to offer trendy, aspirational fashion at competitive prices and with fast delivery to a wide number of audiences.
This bridged the gap between customers and designers, allowing our brand TIGC to establish itself as a notable men’s wear D2C fast fashion brand in the industry.
TIGC has become one of India’s leading men’s wear brands and has recently forayed into women’s wear and plus-sized fashion. What sets TIGC apart from other fast fashion brands, and how do you ensure that your products cater to the needs and preferences of your customers?
The Indian Garage Co. was launched as a house of brands in 2011. The first brand that was conceived under the umbrella of The Indian Garage Co was ‘TIGC’ which has been a leader in the menswear segment. With time, we wanted to replicate the success of menswear clothing in other categories too. The focus is more on clothing product extensions, like women’s wear and plus-size fashion. Therefore, we launched two new brands, Hardsoda (plus size fashion) and Freehand (women’s wear), through the house of brands format.
The brand distinguishes itself from other fast-fashion brands in the market through a number of factors. First, we have complete control over the design and delivery processes.
Unlike other brands, which may purchase ready-made offerings from traders, we program the entire fashion process from start to finish. So, we are taking direct and unique fashion bets and not waiting for any retailers to select us and offer us quantum’s.
Additionally, we have a short lead time to market because of captive capacities, and these are smaller factories that can turn around fashion very quickly. We also follow a monthly fashion launch cycle. Therefore, we are able to provide the latest trend in real time. Although these monthly launches are difficult to manage, our model is based on that.
TIGC recently collaborated with cricketer Surya Kumar Yadav for its latest collection. Can you tell us more about this collaboration and how it fits into TIGC’s overall brand strategy?
It was a great milestone for us to have Surya Kumar Yadav as the brand ambassador. This move has helped us solidify our brand identity and resonate better with consumers. We have also launched our new collection (inspired by Gen Z) in collaboration with SKY, which includes over 2,500 styles across men’s casualwear, including trendy shirts and chinos, the most popular styles today.
The Indian Garage Co. is a perfect amalgamation of fashion and functionality, and it truly reflects Surya Kumar Yadav’s sense of style, athleticism, and design. Surya is a fearless player who has made his mark in the sport of cricket while also being known for his unconventional and uber-cool style. We at The Indian Garage Co. also believe in being bold in our approach and imbibing experimentation at the core of our DNA. The collaboration with SKY has been fruitful since the collection is widely loved by millions of customers across all digital marketplaces.
TIGC has grown organically to become a 300-crore GMV business. What were some of the key milestones and challenges that you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them?
We are pleased to say that The Indian Garage Co. is a bootstrapped and asset-light company. This has propelled us to achieve a remarkable scaled up GMV of 300 crores while being EBITDA positive. Since inception, we have consistently demonstrated our ability to generate profits, positioning ourselves as a thriving and prosperous business.
Our foremost challenge involved transforming multi-product factories and nurturing smaller entrepreneurs to develop dedicated and captive capacities, which are on par with the efficiency of modern factories. Despite the serious capital constraints, we managed to provide the necessary technical expertise to enable the micro-entrepreneurs to become independent. Additionally, we faced the task of reorganizing the traditional mindset of garment companies to embrace a monthly fashion launch model, which presented its own challenges.
Another big challenge we faced was to fight the consumer perception of us as a value fashion brand. There is a common notion in the market that value-based products compromise on quality and authenticity. Overcoming this perception was crucial for our success.
Through our focused efforts, we successfully navigated these complexities and achieved substantial growth.
With the rise of e-commerce and online marketplaces, how has TIGC adapted to the changing consumer behavior and the digital transformation? What are your plans for leveraging technology to enhance the customer experience and streamline your operations?
We are a tech enabled digital-first company, and we place great importance on research to stay ahead of the competition. As already mentioned, we use various research tools to analyze market trends and customer demands. Our in-house designers also use these tools to highlight micro and macro trends, which helps us create unique designs that resonate with customers.
In addition to this, we are developing an in-house technology tool called Chanakya, which provides insights into how our range is performing and therefore helps our designers make informed bets on the designs and styles.
Over the past decade, the company has built a deep understanding of the needs and desires of the Gen-Z population, which wants to stay at the forefront of fashion. This has allowed us to create designs that not only meet the demands of our target audience but also exceed their expectations. By leveraging research and technology, The Indian Garage Co. has managed to differentiate itself in the fast fashion industry and maintain a competitive edge over its rivals.
TIGC has a strong online presence and is one of Myntra and Ajio’s top sellers. What role has online retail played in TIGC’s growth, and do you have plans to expand into offline retail in the future?
TIGC is one of the top 10 highest-selling men’s apparel external fashion brands on Myntra and Ajio and has won the Myntra Highest GMV Award and the Ajio Growth Driver Award. We are looking at expanding our offline retail footprint very soon. We are now available in large format stores like the Fashion Factory, and we have robust plans to open EBOs in the near future.
What is TIGC’s future plan and business projection? Are you planning to expand into new markets or categories, and what steps are you taking to ensure sustainable growth and profitability?
As mentioned earlier, in addition to expanding our product offerings, we are also focused on expanding our offline retail footprint. We are now available in large-format stores like the Fashion Factory, and there are more to come. We are also planning to accelerate sales growth on our own TIGC platform, ‘tigc.in’. Our goal is to continue growing TIGC, and we aim to become a 600 crore GMV business by the end of FY 23–24.
We want to be the first homegrown brand to have a global fashion imprint and demonstrate the progress of the new India. We are also committed to corporate social responsibility and plan to initiate CSR activities in the near future. The brand’s young team is at the forefront of driving creative and trendy designs while also incorporating their expertise in technology.
Additionally, we have plans to foray into global markets soon, starting with the Middle East. We are committed to innovation and growth while staying true to our values of sustainability and ethical fashion.
As an entrepreneur, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start a fashion business in India, and what qualities do you think are essential for success in this industry?
There’s no particular advice that I would want to give aspiring entrepreneurs since everyone has their own set of beliefs and ideologies. It is, however, important to be honest, brave, humble, and extremely resilient. You should have faith in the product you are making and look for ways to provide the maximum value to your customers. Also, it is important to become a strong team player, build a talent pool within the organization and reward the people who are making great contributions to the company.
The industry is highly competitive, and it requires a lot of hard work and dedication. But with the right mindset and approach, you can build a successful fashion business in India.
What is your vision for TIGC, and where do you see the brand in the next five years?
We want to be the first homegrown brand to have a global fashion imprint and demonstrate the progress of the new India. We are also committed to corporate social responsibility and plan to initiate CSR activities in the near future. Additionally, we have plans to foray into global markets soon, starting with the Middle East. We are committed to innovation and growth while staying true to our values of sustainability and ethical fashion.