aLL: Making body positive, plus size fashion the new normal
The future of fashion is fat! Brands across the board are scrambling to for ‘body size’ inclusivity, catering to curvier women and broader men all over the world. While some brands are including attire for plus-size consumers, other retailers are going all out and announcing new brands that only cater to this segment of the population.
India too is waking up to the fact that body size inclusivity is the new normal. Trying to do away stereotypes is plus-size brand aLL – The Plus Size Store.
Launched in 2005, aLL – which has managed to carve a niche for itself in the Indian apparel industry – conforms to the ‘style goes beyond size’ view. A pioneer of plus-size fashion in India, aLL houses a wide array of ready-to-wear fashionable western and ethnicwear as well as accessories for brand conscious plus-size customers, using regular plus size people with regular day jobs as their muse and models. The brand offers the latest trends with new cuts, styles and silhouettes – something which is not so easily available – so its customers always feel fashion-forward.
aLL– which firmly believes that fashion is gender-and-size agnostic – is the largest plus-size fashion retail brand in the country, with a pan India network of 79 EBOs. It also has an online store – www. allonlinestore.in as well as an app.
As per its parent company Future Lifestyle Fashions’ Q3 FY19 investor update, aLL’s app saw 19,000+ downloads and contributed up to 39 percent in online sales. The brand made `52 crore in MRP sales and Rs 46 crore in retail sales in the last one year. In a freewheeling chat with IMAGES Retail, Hetal Kotak, CEO, aLL talks about the brand’s journey, ideology and growth prospects.
How did you come up with the idea of body positive inclusivity and catering to plus size consumers?
The idea of defining style without measurements came into existence in 2005 with the sole objective of giving fashion freedom to plus size individuals. We have been and will continue to democratise fashion beyond a certain size chart. At the heart of our brand is the mission to off er a collection of apparel and accessories which are fashion forward. When plus-size individuals choose ‘aLL’ as a brand, it reflects their confidence and style – internally and externally.
What challenges did you face catering to a niche set of consumers?
India today has US $2 billion estimated plus-size clothing market and hence the scope of curating fashion forward clothes for fuller bodied individuals is wide.
Plus-size individuals have been experiencing below par fashion for far too long. We looked at this challenge as an opportunity and created a wide range of collection of apparels and accessories mapping contemporary fashion with different fits and sizes to provide a fun and anxiety free shopping experience.
How do you think plus-size fashion is evolving in India?
The plus-size category is growing at a fast pace in India. aLL has been a pioneer in fashion for plus size individuals and over the last 14 years, the brand has grown exponentially pan India – across offline and online retail channels. This is proof that individuals with curvier bodies are looking for a fashion forward brand which complements their body type and offers great fits.
Recently, the brand just completed its 4th season at the Lakmé Fashion Week, where it collaborated with designer Rina Dhaka to provide aLL Primero –the brand’s couture line. We also launched a campaign #FlauntaLLCurves that aims to open a dialogue on social media against long-standing, facetious beauty standards.
What is your visual merchandising strategy?
Fashion as a category needs re-invention every season and our stores are constantly re-designed to ensure that the styles and seasons are showcased well. The communication across stores speak the language of the season’s fashion stories and forecast and the store visuals are changed to match the same. Also, visual communication about offers, sale, categories play a very important part in creating store ambience. With every new off er or launch, the communication story changes highlighting the core of the offer/ launch, making it easy for customers to make a hassle-free choice.
Which is the fastest moving product at the store?
In the men’s category, shirts and T-shirts are preferred more whereas in the women’s category, customers prefer kurtis and woven tops.
Any plans to introduce any new category/ vertical?
We off er apparels, lingerie and accessories at our stores aside from western and ethnic wear, but we keep reinventing and adding a new range as and when required.
What is the location strategy of the brand – high-street or malls?
The brand has stores on both high-streets and malls. The idea is to get quality retail space to reach the maximum number of customers.
What is the marketing strategy of your brand?
As an Omnichannel brand, we try to reach our customers via both offline and online mediums. Being a 14-year-old brand, word of mouth works wonderfully for us, as we constantly keep the dialogue alive with our existing customer base, using various communication channels.
What is your Omnichannel strategy?
Customer prefers the convenience of online shopping today. Keeping this in mind, www. allonlinestore.in was launched in 2015. To ensure further customer engagement, we designed an app. Today we successfully reach customers through all channels – brick-and-mortar stores (EBO and shop-in-shop model) and online store and through our app.
Which of these, metro, Tier I or II contributes most to overall sales?
Metros and Tier I contribute 90 percent of the overall sales; however, we are seeing a significant growth from Tier II since our online portal now delivers to more than 8,000 pin codes across India.
What percentage of sales do you get from your online channels?
The online growth has been very encouraging and in the near future, we envisage 20 percent of the sales coming from here.
What are you expansion plans?
Currently, we have 79 stores and are looking forward to add 20 more stores in the current financial year.
How is the brand growing year-on-year and what are your revenue targets for the current fiscal?
In 2018-19 we grew by 24 percent and for the current fiscal, we are looking at more than 50 percent growth.