Though men outnumber women in India, men’s fashion is lost in the long and wide shadow thrown by women’s fashion. In a market, where the only men’s fashion week lasted just three seasons, and where other fashion weeks don’t permit entry to an exclusively men’s wear designer, two brave Delhi boys got straight out of school and started their own men’s wear label eight months ago, and are now running, as they call it, a no profit no loss business.
“A’MEN started as a college assignment. I was in my final year at the Pearl Academy and I had to prepare a business plan for the final assignment. We had done a lot of research ranging from market demand, the products available and the services. The ground was basically laid then,” recounts Sidharth who started the label with his childhood friend Apporav.
“He shared the idea with me and though I was a little apprehensive the research that we did together was quite convincing and showed us that we would be able to pull it off,” said Apporav, who studied design at Institute of Apparel Management. The duo received initial financial investment from their parents to set up shop. “When it came down to it, our parents asked us to go ahead with it. They were very supportive and wanted us to try regardless of the outcome,” he added. They found that support from home reduced the stress a lot during initial hard times.
The duo wanted to make affordable and fashion forward men’s clothing, an idea with which they started out in their career. “There were brands which were taking men’s wear into a new direction, but their produce was either too expensive or too experimental for a regular Indian guy,” explained Apporav. While conducting market research for their business they found that while there were demands for experimental clothing, there was very little supply. “Even in experimental clothing one has to be really sure how far you take it. Men are experimenting with their looks now, but in a subtle way.” They want to make a silent statement. “People are just done with the bright colours and heavy detailing. They want simple clean cut silhouettes rather than the embellished designs. Earthy colours and light fabric which we use are organic and sourced from all over the country. They go very well with the Indian climate and people are starting to realize it now,” says Sidharth while explaining minimalism in their designs.
“People are just done with the bright colours and heavy detailing. They want simple clean cut silhouettes rather than the embellished designs. Earthy colours and light fabric which we use are organic and sourced from all over the country.”
It was not all that simple for the duo to start off on their own, and many looked at their decision as foolhardy. “Our parents supported us but a lot of people from our school and family were of the opinion that we were too young to starts a business,” recalls Apporav.
They were right to continue with the plan as in under eight months they have paid back the money they owed their parents.
“You must always concentrate on the positive and learn from the negative. If you focus on the negativity around you when you are starting something new you will attract failure,” says Siddharth when asked what it takes to set up a business. “Don’t give up,” advises Apporav to anyone looking to venture into a startup. “When we started we just had a base plan and the rest has happened on its own through perseverance. So it’s very important to work hard and not give up at the first or second sing of failure.”
There was a lot of demand from the people around them, so Sidharth and Apporav have recently started to make Indian traditional wear as well, under a sub label ‘A’MEN India’. Soon Apporav plans to open a label exclusively for women, which he says has always his dream. But for now, as they have achieved a balance between “profit and loss”, they aim to concentrate on marketing their brand before any plans for further expanding their business.
To that end they are looking to sell their clothes on the several e-commerce websites. “At present we make clothes on order, and once we start to produce them in bulk it will become very hard to control the quality. That is what we see as our future challenge,” says Sidharth talking about the future of the company.