In a post a few weeks ago I had talked about creating Brass Tacks Gold, a higher end line where I could be more creative with handwoven fabrics without having to think of practical things like sales. My regular line, Brass Tacks (madras), would have a wider price range and potentially more mass appeal because I would keep in mind a variety of customers with different needs, different body types and different budgets for shopping.
Then I made the foolish mistake of talking to knowledgeable people in the business of retail and fashion! I’m joking of course- I am grateful for their time and generosity. The only problem is that I’m confused now. Below are the different options in front of me:
Option 1: Making Brass Tacks Madras a lower-end line with more appeal to a wider (and younger) segment of the market.
One person suggested that my lower end line (Brass Tacks Madras) should be produced in slightly larger volumes and sold everywhere. He also made a good argument for why I should be willing to make ideological compromises on the lower end line in order to appeal to a wider age and income group; Brass Tacks currently appeals to such a tiny niche and that’s not enough for me to keep this financially viable. A mass appeal line would mean using blends of polyester with cotton, or prints that aren’t particularly unusual but still very popular. I would still make well-cut clothes for this lower end line, but the inexpensive fabrics would allow me to price the garments in the range of Rs 400 to Rs 1000.
The big plus of this option is that I could potentially reach out to younger women who are still in their last year of college or first few years of work, and once they are used to the cuts and tailoring quality of my brand, they might slowly gravitate towards the higher-end, hand-woven line. The downside is that I’d have to expand my production capacity and given my perennial tailor problems, that’s a daunting task.
Option 2: Making the brand appeal to a wider (and older) segment of the market
I recently invited a partner of a high-end designer boutique in Chennai over to my store to give me some feedback. He strongly felt that I should be focusing on older women who have more spending power and catering to them by designing more comfortable, looser silhouettes and perhaps also including a line of sarees and stoles in my store. It’s really hard for me to think creatively when it comes to loose, flowing kurtas, and although I do love sarees I’m not sure that’s a great idea since one of the best sari stores in Chennai (Shilpi) is located right opposite the street from my store. The idea of designing a few styles that I can sell at higher prices is very appealing however. It would be nice to make the money I need to sustain this business through smaller volumes. Also, I could stick to handwoven and natural fabrics.
Option 3: Incorporate a high-end party wear line into Brass Tacks Gold
Last week I went to another designer boutique, and I noticed many evening dresses that were very similar to a lot of my evening dresses like Epiphyte and Black Orchid, except these dresses were made in fabrics like chiffon and georgette, with a habotai silk lining and sometimes a little elastic at the empire line to hold the dress together. In other words, those dresses have a wider mass appeal just because of the fabrics used – Chiffon and georgette silks are a lot more fluid and crush a lot less compared to Tussar silk or hand-woven mulberry silk. Perhaps by designing a higher end line of dresses in more mass appeal fabrics I will be able to reach out to more women in the demographic that I want to target – women who have spending power but who are currently not Brass Tacks customers because the fabrics don’t appeal to them.
Paralyzed and clearly still analyzing, I think I am inclined towards trying all of the above, without categorizing them into any brand label for now. I’ll add a few cotton-lycra pants, a couple of looser kurta styles, and I have to try at least one printed chiffon dress (I know just which print to use already). And then I’ll take it from there but in the meantime I’d love to hear thoughts and suggestions.