Delhi-based online private label brand, Korra, has grabbed $300K in an angel funding round led by Asha Jadeja Motwani, founder of Dot Edu Ventures and the Motwani Jadeja Foundation and few other undisclosed investors.
Founded by Shyam Sukhramani in August 2013, the Korra Jeans label is built under the Good People Clothing company. Korra Jeans are sewn by a single tailor, are made from naturally dyed indigo selvedge denim, can be 100% custom fitted to perfectly fit and meet the user’s expectation without compromise.
Korra Jeans was started with the Shyam’s endeavour of building an Indian brand which would be recognized internationally, a brand that had a purpose, sustainability and conscious consumption at its core. Secondly, he also wanted to promote craftsmanship in all processes as an inherent way to become better human beings. Thirdly, he wanted to provide a solution to consumers by offering them jeans in a wide variety of sizes and inseams and custom fits.
“The emphasis is more to provide a solution rather than simply making a sale which happens in the retail market. We want to make clothes which are useful to you every day and last you a long time. Also, we don’t want people to make a compromise by choosing from standard sizes. Hence, we make a wide variety of sizes and configurations, and one can also order the fit which is no longer available in the market.”, says Shyam.
The Single Tailor Sewn Philosophy
Every pair of jeans sold by Korra is sewn by a single tailor, who then signs off on the pair. Thus, the tailor knows who he is sewing the jeans for, which makes him much more involved and proud of his work. Compare this with the scenario in mass manufacturing where the artisan knows the product he is building will be stacked on some shelf somewhere and one can gauge the difference in approach of the craftsmen. The ‘Single tailor sewn’ philosophy not only reinforces the artisan’s pride in his work but is also a stand against unsustainable sweatshop manufacturing.
The differentiation from other retail products also comes from the fact that the raw materials employed are also as close to being natural as possible. All Korra jeans are made from the naturally dyed indigo selvedge denim, organic cotton threads, custom made rivets/buttons, zippers made of a combination of recycled materials, and brass buttons on old equipment. The company refrains from using new equipment unless necessary.
Shyam adds that Raw selvedge denim, which is denim at its purest and structural best is used in manufacturing all Korra jeans. The world over, only less than 0.5% of world’s jeans are made from selvedge denim and are all highly priced to the tune of over $100. Korra offers the same jeans from $50 – $100.
Another differentiating factor is that the company offers home trials of its jeans. While it charges a nominal fees for the same, yet customers are under no obligation to buy. However, the company has seen a 100% conversion rate on the home service. Additionally, the company also offers a repair service for the first 1-2 years, in tandem with its philosophy of extending the life cycle of the product.
Besides selling through its website, the company also sells its products through online marketplaces such as Koovs and Myntra. However, it refuses to discount its products as it believes that there is a certain human value which goes into making this product, which can’t be discounted.
Target Market, Traction and Revenues
Korra is targeting individuals in the 15-80 age group from all socio-economic backgrounds though it is witnessing much more traction from the urban consumers. The company has shipped jeans to 20 cities in India which include Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Surat, Baroda, Kochi, and Mumbai, to name a few. The aim is to slowly expand it to 26 top cities. Additionally, about 15-20% of its orders comes from outside India including Australia, Japan, UK, France, Italy and Dubai to name a few.
Till date, the company has garnered revenues worth $37K (INR 25 lakh) by selling over 700+ pairs of jeans. The site has witnessed hits from about 25K users so far.
As per Shyam, globally, the custom fit jeans market will grow to a $3 Bn to $3.5 Bn market by 2020. In India, that market would be around $200 Mn and Korra aims to garner about $20 Mn to $25 Mn of this market in the next five years. For achieving this, the company aims to reach about 100,000 customers in the next five years. The company is also planning to venture into the offline retail model in future.
The company is in plans to introduce home trials in over 20 cities, increase awareness generation, and make more investments in its supply chain. It will be further looking to raise another round to the tune of $5 Mn in funding.
Korra’s main competitors, both nationally and internationally, in the custom fit raw jeans space are 3×1, Roy, Levi’s Tailor Shop, Hiut Denim who offer their products above $250. Hence, with Korra’s focus on the $50-$100 market, it has a huge base to tap. These include users who currently shop in the likes of H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, and Uniqlo.
In India, no local player offers home services. Home Try On service, Creyate from Arvind offers these services but the focus is more on suits and shirts. Another player, TailorKraft does that, but it is into shirts.
With its unique philosophy of making consumers consciously choose more durable and sustainable products which can be customized completely to their taste, Korra is poised to make a mark nationally and globally. While it is resorting to wholly organic methods to build its consumer base of conscious people, the process is a time consuming one. The company personally trains its tailors; therefore, building up its supply chain would require significant investments in the future. It remains to be seen how far it can reach with its unique proposition.
Also, web only private brands face immense competition and it’s not easy sustaining a private label in India’s burgeoning cut-throat ecommerce space. Gurgaon-based women’s fashion brand DoneByNone had shut down earlier this year pointing out to the fact that running an ecommerce business in India is not as easy it appears. Some like Inkfruit were snapped by bigger rivals such as Zovi. On the other side, there is Myntra which is launching more private labels as it sees increases in revenues from the same. Similarly, Yepme and Zovi are also holding their own in the market. Yepme recently raked in $75 Mn in funding.
Thus, it is too early to say how successful will Korra be in this ever-competitive ecommerce environment.
Prior to founding Korra, Sukhramani had previously worked with Levi Strauss & Company in San Francisco for over 17 years and was instrumental in building the Dockers and Levi’s brands in India and Abroad. He cofounded the Good People Clothing along with Himanshu Shani, Mia Morikawa, and Rajesh Jaju after coming to India.