Jabong partners with fashion designer Rohit Bal to launch exclusive collection from April

rohit-bal-jabong-careersIn a bid to position itself as an online fashion destination, Delhi-based lifestyle portal Jabong is launching an ethnic womenswear collection designed exclusively for it by well-known designer Rohit Bal. It is also launching in-house brands covering apparel, shoes and accessories next month.

“People now have access to global trends and our customers are demanding the latest in fashion,” said Arun Chandra Mohan, co-founder and managing director of Jabong who was previously a senior analyst at global market intelligence and advisory firm IDC.

Fashion has become the most contested category in online retail. Lifestyle, including fashion, accounts for 35% of the $2 billion (over Rs 12,100 crore) Indian online retail industry. The segment has proved attractive for online retailers as branded apparel typically provides margins of about 30% to 40%, while electronics products have a margin of around 10%.

Flipkart, which entered the fashion segment in 2012, is providing stiff competition to both market leader Myntra and Jabong. In June 2013, comScore, a provider of digital business analytics, ranked Myntra above Flipkart and Jabong in terms of number of visitors.

The sites have also launched private-label brands that provide better margins upwards of 60% to attract and retain customers. Jabong is launching four in-house apparel, footwear and accessories brands next month.

Myntra has a handful of in-house brands while Flipkart launched private label apparel and accessories brand earlier this year. “You need to provide something unique to retain customers,” said Ashish Jhalani, head of advisory firm eTailing India. “If a user wants a particular brand and it is available only on one site then they will go to that site.”

This is the first time that Delhi-based Rohit Bal, known primarily for his heavily embellished ethnic wear for men and women, will be designing for an online site. The collection, priced upwards of 9,000 will be available from April.

Last year Indian womenswear brand BIBA had partnered with the designer for a collection, which online shoppers were initially able to buy only from Bangalore-based Myntra.

Jabong, founded in 2011 and backed by Germany’s Rocket Internet, is estimated to have raised over $150 million (over Rs 900 crore) in risk capital funding so far.

It recently received $27.5 million (over Rs 165 crore) from UK-based development finance institution CDC Group. Myntra on the other hand has raised $125 million (over Rs 750 crore) overall, including $50 million (over Rs 300 crore) in February from a consortium of investors led by billionaire Azim Premji’s family office, Premji Invest.

While Jabong has not revealed its annual turnover, Mohan said the site saw sales worth over $25 million (over Rs 150 crore) last December. Now focused primarily on women, the company has partnered exclusively with a number of international brands like Spanish casual wear brand Desigual and Italian clothing and shoe brand Geox. In the coming weeks it will launch two UK high street fashion brands Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge. It is also partnering with Lakme Fashion Week and users will be able to shop the designs straight off the ramp on the site.

“We want to be the catalyst of fashion in India,” said Jabong’s Mohan. (Source:ET)

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