Amidst the cheery bustle of Pondy Bazaar, Dilip Kapur strides into his latest store. On the left hang racks of Fabindia’s distinctive floral and geometric prints. On the right, are Kapur’s sustainably crafted, Hidesign’s East India Leather handbags.
Fabindia and Hidesign recently launched their first joint location store at Pondy Bazaar, T Nagar. “This has been in discussion for a long time,” says Dilip. “Together, our story becomes much stronger. We can support each other much more.” He adds that the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the decision. “What we saw when the pandemic hit was that customers are much more comfortable going to a high street store than the mall.” Stating that Hidesign has traditionally not been prominent on high streets, he says “We have now changed our original plan of being airport-centric. We used to have 32 stores in airports, and have closed 12.” For Hidesign, this marks the 8th store Chennai and 81st in the country; for Fabindia this is the 12th in Chennai and 316th in the country.
The next joint store will open in Ahmedabad, followed by one in Agra. “We are most interested in the Tier-2 cities now,” explains Dilip, adding that sales are steadily improving in those cities. “In stores there, the numbers are already back to normal.”
While the pandemic has undeniably been tough on business, this collaboration demonstrates how entreprenuers are finding innovative solutions. “I think we will come out stronger because we will be more disciplined,” says Dilip. “Decisions are now made bearing in mind potential risks. The flab is being cut. And that can be nothing but good for us in the long run.”