Its admirers call it a clothing line with conscience. And, riding on the broad shoulders of a certain Salman Khan, it has indeed got an initial hype even mega brands can only dream of.
The superstar not only wears the product but also signs off every style. And his communication managers say the Being Human fashion label is not just about looking good; it’s also about doing good. That’s because the Being Human Foundation has a unique model wherein it is a lifestyle brand at the front-end and a registered charitable trust at the back-end. So the noise was understandable when Being Human launched its first store for clothing in India, a few months after launching a chain of stores in Dubai.
Being Human apparel as well as merchandise are currently sold through five exclusive outlets and 31 shop-in-shops. The business is handled by Mandhana Industries, an apparel exporter, which will manage the retail business, designing, manufacturing and marketing for the brand till March 2020.
Currently, the brand’s target group is 15-40 year-olds. While the initial clothing line is for men only, the company plans to launch women’s wear and kidswear by March.
There is no doubt that Mandhana is going all out. It has drawn up an elaborate expansion plan for Being Human by tying up with leading retail chains for the shop-in- shop formats.
“By the end of this financial year, we plan to open eight exclusive business outlets and another 30 shop-in-shops. By next year, the company’s target is 40 exclusive outlets and 200 shop-in- shops as well as another 150 to 200 franchisees,” says Mitesh Shah, vice president, finance and corporate affairs of Mandhana.
Shah says out of the five stores that have been opened since October last year, four have already managed to break even.
Shah’s optimism notwithstanding, many say it’s difficult to accept at a time when even leading brands are finding the going tough for two reasons – less discretionary spending in the hands of consumers and an over-crowded market.
Being Human has been positioned as a lifestyle brand in the mid- to premium range, which has brands such as Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, Woodland and Uni Style Image.
Brand experts say Being Human got a huge initial push because of the mass appeal of Khan, who is the face of the brand. But the real challenge for the retailer will start after the hype around it subsides. “People will come to the stores because of the curiosity factor because of Khan, but rationality takes over after that,” an expert says.
Besides, as Arvind Singhal, chairman of Technopak Advisors, says, “The target audience for the brand is not clear. It has to be very particular about the designs and also make sure it knows who their customers are. Based on all this, a clear communication strategy for customers needs to be planned”
There is another problem, too. Before the launch of Being Human stores, only T shirts with the charity’s name were sold. This led to a lot of fakes in the market. This, many say, will eat into the business of Being Human. Mandhana, however, is sure the number of fakes would eventually come down as the originals with different designs start dominating the market. In fact, Mandhana sees it as a blessing in disguise as the fakes gave Being Human a lot of publicity.