Little do you know how an idea (far-fetched or otherwise) can germinate into something substantial, a foundation upon which they base your enterprise. It may come to you gradually and in parts or all at once, in a sudden sweep. Such is the story of BluMuslin, where a troupe of designers fashion ethnic garbs to cater exclusively to Indians living overseas. This brand is where ethnic accents seamlessly intertwine with resplendently crafted Indo-western apparels and accessories. With a stunning line-up of ethnic wear designers like Niki Mahajan, Shashank Arya, Anushree Agarwal, Megha & Jigar and the likes, BluMuslin has successfully emerged as a trailblazer in this arena, where Pakistani designers are soon to join the ranks of the already existing ones. With social media and digital nuances being at the very heart of the brand’s marketing strategies, BluMuslin is not just catapulting as a global gateway for couture and ethnic ensembles, but is also emerging as a thriving platform, supporting and encouraging motley designers. Ethnic clothing certainly makes diasporic individuals feel more connected to their homeland, and BluMuslin leverages on the same, making the brand more endeared among NRIs (Non Residential Indians). Preeti Agarwal, Founder, indulges in an elaborate rendezvous, taking us through the genesis of the brand, its entrepreneurial strategies and how BluMuslin is positively disrupting the online space today:
The Fashion Enterprise: When was BluMuslin incepted? What was the inspiration behind the same?
Preeti Agarwal: The idea behind BluMuslin came about when a dear friend living in USA was getting married but didn’t have the time or knowledge to come down to India and decide what she wanted to wear for her wedding. Helping her and her family with shopping and decoding festive looks got me started on an online store for the international market.
TFE: How do you make use of social media and digital media marketing in order to make your brand known globally?
PA: We are a digitally-focused fashion brand which is very active on various social media channels. Social media helps us filter and narrow down our target audience, reach them effectively, and on time. Not only has it helped us in getting an honest feedback from customers but it has also enabled us to interact with our global clientele directly. Social media is the very essence of marketing for BluMuslin.
TFE: Does BluMuslin, as a label, have its own collection or is it solely a pool of clothing lines crafted by other designers?
PA: We do introduce seasonal capsule collections but as of now, we are not making it permanent. Last year we had a small section of handloom saris under the label ‘9 Yards by BluMuslin’ and the response was overwhelming. We look forward to reintroducing it soon.
TFE: What do you keep in mind while determining price points for your products?
PA: Quality and design are given utmost priority at BluMuslin. We want to make trendy, stylish ethnic wear accessible to NRIs without making a hole in their pockets.
TFE: Do changes in monetary policies across the globe affect the sale at BluMuslin?
PA: We are yet to see any impact of global monetary policies.
TFE: What do NRIs look for in a particular piece of clothing, before buying it?
PA: The Indians living abroad are extremely particular about the craftsmanship and the fabric. They are willing to pay a hefty amount for a handwoven silk sari or a hand-embroidered anarkali. For them, it’s all about quality, workmanship and the genuineness of a product.
TFE: You could have very well capitalised on the worldwide shipping feature. Why keep it free?
PA: It was an introductory offer we started with, but after seeing the response, we planned to continue it for a while. It is a great feeling to pamper customers. Moreover, who doesn’t love complimentary services?
TFE: Since BluMuslin is an online shopping site, how does the process of bespoke clothing work, in terms of individual measurement?
PA: We offer video calling services to our clients as per their convenience where one of the BluMuslin representative guides the customer on how to take accurate body measurements. Alternatively, for a more personalized experience, we schedule similar calls between the designer and customer for a more detailed instructional session.
TFE: Which products have been a top hit among your clientele?
PA: We have a spectrum of categories ranging from pret to couture. Our clients have diverse tastes and we try to cater to as many of them as possible. Also, there are lot of regional choices too. For instance, fusion wear is the most selling style in Dubai whereas the ladies in the west coast of States prefer saris. The south-east Asian clients prefer anarkalis or sari gowns.
TFE: What does sustainability mean to you? Do you incorporate that in your products?
PA: For me, sustainable fashion means garments that are hand-made or handwoven and can be passed on to the coming generations. Something that you can call a heritage piece and also a way of boosting the regional economy. A Patan/ Patola sari was a dying art until the revival of the handloom industry. Not only did it generate employment and nurture livelihood, but is also a rage in the fashion circle today.
TFE: What, according to you, is the future of online boutique culture in India five years down the line?
PA: It is going to be big. Not only has the spending capacity increased but the way Indians shop has changed too. And the change isn’t coming from the metropolitans but from tier 1 and tier 2 cities. That’s the future of India and they are the future of online shopping within India.
TFE: Do you think that 2018 is the year of offline? Would you open up a brick-and-mortar store anytime soon?
PA: Online has come to stay. Of course, they both are and will co-exist, but it’s difficult to say which one will exit soon. We do plan to do pop-up shops but definitely not a proper store. In the past, we did pop-ups in Hyderabad and Dubai which gave us lot of exposure and valuable feedback and we are looking at expanding the pop-ups to different parts of the world.
TFE: Do you plan to extend to spheres like cosmetics, skincare and more accessories?
PA: We do have jewelry in accessories and we want to increase our product range in that category. We are also looking at expanding our summer silk inventory for now and probably, widening the range of contemporary and fusion wear.