When the brothers Amar and Raghavendra Pawar were in college around 2008, they were looking to buy t-shirts that cost Rs 300 or less for their daily use. But none of the brands on the market were able to help. They were priced too high or the ones available within their budget were not as quality oriented.
Since the brothers were entrepreneurial, they decided to investigate a business opportunity in the t-shirt business.
“We wanted to provide high quality products at a reasonable price,” explains Raghav. As a result, the brothers opened a shop in Borivali West, Mumbai, and started selling t-shirts there. Around 2011, they started buying t-shirts from wholesalers and reselling them in their store.
As the store’s sales and popularity grew, Raghav and Amar took on the challenge of collecting the clothing volume.
However, the company’s breakthrough came in 2013 when it decided to start contract manufacturing and come up with the brand name,.
According to the founders, apart from being affordable, Powerlook aims to give India a fashionable, fashionable brand with western undertones.
Today, Powerlook has built a significant presence in the Indian menswear market. With a huge 288,000 followers on Instagram and five stores in Mumbai, Amar and Raghav share plans to hit Rs 40 crore in revenue in FY23.
Crack the code
Raghav and Amar’s initial goal of selling cheap products at decent quality took a while to materialize. However, a step-by-step approach helped them get there.
First, they decided to cut out the middlemen. “Between us and the manufacturer, there is a wholesaler, a distributor and a few other intermediaries, all of whom have their margins,” explains Amar.
The brothers point out that a t-shirt that usually costs Rs 200 would cost them around Rs 300-Rs 350.
When they started contacting the manufacturers directly, they were getting the clothes at a much lower price. “It has helped us pass the cost-benefits on to our consumers.”
As volumes began to increase after 2014, Raghav and Amar began to contact factories directly to source fabric, and they linked up with manufacturing units in Delhi, Mumbai, Ludhiana and other locations to make shirts, t-shirts, shorts, jeans, jackets, etc. Today, their references have extended to different price categories between Rs 400 and Rs 1,600.
Another strategy that worked for the company was to plan and work ahead. The brothers point out that they would design clothes in Mumbai and develop their samples in small batches. This allowed them to perfect the product in a location closer to the head office and save time.
Once the product was ready, it was sent to another unit to be manufactured on a larger scale.
All of these strategies helped them gain consumer trust, and word of mouth marketing helped the brand grow. In 2019 they had opened five outlets across Mumbai including Andheri West, Borivali West and Thane.
Building an Online Presence and Surviving the Pandemic
Powerlook has built a significant presence on Instagram, with approximately 288,000 followers. Raghav adds that building a presence on Instagram and Facebook and using Facebook Ads and Google Adwords were responsible for bringing traffic to their website. Amar and Raghav also point out how the brand’s going online has played an important role in expanding its presence across the country.
When the brand was busy expanding with an offline presence, Amar said she received a lot of requests on Instagram from customers from other cities. Since they too wanted the shirts but lacked the means since their presence was limited to Mumbai, Amar’s wife, Heena Pawar, launched the company’s D2C website in 2018.
This helped them penetrate the northern, southern and eastern regions. As online commerce began to flourish and the brand launched its fifth store in Thane, the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, bringing offline commerce to a screeching halt.
What saved them was their D2C channel. At the start of the pandemic, 70% of their sales came from online, which increased to 100% during the pandemic due to nationwide shutdowns.
Today, as the offline space is on the road to recovery, the revenue generated both online and offline is 50-50. Seeing the rise of digital, the brothers decided to list their products on Bewakoof.com. They are also in talks to be listed on Myntra.
The road ahead
According to a report by research platform Statista, the Indian menswear market is expected to reach Rs 330,000 crore by 2028.
Several brands have carved out a place for themselves in the world of men’s fashion. From Raymond, Woodland and Manyavar to FabIndia and Huechem Textiles, the list is endless. Raghav and Amar stress that they want to be known as a youth-centric brand. This is their biggest goal. “We want to meet the needs of customers between the ages of 16 and 32.”
Raghav says they also want to explore the franchise model to grow the offline business in the coming months and partner with multi-brand outlets such as Pantaloons and Shoppers Stop.
Raghav sums it up by saying that they are firmly focused on doubling their revenue in FY23 to at least Rs 40 crore, and are focusing on geographic expansion.