Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Techies Turn Fashion Entrepreneurs - Insider View of

The Fashion scene in India has come a long way and yet in so many ways it stays in a limited circle of influence. Why is that? Why is it that designer fashion is limited to the 'celebrity' and extended only to the Big-Fat-Indian-Wedding? Are the designers catering to demand or creating it. Talent there is plenty and it's growing. Perhaps the angle that is missing is distribution, marketing, technology, all affecting the reach of designer wear and leaving fashionistas with limited options. Where does one go? 

We recently interviewed the founders of an interesting new start-up in the fashion world -
They are technology graduates who came together to bridge the gap that exists between fashion and technology offering a unique concept that makes Indian designers accessible to the fashion lovers. The website allows it's member base to pre-order from the next season's collection of designer wear, through previews and trunk shows. Fashion enthusiasts can now place an order on the site from the upcoming season's collection and get their desired outfit before it's released through retailers. has already hooked up with fashion mavens such as Agnimitra Paul, Niki Mahajan, Manoviraj Khosla and Nida Mahmood amongst others. This certainly bodes well for the designers who can now plan their collection and production keeping in mind an extended clientele and confirmed orders. Also, makes for a good proposition to those who desire to be true fashion trend-setters and wear unique designs before they are available to anyone else and choose styles that they like instead of picking them off the shelf of a retailer. 

Read the excerpts from the Q&A between Beluxed Fashion and the shoptheramp team. Here's wishing them luck with their venture...

BF (Beluxed Fashion): How did three ‘IITians’ decide to enter the realm of high-end, designer fashion?
STR(Shoptheramp): Our lucrative jobs in leading management consultancies, technology firms and investment banks never quite managed to douse our burning desire to develop solutions for tackling the pressing needs of today's world.  It is this entrepreneurial spirit that has led us to the ethereal world of Indian fashion and starting, where we believe we can make the most difference. The biggest scope for improvement in this industry lies in the technology and distribution part rather than in the creative side where there is no dearth of talent.

BF: What is the guiding principle or mission for your business and how you engage in the fashion industry?
STR: Our vision is to harness the power of technology to put the Indian fashion industry firmly on the global fashion map. We will be leveraging our fresh perspective as well as technology and business expertise to help us realize this vision. That means challenging the current accepted way of doing things at every step and adding value at each of these steps.

BF: How does your business idea ‘stand-out’? Why is it so important these days to stand out in the marketplace? How do you plan to break through the clutter?
STR: It is extremely important to provide something new and different to the customer to capture their attention. We have achieved that first step through our unique business model that allows fashionistas the opportunity to pre-order next season's collections of top Indian designers and get them before anyone. But in today's world it is important to not rest on your laurels and constantly innovate to stay ahead of the competition. We are currently in the process of rolling out a whole new host of features to enhance the current customer experience. 

BF: What is your marketing strategy for the early months? and then for later years? 
STR: We have adopted a combination of digital, print and offline marketing strategies. Some of these are focused directly on growing sales while others help us increase brand recognition and consumer trust.

BF: How does your Blogger Affiliate Program work? How do you plan to take this forward?
STR: To become a member of our website, an individual can either apply for membership or be invited. A regular member can invite only upto 5 other people. An Affiliate however, can invite an unlimited number of people through a special track-able link which he/she can circulate in their network. With the help of this unique link we can track which members have come through a particular partner affiliate network and reward them accordingly. From the blogger's perspective, they can inform their readers about a new, unique service while generating potentially unlimited revenue at the same time. 

BF: How do you approach the fashion industry and the designers? What are your plans to bring more of them on-board?
STR: A rich network along with a good business proposition is key to bringing top designers on board. To maintain the relationship, enhancement of their brand value and achievement of their objectives is key. This has worked well for us so far and would hopefully continue to do so in future. 

BF: What have been the early responses and reactions like? 
STR: It has been extremely well received so far. Customer feedback is critical for a new business and we have managed to get some excellent suggestions for improvement. We will be implementing these along with some new features soon.

BF: How has your journey as entrepreneurs been so far? Have you raised capital for this venture? What are plans for funding this start-up?
STR: It has been a steep learning curve, to say the least. We have experienced a number of extreme highs and lows that have only added to the excitement of our journey. We are a self-funded company but have begun talks to secure a round of funding that is essential to keep us on our high-growth trajectory.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Meet Niki Whittle: Our New Guest Contributor

As a part of our ongoing effort to bring you fresh and eclectic content which is a juicy mix of flavors from all parts of the world of fashion, we have been looking out for cool bloggers who are happy to share their content on our blog.And, we have just managed to land our first Guest Blogger for Beluxed fashion!

So ( drum-rolls  please) we are pleased to introduce Niki Whittle, and we hope you will welcome her by liking and sharing her posts and also of course commenting and asking her styling related questions.

Niki Whittle wears many hats with consummate ease; she is a Fabric Designer, Stylist, Personal Shopper and Image/Wardrobe consultant, not to mention an entrepreneur managing her eponymous image consulting business.
Before she decided to start her own business, she was a successful Fabric Designer having sold her designs to Diane Von Furstenburg, Fenn Wright Manson and Calvin Klein, she also did a three year stint as a full-time fashion advisor and personal shopper for John Lewis (Bristol), where she realised that her true Passion was to help people transform their style and image, and leave a lasting positive impact on their lives.

She shuttles between Bristol where her business is based, and Bangalore where she finds a lot of inspiration and fabulous buys, she spends most of her time running her business and writing for her blog “Hip shapes and Bristol fashion” which captures Bristol’s unique style and has loads of styling tips, she also loves to spend time with her family and loves to walk her dog Hendrix (we approve highly).

She has sweetly agreed to let us bring to our readers, some curated stuff from her blog,  and we shall start doing so very soon.We also hope you will visit her business website and blog, and follow her there as well.

Meanwhile here is an interview where she shares some thoughts with us…

 BF: How did you start blogging about fashion?
 NW: Originally, I started blogging about fashion to promote my personal styling business.  I saw it as a free marketing tool, but it very quickly became more than that.  I realised that I loved sharing my experiences as a stylist and decided that I wanted my blog to be more personal, to be somewhere that would inspire others to make the most of their wardrobes…mixing and matching to the max whilst also developing their style.

BF: What is the story behind your blog's title? 

NW: Ah, well I can’t actually take credit for the name, a friend of mine came up with it one day, but I loved it so much that I had to use it.  I realise now that the name probably doesn't mean much to anyone who isn't from Bristol (my hometown) or the UK. 
Hip Shapes and Bristol Fashion is a play on words from a very old saying ‘Ship shape and Bristol fashion’.  You may have heard of the saying ‘Ship Shape?  It means tip top, or neat and tidy.  It’s a nautical term that’s been used for centuries.  The Bristol part of the phrase comes from Bristol’s port which was subject to such drastic water level changes with the tides that many ships were left beached and on their side.  Any cargo that wasn't tied tightly could be spoiled, therefore cargo ships in the Bristol port needed to ensure their load was tied up particularly securely…hence ‘ship shape and Bristol fashion’!

BF: Can you describe your blog, including how it differs from other fashion blogs?

NW: My blog is a kind of extension of my business.  I post about building a hard working wardrobe, making the most of the clothes you have, making informed purchases and developing your own style.  I guess it’s this that makes it a little different from other fashion blogs.  So many fashion bloggers post a new outfit each day and have a seemingly unending collection of clothes but I don’t relate to this.  I try to encourage people to work as much as they can with what they have, and when they do purchase something new, to make it something that slots seamlessly into their existing wardrobe that can be worn in a variety of different ways.  

BF: How do you think you became so popular and recognised in the fashion blogging world? Tell us about your other business interests…

NW: I didn’t know I had!  No, in all honesty, my blog is a tiny fish in a giant pond, but thanks for the kind words :-).  Most of my business interests are related to fashion and style in one way or another.   I run my own Personal Styling business back in the UK (you can check out my website here ) which I love - boosting people’s confidence and making them look and feel amazing is so rewarding!  But while I’m living in Bangalore I’m exploring other avenues.  I studied textile design at university and designed prints for fashion fabrics before starting my styling business, I’ve found India to be such an inspiring place that I’ve have started to design again…watch this space!

BF: Where would you like to see your blog and business go in the future? 

NW: I never started blogging with the hope of making money from it; I just love blogging and sharing my experience, knowledge and inspiration.  I’ve recently started to devote more time to my blog and am trialling out new features and ideas (feedback is very welcome!).  
Before I moved over here my blog was solely about style but over the last six months I’ve started to post more about India and the things that inspire me over here, along with my own photography.  As far as my blog’s future goes, I just want to continue what I’m doing, to develop more as a writer and stylist, and see where it takes me!  Oh, and I have a rebrand in the pipelines too!!!

BF: Where are your favourite places to go shopping - Favourite online shops? favourite local shops?

NW: There are some great designers and boutiques in Bangalore; I love Turquoise and Gold, Blur Designs, Yellow Button, Levitate and Chemistry I also love going to the flea markets, they’re a great place to stock up on quirky accessories.  Back in the UK my favourites are Whistles, Topshop, Zara and Warehouse.  But I also really enjoy rummaging in second hand and vintage shops.  For online shops I guess ASOS would probably be my ‘go to’ but while in India I quite like Pernias pop up shop, it sells some awesome Indian designers…but it is on the pricier side!

BF: Best Style advice to fashion lovers, bloggers and non-bloggers?

NW: My best advice would be to always be true to your own style.  Don’t’ get lost amongst the sea of fashionistas all desperately trying to keep up with the latest fashions and must have items.  Wear the things that make you feel amazing, that you like.  
Be creative; mix and match your clothes to the maximum and don’t be fooled into thinking you need a lot of clothes to create a lot of outfits…you don’t!  I treat my wardrobe as my dressing up cupboard, I dress to suit my mood and play around with creating new outfits all the time – I guess what I’m saying is just have fun!

BF: Personal benefits to blogging? 

NW: These are endless!  Blogging challenges me everyday to be better at writing, styling and photography.  Not only that, but I’ve met so many great people through blogging and have had some great work opportunities too!

BF: Who are your biggest style inspirations? Currently crushing on? 

NW: I get a lot of my inspiration from other fashion bloggers as I find what they put together far more accessible than what the celebrities wear.  Having said that, I do love Gwen Stefani’s style, along with the Olson twins and Nicole Richie, oh, and Carrie from Sex And The City; but it feels a bit clichéd to admit that!

BF: What would your perfect day look like?

NW: I miss home so my perfect day would have to be waking up in our campervan in Cornwall surrounded by friends, beautiful sunshine and stunning views.  We’d spend the day on the beach, go to the local pubs and walk Hendrix (our dog).  The perfect end would be a fire on the beach with a tasty BBQ and great music under the stars.

BF: What clothing item would you say is timeless?

NW: It has to be an awesome fitting pair of jeans, oh and a leather jacket.  Neither of these will ever date and are important wardrobe staples.

BF: What is the current favorite/go-to item in your closet?

NW: My maxi skirt!  The weather in Bangalore is pretty hot at the moment so a maxi skirt is perfect.  I have a khaki one and a navy spotted one, both of which can be teamed endlessly with my tops and are great for day and night.

So there we are, that was Niki is our first Guest Contributor, and we thank her immensely for being generous with her time and content.
We hope you enjoy the stuff we bring over from her blog and show your love and encouragement generously by sharing and commenting!


Friday, 10 May 2013

Contest Alert: Shoe Shots

Shoe Shots: Send us self-styled shots of your favorite pair of shoes along with a caption (telling us why you love them) and you could win exciting gifts. 

Here are some rules:
1) Contest starts today and closes on 15th May.
2) Pictures should be of your own shoes (shoot them yourself or get someone to snap you in them) what's the point of putting someone else's shoes anyway?
3) All entries should be added as comments below this post as links or mailed directly to on our mail ID before the closing date
5)Twitter and Facebook entries will also be considered
4)The stylishness of the picture and the caption and also the number of likes you get will help decide who wins
5)Judges decision is final.

Hint: for inspiration on fun shots of shoes visit the Aldo Facebook page, but please don't pinch stuff from there or anywhere else, do make an effort to be original because this fun stuff anyway!

So shoot away!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A Saturday with Fashion Lovers

Hey everyone,

A quick update from us on our Bangalore Fashionistas meetup event No.4: A rendezvous with a Fashion Expert, showcasing Ramya Mohan, a young Textile Designer.

To those of you who are hearing "Bangalore Fashionistas Meetup Group" for the first time, a quick explanation: It is an extension of our effort to build a community of fashion lovers,besides this blog we have a Facebook page, Twitter account, a LinkedIn group , and of course the meetup group too.
This is so you digital denizens can follow and interact with us on multiple platforms, each platform of course has different uses. Meetup, is perhaps a slightly lesser known platform, but it is gaining in popularity, it allows you to create and manage live (physical) events for an online community in your city.

We started the group in Bangalore, to bring to fashion lovers, a range of small curated fashion-related events, and frankly we were going crazy trying to figure out what sorts of events people would like and respond to...because you see we aren't Lakme or Wills to organize full-fledged fashion shows!!

We figured, true fashion lovers would be interested in getting to know more on all aspects of fashion:
  • What we see: The glamour, the shows, the shoots,the shops, the clothes (And shoes), the style and the adrenaline...
  • What goes on behind the scenes: The Designers' efforts, the retail scene, the creative process, the effort in styling & organizing photo-shoots and so on...
  • Capitalizing on the huge + effect of the web on Fashion: The Bloggers, the Digerati and understanding the whole world of Fashion Related stuff on the web...
So this time we decided to take things up a notch and start having serious discussion sessions on fashion rather that get into the same-old-same-old rut of playing dress-up, networking and clicking pictures.
Not to say that we don't enjoy that, but it was time to try something new!

To this end, Bangalore Fashionistas collaborated with JD Institute of Fashion Technology, a Premier Fashion College in India with branches in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore (and expanding rapidly into many more smaller cities as well) who was the Sponsor of the Event, and they provided the venue and also helped us sign on the expert speaker for the event: Ramya Mohan , an NID Graduate and a successful Independent Textile Designer.

And it seems that Bangalore has responded well to our efforts and this event format!
We got a better than usual turn-out rate and the little class-room was packed full with eager fashion business owners, fashion designers and fashion lovers who loved the session, we had a fashion quiz and a T-shirt graphic design competition to top it all off.

Ramya discussed her journey as a Textile Designer and her process of translating Inspiration to tangible Designs and Products, a process that has to be both creatively satisfying, as well as commercially viable for her clients. She turned out to be a riveting presenter and the audience related to her really well.

Check out some slides from her presentation below and a small video that capture a part of her presentation:

Next we are planning a meetup on one of the themes below:

  • Fashion blogger panel discussion: finding your niche
  • A Fashion entrepreneur's journey: what it takes to set up a fashion business
  • Styling & fashion shoots: the hands-on approach
Do let us know if you have any ideas or suggestions or if you would like to be a speaker (or know of anyone who might be interested in being one) at any of these meetups!

To keep an eye out for the next meetup in Bangalore, do join our group.

Lots of Love, & stay tuned!