Zola: Empowering Women’s Fashion in India’s Ethnic Wear Market
Zola: Empowering Women’s Fashion in
India’s Ethnic Wear Market
The appealing power of Zola is firm in the potential markets of ethnic and fashion wears. That has enabled the brand to consolidate its position in a thriving market, where competition is still strong. It has found strong footprint across all geographies in the country with more significant presence in the highly quality-conscious market like Kerala. The ethnic wear segment of the market is largely dominated by unbranded and local players. It is in this market Zola has made its presence strongly felt by Zola Ethnic.
Zola…, almost every woman in the country knows what it is, how it delights them and how proud they feel of their attire. Women are usually more conscious about their looks than their counterpart is.
Building a brand for ladies’ wear with acceptance among all economic classes is not very easy, though there is a vast business opportunity in the segment. Until the early 1990s ladies’ apparel market in India was virtually an uncharted territory, despite having enough space for a huge treasure hunt therein, perhaps like other apparel segment. Yet for men, at least in metros, there were brands and some of course for creamy ladies’ class too. But, by and large, the ladies’ wear segment that can offer huge fortune stood with no privilege of branded apparel. Zola has filled it, covering the entire range of ladies’ wear.
India was at the dawn of a socio-economic change. A vast middle-class market was on the verge of a boom. India was getting integrated with the global market not only in terms of the economy but also in terms of consciousness and attitude that were forcing each individual to look at changes in lifestyle and personality care. Women, including housewives, are no exception. Lifestyle in the metro wasn’t confined to metros anymore. Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities began to change rapidly. More and more women begin to join the workforce. India’s demographic advantage was begun to be talked about. The time was right to find a position in the branded apparel market with a brand exclusively for women, Kirti Shah, the founder of Pragati Fashions Pvt Ltd understood the market rightly on time, which enabled his company to take home what may be called the early bird advantage.
Pragati Fashions Pvt Ltd had a sharp ear to listen to the resonance of change in lifestyle and shopping culture in the country. Women also deserve to be served with quality products and variants they are passionate about. Something great for the middle-class was missing in the vast yet un-quantified ladies’ wear market. At the same time, it could gauge the immeasurable potential the fashion garment market holds and see in other worlds where fashion brands not only made entrepreneurs billionaires but also changed the way people wear. Making Zola firm in a potential market, it never looked back since its launch in 1991. Gradually, it could find a footprint across all geographies in the country, with a more significant presence in the highly quality-conscious, but the middle-class, market of Kerala.
In the female apparel market, still there aren’t many top-line brands to cater to the needs of the middle-class, though the potential is too big enough to give large space for many brands. Almost until two decades ago, there hadn’t been any brand consciousness also among middle-class women. Even among women belonging to the high-income strata an apparel brand wasn’t a fashion. Naturally, there wasn’t any premium brand in the market that could steal anyone’s mind. “But we knew that was going to change. We understood, even the middle-class was going to have a different approach in terms of their choice consideration of buying apparels. The well-educated new generation might look for some big brands to talk about. We had comprehended this change in mindset and needs of women in advance,” says Mr Shah, Managing Director of Pragati Fashions.
Of course, Pragati had rightly foreseen, say much in advance, the changing behavior of the generation and demographic advantage. It had foreseen the changing style of shopping, changing apparel fashion, upcoming generation’s dressing consciousness, what they would look for and exactly what they would want, etc. Zola has been set accordingly, he adds.
Once, it was believed, in the ethnic wear vertical of the fashion apparel market brand did not seem to have any relevance as people were sticking to the tailor-made tradition. Today, that has changed, says Mr Shah, pointing out Zola has more ethnic wear variants in its show-case for retailers. “We haven’t stuck to any special variant but made it for all variants,” he says. In fact, Zola is a brand for tops, kurties, salwar, chudidars, jeans, gown, ethnic wear, girls’ wear, palazzo, leggings, tunics, midis, Indo western outfits, etc. By building a uniform brand for all these variants, Zola could create a greater and deeper impression in the minds of women. The larger variety under a single brand gives a greater recall value.
The ethnic wear segment of the market is still largely dominated by unbranded and local players. In fact, it is largely driven by unorganized players. It is in this market Zola has made its presence strongly felt by Zola Ethnic. By virtue of its presence in all segments of women’s apparel, Zola suffices the needs of all women, both urban and semi-urban for their clothing.
Zola aims to provide a different look to its customers whether they are in ethnic kurtis, western wear; both casual and formal, denims, jeggings, leggings and shirts. For kids also the brand assures something to be proud of with a variety of ethnic and western wears. The brand also delivers both women and kids a night of comfortable sleep with stylish nightwear, says the top management of the company. It also has a fabulous marriage collection. In fact, Zola is a perfect blend of fast fashion with traditional sensibilities.
Today, Zola is a leading female apparel brand all over the country, across all income classes. “It is found to be one of the best brands that middle-class buyers prefer. They seem to have immense faith in the brand and feel proud of picking it up from among the collections of unbranded and local brand products,” says a retailer in Kerala. Even in large format multi-brand stores like Big Bazaar it is seen, that middle-class buyers first prefer to pick up Zola. When enquired why; a buyer said: “Its quality is good. It is an affordable brand. We don’t feel disappointed with it.”
The brand is seen in the two ends of the market – the metro and small-town markets where branded products are sold. That bears testimony to the fact that Zola is a brand equally preferred by women of metro and rural India. “We keep the latest trends in mind so that we can deliver according to the sensibilities and changing mindset of people in big and small towns, says Mr Shah. Zola has enough in its basket to fulfill the wardrobe options of women. The acceptability of Zola is intact because of its attention to quality fabrics and minute focus on fitting. The twin focus on fashion and quality keeps the brand at the top of the gallery.
31 years now it is more than a pan-India brand. On an average, each day, 30,000 dresses are rolled in packs out of 800 factories across the country carrying the legendary Zola label. Eighteen fashion designers use their brains to make Zola variants outstanding and acceptable by women of all regions. As many as 15,000 workers spend their time behind making Zola a perfect brand. More than 800 retailers proudly sell Zola, witnessing the cheers of buyers. The defect rate is almost zero. The delivery network expansion will continue, says Mr Shah. In Kerala more than 300 top retailers sell this favourite brand of women; among the leading stores are Kalyan, Seemati, Jayalakshmi, Lulu Hypermarket, Yes Bharat Wedding Collection etc. In large format multi-brand showrooms Zola variants catch more eyes of women.
The brand received many prestigious awards in the past. It received CMAI Apex Awards 2016 and also in 2017. Along with this it also received the prestigious Fashion Konnect India Apparel Award 2021.