Designer Saroj Jalan's brand is known for its organic fabrics sourced from various parts of the country, overlaid with intricate embroidery and exquisite embellishments. BE’s Isha Chakraborty spoke to her.
Q. Tell us about the journey behind the brand.
A. As a fine arts student, fashion came to me naturally. Way back in 1998, one of my art clients had asked me to make a painting of her wearing a saree of my choice. I was inspired and sketched her portrait.
She appreciated it a lot. That was one of the many instances, which made me choose fashion designing. Initially, I had a close set of clientele. In 2004, I launched my first studio.
The Lakmé Fashion Week was one of the most important turning points of my life. I now run an industry involving 500 artisans making exclusive hand embroideries.
Q. What are the latest trends in the boutique industry?
A. Globally, the trend in the boutique industry is creating special garments. We create elegant, custom clothing with luxury sourced fabrics and precision-driven measurements. In this fast-moving fashion boutique industry, it is important for brands to keep their fingers on the pulse of the clientele to stay relevant. Designers need to find new ways of engaging with customers so that it benefits them across three broad themes, which are information, convenience, and entertainment. The social media has also become the new storefront. Designers are trying to start their own social media sites. Having social media handles help them network and interact with probable buyers direct.
Q. Which style is now working in the market?
A. India is known for its diversity. Clothing is just one of the things that distinguish one part of India from the other. According to me, the classics are the best for all times.
When you think of Indian bridal wear, the first thing that comes to mind is a vibrant red saree with embellishments. A true-blue fashionista will swear by a traditional red saree and call it an evergreen classic that can weather many a fashion cycle and yet remain in style. Sarees and lehengas encompassing the beauty of the silk fabric in traditional colours and designs are always the classic choice of Indian brides. Traditional Indian bridal wear is all about being proud of your roots and wearing them proudly on your sleeve. Sarees, lehengas and shararas in silk and velvet with ancient Indian crafts like zardozi, gota patti and zari work are timeless outfits as they will be treasured by generations to come.
Q. Who are your target customers?
A. I believe that an amazing sense of style doesn’t have an expiration date and isn’t reserved for a particular age group. Consequently, I design for clients, ranging from 20-80 years of age, anybody who would love to wear a ‘Saroj Jalan garment’ which oozes glamour, sophistication and decadence of the golden age of fashion. The results are hyper-stylish and always timeless outfits, outlined by a fresh and modern mark. We generally have products ranging from Rs. 50,000 upwards.
Q. How do you maintain customer loyalty?
A. There are many initiatives taken by us in order to retain our customers. First, we consistently deliver high-quality products and services and stay on top of trends. Our customers know that they can count on us. We also believe in checking in with customers after the sale as it is critical to establish a long-term relationship.
Q. What is your business model?
A. We have a simple business model. We aim to understand and serve the clients with utmost passion and energy. We take the time to listen to our customers and attempt to understand what they are looking for.
Q. How exclusive are your products? Do you offer customisation?
A. My products are exclusive to my stores in India. We ensure that we create one-of-a-kind product. We only make a limited run of each item in order to maintain exclusivity. About special customisation, we do offer customisation on a certain range.
Q. What are the major challenges faced by the boutique industry?
A. The industry of glitz and glamour is facing the problem of plagiarism. Copying the works of others for the sake of earning some extra money and recognition is now part and parcel of our fashion world. There have been several instances where our creations or certain elements of the design have been imitated by other designers. According to me, fashion plagiarism is not only confined to imitating designs or elements from designers of the same country, but also getting ‘inspired’ from international labels. As a designer, it hurts that so many manufacturers of fast fashion, churn multiple copies of garments that otherwise take several months to design and produce.