For much of its long history, the Raymond man signified western attire — shirts, trousers, and of course, the suit. It was as if Indian wear did not fit into the definition of ‘The Complete Man’. Things began changing a few years ago when Chairman and Managing Director Gautam Singhania decided that the brand had to transform itself to meet the changing needs of the changing Indian consumer. “Raymond was fundamentally a suiting company 20 years ago. As we went forward we found that we have moved from just a suiting company to a lifestyle company and therefore today you see the vast depth of what we are doing. Ceremonial is an extension of that.”
In what was a radical move, the company decided it wanted to offer everything that one would find in the middle-class Indian wardrobe — from shoes to chino, from khadis to polos and most importantly, ceremonial Indian attire. The brand had been making tuxedos for years, and ethnic occasion wear was a logical extension. “Create and innovate very aggressively, but also bring the product to the market very rapidly. You won’t always get it right in the first go. But the idea is to try and get to the solution,” says Singhania.
While sourcing is done from across the country, the designs are all created by a dedicated team of over a dozen designers who work out of a special studio at the company’s facility in Thane. The whole process of selection is carefully done. In terms of deciding what goes into the collection, there are certain boundaries to maintain, in keeping with Raymond’s overall image of understated elegance. The brand is now looking to replicate versions of the flagship ceremonial wear store. “The thing about retail is that one size doesn’t fit all. So, therefore, one has to have a format and make various sizes and versions of it. We are looking to set up quite a few stores by the end of this year. The market and the investor community is very excited about it,” says Mahajan.
The need to localise product offering according to individual tastes of that city is something the brand is continuously working on. “We are getting more and more sensitive and seeing that opportunity exists in local flavours as well. We can work on customising the product as long as the product stays well within the realms of what the brand stands for,” adds Mahajan. The way to reach a wider audience yet stay relevant in today’s time lies in balancing the two. “People are immediately identifying the significant depth of what we have to offer. They are more than happy about it, and we see it as an open opportunity. The Raymond brand is far more powerful that it ever was. You see the evolution of the brand. We haven’t gone out of our space and I think the brand has become much more relevant to people. Five years ago one wouldn’t wear a pair of Raymonds jeans, sweater, or shoes, but today there is acceptability for that,” adds Singhania.