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Planning the Onam COLLECTION

Preparations to bring out new style clothes for the Onam season are done months in advance by several brands. TANYA ABRAHAM finds out how fashion statements are made in shirts.



Bright colours are the pick of the Onam season

ONAM IS the time when the purchasing power of the average Malayali is considered to be at its peak. Retailers and manufacturers of garments rush to monopolise the festival that calls for `new clothes for a new harvest.' And a great deal of homework is done by them to bring out the sell-out collection for this season, as Prashant Parmeshwaran, dealer of brand Peter England, will tell you.

A year in advance

"The planning for this season starts months in advance. In fact right after one Onam celebration is over, the preparations begin for the next." He further explains, "Onam is when about 30 per cent of one's income is spent, and at this time manufacturers often reverse their production schedules. At any ordinary time, the production for shirts (the primary buy for men during this season) include 60 per cent plains and 40 per cent design, however, Onam causes the exact opposite effect."

Ideal buy

Detailed attention is paid to their tastes, their wants and what would be viewed as an ideal buy for the customers who have saved up to make their annual purchase. With the public opting for colourful and bold garbs to be in tune with the festive mood, schedules include a `pre-production order' that arrive in various stages and aim at a `perfect' supply of products meant for the season.

Customer taste

So, companies that caters to the mid segment of the society, rush in their designers, who gather the trend and the likes of customers in the State. This, coupled with a trend -tracking soft ware in all their showrooms, result in a host of discussions with the whole-seller that call for a multitude of designs including broad checks and unusual combinations that go well with the `mundu'.

"This is in CAD format and it is by January that we see the actual swatches of which approvals are made. In April, an approximate number of designs are chosen which are then displayed before the various retail outlets by June." Prashant adds that much of the customers' needs are best studied by the retailers who deal with them personally, so they are given the option of choosing the designs. These are then divided into three specific categories that include various combinations of designs, fabrics and pricing, supplied at three different time spans.



Designers do their own survey to zero in on the Onam season's fashions that will please their clientele

"This is to provide variety as well as to avoid bulk supply at any given time, which on the other hand also helps maintain a continuous flow of garments at all times."

With so much attention showered on clothing, for most manufacturers and dealers, the job is completed way before Onam, the rest of the job remaining in the hands of retailers who sell them.

Retail strategies

At the retailers end, the competition seems to be immense with every possible solution being adhered to lure customers. The Raymond Shop opted for quick discount sales, that saw prices slashed up to 40 per cent to gear themselves for new stock that not only cater to their general upper market clientele, but others who can avail buys starting at Rs.400. Managing Director, Deepak Aswani explains that focus will be given to window displays and pamphlets that are designed and copy-written on the Onam theme almost a month in advance. This includes the mandatory banana leaf, lamps, the `Para' overflowing with rice and a Kathakali motif in all its magnificence,

"all that signifies a new harvest," he says, in keeping with the Onam spirit.

Window dressing

What is displayed at windows and shop patios, those varied coloured garbs that adorn mannequins are, in truth is the effort and planning that start much in advance, even a year earlier.

Wills Lifestyle has outlets all over the country and are not in a position to make custom made clothing just for the Onam season. Manager Simi Ramakrishnan says, "We specifically concentrate on discounts on every floor of the shop."

Discounts

For others like Nithyanand Kamath, Managing Partner of Louis Phillipe and Van Heusen, Onam is made special, "with discounts and free gifts that include a trolley or a watch respectively."

On the whole, with competition looming large, and the customer willing to spend, manufacturers and retailers race to satisfy him. And at the end of one mega season, they seem to be in full thrust to savour a larger market share the coming year.

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