Dhruv and Udit Toshniwal, Founders, The Pant Project
The brand that bridged this gap
Founded in October 2020, The Pant Project was one brand which clearly identified this gap in the market and started their brand journey with one mission of creating thoughtfully designed and most comfortable pair of pants for every occasion.
To learn more about this Innovative brand, we sat down with The Pant Project, Director, Dhruv Toshniwal, who is a visionary behind the brand to understand how the changing lifestyle and fashion preferences will unfold a great future for his brand.
What goes behind the name? What has been your learning in this journey? And, what’s next?
The brackets in The [Pant] Project logo are elements from the dictionary as we are redefining the category and changing the definition of what it means to shop pants online. The name is also specific to the Pant category as we have chosen to start by being the best in the world at one product category before expanding to other horizons. We also designed the logo in a way that it conveys our expertise as ‘The Pant Pro’, dedicated to providing superior knowledge and service for all your pant-related needs.
Our value proposition to customers is simple - we provide custom-made pants for men and women in premium fabrics such as wool, cotton, knits, linen and poly-viscose. We offer 3 fits that one can choose from -- slim, tapered and relaxed. You can select your waist size and length, and there is provision for in-between sizes as well. From casual to formal, we offer pants for every occasion for men and women. We are a digital native brand, which started as online-only and have primarily grown with sales from our own website. We are now listed on select marketplaces like Amazon and Myntra and wish to continue to expand our reach across the country and list on more marketplaces as well as grow our offline store presence.
Consumers want faster trends. How has your brand adopted to the new changing dynamics of the fashion industry?
Our brand is built on slow fashion, which essentially means producing clothes with timeless designs and premium, long-lasting quality. Our products form a core part of your wardrobe and are versatile. We offer better basics across different categories, which mean once you invest in key pieces, you’re ready to create different looks that are suitable for work, travel, brunch, dinner parties and more.
Would you call yourself an aspirational brand for your consumer? Tell us in detail about your target group?
Pant Project has pants in all fabrics for men and women across age groups. At Pant Project, you can find dress pants, semi-formal, smart casuals, chinos, etc. made to order. Our core target audience consists of working professionals aged 25-55. Our audience is evenly split between Metro cities and tier 2 cities. While our brand is aspirational, our pricing is accessible and comparable to quality high street brands.
Who would be your competitors in the market and how are you different from the other Made 2 Measure concept brands?
Apparel is naturally a fragmented market, and clients own multiple brands in their wardrobe. Our customers typically are frustrated with shopping from International brands because the sizing is not made for Indian body types and prefer our seamless digital experience to the hassle of going to a local tailor. We don’t really view other made -to -measure brands as competition, as most people are still shopping off-the-rack clothing, and the more custom-made brands that come into the market, the better it is for us in educating customers about the value of custom-made over standard sizing. We differentiate ourselves from other brands by providing the highest quality fabrics and stitching. We have a 45 plus years of experience in textile manufacturing and providing a customer service that is best in class by global standards.
Innovation is the key for future business. What have been your investments here?
We have made several investments in innovation from a product development perspective and from a service delivery angle. We have launched innovative products like our all-weather essential pants that are water-repellent, stain-repellent, breathable, lightweight and wrinkle resistant; ideal for all seasons. We have introduced a proprietary flex-tech waistband that gives a couple of inches of stretch and additional comfort to our customers. We have extensively used technology and data science to crunch numbers across our database of customers and arrive at the best fit for each Indian body type.
How sustainable is your brand? What are your brand initiatives on this subject and some examples?
Since we are a made-to-order brand, all our products are made once we receive an order. Hence, we are never left with any dead stock that ends up in landfills. Further, all our fabrics are made from responsibly sourced raw materials. For example, our polyester is 100% recycled from PET bottles and can be traced back to its source and we don’t use any plastic in our packaging either. We also use organic cotton, mulesing free wool and liva-eco certified viscose. Furthermore, we maintain a zero-discharge policy of liquid chemicals and hazardous materials in our manufacturing processes. Our manufacturing facilities are being fitted with the state of the art rooftop solar panels for renewable energy.
Technology is changing the very face of the Indian Fashion Industry. How has your brand worked on this term?
We have invested in several tools such as a new age customer relationship management (CRM), which provides granular data on customer behaviour and enables campaigns to be personalised to each shopper's preferences. We use our proprietary enterprise resource planning software to track the motion of each pair in every stage of production on the factory floor, to minimize errors and defects and to give visibility to customers on their estimated delivery date. We also use customer relationship management software to deliver personalized content and products to each customer. We are looking to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) based product recommendation engines and virtual fitting rooms into our customer experience.
Product & its strength
Tell us about the key product categories and the bestsellers? What are your average price points?
We have products starting from ₹1,990. Our power-stretch knit pants, which are our bestsellers, are priced affordably at ₹2,990. Our luxury collections including premium wool pants start from ₹3,990 and goes up to ₹6,990.
The concept of tailoring works completely on the fit of its product. Tell us about the research behind your size guide for both men and women?
Before launching the brand, we carried out extensive fit trials and research to arrive at the best blocks and patterns for Indian body types. We researched over 1 million data points on fit for over 1 lakh customers using our family business experience of 45 plus years in apparel manufacturing. We also researched all international brands and understood the problems that were being faced by Indian customers with their fitting. Using this information, we built our size guide to cater to the specific needs of Indian body types.
What are your future product expansion plans? Do you wish to expand more categories?
We want to be a one-stop-shop for all things bottom wear. After a successful launch of denims, we recently launched made-to-order shorts, along with limited edition collaboration with an Italian master designer Guido Bertagnolio. We want to continue to expand our range of colours, styles, and patterns and see opportunities to launch more athleisure and casual wear. We also see expansion opportunities in increasing our distribution channels. Our first sales channel was our own website and we are now listed on select marketplaces like Amazon and Myntra. We wish to continue to expand our reach across the country, and list on more marketplaces. The end goal is to have an offline store presence. We have already served over 1,000 zip codes across the country; we aim to become a household name over the next decade.
Do you plan to work on ready-production project apart from the tailoring concept?
We have already forayed into ready-to-wear for customers who are comfortable with off-the-rack clothing. These pieces are already listed on Myntra and Amazon and are a more affordable alternative to our custom-made pants. You get similar quality without the frills of personalization and custom fit, but on a budget. We have also launched jeans in a similar fashion. In the future, we see our brand being a mix of custom-made and ready-to-wear.
Collections, Style and Trends
What’s new with the brand collection for the upcoming season?
Since you asked, let me give you a sneak peek into our upcoming collection. The spring summer 23 collection will include moisture-wicking fabrics in pastel colours to begin with. With temperatures steadily increasing across the country, we will focus on breathable fabrics that are ideal for the Indian climate.
Is your latest collection inspired by any theme? Please explain.
We feel very fortunate to have collaborated with Italian master designer Guido Bertagnolio on our latest luxury work wear collection. Guido is the epitome of luxury Italian design, with more than 60 years of experience in designing fabrics for some of the world's leading high fashion brands, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, and Armani. We have created a limited edition collection for our customers who want crave for something more. This collection is created from Australian merino wool, which has a luxurious look and feel and is blended with recycled polyester to give the fabrics durability. Guido picked core colours for this collection - essential but versatile, which means they will be easy to style and easier to wear.
What kind of product innovation has taken place in your line for the season ahead in terms of style and cuts? What’s your colour palette for the season?
As a slow fashion brand, we focus on creating staple pieces instead of statement ones. This means that instead of doing a colour palette for each season, we create basics that can be worn all year round. Temperature and seasons fluctuate and vary greatly across our vast nation. We want to create garments that are not geographically-bound. That being said, we do research the latest trends and try to incorporate them into our styles and cuts. For example, we launched our 6-pocket cargo pants based on customer feedback that they wanted a modern cargo that could store their phone, wallet and belongings easily and could be worn for casual occasions, adventure and travel. We also launched in-trend colours (pastels for summer) and some bold patterns (e.g., black stripe power stretch knit); however, we are closer to becoming an essential part of your wardrobe, as opposed to being a fast fashion brand that promotes wearing and disposing off new products every season.
What are the key fabric trends for the season in terms of types of fabrics Wool, Cotton, Blends, Linen or others), types of prints, design and colours?
We have seen our customers trend towards fabrics that are light and breathable, prioritising comfort over all else. For summer, cottons and linens are always a staple. Denim is also always a safe bet and forms a part of the new age workwear uniform. Shorts are always a great casualwear option, and we offer them in varying lengths, for people who complain they can never find the right length. Personalization is also a huge trend that we have seen, and we offer customers the opportunity to make a pair of pants their own by monogramming their initials and choosing to add advanced customizations such as pleats.
What is the present state of fashion market? What are the key challenges that a brand is still facing?
Globally, brands are facing a recessionary environment, but we are optimistic about the Indian consumer and their aspirational desire to look and feel good every day. Further, with most of the workforce returning to work, we are confident that our sales will continue to grow.
Our biggest challenge as an e-commerce brand is definitely logistics. To serve 20,000 plus zip codes across the country and problems with cash on delivery (COD) orders not being received (return to origin problem) is no easy feat.
What’s your take on Social media integration for your brand? How well has your brand scored? Tell us about the strength of your followers and what are channels you are present?
Our social media following has grown with the brand, and with over 65K followers on Instagram, and presence across Youtube, LinkedIn and Twitter, we have increased our conversion rate to 4x in the last 12 months. We have a few interesting things for our customers in the pipeline - we plan on starting a styling series for customers who want to elevate their look and get the most bang for their buck by wearing our products in more ways than they deemed possible. We have also added detailed guides on the product pages for an enhanced shopping experience.
Tell us how do you retain loyal customers? What are the key promotions that you run?
We have a strong focus on repeat customers, and have been fortunate to have 50 percent plus of our sales coming from them. While we are not a discount focused brand, we believe our pricing and value proposition is strong enough to attract the customer at or near full price. As we don't believe in charging extras, we offer customizations, shipping and alterations without taking any additional charge. We make repeat customer journeys simple by storing their measurements and allowing them to place repeat orders seamlessly with just a few clicks on our site. We also run strong email marketing campaigns where we educate our loyal customers about behind the scenes in our production processes, sustainability initiatives and latest collections, so that they remain engaged with our brand. We also plan to have dedicated customer service stylists available for our customers to speak with when they are unsure about which pants to buy for their wardrobe.
Our after-sales service is unparalleled. We offer free alterations to clients, so if a client is unhappy with his fit, we organize a free reverse pickup and alter the pants to fit them just right.
Tell us about the total number of pin-codes you serve and the key markets you cover?
Currently, we serve over 1000 pin codes, with our key markets being metro cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Calcutta and Pune. 50% of our sales are generated from tier-2 cities, with a lot of loyal customers spread across the country.
How important are regional markets for your brand? Do you plan something differently in accordance with its taste?
Since it’s a native brand, we understand that ethnic and traditional wear is also a staple in our wardrobe. Instead of building for any specific regional market, we have built for the Indian consumer’s life events, like our wedding edit, which offers power-stretch pants for the sangeet, chinos for haldi and luxury wool pants for the reception.
Since you are a complete online brand, how well have you scored online? How has this retail channel worked for you?
We have seen tremendous growth online, with 7X revenue growth in year 1 and 3X revenue growth in year 2, and continue to be optimistic about this channel. Simultaneously, we recognize the need to be an omni-channel brand with a Pan-India presence and we plan on opening retail outlets at strategic locations over the coming years.
Do you plan to open physical stores and follow a phygital approach? Share your detailed expansion plans?
Future plans include more growth to create an opportunity for an omni-channel presence with a mix of online and physical stores, with digital being the primary focus for sales. To enhance customer experience and engage first-hand with clients, we also had a pop-up store in Bangalore last year and plan to open our own stores in the years to come.
What about being available on market places? What’s been your movement here?
We launched our ready-to-wear line on Amazon just a few months ago, and it is already forming 10% of sales, whereas Myntra, where we launched earlier this month has seen a phenomenal start. We plan to continue to grow on our own site, on marketplaces and offline!
What’s your current turnover and the growth you are expecting in the next 2-3 years?
Currently, we are clocking in over 2 crore in monthly sales (24 crore ARR), and we expect to grow to 100 crore in annual sales in the next couple of years.
The Pant Project: New age E-tailor!
So,whether you’re looking for a comfortable pair of pants to wear to work, a stylish pair of jeans for a night out, or a pair of cargos for your yoga class, The Pant Project has got you covered. With our custom-made stretchable pants, you can look and feel your best every day, while supporting a Made in India brand.