In a first of its kind initiative Amazon Fashion launched River in the beginning of the month, a multi-designer brand created in association with DBS Lifestyle, a turnkey trend and design firm based in Delhi. In season one, the brand offers capsule collections from four veteran designers—JJ Valaya, Suneet Varma, Manish Arora and Ashish Soni. Why River stands out in the current scheme of things is because it redefines the precincts of designerwear by making it accessible to all with prices starting from Rs 999. Once considered part aspirational, part exclusive and part unaffordable, clothes created by these avant-garde designers will now be available to people in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
Speaking about the initiative, Mayank Shivam, Director-Strategic Initiatives, Amazon Fashion India, says, “We have always believed that fashion is for everyone. Today, more than 65% of our customers are from Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities and towns and more than 80% of our new customers come from Tier 2, 3 and 4 towns. We have an active designer boutique on Amazon, where we have seen increased demand from customers across the country in the last few years.” He stresses that the main challenge these customers face is accessing designer outfits as there aren’t any designer stores in their cities. So River was created to “reimagine designer wear and make it accessible to customers across India,” adds Mayank.
River offers ready to wear clothes that bear signature elements of the creator but are more wearable than what we are used to seeing on the runway. For instance, the Disco Gypsy collection by Manish Arora includes clubwear-inspired separates featuring his colourful maximalist aesthetics (read vibrant psychedelic prints and kitschy paisleys). Suneet Varma’s ‘Floral Glam’ brings his festive saris replete with playful frills, tassels, sequins, embroideries in a range of fabrics to the platform. JJ Valaya offers an athleisure inspired collection ‘Royal Sport’ that offers slim fit trousers, jackets with zip detailing, pleated shirts for men and dresses and separates for women. And Ashish Soni’s Millennial Man features a range of T shirts, jogging pants, pyjamas, comfortable shirts in interesting prints. “The whole concept was to make it young, hip and comfortable. Due to the pandemic these trends are driving fashion right now. So, I am hopeful that people would want to buy given the fact that most of them are working from home,” says Ashish.
Another major factor that works in favour of RIVER is the price point that has been kept in the range of Rs 999 to Rs 10,000. “People have asked me where they can buy my products without breaking the bank and this makes that possible! The range is not just affordable for new customers across cities but also for our existing customers. The reason we couldn’t do it before was because we didn’t have large enough distribution.I couldn’t create affordable clothes without scale. So this gives us that opportunity,” says Ashish.
A Win-Win Situation
While customers who get to choose from 270 apparel and accessories styles on offer, stand to benefit, so do the design fraternity. Suneet who feels the collaboration is the way forward for the designers, says, “Due to COVID, people will not go out to shop in crowded spaces. They will prefer to buy from the comfort of their homes. And this is why there is nothing better than Amazon Fashion because its reach is so wide. For designers like me who want to reach a wider audience such collaborations work well.”
Valaya couldn’t agree more. He says, “I’ve always felt that if we were ever offered an opportunity to design an accessible line for a larger audience, the euphoria of having a significantly larger audience experience it firsthand would be amazing. RIVER at Amazon Fashion not only takes care of that feeling, it also provides the ideal virtual platform for all to connect with us on.”
More work for the designers translates into more orders for the karigars, tailors, embroiderers, weavers and artisans employed at each design house. “Considering the last few months have been particularly tough for them, the platform will provide the required boost to digitally enable these businesses, thus helping them achieve access to a larger audience and empowering them to grow and succeed at a quicker pace,” says Mayank adding RIVER will also present made in India labels to a wider audience, hence enabling businesses to generate customer demand for their products. He sums it up as, “With RIVER, the entire retail fraternity will drive benefits on a larger scale.”