India’s rapidly growing fashion and accessories segment has caught the fancy of Japanese retailers and several of them are getting ready to enter a market so far dominated by European and US brands.
A host of retailers from the Land of the Rising Sun, including Mark Styler that owns fashion and lifestyle brands such as Mercuryduo, Dazzlin and Emoda; fast-fashion retailer Miniso; eyewear company Owndays and the Kai Group, which sells products in cooking, grooming and beauty care are scouting for mall space in India’s top cities, senior executives at three top malls said.
A couple of Japanese companies already sell their fashion products in India, a country with a burgeoning and increasingly urbanised and prosperous middle class that is becoming an important growth market for global brands.
Tokyo-based Muji, which retails apparels to home products, entered India last year in a joint venture with Reliance Brands that sells a raft of global brands, including Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Diesel and Brooks Brothers. Muji expects India to be its second largest international market after China, where the retailer with no-logo branding operates around 200 outlets.
Kyoto-based luxury lingerie brand Wacoal, too, entered India last year in a joint venture between its Hong Kong unit and India’s Perivbwinkle Fashions.
The largest Japanese fashion company and one of the world’s top four fast-fashion brands, Uniqlo, is preparing to come to India next year. ET reported in January that Uniqlo is entering India on its own and is in talks with mall developers in top cities to open stores.
“In India, I have seen mostly Japanese companies move in a herd — be it automobiles, electronics or other equipments,” said Harminder Sahni, founder of retail consultancy Wazir Advisors. “I see that has started to happen in retail with Muji coming here.”
Kai has already invested about Rs 175 crore in India, the bulk of it in a manufacturing plant at Neemrana outside of New Delhi. The firm, which operates experiential stores in Japan, Hong Kong and other countries, plans to open a store in a New Delhi mall.
“We are under negotiations for a store in a mall in Delhi where we will showcase our products such as kitchen goods, kitchen appliances and related items,” said Rajesh Pandya, Kai’s chief operating officer in India.
Founded in 2013, fast-fashion brand Minisco sells its products through more than 1,400 standalone stores in 31 countries. A spokesperson for Minisco said the company generally appoints franchisees for its brand but will open company-owned stores in India and later appoint sub-franchisees.
One of the mall executives said Mark Styler is in talks with a local company for a franchisee. Masanori Akiyama, the company’s president, did not respond to a text message sent to his phone seeking comment.