EXCLUSIVE | Bhavik Vora, Black White Orange: India as an apparel market has come of age

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In 2020 the pandemic presented the fashion industry with a conundrum to reimagine work and comfort to evolve for the new Work-from-home model. The lockdown also changed the consumers’ mindsets and approach to fashion norms in a significant way. Keeping this dynamic new trend in mind brand-consulting company Black White Orange announced their foray into the apparel market with ‘Shirtee’. Invented, designed and Made in India, ‘Shirtee’ is a formal shirt that is a t-shirt!

MediaBrief caught up with Bhavik Vora, Founder and CEO, Black White Orange Brands Pvt. Ltd, to know more about Shirtee, the brands’ expansion plans, how it could transform the Work from home fashion wear. And more. Read on.

While we understand the idea germinated with the enforced lockdown and the new normal, what is your understanding of the fashion and apparel industry and what scope/opportunity do you see in this niche of creating apparel for all people working from home?

While we have expertise in retail at Black White Orange and our core is consumer products, we spent months on R&D to get the right fits and materials for Shirtee. We had to make sure that it is comfortable and looks like a perfect dress shirt at the same time. We wanted to solve a problem that exists with so many people working from home. This is why we’ve called it Work From Anywhere! 

Shirtee-2-min-1.pngThe global pandemic presented the fashion industry with a chance to reset and reshape owing to the remote working conditions induced by the lockdown, a trend that is likely to continue throughout 2021. The lockdown also changed the consumers’ mindsets and approach to fashion norms in a big way.

Consumers are now getting back to shopping but with specific preferences of every day / comfortable wear that they can just step out in, get back home and get to work in. That’s where Shirtee fits in.

We are proud to launch this home-grown innovative product and truly hope the consumers love it too. At BWO, innovation is something we truly believe in and we will continue to create path-breaking ideas like the Shirtee!

Why the name Shirtee? 

There were many conversations that I was a part of, where friends would often hope they didn’t have to be formally dressed because of the numerous video calls throughout the day. It did lead to exhaustion of another kind.

This is how the idea of Shirtee was generated. We discussed it at BWO, the design team came up with their innovative thoughts & designs, we conducted intense market research and garnered interesting insights of consumers enquiring about comfort wear to shop online during the lockdown and WFH phase.

This re-asserted our thoughts and we knew what we had to do next. We took the feel of a t-shirt, the look of a shirt and created something that will appease consumers at large. Thus, was born Shirtee (patent pending). What better name to describe the brand!

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If you had to define the brand, Shirtee in about 100 words or so how would you do it?

Shirtee is the brainchild of a situation that changed the world in all aspects, be it life in general, fashion, food amongst many others. Our team at BWO believes in breaking old thinking patterns, bringing in fresh perspectives, and encouraging creativity and innovation.

Shirtee-8-1.pngEvery member of this supremely talented team is passionate, energetic, and always looking at opportunities to elevate their performance while adding value to the company. 

We’ve pioneered many licensed merchandise launches into India in collaboration with our international brand owners & licensors. The concept of launching and marketing apparel is not an alien subject to us. That experience has helped launch our original label Shirtee.

Wear it with formal pants for your zoom meetings, pair it with shorts for your walks, or your jeans for a quick meet with family and friends, Shirtee eases into any occasion and any situation. It fits well, it looks stylish and not a crease or fold out of place. 

How has your experience or so to say the learnings of licensing and merchandising helped you launch a brand amidst a pandemic?

Thankfully, our experience of licensing and merchandising helped a great deal in the understanding market and consumer trends and dynamics. We can read mindsets and preempt what will and will not work.

India as an apparel market has come of age and the testimony to it is the plethora of brand launches, we have seen over the years, so we know that Indian consumers have the exposure, they are very evolved and have finer taste in life. 

We saw how the lockdown led to a surge in online shopping, call it therapy or immediate gratification but we all needed some sort of comfort to get us through the pandemic. And if a piece of clothing fulfills it, then why not.

We conducted in-depth research to find out what the consumers were picking online and the majority were comfort wear for work, unfortunately, a category like that didn’t exist till recently. This was our Eureka moment….we knew we could bridge that gap and offer our consumers a whole new category amidst the pandemic.

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How are you planning to market the brand as heavy promotions would be required to get eyeballs attracted to the brand?

Our promotions will be very D2C. We have our social media platforms running aggressively, we have our Marketing, Advertising, and PR team who are promoting Shirtee through experiential, influencer engagements, and sampling. Bearing in mind the current situation, we refrain from doing anything on-ground that will break the social distancing protocols.

What are the key objectives of Shirtee? 

We see Shirtee as a category in itself. We’ve taken the feel of a t-shirt, the look of a shirt, and created something that will appease consumers at large. Something like this never existed before. 

Plans for International expansion especially across the United States of America?

Yes, we do. Right now, we’re completely focused on our launch and widespread reach to consumers in India. We’re busy with manufacturing and retailing across key e-commerce sites along with our website.

The response has been very positive. Our plans to launch overseas will be in Q3 of 2021 in a market as big as India and what better than the US? We’re proud and excited to see how consumers in The US respond to our homegrown brand. 

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Where do you see the brand a year from now? 

We see Shirtee becoming a category in itself, a trendsetter in the apparel market because our product proposition is unique and never seen before.We will also be dropping new lines and categories in the near future and that’s going to be super exciting!

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Well, we’ve just got started and we’re super excited to see what the future holds for us. I’d just like to say, the new normal is here and so is a new ‘work order’, called Shirtee.