In the middle of the 1990s, when Ravi was hanging around after school and on weekends in Kolkata at his father's garments store, he saw a significant potential in the garment business.
The store didn't provide any traditional Indian clothing, but it did sell men's jeans, T-shirts, shorts and pants. "There was a demand, but there was no supply," claims Modi. He made an attempt to persuade his father to sell men's kurtas and pyjamas, but it was unsuccessful. Therefore, the then-19-year-old Modi procured 100 men's kurta-pyjamas sets in 1996 while his father was gone on an annual trip, selling 80 at the end of the week.
Thus began a foray into men’s ethnic Indian wear that has made Modi’s franchise-based apparel company, Vedant Fashions, a leading player in the wedding- and celebration-wear market for men, women and children, selling 4 million pieces a year.
The foundation of Modi's $3.75 billion fortune, which puts him among India's wealthiest people, was the company's 15% listing on the local stock exchanges in February.
The Hardships the Goes Behind
The rising trend of so-called "big fat Indian weddings," which can last for several days and include not only the wedding ceremony and reception but also welcome parties, religious rituals, and other celebrations, is the reason for Vedant Fashions' strong earnings and promising future.
Weddings are growing larger, more elaborate, and longer, according to Mumbai-based analytics firm Crisil, which attributes this trend to rising disposable incomes and an increase in discretionary expenditure. It anticipates that the ethnic clothing industry would expand between 15 and 17 percent to around $1.38 trillion by 2025, driven by an increase in Indians' preference for traditional attire over Western wear during significant events.
Vedant Fashions, which Modi founded in 1999 with the Manyavar brand, sells traditional clothing such as pyjamas and saris as well as sherwanis, kurtas, lehengas, and salwar sets to men, women, and children. It has 590 stores in 228 Indian cities and 13 locations in the United States and the United Arab Emirates, however it outsources the majority of the manufacturing to outside companies.
In contrast to its 2015-launched Mohey brand, which caters to women, Manyavar, the company's flagship line, offers men's festive apparel. Both belong to the ambitious yet inexpensive mid-premium market. Tvamev and Manthan are the names of Modi's luxury and mass-market menswear collections for different people from different strata of the society, respectively.He purchased rival Mebaz in 2017 in order to serve the South Indian market with mid-premium and premium clothing.
Ravi Modi’s Stairs to Success
In order to create an entirely new category of branded wedding apparel, Modi converted an early success in men's ready-to-wear. His goal is to be a one-stop shop for the entire family, and he takes care to cater to regional preferences as well as different income brackets.
For instance, he stocks traditional South Indian dhotis and ‘angavastram’ in South Indian stores in addition to the usual sherwanis and kurtas. According to Ravi Modi, a Manyavar shop was supposed to be a place where one could enter and leave with all they needed for the wedding.
Being the first to enter a market is advantageous to Modi. The men's market mostly featured Western-style suits in the 1980s and 1990s, but by the 2000s it had changed to ethnic clothing due to the emergence of Indian designers and the depiction of weddings in Bollywood movies. Modi took advantage of the chance and established a successful company.
Modi initially used company-owned and -operated retail locations, but in 2016 switched to a franchise model. Today, all but four of the locations are franchisees. Using this strategy, Modi was able to grow his business without accruing debt and maintain control over his marketing and supplies.
Franchise owners are often in touch with him, and he holds regular training sessions for his customer care staff. Vineet Jain, who runs eight franchise stores in Chennai, says the inventory is extremely well maintained and there is open communication. He is extremely methodical and process-driven and is in possession of a lot of data.
The Roadmap Ahead
The brand Manyavar, which in Hindi means "respectability," was introduced by Modi in 1999 with the slogan "earn your respect." He began with one employee and a loan of 10,000 rupees from his mother, selling ready-to-wear kurta-pyjama sets to mom-and-pop shops in eastern, northern, and central India for 200 rupees each.
According to Axis Capital, Vedant Fashions' advertising expenditure, at 7.6% of revenue, is the highest of all clothing brands. Splurging on everything from billboards to sports sponsorship and ads at movie theatres has made Manyavar synonymous with wedding wear. High-profile brand ambassadors including cricketer Virat Kohli and Bollywood actors Kartik Aryan, Alia Bhatt, and Ranveer Singh have also been signed up by the firm.
Modi realised that the business could continue to run without him once his father passed away. He then took a step back and now assesses both the more traditional ROI (return on investment) as well as what he terms ROTI (return on time invested).
He divides his time between employment and wealth management, including philanthropy, and activities that are related to learning, relationships, and health during the remaining time.