For long, women have ruled the roost as far as the apparel segment goes.
But men are finally coming into their own as more companies are focusing on the grooming and apparel needs of men. According to research firm Statista, the men’s apparel industry is projected to grow an estimated Rs 3,268.69 billion in 2028 from Rs 1,564.96 in 2018.
Anurag Saboo liked to shop online but often found it difficult to find what he wanted.
“As an online shopper, I would be attracted to fashion marketplaces for their discounts. But I realised I would end up getting things that I often did not use even after spending a lot of time. I thought why not start a men’s clothing store where you go and get quality things, which would actually be used often,” Anurag tells YourStory.
Anurag joined hands with Gaurav Pushkar, his IIT-Delhi batchmate and friend for more than a decade, to start, a Bengaluru-based clothing startup for men.
The co-founders were earlier co-workers at ecommerce platformand beauty giant . Working at these internet firms gave them the confidence to start up themselves.
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Founded in 2018 under Damensch Apparel Pvt. Ltd., the clothing firm started by selling men’s innerwear, with five stock keeping units (SKUs), as the category had “not evolved much from an innovation standpoint”. Currently, the brand sells 18 SKUs across innerwear and casual wear.
Damensch launched odourless soft-fabric underwear, cotton boxers, and vests made from sustainable bamboo fabric.
“We wanted to bring men something that was comfortable to wear throughout the day without any discomfort. We felt most of the brands in India cater to non-Indian crowd,” Anurag says.
The firm took the digital-first approach and started by selling on their own website and marketplaces, including, Amazon, and Myntra. Damensch, which began with 50 orders per day in 2018, now makes 5,000 deliveries a day.
Anurag claims their customer retention rate is about 40 percent and credits good quality products with social digital marketing as drivers of the growth.
“Men are also a much stickier customer base. If they like a product from a brand, they usually tend to be a customer for much longer,” he says.
Focus on D2C
The pandemic-led lockdowns, which forced most people to stay at home, also helped in the discovery of many digital brands. The lockdowns also made online shopping a necessity rather than a choice, making investors chase direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands.
While cosmetic startupbecame a unicorn and converted into The Good Glam Group through multiple acquisitions, Mamaearth and went on to raise bigger rounds at higher valuations.
Damensch, which now employs 150 people, raised Rs 50 crore in November 2020, led by Matrix Partners India, after raising Rs 137.5 million across their two seed rounds, according to data on Crunchbase. The firm also claims to be profitable and has grown 3x post lockdown.
The challenges include the quality – if too good, then getting frequent orders from the same customer could become a challenge as people might need new innerwear only once a year. This is why Damensch plans to focus on product expansion in the casual wear and athleisure categories for the next one year.
At the moment, Damensch competes with Page Industries’ Jockey, Van Heusen, and DSG Consumer-backed XYXX Apparels, an omnichannel brand focusing on men’s inner and casual wear.
The D2C startup aims to grow 3x in the next 12 months to reach Rs 300 crore ARR by October next year.
“For now our focus is to expand our product offering and increase our revenue run rate,” Anurag says.