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Replay sets foot in India, banks on digital and OOH to market brand

Manu Sharma of Replay India reveals the brand’s India plans to The premium denim brand has signed Neymar Jr. as its global brand ambassador and roped in Emily Ratajkowski, a supermodel and actor, as the face for its Spring-Summer 2019 collection

Replay, the Italian denim brand, launched its first store in India at Ambience Mall, Gurgaon, on May 15.

Manu Sharma

Talking about the brand’s plans in India, Manu Sharma, Business Head, Replay India, Reliance Brands, told, “Replay is an entirely premium denim wear brand, and we got into a long-term distribution partnership with them for India as an exclusive partner. We will run all the channels and to start with, we’ll open stores for Replay India. We have planned four for this year, and should get to 10 by the end of next financial year.”

Reliance Brands has about 64 brands and all these names have their own flagship stores. Replay, one of the growing denim brands in the world with Europe as its biggest market, is the latest to join the bandwagon.

“We will open four stores this year between Mumbai and Delhi. And by next year, we’ll start looking at expanding into cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad,” said Sharma.

Replay marks the launch of the third Italian brand in India after Diesel and Gas which have been here for 10 years.

Sharma said Replay’s denims will start at Rs 7,990, going up to Rs 20,000-Rs 25,000. Their top layer is also very competitively priced. T-shirts start at Rs 2,500, polos at Rs 3,999 and shirts usually around Rs 6,000.

“We have a complete portfolio of apparel, accessories, bags and footwear for men and women and a very serious place, not just for the presence or just for the heck of it,” pointed out Sharma.

Globally, Replay has Neymar Jr. as its brand ambassador. “It’s a dream to get Neymar into India, he’s the God of football. He has a huge fan following on his social handles, and he’s been associated with the brand for about 2-3 years, and we have re-signed him for three years,” said Sharma.

Typically every season, the brand also signs a supermodel for the brand collection for the particular season. Emily Ratajkowski, a supermodel and an actor, and a big social media influencer, is the face for the brand’s Spring-Summer 2019 collection. “The brand’s models’ faces, celebrities, etc., are all dictated by the brand. The language of the brand is homogenous across the globe,” said Sharma.

The brand is present in 50 countries and with a dominating presence in Europe and Latin America. Neymar is the captain of the Brazilian football team and has a very strong influence in that part of the world.

The unique point about Replay is the innovation in denim. It’s truly authentic Italian denim and has the kind of washes and textures the Italian denims are known for. In terms of innovation, it has created a fabric, which is called Hyperflex+. It gives you a six-dimensional stretch without creating a distorted garment or without creating a garment that is heavy or coarse to wear. It gives 120% elasticity, and comes back 100% to its original shape. The Hyperflex+ technology is not only being used in the denims but in chinos and shirts as well.

Replay has its own design inspired by the American styling of the ’50s, and has done a contemporary re-interpretation of it to appeal to a larger audience. “Typically, for a denim wear brand, and the USP that we have in terms of stretch and flexibility, the TG becomes very wide, starting from 18 years and going up to 45. While denim is worn by everybody, we provide the comfort and flexibility for a slightly older customer,” said Sharma.

The best part about the collection is that they are also very fashion forward and very colourful. Talking about Indian choices, Sharma emphasised, “We have all the commercial categories like polos, T-shirts, shirts, hoodies, jackets, footwear and bags. It’s a good and colourful collection that is in tune with the Indian sensibility. In India, we usually like wearing bright and colourful clothes. And Replay has a differentiating factor, a lot of denim brands are usually stuck to the grey, or white and black palette.”

The premium denim segment is growing fast in India. “We run Diesel, G-Star, Gas Jeans, etc. We have seen these brands growing over the last few years. There are a lot of customers who are constantly upgrading from the mass brands that are present in the country. The customer is used to buying denims worth Rs 2,000, Rs 3,000 or Rs 4,000 in certain cases. Now, they are upgrading to the next level of brand, and picking up more innovative, fashion forward and technologically driven products. And that upgrade is happening in a very fast way. There is more than enough space for all these players to run and grow in this country,” mentioned Sharma.

Clearly Levis and Spykar are not Replay’s competitors because the brand’s product is very premium. “Our positioning is premium. All our denims are made in Italy. Our denims are handmade so each individual piece is made by hand. So these things are very different from the mass mill runs of other brands that do very large volumes but at a lower price,” clarified Sharma.

The brand’s competitors are Diesel, Calvin Klein, G-Star, Gas Jeans and Armani. “For us, even if a new iPhone launches, it’s our competition, because if the customer invests so much money into the iPhone, he could postpone the purchase of any of the other items, and denims could be one of those. So it’s a diffused space if we talk about competition,” specified Sharma.

He explained, “There is always scope for competition; however, each brand stands for its core value. Diesel is very cult, very rock and its prices are much higher because it’s like a luxury product for denim buyers. Gas is more clean. For Replay, the TG would be looking at more comfortable and mobility-driven clothing versus regular.”

Talking about the challenges that Replay faces as being a late entrant in the Indian market, Sharma said, “Denim as a category in apparel enjoys the highest level of loyalty. So typically a customer starts loving one particular fit in one particular denim brand. Like for example, when I was a kid, I used to wear Levis and finally I moved to Diesel. And I wear a particular fit, and I usually go to a store and ask for that fit and the different washes and options available in that fit. To ask a loyal denim customer to try something new is not very easy.”

“Denim as a category has a lot of loyalty among customers versus polos, T-shirts, etc., where the customer is more than happy to experiment. Because it doesn’t bother you to switch to another T-shirt brand. A person will have about 20 different brands of T-shirts in his wardrobe, but only about two denims. To crack that loyalty is something we’ll have to work hard on. That is where our expertise on selling, expertise on training of people, the look and feel of our store would come in. We are sure that once the customer would try our product, he would not go back, as the product is very strong and comfortable,” he said.

Replay doesn’t plan to use television advertising. Its marketing arena extends to OOH and digital campaigns. There have also been some installations in malls to attract eyeballs — the installations have been imported from Italy. The brand organised social media events where 20 social media influencers and bloggers were invited to participate.

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