Much like the west, we’re increasingly moving towards apparel that’s comfortable and multifunctional. As athletic wear becomes part of the mainstream wardrobe (the “athleisure-wear” culture), we believe the aspirational segment of women in fact represents a large emerging opportunity. Frankly, it’s no surprise that the athleisure market in India is growing rapidly.
While the market leaders in this space recognize the need, they aren’t able to offer a product that fulfills the Indian customer who has different needs than her western counterpart. The Indian customer stands shorter, prefers functionality over appearance, and is price-sensitive. Leaders in this space like Nike, Adidas, Puma fail to recognize these differences and continue to push the “one size fits all” agenda. Other, more affordable players in this space such as H&M and Forever 21 compromise on the comfort and quality of the product to sell at a lower price.
BlissClub is building a technical apparel brand that puts the Indian woman front and center. Minu Margeret has a deep understanding of the market has struggled to choose the right athletic wear herself. Minu, while speaking to us about being an athlete at university, put forward first-hand experiences of lack of comfortable athletic wear in the Indian market. She spoke about how most leggings that were available to her never fit her “five feet- two” frame and always looked like a “churidar ”. Not only was this not comfortable to wear, but its fabric was also not optimal for the weather conditions in India. Upon further research, it was found that most Indian women struggle with athletic wear which isn’t fit for their average height, fit, weather, functionality, or stretch. With what was available in the market, this customer had to constantly choose between comfort and affordability.
BlissClub’s first solution which is ‘The Ultimate Leggings’ (TUL) addresses this very problem. Anything previously available in the market is not functional compared to these leggings. The Indian customer wears multiple hats during the day (from being a working woman to taking care of children and their home) and would prefer to handle most responsibilities comfortably. One example is that the Indian woman prefers that they wear something which has a pocket for keys and their phone over a branding logo.
With this nuanced understanding of what the Indian customer needs, BlissClub began catering to it with a product that is fit for Indian body types (high-waisted, wide waistbands, ankle-length fit), a quality fabric (27% spandex compared to 10% in brands in the same segment) and functional use (no logos, 4 pockets). The Ultimate Leggings were crafted with what is described to be a signature cloud-soft fabric, is flattering for all body types & is comfortable, a rare combination.
The community-first approach
BlissClub also wanted to build a community that shared a passion for “moving” (any type of physical activity not being limited to lifting at the gym). Their mission was to encourage women to be active not because it makes them fit but because it helps make them happy. This brought together like-minded women who wanted not only to have access to good quality activewear but also who wanted to share their stories.
The company has built a strong community of over 15,000 women across Instagram and WhatsApp. They have brought together empowering stories and use cases of various women across India who were not only looking for good quality activewear but also are passionate about moving. The hashtag #WomenWhoMove has stories encompassing women across India who want to share their journeys. These stories consist of women who like to go rock climbing, do yoga, scuba diving and how they began their journey with various physical activities.
The existing fitness market in India has really glorified the “size zero” whether through ads or marketing through influencers. This made it not only intimidating for an average user but also counterintuitive as it lacks relatability and forces the user to believe that fitness is unattainable. However, BlissClub’s community-led model is redefining this perception and encouraging women to focus on their own personal journeys.
We think this space is going to see tremendous growth in the next few years as companies begin to address the pain points that the average Indian customer faces in this sector. BlissClub’s community-first approach could be a real differentiator that can make it a leader in this space.
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