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The science behind selling a dress to an Indian woman, according to the CEO of Latin Quarters

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Co-founder and CEO Latin Quarters, Rahul Bhalla


  • Lifestyle brand Latin quarters‘ DIRECTOR Rahul Bhalla breaks down the “science behind clothing shopping” in India.
  • Dresses contribute approximately 57-58% of total revenue for Latin Quarters.
  • Bhalla believes that Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities will drive future growth not only for Latin Quarters, but for most players in this category.

Latin Quarters, an Indian-origin lifestyle brand known for its dresses alongside other clothing, bags and jewelry, competes with Western brands. With over 16 years of understanding Indian body types, it claims to have cracked the code for offering western styles tailored to the women of the subcontinent.

According to Rahul Bhalla, co-founder and CEO of Latin Quarters, unlike many international brands where the ‘Indian customer has to fit’, Latin Quarters curates and designs clothes with the Indian woman in mind.

“Styles like bling, sequins, shimmering A-line party dresses sell more than their counterparts. Colors like black, maroon, dark shades of blue, you know, all the earthy tones do really well in India, and what reflects well on the Indian skin tone does well,” shared Bhalla in a conversation with https://londonbusinessblog.com/ India, outlining what he calls the “science behind clothing shopping” in India.

Size does matter



It is not only the color, but also the cut and fabric of Indianized Western styles that are important to shoppers. Moreso, the preferences and other elements differ between regions and states across the broad Indian subcontinent.

Present in nearly 80 cities across India, Latin Quarters streamlines production and distribution based on scientific elements to meet the diverse demands of diverse Indian consumers across India. It has collections that meet every specific need.

“In the Northeast, the average height of a lady is generally shorter – so we have a separate petite collection for them, which is sold exclusively to these areas where height is an issue. In the South, smaller sizes sell more and in the north and west sell larger sizes much more,” said Bhalla.

However, choices that combine Indian sensibility with sartorial aspirations are common in different locations – and that’s what makes dresses, especially longer ones, become Latin Quarters’ hottest offerings.

“Dresses account for about 57-58% of our total sales. And in those dresses, I would say that out of 57%, almost 35 (%) would be the longer dresses,” Bhalla added.

Rising demand in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities



According to Bhalla, the Covid-19 pandemic brought about a major shift in clothing choices, with comfort wear replacing casual wear – the predominant category of Latin Quarters, to Bhalla’s own admission – and even workwear.

As the world returns to normal, Latin Quarters is seeing a lot of action, with sales above pre-Covid levels. As Bhalla puts it, “This year we should be up about 20% from pre-Covid numbers, both in terms of total revenue and profitability and the point of sale in everything.”

However, Latin Quarters continues to “struggle” in Mumbai and Delhi, with “disappointing” sales due to increased competition and steep property prices, Bhalla said. At the same time he added that Kolkata remained one of their largest markets along with Hyderabad, Poonaand Bangalore.

In terms of growth, Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities have shown the most favorable results, which Bhalla believes will drive future growth for most players in this category, including Latin Quarters – due to better real estate prices and ambitious clients who are more willing to experiment.

“We get a lot of attention from smaller cities. We opened six more of our EBOs (exclusive brand outlets). There is (only) one opening in Bangalore – the rest are in Indore, Amritsar… right where the real estate is better,” Bhalla said.

Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities are ripe for urbanization and growth and are identified by both NBFC as growth engines, particularly for retail and real estate
Sundaram Home Finance and management consultancy,
Kearney researchamong other things.

Bhalla also shared that after comparing their own sales with other brands in the category and observing general trends, he has seen that ethnic wear is limited to special occasions like Diwali and Karwa Chauth – especially for the working woman.

Likewise, according to him, more and more millennials and Gen-Z are adopting Western clothing because they see it as a “distinctive factor from their mothers and grandmothers.”

Online: no longer just for outdated merchandise



Bhalla believes that prior to the pandemic, they were “lazy” in their approach to online channels, using it only as a way to liquidate outdated merchandise and styles.

But with the pandemic, Bhalla argues there has been a “mind shift” with Latin Quarters investing money, time and energy into building online sales channels because “the future is all about convenience” i.e. how fast a product ships. and/or can be exchanged.

This ties in perfectly with the recent one
report from The Economic Timesstating that “online purchases of shirts, jackets, dresses, tops, jeans, sneakers and boots accounted for 26-50% from some of the largest fashion brands in the country, shattering the myth that touch and feel are critical factors in the fashion purchasing decision.”

Bhalla also believes that one of the biggest advantages of online sales channels over offline stores is the wide variety of sizes. As he puts it: “It is very difficult for any (offline) store to have every size of every single offer with us. With online we can solve that 99% of the time.”

Currently, Latin Quarters exists on all major online portals and has 19 EBOs, with plans to add 6 more stores by March 2023, Bhalla said. It also has a presence in 290 large format department stores – primarily Pantaloons, Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle Stores, along with presence in Lulu Hypermarket and Reliance’s Centro (formerly Future Group’s Central).

Although Latin Quarters have surpassed pre-pandemic numbers in terms of sales, the Indian holiday season had a limited impact on Latin Quarters sales, due to the complete lack of ethnic clothing. Bhalla is looking forward to the upcoming winter and Christmas sales season to offset this dip.

“So Durga puja was very good — we did about 26% higher than our 2019-20 (revenue). Diwali, to be quite honest, has never been a very strong Western clothing category. Winter wear and Christmas is basically our Diwali,” Bhalla shared.


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