When the Indian cricket team reached London for World Cup 2019, it was hard to miss their monogrammed luggage, which stood out in stark contrast to their spiffy navy blue jackets. The BCCI had given each team member a personalized duffel bag and backpack with classy formal shoes – coming to a total of 55 duffel b ags, 55 backpacks and 55 pairs of shoes. And these customized and hand designed creations were courtesy Brune, a noveau brand launched by Tabby Bhatia.
Having grown in a family that was engaged in the leather goods business, Bhatia understood the nuances of the trade. In 2015, he started BareSkin, a casual range of apparel and accessories, where the product price ranges from INR 3000 to INR 10,000. While this targeted youngsters, a few months later, he decided to introduce another uber brand that catered to upwardly-mobile millennials who wanted personalized products and did not mind paying a premium for it. Thus Brune was born.
“What sets Brune apart from BareSkin is that we offer hand treatment of leather and hand painting. This is impossible for large manufacturers to do as this has to be done individually rather than on a mass scale,” Bhatia recalled.
Brune’s creations caught the eye of cricketer Virat Kohli and he loved the customization that was possible. The company crafted his duffel, travel and kit bag as well as his shoes and jacket, with the latter made with flirty and shiny colors of his choice.
Word of their work soon got around and reached cricketing body, BCCI. “We designed the formal shoes for the entire Indian cricket team last year. This year, before the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Kolkata Knight Riders could not get good quality kits in their patented color. So we specially created a purple color and made 90 bags with the team’s logo on it. Later, the Chennai Super Kings team asked for a similar range in a yellow shade, which we offered,” Bhatia said.
Happy with these products, MS Dhoni and the other IPL team captains recommended Brune’s products to BCCI, which placed an order the 55 people who would be travelling for World Cup 2019.
CARVING A NICHE
Almost 65% of the leather goods industry comprises the unorganized segment, which includes small manufacturers and standalone operators. Trying to carve a niche in this industry can be quite challenging. Fortunately, for Bhatia, Brune’s products have been sported by many celebrities, which have helped in increasing its market appeal and curiosity value – characteristics he is banking on to promote the brand.
Currently, Brune is available through its ecommerce portal in India, though the brand does have concept stores in Dubai and Nepal. While Bhatia would like to explore the offline route in India later this year, for now, he is focused on the online channel.
“Indians are really getting better on brand loyalty and in the past three years, almost 70% of our business came from repeat customers, and that too exclusively from our website,” Bhatia exulted. According to him, one key reason for being able to achieve this high number is because the brand has steered from online marketplaces, which often operate on the discounting game.
At the same time, Bhatia admitted that in a country like India, a brand can’t be either offline or online – it needs to have a robust omnichannel approach. That is why this year, it is rolling out its offline strategy.
Given the chic nature of its product line, Brune will initially have outlets in airports and is in talks with authorities at Goa International Airport and GVK, which manages the Delhi International Airport.
“Additionally, I plan to open three outlets across India, including Mumbai, Bangalore and Jalandhar. By next year, we will have six more stores so that we have better coverage across every state. We plan to go to one tier-A city and serve the peripheral cities towns from there,” Tabby stated.
While there will always be takers for reputed premium brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Gucci, Bhatia is betting on the new-age consumer who want customized products. By using social media influencers, he wants to move the needle of consumer dialogue towards co-creation – making Brune their go-to brand that can create emblematic products that match their personal lifestyles and style quotients.