At a time when the country is potentially looking at a third wave of covid-19, many shoppers are still wary of stepping out and companies are still recovering from last year’s impact, opening a new store wouldn’t seem like the best business strategy. But Dipali Patwa, group head of brand and community, at Fabindia, believes the legacy brand’s first-ever home lifestyle concept store in Delhi is a step in the right direction.
“Pandemic has changed the way we look at home now. We are working from home, shopping from home, schooling is happening from home—we are just looking at our homes more and thinking of ways to enhance our corners. This tells us it’s a good space to grow in further,” explains Patwa, over a call from New York.
It certainly is. Amid the covid-19 outbreak, the global market for online home decor was pegged at $98.4 billion last year. It is projected to a revised rise of $348.3 billion by 2027, states a report published in Researchandmarkets.com. Much of the demand is driven by the millennial consumers, who want to make their home space functional and are ready to spend their savings or salaries on home buys.
It’s a section of population Fabindia, which is reportedly in the process of hiring bankers for the initial public offering (IPO) expected to value the company at around $1.5-2 billion, is also keenly watching. When I visited the 61-year-old brand’s new store in Delhi’s posh Khan Market earlier this week for a walkthrough, it gave a familiar feeling of stepping inside any Fabindia store but with a twist. Colourful dhurries, bedsheets, lamps and vases welcome you but after moving further inside the 1,900 sq. ft store, which replaces the old Ritu Kumar store in a heritage building, you notice the seamless fusion of functional furniture with traditional designs. It’s the same but new Fabindia. Cozy, practical corners (standing-sitting workstation setups), which could be replicated at homes as they are or improvised, bright, India-inspired kitchenware and a variety of eco-friendly window shields offer a sense of what the future of home décor would look like.
The store itself is a study on how to make spaces more functional: Spacious corners in an otherwise crammed space (having a sprawling store in the lean Khan market is a distant dream), terracota pyramid-like structures attached to the roof, a generous space for natural lighting—a balance of minimalism, Indianness and functionality.
Patwa informs that they are also offering an interior design solutions service, which would include on-ground experts helping customers make informed choices. “We are also offering virtual tours and helping people buy online. But what we have noticed and our sales (home furnishings did much better than apparel during the pandemic) also show this, people want to buy home furnishings in person. So we are ensuring all sorts of safety protocols,” she says.
The plan for the store began in the pre-pandemic era to mark 60 years of the brand last year, she adds.
“This is a test run for us. We definitely would want to expand. Fabindia started its journey with home. Apparel came much later,” says Patwa. “In a way, we are completing a full circle now.”
The new Fabindia store is open from 10am-8 pm at Khan Market, Delhi.