In Conversation with Narinder Singh

MD, Numero Uno Clothing Ltd.
Thursday, 27 Apr 2017
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Narinder Singh is the Managing Director at Numero Uno Clothing Pvt. Ltd. since 1987. He founded Numero Uno in the year 1987, which is one of the first denim brands of India. Today, Numero Uno is one of the most admired brands of jeanswear in the country. Steadfastly focused towards quality, innovation and serving the mid premium to premium segment, the brand is growing by leaps and bounds and is now present at over 180 exclusive brand stores, more than 528 multi-brand outlets and many large format stores across the country.
About
Narinder Singh is the Managing Director at Numero Uno Clothing Pvt. Ltd. since 1987. He founded Numero Uno in the year 1987, which is one of the first denim brands of India. Today, Numero Uno is one of the most admired brands of jeanswear in the country. Steadfastly focused towards quality, innovation and serving the mid premium to premium segment, the brand is growing by leaps and bounds and is now present at over 180 exclusive brand stores, more than 528 multi-brand outlets and many large format stores across the country.

What, according to you, has been the overriding strategy for the growth and success of Numero Uno?

Numero Uno has always strived to stay relevant to its customer. We have always focused on keeping the product right to give the best quality in the industry. We have created innovation in fabric, design, washes and styles and provided the best of fashion to our customers. When the brand started, we were providing quality fashion at an affordable price. Over the years, Numero Uno matured to a “bridge” to “premium” brand. Growth and success have been the result of our consistent efforts.

What were some of the biggest challenges in creating a company that would eventually become the premier Indian denim brand?

Numero Uno had humble beginnings – we began by manufacturing smaller quantities. The challenges came along when we expanded – sourcing the right kind of raw material, machinery, and manpower were the biggest challenges. The 4Ps are very important – product, people, place, and price. Brands have to make the right kind of product, invest in the right kind of people, be available at the right place at the right price; that’s when you have a recipe for growth and success.

Back when the brand started, who was the TG? Has the age group of the target customer shifted over the last few decades?

The TG for a brand like us is someone young at heart no matter what age. We have catered to this customer and will continue to do so. Being young never goes out of fashion.

In terms of advertising and communication, how has the brand evolved? What’s the communication strategy for Numero Uno?

The brand’s communication has targeted the youth. The imagery we used in our advertising was that of being an aspirational brand, one that was getting endorsed by the best talent of the country. From well-known model Marc Robinson to actor of today’s generation, Aditya Roy Kapoor, from model Lakshmi Menon, to the now-popular, model-turned-actress, Lisa Haydon, all have been our brand ambassadors.

Numero Uno has always been high on quality quotient. The communication strategy has slowly changed from being aspirational to being real. No matter who or what you aspire to be, you are nothing if not yourself. You can fool the world but you can never lie to yourself.

We are now reaching out to those real people who believe in themselves. Our new campaign celebrates these believers, these heroes. 

How should brands communicate effectively with their respective creative agencies to help resonate the brand's ethos to audiences and customers? 

Agencies should always be treated as brand partners and not someone working for you. They need to be included in the processes of your organisation, your teams and importantly your business planning. They, too, need to feel a part of the team and live the brand like you do.

How important is digital media for the brand – Numero Uno has an online presence, it is present in marketplaces like Flipkart, Myntra and Jabong. How did Numero Uno get ready to make these changes and get digital ready?

Digital media is at its tipping point. With the government-implemented changes, including some forced measures such as digital transactions, digital penetration is going to multiply many fold and it is imperative for brands to go digital or lose out in the race. Yes, we are present in almost all big e-commerce marketplaces and we did not really make any changes. We just adopted the digital change.

Could you share with us, how the apparel landscape has changed in India since the time Numero Uno started in the late 80s? How have you managed to remain relevant in the market? What have been some of the challenges along the way?

The ’80s was the time of the “Angry Young Man” –by that phrase I mean the youth of the country was eager for change, and it reflected in the Bollywood movies of that time. Movies, after all, are a reflection of society and vice-versa. These movies also shaped the fashion quotient of the country and brands were ready for the demand. Numero Uno started its journey in 1987 when most of the manufacturing units were into exporting. The ’80s also saw a presence of international denim wear. It was, however, beyond the reach of the masses. The apparel sector was mostly unorganised then and the youth would get their denims or trousers stitched from local tailors. That’s when Numero Uno joined the journey – procuring denim fabric from the domestic market and converting them into a cool pair of denim.

As mentioned in the response to the first question, we have always focused on keeping the product right and give one of the best quality in the industry. We have always created innovation in fabric, design, washes and styles and provided the best of fashion.

Challenges have been many – in the form of governments policy changes, opening up the markets and pitching Indian brands like ours against global brands, the growth of Indian regional brands, the burgeoning mall culture, the ever-changing customer preferences and profiles and the latest being the e-commerce boom… Numero Uno has taken all of these challenges in its stride to move forward

Managing business full time must be challenging. How do you unwind? 

Spending time with my family and cooking for them is on the top of the list. Another would be improving my living spaces. I enjoy understanding and recreating spaces. I look forward to starting my day with exercising in the gym every day of the week. I also cycle around the city on Sundays which helps me unwind and changes my everyday routine. What I find almost therapeutic is nature, which is what I turn to every now and then. 
 

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