Interview with Mr. Nikesh Lodha, Director of Hubert OZZ

INTRO: Today, if a person wishes to get his shirt custom tailored or fitted, the first option that typically comes to his mind is the friendly neighbourhood tailor or darzi. However, there are obvious shortcomings to this kind of basic service like being unorganised with standard set of choices, old-school customization options and sometimes, faulty tailoring that may spoil the material. If the material is expensive, one would opt for a more expensive local designer or a bespoke couturière. However, while one lacks quality and choice, the other is often expensive and choices are led by the designer’s inputs. Thus the advent of Hubert Ozz, a brand which has recently been launched to address this need for precise, custom tailoring without any hassle. Having personally experienced the problems of accessing affordable, experienced and stylish custom menswear, the makers of Hubert Ozz have mixed modern technology with contemporary cuts and styles, high quality Giza cotton and Linen fabrics, and over 600 design options to create the perfect custom-fit shirt. The fabrics are manufactured in India from imported Egyptian yarns at the in-house, state-of-the art facility in Maharashtra to ensure high quality control. Today, after opening over eight outlets in India and with 20 more in the foray, Hubert Ozz is quickly becoming the preferred destination for custom fitting for men’s shirts. We spoke to Varun Sharma, Marketing Manager, Hubert Ozz to tell us more about this unique enterprise…

Tell us a little about your history.

We started this company about mid to late last year with the thought that clothes should be made and designed around our unique body types and not the other way around like one is typically used to in the current scenario. In the world of readymade shirts, there are standard sizes and fits, and we need to ‘fit in’ to what best suits us. When it comes to custom clothing, there are other inconveniences. With all the new things one is getting to experience in this technology led age, we thought that there was a great opportunity to converge these two thoughts into one and that’s the idea behind launching Hubert Ozz. Also, the founders of Hubert Ozz came with decades of industry experience in textile and retail that helped in designing our product even better. Our high-end manufacturing facility in Maharashtra ensured that quality control, and the variability of modern design was in our hand so that helps too. We import Egyptian Giza Cotton and Linen yarns and manufacture them into top-quality material in our facility to ensure that we keep our promise of reliability and excellence while making it affordable and convenient for consumers.

What do you specialise in? How do you define the brand with respect to the competition?

As of now, we have only launched customisations with regards to men’s shirts however, looking at the demand and overwhelming response we have received so far, we will soon be widening our offerings to men’s kurtas, festive wear and later, trousers and accessories. Currently, we offer almost 90 customization options for shirts, wherein one can select a fabric from over 600 options, in varied quality in cotton and Linen and create a custom fit shirt from choosing cuffs, collars, button, elbow patches, epaulettes, fits in the stitch and design one would prefer. All this is available at our ‘tech-stylist’ – a user-friendly kiosk wherein one can simply choose and click on the options best suited to our liking. Our attendants present in all our stores aid and suggest the best options as per customer preference.

With respect to competition, there are several brands which do customizations today but however, we feel that they are restrictive as they only cater to a certain segment of the target group, do not provide such an exhaustive list of customization as we are providing and customer service facilities wherein we alter any defects free of charge. We, like any new brand, are young and are evolving and every quarter promise to introduce new designs, new styles and newer customizations to always meet with current trends.

Elaborate on the range that is available with you all today. Tell use a little about the ‘exceptional’ factor of your collection

Like I mentioned above, we provide only 100 per cent Egyptian Giza cotton, 100 per cent linen, a blend of cotton linen and plain cotton as fabric options in our range. Price range starts from ₹1499 and goes up to ₹7699 inclusive of taxes and delivery charges anywhere in India. But the best part is unlike our competitor’s there is no additional charge for any number of customisation selected by the customer for his shirt. Also, we have a seven-day dispatch promise wherein we promise to dispatch the ordered shirt within seven working days, and provide free alterations for the first time inclusive of reverse logistics charges in India.

What sets us apart is the way we relate to fabrics. We import yarn from Giza and spin those yarns in our factory in Maharashtra in our own manufacturing unit to make our own fabric, so the quality is under control. And the customer can be sure that what they are paying for is top notch.

How do you define the manufacturing process and how are the fabrics weaved to excellence?

Once we receive the order, the tailored shirt is dispatched within seven working days from our facility in Mumbai. We always stay well-equipped with our fabrics and customization options, so that as soon as an order is placed we can start making it for our customers without any delay. One advantage that the customer gets with us is that they can create a profile the first time they visit us and there is no need to give measurements each time one is placing an order. Once their order is locked, we keep all choices listed within the customer’s profile. So the next time they visit, they do not have to begin working with the customization from the scratch. This helps create a personal scrapbook for each customer we have.

How with your support have the business expanded over the years (you can talk about increasing the number of showrooms, staff, and product portfolio)

What we are doing right now is giving out franchisees, pan India and looking at opening more stores aggressively. We already have set foot beyond India and are opening two franchisees in the US – one in New York, and one in Chicago. And pan India, we are looking at every possible region as we feel that most of India has the disposable income and affordability to buy such shirts. We are currently present in Andhra Pradesh, Telengana where we have six stores with seven more on the way. We have opened two new stores in Mumbai and one in Coimbatore. Our other stores are in the pipeline and will be opening soon in Ahmedabad and Rajkot in Gujarat. Apart from that, we have got several enquiries from Rajasthan and Punjab. Right now, we are 18-20 stores strong. We have received an overwhelming response from both the consumers and the franchisees alike so we know that we are well accepted amongst our target base.

What are the franchise costs?

We have three formats/ modules that we offer to franchisees – a ‘Shop-in-Shop’ model wherein the minimum floor space requirement is a 100 sq ft carpet area. The second format is an ‘Express Store’ with a minimum requirement of 150 sq ft carpet area, which is a dedicated store. And the third option is a ‘Studio’ where we are looking at a 250 sq ft and above carpet area.

What are your future plans for both the business?

Our current focus is stabilizing our online and offline offerings based on the response we have had and the feedback from customers to make our platform even better. We are concentrating on marketing our brand to both franchisees and customers alike so that they get used to our format. Also, like I mentioned, we are getting aggressive with our penetration plans in India and internationally. What sets us apart from the rest is our way of doing business and how we believe in turning a regular customer’s imagination about his shirt into reality.

Shirts to you mean……..

A formidable weapon that instils a sense of confidence in a person. Our endeavour is when you wear a shirt, you should get the right look that you really want and not adhere to set standards. And it should be comfortable of course.