The world's largest Islamic clothing company will make its India debut next month by opening an online store at e-commerce marketplace Snapdeal and plans to make the country a manufacturing hub for international markets.
"The idea is to turn Islamic clothing from a drab black or white clothing mainly used to cloak the body into colourful fashionable attire while maintaining enough modesty," said Sunny Kilam, co-founder of East Essence, established in 2007 in the Silicon Valley of California.
The US firm has presence in 68 countries and has annual sales of $40 million, or about Rs 256 crore. Amit Maheshwari, vice-president for fashion at Snapdeal, said, "Their team has carefully chosen target market with niche product lines and we are supporting them. This is going to drive more consumers to our existing base."
India is the world's second largest Muslim-majority country, with the community representing 14.2% of total population. That's nearly 170 million potential consumers, completely catered by unorganised players at present.
"We wanted to become as fashionable as a Zara or Forever 21 but at an affordable pricing," said Kilam. "Most of the ethnic Muslim population in the US either got their clothes tailor-made or bulk purchased when they visited their home countries such as India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. We have changed this buying habit in most European and US markets and would replicate this in India as well," he added.