Exploring Capsul – India’s first multi-brand streetwear store
The rise and rise of streetwear in India: Exploring Capsul – India’s first multi-brand streetwear store.
In one of our recent stories, we spoke to new emerging Indian streetwear labels about their inspirations, observations about Indian streetwear market and their future plans. One of the observations was that the limited availability of popular global streetwear brands in India is a key reason why the Indian streetwear market is significantly less mature than many other countries. The same observation is shared by many of our readers. While brands like Stussy, Supreme, Palace, The Hundreds, etc. are the staple of streetwear globally, in India none of the brands has even made an effort to explore the market.
However, over the past couple of years, India has seen the rise of platforms, resellers and individuals making global streetwear brands more approachable to the customers in India. One of the foremost player in this context is Capsul, India’s first multi-brand online streetwear store, that is providing an easy access to most iconic global streetwear brands for the first time in India. Just two years old, Capsul already has brands like @stussy, @carharttwip, @thrashermag, @thehundreds, @chinatownmarket, @dailypaper on its platform, and many more planned in the future. In this story, we explore what Capsul has to offer and speak to its co-founders @travelintrunk and @bhavishad, about the inspiration behind Capsul, it’s future and their observations about the streetwear market in India.
Featuring: @butternite, @teresa_zls, @koko.ni.neko, @di_sls, @kartik_pande, @sagardvmv, @nilxsw
Q. What was your inspiration behind starting Capsul?
“Capsul was started by @travelintrunk and @bhavishad. Both of us love streetwear, sneakers and what it represents. Streetwear for us is the intersection of culture, sports, music, and fashion. Our past experience with @PUMA, in India and outside, exposed us to amazing projects with streetwear brands and other culture leaders. Simultaneously we saw interesting youth collectives making their presence felt in India and hip hop was on the rise. As marketers, we always worked with subcultures and love connecting with different tribes of people and how different tribes wear their affinities. We saw an opportunity to introduce streetwear brands to the Indian audience because we realized these brands have tribes here in India as well. And that’s how Capsul came about.”
Q. How did your experience with @Puma help you with Capsul?
“During our time at PUMA we saw first hand how youth culture brands, no matter what size, can collaborate and create magic. So PUMA can be credited with creating the environment where the idea of Capsul was born. The brands we currently work with on Capsul do so because of the time we’ve spent working in the sneakers, retail and Indian subculture landscape.”
Q. Who is Capsul’s primary customer?
“It’s difficult to paint a homogenous picture of who our customer is but basically young people who know of the brands we sell, the emerging skate community, young creatives, and artists.”
Q. What is the most sought after product on Capsul?
“Tees mainly. People buy from us because they know that we are the only ones offering genuine products at retail prices.”
Q. Based on your experience at Capsul, what do you think the customers look for the most?
“There are clearly already different kinds of streetwear consumers – there are quite a few who want hype, there are those who appreciate the silhouettes and designs that streetwear brands have, there are those who love their logo tees and of course people who know their streetwear.”
Q. Given the high number of established and upcoming streetwear brands globally, how do you select the specific brands that you want to make available on Capsul?
“We started off by curating brands that were OGs in the streetwear space – so Stussy, Carhartt, The Hundreds, Thrasher. We also brought on board brands we were connected with from our time at PUMA. But the red line connecting all of these brands is our respect and love for them.”
Q. What is the average price range?
“Tees are between ₹2700 – ₹6000
Hoodies between ₹5000 – ₹8500
Jackets between ₹5000 – ₹11000
Pants between ₹6000 – ₹11000.” .
Q. For selecting the specific pieces/designs, do you have certain criteria e.g. predominant logos, silhouettes, certain colors, the hype, or something that is very specific to Indian customers?
“Mainly, we curate products with stories, that we personally like from the brands. We also keep in mind colours that are popping at the time. We have also started offering a few elevated styles which are more high fashion.” .
Q. How do you decide the price of the products, considering the brands you sell are not sold via brand channels in India?
“We’re priced very similar to US price points for the US market and in fact lower than European price points. Our price points are inclusive of customs and GST. We have almost a decade’s worth of experience, individually, in retail and that probably helps us with our pricing strategy.”
Q. How soon are the products available with you from the date of their official drop/global launch?
“Usually they take about a couple of weeks and sometimes we launch on the same day as the brands. But at Capsul, we drop something fresh every Friday as part of our ‘Friday Freshness’ property.”
Q. Since counterfeit in streetwear is one of the key concerns of customers, how do you guarantee originality of products to secure confidence of your customers?
“We are official stockists of all the brands we curate. Since we buy directly from the brands there’s no danger of counterfeit products being sold on our platform. Besides a couple of brands on our site, the others don’t really have a counterfeit market in India.”
Q. How does Capsul differentiate itself from ‘resellers’? Especially since the brands you sell are not available through their own channels in India yet, and there are individuals and some platforms reselling dead stocks.
“The Indian market is still very nascent. Brands, platforms like us and resellers are all doing their bit to grow the market. People who understand streetwear and are in the know of prices will know the difference between us and resellers, and once again both of us are doing our bit. We are different from resellers by virtue of our business and business model. For starters, we sell at ‘retail’ prices. Our prices are very close to US prices and lower than Asian or European prices. And there are no hidden costs. Customs and GST are already included. We also have full-size runs of products and a curated offering, not just single, one-off pieces, unlike resellers who usually have popular sizes on hand.”
Q. How do you do marketing about Capsul?
“WORD On The Street is a CAPSUL owned property conceptualised to provide a platform for India’s Street Culture community – bringing together tribes representing Streetwear, Sneakers, Art, Music or just about anybody with an interest in being a youth culture creator. WORD is the main marketing platform for Capsul. In addition to this, we use Instagram storytelling as the other marketing tool. We have recently launched a new Insta property called ‘Chat Room’ that we’re excited about.”
Q. What are the key challenges that you face in India?
“The primary challenge is that styling is not something people are as open to experimenting with, till such a time that it reaches a certain critical mass. Oftentimes, we’ve seen, even those who care about sneakers don’t put as much thought into their wardrobes or styling. People are not yet experimenting with silhouettes, fits and sizes.
And the second challenge is that people scrimp on clothes because of a fast fashion mindset. The idea is to use and throw. What we’re trying to do is encourage people to buy well, wear even better and allow pieces to grow into vintage gems. But that’s what makes this exciting for us because we can only go onwards and upwards from here.” .
Q. What are the things you have understood about streetwear in India after starting Capsul?
“It’s amazing to see the kind of awareness people have in various parts of India. We’re getting a lesson in geography thanks to Capsul! Streetwear is also becoming that fashion expression of youth culture that our youth will take to extremely well. The community is growing at an exciting pace. overall. We also hope to see Indian cultural powerhouses erupt and get their due on a global stage.”
Q. Whenever you get a chance to interact with the brands or brand representatives globally, what are their views about streetwear in India?
“Brands are curious about what’s cooking in India. They don’t have a viewpoint yet and interact with us regularly to know more.” .
Q. What are your plans for the future?
“We would like to expand the number of brands we offer on Capsul and make our ecom platform more robust.”
Q. Do you plan to have a physical store at some point in the future?
“More than a store we’d like to have a modular, experiential space.”
Q. Considering that there are many upcoming Indian streetwear brands, do you plan to have them as well on your platform?
“Yes. We are currently already in talks with a couple and are working on operational aspects to make this happen in 2020.”