Dilip Kapur - Managing Director, Hidesign

Dilip Kapur – Managing Director, Hidesign

Founded by Dilip Kapur in 1978 in Puduchery as a two-man workshop, Hidesign has seen its revenue grow from Rs 11.3 crore in 2010 to Rs 97.72 crore in 2014. According to Kapur, its current revenue was at more than Rs 150 crore. This has happened in the backdrop when the leather goods industry in India is projected to cross $27 billion by 2020, from around $13 billion in 2014. After its foray into the footwear segment, the brand has consolidated its overseas operation, and, meanwhile, in the domestic turf it is targeting for more with the flamboyant launches of collections such as East India Leather and Atelier collection. The brand’s founder recently shared with S&A what it has done and what more it is eyeing.  

How did the ideas of East India leather and Atelier Collection happen and what inspired Hidesign to launch them?
The Atelier collection is a luxury collection, fashionable and elegant, to maintain Hidesign’s presence in the luxury segment with the increasing presence of international luxury brands. This collection is based on Hidesign’s continuing belief in using the finest natural leathers , in this case the first brand in India to use genuine deer and ostrich leathers , crafted by one of the most skilled team of artisans in the world. The Hidesign craftsmen on an average have been working with us for more than 19 years. The collection emphasises this skill with fine details such as extensive use of braiding and weaving.

HidesignThe East India collection, on the other hand, is classic Hidesign and homage to one of the greatest heritages of India that still has a great future. The East India leather was for several hundred years the greatest leather in the world, used by the British army and for the best British shoes and Italian briefcases. One of the three great vegetable tanned leathers in the world, the others being the Brazilian and Italian, the East India leather was prized because it had a wonderful blonde colour. Vegetable tanned leathers have been replaced by chemical tanned leathers in the last hundred years, but the realisation that the chemical chrome used in tanning is a carcinogenic, has led to the increasing interest in vegetable tanning. Hidesign has always been a leader in the use of vegetable tanning; we have always believed this was the only ecological, healthy and sustainable form of tanning. The East India tanning heritage, and the great skill we have in this, is brought out in this collection of classic elegant styles, with cotton linings and solid brass fittings.

The Atelier collection is a luxury collection, fashionable and elegant, to maintain Hidesign’s presence in the luxury segment with the increasing presence of international luxury brands. This collection is based on Hidesign’s continuing belief in using the finest natural leathers , in this case the first brand in India to use genuine deer and ostrich leathers , crafted by one of the most skilled team of artisans in the world.

What segment of the market are you targeting? What size of the market are you planning to claim with the collections?
The Atelier collection is priced at around Rs 10,000 to 30,000, which brings it into the more affordable range of luxury brands. While the East India collection is at the premium level, pretty much at the same level as the mainstream Hidesign range.

It was reported that the brand was going to go slow on India, but its global consolidation abroad would be active. Shed some lights on Vikas Kapur’s efforts.
The reason for going slow in India was the dearth of good quality real estate as developers stopped investing in retail. Hidesign will continue to be present in every high end retail space.
The international market is being pushed to give greater balance, to continue to maintain Hidesign’s international character and to lay the groundwork for a truly international brand. It is being led Meera Harish, who has over twenty years of experience leading the Titan and other Tata brands internationally, and by Vikas Kapur who is developing the brand in the United States. We see great possibilities to be a leader in the emerging economies of Africa and the Middle East.

Vegetable tanned leathers have been replaced by chemical tanned leathers in the last hundred years, but the realisation that the chemical chrome used in tanning is a carcinogenic, has led to the increasing interest in vegetable tanning. Hidesign has always been a leader in the use of vegetable tanning; we have always believed this was the only ecological, healthy and sustainable form of tanning.

How serious is the retail space scarcity in India? How much has it impacted you retail strategy?
This continues to be a major challenge for premium and upmarket brands as high streets are not the right environment for us. There has been almost no development in the last few years. Fortunately the government policy of privatising management of airports will help Hidesign develop its presence there.

Untitled-3How much has the brand’s footwear product portfolio changed during the recent time? How much has it grown?
It is still early days here. Our formal ranges did exceptionally well, but the casual lines, especially for women, will need working on to find the right look for the Indian customer. The addition of high end deer leather shoes for men has been very well received. Our second collections for men and women should be out soon. The footwear range continues to grow faster than the rest of Hidesign.

Where do you think the brand stands today?
Hidesign continues to be the leader in India, maintaining its position as the only credible international brand in this sector. Its long persistence on developing its distinct identity and values instead of taking the easy route of copying European trends and styles has helped it establish a special relationship with the Indian customer.

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