Excl: Former Reliance Trends CEO Arun Sirdeshmukh launches lifestyle e-store Fashionara; Gets funding from Lightspeed and Helion

29 May, 2012

Arun Sirdeshmukh, former chief executive of Reliance Trends, has teamed up with Darpan Munjal (former CTO of Times Internet Ltd who had also worked at the e-commerce unit of US retail giant Sears) to launch an online fashion and lifestyle store called Fashionara. For a starter, Fashionara is offering apparel, footwear and accessories for men, women and kids but it will also foray into other related product categories.

The Bangalore-based startup has also received an undisclosed amount of funding from Helion Venture Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Refusing to quote the exact amount, Sirdeshmukh said, "We have got a substantial amount of funding, which is required to grow and consolidate a strong e-commerce business. We may look for a fresh round of funding after 18-24 months."

The money raised will be used to scale up the supply chain, logistics, technology-building, branding and marketing. Right now a team of 36, the firm will also hire to take up the number to 50 by August this year.

Fashionara offers products from some well-known brands. Some of the key brands on the site include Adidas, Reebok, Benetton, Sisley, Nautica, Guess, Lee, Wrangler, Vans, Jack & Jones, Vera Moda, Arrow, Flying Machine, W, 109F, Fab India, Levis Kids, Puma Kids, G&J, UCB Kids and Reebok Kids, among others. One can surf the categories and brands or get some shopping guidance from lookbook – a tool that features the most picked items on the site.

"We have tie-ups with as many as 50 brands but right now, only 20 are available on the site. But in a couple of weeks, Fashionara will add the other 30. By end of August this year, we intend to partner with 100-odd brands and make our portal fundamentally strong," added Sirdeshmukh.

The portal looks pretty neat but in order to attract more customers, it may have to include more products in terms of variety and quantity. To begin with, one will get a discount voucher worth the entire billing amount if he/she spends a minimum of Rs 1,000. The offer is valid till June 10.

"We have worked hard to make Fashionara visually rich, easy to use and highly interactive. Plus, we have introduced various social apps and tools to help users," said Munjal. "Unlike other sites, we have added features which will help one get all the product details – from price to size, colour and even fit. We are also featuring videos that showcase models wearing those dresses – so that you get a complete feel of the product."

The new site is bound to face competition from other vertical e-com players in the lifestyle and fashion segment, including Fashionandyou, 99labels and Donebynone, and also from horizontal players and baby/kid-centric e-tailers like Babyoye and FirstCry.

The move to start an online lifestyle store didn't come as a surprise, though. "Considering my experience of more than two decades in the fashion segment, I will surely foray into something dealing with fashion," Sirdeshmukh had told Techcircle.in after quitting Reliance Trends.

An alumnus of IIM (Kolkata), Sirdeshmukh (who is also the director – merchandising, creative content & operations at Fashionara), started his career at Madura Garments in 1990 where he spent eight years before moving to IBM Global Services for a short stint. He then moved on to Indus League Clothing where he was the marketing head. Indus League was acquired by Future Group in 2005.

An MBA from Kellogg School of Management, co-founder Munjal is now director – technology, user experience and online marketing. He had previously worked with CMC Ltd, Xpedior, Sears Holdings Corp and the e-commerce segment in Times Internet. Most recently, he was the CTO of Kaplan Higher Education.