DHL had recently announced the continuance of its partnership with Lakmé Fashion Week for the seventh consecutive year. The partnership is part of a global relationship DHL enjoys as the Official Logistics Partner for IMG Fashion Weeks in 15 countries. In conversation with Campaign India, Chandrashekhar Pitre, senior director - marketing, South Asia, DHL Express, talks about the brand’s continued association with fashion events and how it benefits the brand. Edited excerpts:
How and when did the association with fashion begin for DHL in India?
We have been in this business of textile and fashion logistics since 1979 in India. Textile and fashion has always been and continues to be the most important vertical for us. Fashion is not only about the designers, but also garments, textiles and apparels. Till recently, it used to be the largest vertical for us – not just in India, but globally as well. In 2002-‘03, the fashion weeks began in India and coincidentally we had also changed our branding from red and white to a yellow and red DHL. We were part of the Fashion Week organised by FDCI in Mumbai, and that’s when we thought it was relevant for us to be an integral part of the fashion shows as it was an opportunity to interact with relevant stakeholders like manufacturers and designers, and also understand the latest trends in the space. Over the years, we have become an integral part of the fashion weeks by either sponsoring the business lounges or running contests surrounding the event.
In 2005-‘06, when the fashion weeks split to have Delhi and Mumbai chapters, we weren’t clear about which way the wind was blowing. And, since we were impartial to both sets of organisers, we decided to lie low for a while. Then IMG came in and tied up with Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai and the agency tied up with DHL globally for a 15 or 16-city association including Mumbai as the official partner. In the fashion industry, LFW has been one of the most sought after events and we continue our patronage of the show.
What are the kind of spends allocated for this association?
I will not be able to share you the specific spends for the association as today we have a global tie up with IMG for the fashion weeks. The amounts are decided by DHL centrally and what I do here is to leverage it as much as I can, for the brand.
What are the various efforts undertaken by the brand to leverage this association?
Over the last few years we have tried several things, including host our own show which has worked well for us since 2010. And, we feel it works the best for us. We feature some of the most prominent and promising names from the world of Indian fashion as part of our shows.
We have a textile and apparel sales team and they have been working with people involved in the fashion and textile space over the years. So, our association isn’t strictly restricted to the fashion week and it is actually through the year with the sales team interacting with them during the off periods. I can’t define return of investment from this association with a rupee value. For us, it is about the customer loyalty that it provides; the customer engagement that it facilitates and the associations I build with my customers including designers, manufacturers and media when I host them at the fashion shows.
How does the brand DHL benefit from this association?
The way I look at it, there is some element of DHL in everything at fashion weeks – whether it is a dress which has buttons that have been imported by us or a part of the fabric that has been delivered to the venue by DHL. Moreover, there is the art side of the business which is represented by a designer or the model and we represent the commerce side by looking into the logistics and packaging. It is only when art and commerce come together that business really happens.
If you ask me how we help the fashion industry, our job is that of an express logistics delivery, our job is to deliver goods in the fastest time. Fashion is an industry which has a shelf life. For example, if something is fashionable for only two months, and if we are taking ten days to deliver, the label is getting only 50 days of sale. If I am able to deliver it in two days, I am enabling 58 days of sale. That’s my role – enabling the quickest deliver possibly and helping the companies reduce inventories.