Pepe Jeans aiming at hybrid model in future where the consumer can see the product anywhere physically or on website and then buy it as well.

Born in 1973 on the streets of Portobello, and worn in the world till today, Pepe Jeans London has pioneered in denim and set trends year after year. Pepe Jeans Inner Fashion (A G.O.A.T Brand Labs Portfolio) is known for its premium collection of innerwear, sleepwear, loungewear, and socks for Men. In an Interview with Abha Garyali Peer, Rishi Mohindru, CEO, Pepe Jeans Inner Fashion shares about the brand and latest trends.

Let’s discuss the inception, evolution and growth of your brand.

Rishi Mohindru: Pepe Jeans was born in London in 1973. It emerged from the inspiration of a young man, Nitin Shah, who decided together with his two brothers Arun Shah and Milan Shah to manufacture jeans with original labels. By 1980 Pepe Jeans London was rivaling with all of the big UK brands for number one spot in the marketplace, becoming the most successful British jeans brand ever.

Pepe Jeans London was launched in India in 1989. Pepe Jeans today is recognised globally as an iconic brand that is synonymously associated with denim and limitless creativity. However, in 2019 Pepe Jeans Europe BV entered into an equal joint venture with Dollar Industries to launch a new range of innerwear under the Pepe Jeans London brand name. This joint venture company ‘Pepe Jeans Innerfashion’ decided to manufacture and market a premium range of fashion innerwear and athleisure for men.

Pepe Jeans Inner fashion is known for its premium collection of innerwear, sleepwear, loungewear, and socks for Men. How has been the journey so far? 

Rishi Mohindru: I can say it’s been a very interesting journey so far. The Indian innerwear market is huge and the sleep/loungewear market is very new and evolving fast. The Indian consumer is very discerning and doesn’t look at simply price points. They also wants quality and a fashionable brand when shopping for these categories and this is where Pepe Jeans Inner fashion steps in to fill a large gap in the market.

What is your vision for 2025 regarding Pepe Jeans Inner Fashion?

Rishi Mohindru: By 2025, I see Pepe Jeans Inner fashion being an established fashion inner wear brand in the country, a brand of choice for the youth and fashion-conscious consumers.

What is the USP of Pepe Jeans Inner Fashion?

Rishi Mohindru: Till now, the market for men’s innerwear was dominated by a few brands which focused on providing a very basic product to the consumer. The fashion innerwear segment was very small with brands like CK, Jack and Jones and M&S being limited to a few brand stores in the country. Pepe Jeans introduced fashion innerwear with a much larger product range that what was available, and it introduced these products across a range of channels from traditional distribution to large format retail to ecommerce platforms.

As the Apparel Retail Industry is ever-changing with new ups and downs, how is Pepe Jeans Inner Fashion dealing with it? How was the Pandemic time for the Brand?

Rishi Mohindru: The industry is changing because the consumer is becoming more discerning, is demanding better quality and fashion which is comparable internationally. There is also a huge shift from unbranded to branded firms and consumers are also adopting fast fashion where they don’t wait a couple of years to change their clothing but change them with the latest fashion available in the market.

  • Companies have had to adapt to the same by ensuring that they bring the latest international designs and products to the consumers in India and provide the highest amount of quality possible.
  • Pandemic time was a time in which all consumers were adapting to the new work from home reality and innerwear was one category where male consumers spent money in the pandemic in order to be comfortable.
  • The men’s innerwear segment is on a growth trajectory ever since the pandemic, courtesy the factors like increasing availability of a wide range of products and designs suitable for various purposes including sports, regular wear and functional wear among others, increasing awareness about health, personal hygiene coupled with growing millennial population, among others. Furthermore, improving fashion trends, increasing disposable income and changing consumer lifestyle and preferences are expected to boost the market growth.
  • Innerwear is no longer a basic need but has evolved to offer comfort, intimacy and has basically become an extension of a person’s personality and today’s young consumers are looking more for innovative innerwear by brands that embrace relatable aesthetics, body positivity and authenticity.
  • Particularly in the apparel category, since most people are still working from home and are spending the maximum of their time inside their houses, sleepwear and innerwear categories are growing in terms of demand and sales. Historically, the men’s innerwear market has been a very rudimentary clothing category with little to no product innovation and lack of variety and options. From a consumer buying perspective, it’s been an afterthought with no considerable attention given to what one buys and from whom. There are some traditional, national and international brands that believe in consumer purchase on price bracket basis and thus known large brands treat this category as a basket product till date. Unfortunately, they do not offer any technology-oriented products and the market is evolving, wherein the new age consumer is now looking for options that are comfortable, skin-friendly, and breathable and solve their daily innerwear problems.

What’s shaping the industry?

Rishi Mohindru: Oddly enough, for many years, men’s innerwear was viewed as a commodity that was necessary but not particularly important while shirts for men were seamlessly tailor-made, however when it came to innerwear neither, did they take a keen interest nor did the market provide enough options. However, the innerwear industry in 2021 has gone above and beyond to break the monotony, retain the position of quality innerwear as an essential and produce styles that you can’t resist to flaunt. Innerwear today is about intimacy, security, comfort and fashion. With evolved designs and technology in the category, a shift in the market has been created which ultimately leads to a new era of innovation. Furthermore, the change in buying pattern and the factors that command these buying decisions have changed and so, today, consumers look at not the face of the brand but the value that it has to offer.

E-Retailing has really picked up pace in the last couple of years. How is the company leveraging online retail of its products? What are your views on hybrid model?

Rishi Mohindru: Pepe has its own D2C website. Consumers across the country can buy products on the website and have it delivered to their homes. Pepe also is widely represented on all e-com platforms like Flipkart, Myntra and Amazon. The hybrid model is the model of the future where the consumer can see the product anywhere physically or on website and then buy it as well. Increased customer expectations, significant technological improvements, and the growth of omni-channel commerce are just a few factors that are pushing retail from physical stores to an era of hybrid retail.

There are several options available across platforms and purchasing experiences in our world; neither brick and mortar stores nor internet stores can totally replace the other. Consumers view these channels as diverse facets of their daily lives rather than as distinct or separate entities.

In last few years Pepe Jeans Inner Fashion is venturing into smaller cities and towns. What is the reason behind it?

Rishi Mohindru: We believe that growth in these cities is being driven by a multitude of factors – latent consumer aspirations, increased brand and fashion consciousness (partly driven by the influence of social media and increasing media exposure), easier access  (percolation of malls in these towns increasing) and a higher level of discretionary spending power.

  • As the economic slowdown hurts retailers in large cities, smaller towns are less impacted due to their dependence on agricultural income and independent enterprises.
  • The rationale is in fact the tier 2, 3 and 4 cities, the amount of money that is available there and the amount of consumer growth happening there, there is a big shift happening for the consumer, especially in garments
  • As big brands target budget consumers with value-pricing range, we believe brand awareness is growing in small towns.
  • Thanks to internet penetration, people now aspire to look good and, as a result, help fuel the growth of brands in tier-III and tier-IV towns.
  • E-commerce is also playing a major role in creating awareness about latest fashion trends. Earlier, new trends used to reach smaller cities after six months, but that is not the case now

What kind of branding & marketing activities have you incorporated for brand’s growth?

Rishi Mohindru: Brand is synonymous with fashion and youth. We can only take forward the legacy it has created over the years. Pandemic has taught us to be digital first. We are also looking to grow our own website footprints through SEO and SEM activities. Influencer marketing will aid us to reach the right audience as well as showcase the collection’s style and comfort.

In terms of traditional media, we will be focusing on in store branding, use of POSM display materials, outdoor hoardings and print media to create awareness to the public at large. We also believe that our own team are our brand ambassadors, hence they are our endorsers.

Any Five significant trends of the industry

  • Innerfashion is taken more seriously where the customer is now more inclined towards the quality and hygiene on offer
  • Traditional block colours are being complemented by more printed designs and vibrant colours
  • Conscious brands and consumers have also begun to explore innerwear ranges which are eco-friendly
  • Brands have begun to consciously explore new fabrics which offer a completely different touch and feel experience to the consumer which was earlier seen only in outerwear apparel.
  • Athleisure trend in innerwear and sleepwear.

Source – Franchise India

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