“A Skating Monk” connects young people to our core Woodland brand: Gagandeep Singh

The House of Woodland introduced a new brand, with an interesting name “A Skater Monk”. It is led by Gagandeep Singhson of Harkirat Singh, Managing Director of Aero Club (parent company of Woodland & Woods).

Singh Jr, until recently the company’s marketing director, is excited about this venture and the fact that it gives a ‘youthful connection’ to the core brand.

On the birth of “A Skating Monk”, Gagandeep Singh says, “Streetwear has become mainstream fashion again, and that’s how we thought of the brand about a year and a half ago, and started with basic skate shoes.

We target a very niche clientele in the 15-20 age group. The way they dress and behave is very interesting, as they follow fashion trends from all over the world. So we traveled a lot and picked up pieces of everything that influenced us from the streets of Mumbai Mexico to create products for them.

In addition to shoes and clothing, we offer a range of accessories such as caps and fanny packs. Woodland is now a very big brand, and we need to introduce it to a large audience. On the other hand, with ‘A Skating Monk’ we have plenty of room to experiment and flow.

Right now we don’t want to go to a bigger market. We don’t want to please everyone, so our products are very, very specialized, although we are primarily a streetwear brand offering unisex and easy-to-wear products. Our products tell stories and have a soul.

In the future, he plans to see what works for the brand, what they like to do, as well as what people want to buy and the prevailing trend, to further develop the brand. The price range for shoes is between 2,000 and 7,000 rupees, while t-shirts sell for between 800 and 900 rupees and jackets for between 1,500 and 4,000 rupees.

The brand’s name dates back to Singh’s friendship with a Japanese man at the University of Manchester, develop an interest in Japanese culture and discover how people are innovating for the biggest Japanese brands. The two then came up with the brand logo and brand name.

“The basic meaning was to have the stability of a monk while going through obstacles. In skating, many obstacles stand in your way, and crossing them flawlessly is the goal. Similarly for young people, the The goal is to move through life with stability of mind, despite the disturbances that surround them. A great melting pot of cultures has given the brand its identitysays Singh.

Singh believes in “gorilla type marketing” where they bombard the public with marketing activities for every new launch. “A complete break from traditional marketing mediums, we are digital-only and work with a lot of influencers. Micro-influencer marketing is another big thing for us,” he says.

HOW COVID HAS ACCELERATED WOODLAND’S BUSINESS

According Harkirat Singh, of the forest online business really picked up during the COVID-19 pandemicbecause physical stores have been closed.

“Before COVID, online sales were only 10-12% of overall sales. Now it jumped to 30-35%, through our own website or platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, etc. Now the fear of COVID is gone and footfall in our stores is back to almost pre-COVID levels. So retail business is getting back to normal and online business is growing along with that,” he says.

During the pandemic, people also needed products to support an indoor lifestyle and fitness activities as everyone became more fitness conscious. This prompted Woodland to reorient its product line towards ‘Athletics’.

“We brought canvas shoes, athletic shoes, easy-to-wear home clothes, and activewear. As a category, athleisure will growand it is a very good category. It will be an additional business as our core travel products business will definitely come back,” Singh says.

Expansion plans and pipeline projects, which were on hold, are also brought back. A major effort is to lighten the business by “cutting the fat”.

Some stores that were not really profitable were closed and others relocated.

“We opened new stores, but in a different format. Instead of having too many small stores, we go to bigger stores, where we can present all the ranges. Viability is better for larger stores, as people want to see the whole range under one roof. We will be adding more new stores and, starting next year, we aim to return to our pre-COVID annual growth rate of 10-12%. This year we are aiming for around 80% of our pre-COVID revenue. In terms of revenue, it will be around Rs 1,100 crore compared to Rs 1,200 crore earlier,” says Singh.

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