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Bringing Socks into Fashion

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lubeina Shahpurwala, Co-Founder, Mustang Socks

Mustang Socks was founded by Naazneen Katrak in 1986. Back then, she understood the need of cotton socks, which compelled her to single-handedly set-up Mustang. As the brand grew, a significant turning point in Mustang’s journey was Naazneen and Lubeina’s partnership. Their goal was to deliver value products to their customers, employees and society, starting with superior quality, warm and comfortable socks. In 2004, Lubeina took up the mantel of Co-Founder at Mustang Socks. Recently, Lubeina was recognized as the Entrepreneur of the Year in Manufacturing Business at the 5th Entrepreneur India Awards 2015. Mustang today manufactures more than 1 million pairs of socks every month, and has 36 distributors across India. With a consistent and impressive growth rate, they have tie-ups with some of the largest International Brands, Retailers and E-Retailers, including Amazon, FirstCry, Hopscotch, etc. In conversation with Dominic Rebello, she reveals her expansion plans, which includes other apparel products like scarves, vests and briefs for kids, etc and her recently launched e-commerce website and first wholesale store

What drives you?
The lineage and team of Mustang Socks & Accessories which have been built over the years, drives us to be consistent towards our vision. Naazneen and I have maintained a balance towards not only changing our mindset with time, but also creating an ecosystem which is self reliant and core to its ethos. When an entrepreneur is passionate and is clear about the vision, it becomes far easier to be motivated.

How big is the potential for a business like yours; any statistics to compare with the international standard?
Socks are a need and will remain so for years to come. We have been dealing with various national and international brands for several years, and are observing a surge in growth and business potential from two aspects one being seen as a fashion product and second is manufacturing. With exposure of fashion amongst the masses, socks have become an important accessory to the overall wardrobe. There are some really interesting designs and styles out there and we as a brand our loving this interest. The dynamic taste and preferences of a consumer, has enabled us in introducing multiple new designs, variants, colours and yarn customization, which is resulting in sustainable increase of Mustang's turn-over year on year. The consumer demand is literally driving the growth of this industry. The business model is based on volume and distribution channels which we have established and are now evolving ways of maximizing our reach in smaller pockets. Unfortunately, this industry is fairly unorganized globally so to provide any statistics is difficult.

How do you plan to scale up; raise funds through seed or venture capital or simply grow the old fashioned way through rising turnovers?
 We are nearly three decades old. We are open to working on all ways of funding. Equity and debt options both have their pros and cons. We have started heavily investing further into plant machinery and the  brand this year and are evaluating various options that come our way

Who would primarily be your consumer audience?
We cater to the masses which include men, women, kids and infants. From basic bold colour socks to quirky vibrant socks, all are included among the various styles and designs developed by us. Apart from basics, we continue to introduce limited editions of character socks for men and kids. And have in the same segment also introduced under garments for kids, like the recently launched the Jungle Book collection.

Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
We enjoy a massive goodwill with our customers and distributors in India. If everything goes as planned, we are looking at a 50-75% growth through our e-commerce platform to create accessibility of our products, in urban and smaller cities of India. And in future we would like an offline retail set up which is still under plans.

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