An exclusive interview with Kanika Vohra and Anuradha Chandrashekar, Co-Founders of ICH Creative Consulting, a creative strategy firm focused on catalyzing fashion and lifestyle brands
Welcome to this illuminating interview featuring two dynamic visionaries, Kanika Vohra and Anuradha Chandrashekar, the Co-Founders of ICH Creative Consulting, a remarkable creative strategy firm with a laser focus on catalyzing innovation within the fashion and lifestyle industries.
Kanika and Anuradha bring together a wealth of experience, expertise, and a deep-seated passion for the ever-evolving world of fashion and lifestyle brands. Through their ingenious strategies, they have reshaped the landscape of these industries, breathing new life into brands and redefining consumer experiences.
In this interview, we have the privilege of delving into their journey, the inspirations behind ICH Creative Consulting, and their unique approach to fostering creativity and success in the fashion and lifestyle realm.
Could you tell us about your background and journey in the fashion industry that led you to co-found ICH Creative Consulting?
We hail from diverse backgrounds and it actually contributes to our unique perspective towards fashion and lifestyle. Following an extensive professional stint in the retail industry, we initially got a chance to work together in the founding team of AJIO.com. We collectively understood the importance of consumer research and the need to align any brand’s creative vision with product execution as well as commercial viability, and this laid the foundation of ICH Creative Consulting LLP nearly 6 years ago.
We have a cumulative experience of around five decades in the industry. Our shared approach towards fashion and lifestyle can also be attributed to our education from NIFT Delhi (Kanika Vohra) and NIFT Bangalore (Anuradha Chandrashekar).
ICH Creative Consulting specializes in fashion branding. What are some of the key challenges fashion brands face when it comes to branding, and how does your company address these challenges?
ICH as a creative consulting firm is much beyond just fashion branding, as it handholds businesses to launch and scale their brand effectively. In our experience, brands often commit the mistake of starting and ending their journey of creative visioning to only branding (logo design) and marketing campaigns.
Rather, fashion brands should see branding as an exercise that drives across the company’s culture, its processes, communication voice, marketing story and ultimately a sustainable product promise to the consumer.
We are filling the evident gap of an indigenous service that guides businesses to connect the dots between consumer, market potential and commercial viability to arrive at unique brand expression and ultimately deliver a product of consumer delight.
In the world of fashion, trends are constantly evolving. How do you help your clients stay relevant and adapt to changing consumer preferences?
We do this through ICH NEXT – India’s first Indian wear Fashion Forecasting service, engineered specifically for the robust, yet highly underserved domestic retail market. As markets begin to expand from fragmented, hyper local to regional to national, and businesses evolve towards organized set-ups, ICH NEXT aims to solve for ‘conscious creation’ of fresh new ideas that bear high-consumer relevance.
Connecting the dots between Indian consumers and fashion/lifestyle retail, ICH NEXT provides an extensive 360 degree trend research, encompassing a vast range of attributors, such as Consumer Sentiment, market reports, political impact & government initiatives, travel trends & consumer discoveries, F&B trends, Bollywood & Regional celeb styles, Runway Designer, etc.
Crawling 700+ curated research sources, trends are predicted through applied human zeitgeist illustrated with original art & design inclusions. Instead of a generic forecast, ICH NEXT delves into colour trends & evolution, macro themes, pattern trends, key fabrics & surfaces, key details & silhouettes with original creative assets and capsule ideas based on current research in the season to explore new market opportunities. Leading brands such as Myntra, Amazon etc subscribe to ICH NEXT for fashion trends and forecasts.
Brand identity is crucial for fashion brands. What strategies do you employ to help your clients define and communicate their unique brand identities effectively?
It’s a simple enough strategy. Listen to the consumer. Not just hear them, but to listen intently. We always insist on conducting an immersive consumer ethnography to truly understand the voice of consumers.
Irrespective of the size set, it gives an understanding of consumers’ ambitions, fears, environment, relationships with others, what brings them joy and moreover their fashion preferences. This exercise is always more helpful than disassociated data entries from questionnaires.
The solution or brand narrative often lies within. Brand identities revolve around an emotion that connects with the consumer, and that emotion is transferred onto tangibles like the brand’s logo, voice, product cornerstones, sourcing process, visual marketing expression and ultimately the packaged product.
The transference is based on multiple factors like leveraging the business’ own strength, market opportunity, sourcing capabilities and retail forum. All of the above culminates into visual brand bibles or guides that are sharp and easy to understand.
It negates any misinterpretations or loss of messaging that can occur from person to person. A brand identity must be bigger than the people owning/driving the brand.
Influencer marketing has gained prominence in recent years. Can you provide insights into how fashion brands can collaborate with influencers effectively to enhance their brand visibility?
Influencer based marketing became a popular medium for its integrity of content, as ‘consumers’ themselves influenced larger public with their preferences. There’s a sense of honesty to the recommendation. This, however, has fast-tracked to becoming another form of “artificially pushed” advertising.
Fashion brands need to identify like-minded “genuinely opinionated” influencers that resonate with the brand’s values and have a relevant market reach. Rather than “pushing the product” to consumers, use an influencer to actively engage with consumers through an emotional or functional bond.
“How does owning a product of your brand make their (consumers’) lives more fulfilling?” Let them be the conduit of peer-led relationships and community engagement. Influencers can help bring the “human” interface to your brand.
Fashion is a global industry with diverse cultures and tastes. How does ICH Creative Consulting assist brands in tailoring their messaging and branding to resonate with international audiences?
When a brand identity is pegged onto a consumer need gap, an emotion and an aesthetic it transcends borders. At ICH we believe that understanding the consumer, involves a deeper psychographic study that is not bound by the mandatory demographics of age, city, location, etc. but rather to lifestyle choices, upbringing and aspirations; which interestingly enough find its own commonality across the world.
The second key aspect is the emotion the brand chooses to evoke/ connect with. And finally to consider is the aesthetic the brand wants to resonate with. These become the guiding principles that help us define a brands’ messaging. Eg. Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan is not bound by a demographic or a culture or taste, but an emotion that reaches far beyond the language it is written in.
What advice do you have for aspiring fashion entrepreneurs and professionals looking to build successful fashion brands or careers in the industry?
1. Research and research deeply. 2. Understand what you bring to the table that is unique and harness that into a strength. 3. Create consciously. The cost of bad product is much higher than the mere value of goods produced.
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