Gokyo Creates Space In India's Outdoor Wear Segment

Gokyo Creates Space In India's Outdoor Wear Segment

Gokyo is an Indian apparel brand that caters to the trekking and travel community. Putting together the knowledge he gained over his three-decade-long career in apparel and passion for mountaineering, Venkatesh Maheshwari co-founded the brand in 2020.

Tsunami CostabirUpdated: Monday, May 20, 2024, 03:34 PM IST
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For expeditions to the highest peaks of the world, having the right clothing and accessories is a matter of life and death. There’s innovation and product development that happens in the West, but when it gets distributed to the rest of the world, it often doesn’t fit right. Gokyo aims to fill that gap for the Indian consumer. 

Tell us about the genesis of Gokyo and your vision for the brand.

In 2011, people in India began to have access to products for their treks, camping and photography expeditions through the French brand Decathlon. They offer products at a good price point, but over the years, I have seen a drop in their quality. 

There isn’t a lot of choice for Indian customers in the outdoor wear space and finding things that fit right at the right price point is difficult. We launched Gokyo from our passion for the mountains and from realising the needs of our fellow trekking community. 

The brand is named after the Himalayan peak Gokyo. It’s India’s own outdoor apparel brand, and we aim to offer high-quality apparel at an affordable price.

Given that outdoor apparel is a niche space, how large is the consumer segment?

There are four segments at large that Gokyo caters to. First, we have spiritual tourists - yatris who visit places like the Char Dham, Vaishno Devi and Amarnath. 

Then, we have travellers and holiday-makers in Europe. From December to January, our customers are people going to Finland and Iceland for the Northern Lights.  

Third, people who need clothing for their international assignments - whether it's professionals or students. 

And finally, we have a large segment of trekkers and explorers that we primarily cater to. For context on how large this segment is: 25 years ago, while backpacking, I could find secluded spaces for myself in the Himalayas. Today, unless you know the place really well, you won’t find such secluded spots. Exploring has become second nature to us.

What does the process of product development look like?

The segment is different from other apparel and clothing brands because we need technically styled products made from technical fabrics. A lot of time has gone into getting the fit right for the Indian body. International brands selling in our country make their products according to European sizes. And the Indian male and female fit is different. We’ve worked on building an assortment of clothing, accessories and gear for outdoor exploration at reasonable prices. 

We have three categories at large. The Explorer series is for tropical weather - lightweight clothing with high sweat absorption. Alpine has thicker fabrics for colder weather, and Sherpa is made for extremely cold or high-altitude climates. 

We’ve also launched a down suit. Down suits are something you wear on 7,000-meter expeditions to insulate yourself well during the summit push. Having a good down suit is a matter of life and death and when you look at international brands, even their smallest sizes are too long for the average Indian. 

What methods do you use to reach out to your audience?

We market digitally through influencers. We also reach out to trek guides and operators. A lot of first-timers don’t know what to buy and ask their guides for checklists. So organic communication and goodwill to promote an Indian brand work in our favour. We also participate in outdoor and mountaineering events to showcase the brand. 

How are you viewing retail expansion?

The segment has an inherent nature of being offline because people want to try and test such products. People often postpone their purchases to the last minute and opt for consultative buying because they need assurance of the product’s performance. We’ve opened our flagship 700 sq ft shop in Mumbai’s Malad and will soon be in Bangalore. As a brand, we want to focus on product development, sourcing and marketing. So we’re going to go the franchise route for our outlets.

What are things you learnt along your journey, and what do you look forward to in this segment?

My experience in the apparel industry working with Raymond, Arvind Fashions etc made my job easy; I knew the basic functionality and sourcing. And through trekking, I learned what people need at different altitudes and the essential performance levels. 

We faced challenges in sourcing raw materials. Even once you build a product, you need to learn how to keep the supply chain running. So we stayed low profile during the initial stages of development. But this segment is going to explode and we’re still at the tip of the iceberg.

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