Rahul Khanna, director of Delhi-based Cue Apparels Ltd and partner of fashion designer Rohit Gandhi, says that his company receives nearly 15 to 20 international orders for bandgalas and sherwanis over the Net every month.
"But there is always a chance of being taken for a ride as you don't know the client. Plus handling courier and credit is a big hassle," says Khanna, who promotes labels Cue and H20 in five Indian cities and at overseas boutiques like International Tabla in London and Sanskriti in Hong Kong.
For designers like Khanna, help may soon be at hand. If things go according to plan, New Delhi-based graphics design company Illum Design Project Ltd will launch a high-fashion online shop called Bougan-villa.com by end August, where fashionable clothes by designers like Rohit Bal or Manish Arora can be bought without stepping out of home.
Says Himanshu Dogra, who designs catalogues, logos and signages for fashion designers, "We thought it was a natural extension of our business."
Dogra's plan? To get at least a dozen designers like Rajesh Pratap Singh, Manish Arora and Abraham & Thakore under one online umbrella to market lifestyle clothes, furnishing and accessories.
Dogra, who runs the company with partner Francis Joe and wife Dhruti, says that he's got positive response from designers like Ashish Soni, Namrata Joshipura, J J Valaya, Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna.
Bougan-villa.com has already signed up with credit card and courier companies.
Currently the company is busy planning photo shoots for the site and is worried about quality control and dress sizes.
"We want to keep it tight in the first year. It's not going to be a site for 100 designers. It'll be for a select few whose designs complement each other. Our selling point is that the best designers will be sold under one roof," says Dogra, who has also made promotional films for designers Rajesh Pratap and J J Valaya earlier.
Targeted at the Indian Diaspora, the site will be easy to navigate and a staff of 16 has already been recruited to look into inventory and despatch as well as to update the site.
While most designers have their official websites, they have been reluctant to entertain sale enquiries for fear of fake orders, mass copying of designs and issues related to size fits.
For instance, designer David Abraham mainly sells home furnishings and fit-all clothes like robes or kimonos on the Net.
On Bougan-villa.com, he says, "We are considering to be part of it and plan to retail both clothes and furnishings to spread the risk."
Bougan-villa has also found favour with Manish Arora's partner and director of Three Clothing Ltd Deepak Bhagwani.
He says, "This way we will reach a wider audience which exclusive designer shops don't provide," says Bhagwani.
This is, however, not the first time that designers are promoting business together. In 2002, Rohit Bal, Rajesh Pratap, Manish Arora and Abraham and Thakore formed the Shopkeepers' Welfare Association and took up retail space at 1 MG Road, Delhi.
In 2003, the band moved together to open up a shop at The Courtyard in Mumbai and this January some of them took up retail space at 14 VM Road in Bangalore."The core idea was to go places together. The concept has worked well so far," says Sapna Mehra, the association's coordinator. They are now expecting Bougan-villa to bloom.