When Roshan Baid, 46, and Ravish Nanda, 45, decided to build a sports apparel company two years ago, they made sure to do it the right way and for the right reasons. Their company, Alcis Sports, not only produces clothes that are of fine quality and affordable, but are also made of recycled plastic PET bottles, therefore, doing a huge favor to both society and the environment.
The home-grown athleisure offers sportswear in the categories of running, training, yoga, racquet sports, and core. Each of these is different and are custom-made for specific activities.
“We firmly believe that we don’t just make clothes, but make equipment for our customers that can be used for both performance and activewear,” Baid told ET.
Finding sweet spot
As more and more Indians are becoming health and fitness conscious, Baid feels the availability of products is on limited choices- either expensive and of top-notch quality or affordable but of poor quality. Quality sportswear is believed to be in massive demand across the country, not only among the urban youth but also in the tier B, C and D towns.
“We wanted to hit that sweet spot between quality and affordability,” he said. The company’s apparels are priced between Rs. 399 to Rs. 3999.
Baid said that they are planning to produce 50% of their garments from recycled polyester within the next few months. Generally, t-shirts are made of Polyester – a man-made fiber, production of which involves huge quantities of water, chemicals, and use of fossil fuels. The raw materials and by-products are toxic and pollute water and air, causing several health hazards.
This is why the co-founders thought of using R-PET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate), which is a strong, durable and recyclable material used for soda bottles, water bottles, food jars etc. For now, their two hot selling products- Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo are made from recycled polyester out of R-PET bottles, where about eight plastic bottles are used to make one T-shirt.
The collected PET bottles are sterilized, dried and crushed into small chips, followed by heating and are passed through a spinneret to form strings of yarn. The yarn is wound up in spools and the fiber is then passed through a crimping machine to create a fluffy wooly texture. Thereafter, the final yarn is baled, dyed and knitted into fabric.
Each t-shirt saves approximately 27 litres of water, uses 50% less energy to produce and reduces carbon emission by over 54%. They are softer and lighter than normal ones, weighing just 85-90 grams.
Moreover, the manufacturing process for making these recycled t-shirts is almost similar to other tees; hence there is no real cost advantage or disadvantage.
The initial investments in Alcis were made by the promoters. Later, it secured a $4 million investment from Singapore-based venture capital firm RB Investments, which has a strong portfolio of Indian startups, including The Beer Cafe, Swiggy, Bluestone.com, Fab hotels, and Faasos.
“We received phenomenal support from our customers and have already doubled our turnover and now are seeking a second round of funds to spur growth across India,” Baid said. In FY16-17, Alcis Sports did a business of Rs. 6 crore, in FY17-18 they touched Rs. 24 crore. They were aiming to reach Rs. 60 crore by the end of FY18-19. “We are growing more than 100% every year,” the 46-year-old entrepreneur said.
Anshul Malpani, master franchisee of the brand, said it’s the premium quality and accommodative prices of the products that has garnered the positive turnover. He also mentioned that in just two months since its launch, the exclusive outlet of Alcis Sports in Vaishali, Jaipur has already been seeing an average of 25-30 customers daily.
Baid used the manufacturing strength and experience of running integrated sports-wear manufacturing company- Paragon Apparels, for Alcis Sports. “From being the ‘behind the scene’ person for so long in the sportswear manufacturing business, it’s an exciting phase for me to build a consumer brand from scratch,” Baid said.
However, given the huge apparel market, athleisure is still a niche segment and Baid believes they need to create more awareness about it in the industry and among consumers. The company took note how brand building is an important chord in marketing and have signed up cricketer Shikhar Dhawan as the brand ambassador for Alcis Sports.
The company is currently selling over 40,000 items every month through various channels. Alcis Sports is available in over 700 outlets across the country including all leading large format stores such as Lifestyle, Shopper Stop, Central, Globus, Sports Station, etc and online retail websites and 11 exclusive brand stores at New Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, Jaipur, Guwahati, Bangalore, Goa, Bagru, and Kurukshetra.
It is now planning to launch kids wear, footwear, bags and other accessories soon.