Sirena Apparel

Hawkers Korner on brings Indian womens fashion to your doorstep.

Hawkers Korner - bringing Indian fashion to your doorstep

The increasing global demand for contemporary Indian dresses has created significant opportunities for skilled artisans and garment retailers in India. On one hand, there is a growing community of South Asian expatriates desperately seeking traditional, yet trendy oriental outfits that truly represent their identity in a cosmopolitan society. On the other hand, American and European women, fascinated for centuries by the ethereal beauty and mystique of Indian saris, have finally ventured to own such dresses for themselves. Since these products are rarely available in local malls, the Internet has emerged as the prime shopping outlet for Indian fashion apparel, e-tailing a vast collection of saris, salwars, lehenga-cholis, sherwani-kurtas and Indo-western garments to a global audience.

It is not an easy business. Indian saris and other designer dresses have traditionally been classified as “touch and feel” products, purchased only after the customer has had a chance to examine the material and artwork up-close and settled on a negotiated price with the shopkeeper. Such costumes are expensive items and there are limits in the web’s capability to display clarity of embroidery details or color shades. Even today, there are diehard shoppers who refuse to buy clothes off the Internet. The fact is thought that despite some scattered skepticism, a large number of buyers are purchasing Indian dresses online.

Convenience, economy, technology and value-added services are major drivers of sari purchases from the net. Most customers feel that the ability to procure latest styles and dazzling designer outfits with just a few clicks is sufficient motivation for heading to net-based stores. While shipping can be expensive, most reputable merchants discount their products because of lower overheads. Improved web technology and expedited delivery methods lend transparency to the purchase process and boost consumer confidence in these transactions.

Probably the greatest benefit of purchasing Indian saris and lehenga cholis from the net is the ability to secure certain low-cost services that are impossible to obtain locally in the western world. A sari can only be worn with certain accessories, including blouses, which are generally tailored to size. They also need protective stitching like falls and netting or decorative tassels for completeness. Similarly, a lehenga or salwar kameez requires precision fitting to look really attractive. A few Indian dress portals offering these specialized tailoring services are finding no dearth of customers.

Hawkers Korner on (owned by Boston based GBI Inc.) is one shopping destination that offers all the above facilities and much more. Loyal consumers here have been pleased with both product quality and efficient 24x7 customer service. Among HK’s many delights is the ability to do a quick “haggle” with the shopkeeper on a certain item, rapidly settle on a fair price and close the deal. There are services, often complimentary, to tailor clothes in India according to styles desired by the customer, especially with the accessories. HK also offers exceptional variety of products through a network of garment vendors from different parts of India and Bangladesh, who offer new items every week on

Its small wonder then that net shoppers are flocking to and zapping top sari and ghagra selections at record numbers. “What’s truly amazing about our sales trend…is that we’re seeing a much larger percentage of American and English customers buying saris, as compared to Indian clientele”, says Prabir Roy, vice-president of marketing at GBI. “We have remained away from publicity campaigns, preferring to rely on word-of-mouth advertisement among customer networks interested in Indian women’s apparel.”

A lot remains to be achieved, admits Chitro Neogy, founder and president of GBI. The vision for Hawkers Korner is to create a popular, new line of apparel that will eventually be sold through fashion outlets and departmental stores worldwide. “We seek to develop a stable export channel that’ll facilitate globalization of our rural craft products and enable the Indian artisan community to find new sources of revenue”, said Chitro. “Many brands of exceptionally beautiful saris, like the Baluchori, Muslin, Banarasi and Kathar Stitch are woven in remote villages by impoverished artists. These unsung heroes must receive their due appreciation on a world-platform. The technology today has led to a borderless economy that skirts insuperable cultural and communication barriers to bring deserving products to market. We believe that saris and other Indian apparel can and will influence the international fashion industry within the current decade.”

GBI is also employing innovative designs to make Indian dresses more appealing to the uninitiated. “We realize that wearing a sari can be a daunting experience to first timers, especially in the western countries where little help is available”, says Deepak of Renuka Industries, a leading sari vendor on “We have introduced the concept of ready-made saris, where any style sari can be converted to a special dress that can be worn like a gown or ghagra. It contains a stitched petticoat and built-in frills around the dress…and will be impossible to differentiate from a traditionally worn sari”. The cost of converting any HK sari to a ready-made one is just fifteen dollars. This unique tailoring process allows GBI to market its products to a much wider array of non-Indian customers.

The marketplace is quite competitive and there is no shortage of Indian shopkeepers turned e-traders crowding for attention on the information superhighway. Notwithstanding these distractions, sari customers are discerning individuals who reach for their purses only when completely satisfied with a merchant’s products and business practices. Says Chitro Neogy – “GBI is building its reputation based on customer references. Most customers first read our online client testimonials that clearly demonstrate our commitment to quality, communication and execution. The Internet offers outstanding opportunities for launching innovative international initiatives such as the Hawkers Korner. In the end, however, there is no substitute for plain, old-fashioned good service!”

Hawkers Korner currently offers only women’s apparel, but will soon expand with a new line of men’s formal clothing and casual wear. It is one of the recommended sari shopping portals by Chantal Boulanger, a French curator who spent six years in India and author of the famous treatise “Indian saris – draping bodies, revealing lives”.

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