That’s when Manish Poddar planned to start Rare Rabbit to liberate men from their style prisons of pinstriped shirts. Poddar had not put his shirt on a passing fad. Eight years after it was started in 2015 with a flagship store in Bengaluru and an e-commerce website, Rare Rabbit has reached a valuation of $300 million. Tata Capital is looking to purchase a roughly 13% stake in the menswear brand at a valuation of $300 million, as it seeks to bet on the country’s affluent shoppers, Reuters has reported based on information from sources.
Tata has held private talks with Rare Rabbit and is conducting due diligence after issuing a term sheet to invest up to $40 million to grab a stake in the niche fashion brand. An Indian private equity fund, A91 Partners, is also eyeing a stake in the company and competing with Tata for a deal, the sources told Reuters.
The high valuation for the Indian men’s affordable luxury fashion brand doesn’t just speak of Poddar’s canny eye for social trends but also of an enduring shift in self-perception of urban men.
How Poddar built Rare Rabbit
Rare Rabbit was started in 2015 by Radhamani Textiles, a company run by Poddar’s family. As the owner and creative director, Poddar scoured stores in Europe to glean ideas of the style and substance of clothes he would offer. The idea was to curate products from across the globe that were in sync with male sexuality — a concept like no other yet, Poddar had told The Hindu in an interview. Most of the products were designed and developed across Europe, and the fabrics sourced from Italy and other European countries. “We have luggage made of paper that feels like leather, from Tuscany; concept eyewear made for Hollywood projects, from Japan and Singapore; the store design is done in New York; and the fragrance in the store is conceptualised in Spain,” Poddar had said.Podra opened the first Rare Rabbit store in UB City Bengaluru in 2015. Soon, the brand spread to other major cities and then Tier II cities too such as Bhopal, Dehradun, Bathinda, Karimnagar and Alappuzha.The House of Rare, which owns the Rare Rabbit brand and now women’s clothing brand Rareism too and sells a vast range from bermudas to shoes to shirts and jackets to T-shirts, owns the entire value chain — designing, manufacturing and retailing the products — thus saving costs as well as achieving supply-chain efficiency.
Rare Rabbit has encashed the men’s new-found urge to experiment with clothes. Pulkit Verma, head of ecommerce and digital marketing at Rare Rabbit, had told ET a few years ago that their office is swamped with floral-clad men, which showed corporate dressing had loosened its collars. “Shirts evolved from plain solids to tactile textures; checks evolved with new age colours; and micro floral prints are bigger and bolder. The new-age menswear brands are mushrooming with an array of smart prints,” he said.
“Men don’t want the same high-street fare these days. They want to stand out and be noticed and complimented,” Poddar had told TOI in 2017. “A generation ago, they would have given a left leg to blend in.”
Rare Rabbit rode on a fast-evolving apparel category, menswear, which style-conscious Indian men have driven to growth in recent years. Tata’s bet on Indian men seeking affordable luxury clothes comes when the premiumisation trend has been sweeping across several consumer product categories.
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