A platform that aims to meet the demands of contemporary clothing

Fashion e-commerce platform Strides Co sells affordable contemporary fashion apparel that meets global quality standards

May 07, 2022, 10:35 a.m.

Last modification: 07 May 2022, 13:47

Strides Co team members: CTO Ariq Mansur (LR), CEO Zahia Khondoker and COO Alavi Khondoker. Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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Strides Co team members: CTO Ariq Mansur (LR), CEO Zahia Khondoker and COO Alavi Khondoker. Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Bangladesh is one of the best-known names in the global apparel market, with exports fetching billions every year. However, finding high-quality contemporary fashion clothing in local markets is a struggle for most consumers.

Fashion e-commerce platform Strides Co sells affordable contemporary fashion apparel that meets global quality and fashion standards.

CEO Zahia Khondoker, COO Alavi Khondoker and CTO Ariq Mansur have set out to fill the void as there is demand in local markets for globally fashionable clothing.

What makes Strides Co unique is that there is an option on the website that allows customers to order up to three different sizes for one fabric. They can try all three when delivered to their doorstep and choose the one that suits them best.

After completing the International Baccalaureate, siblings Zahia and Alavi went to the UK. They returned to Bangladesh in 2015. From 2016 to 2018 they worked in the family business Shanta Garments Ltd.

“It’s hard to find trendy clothes – let’s say the ones you see on Instagram or the ones offered by Zara or H&M – in our local markets. Even when I was looking for normal basics, it was so difficult,” said Zahia .

Zahia headed the research, design and development of the clothing business, while Alavi handled the factory production side of the business. With the knowledge gained from working with international buyers and their overall business experience, they were confident that together they could create a viable business that offers a collection of garments unavailable in the Bangladeshi market. The brand’s motto is “Wardrobe essentials with an edge”.

“We started Strides Co in 2018, with our factory. We got fully involved in it in 2020,” Zahia told The Business Standard.

Although they had a positive response early on, business really took off during the pandemic.

“When the pandemic started, it became a great potential for us to go all out. We got fully involved and built our team,” she said.

The current team of around 12 people includes designers, marketing managers as well as IT and operational staff. “We also have an investor who has a company that does our photo processing, and they have a great team there as well,” she added.

From 2020 to 2021, with 2021 being its first full operational year, Strides Co has grown nearly 200%. Last year, he received pre-seed funding from the Bangladesh Angels Network (BAN), which helped grow the business.

Alavi explained why they decided to open an online store and not a retail store like most RMG factories. “We want Strides Co to be a one-stop destination for all things fashion. In addition to our flagship brand Strides, we wanted to partner with brands of similar qualities, so customers have a wide range of products to buy from. .”

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

He also thinks the beauty of e-commerce is that you can see all customer journeys as a collective. Moreover, they are able to easily track customer response, thus enabling them to improve their services.

There are 11 brands mentioned on the Strides Co website, some of which are sub-brands. Mahal, for example, is an ethnic clothing sub-brand of Strides. The company also takes care of product shoots for its partner brands.

Trousers, winter jackets and contemporary westerns are among the top-selling categories at Strides Co. For Eid-ul-Fitr, however, customers mostly ordered Panjabis.

Bringing diversity to the products was one of the hardest parts of running the e-commerce platform as they try to supply all kinds of fashion items. Additionally, they need to make sure that customers understand the products, which is why they take high-quality photos.

“Because it’s fashion, you always have to think about what’s popular. Every new product is a gamble because you don’t know how popular it’s going to be,” Alavi said.

He added that in e-commerce, the challenge is bigger than retail because customers cannot smell the product and their perception is based only on product images and descriptions.

According to him, the reason why online works for them is that they have a large clientele in Dhaka as well as outside Dhaka. Orders come from as far away as Khulna, Barisal and Thakurgaon.

Inside Dhaka, delivery can be made in eight hours as all Strides Co products are already stocked.

To run a business like Strides, as Alavi told us, you have to build a network of suppliers and Strides Co has done that successfully in recent years. Shanta Garments, the owners’ family business, certainly helped, but it wasn’t the one-size-fits-all solution as one might imagine.

“A garment factory can’t produce all kinds of products, you need to have a network of suppliers to run a retail store,” Alavi said.

However, with their family background, it was only natural for Zahia and Alavi to get into the garment business. Their journey was facilitated by the blessing and support of their parents.

“Our father was a little hesitant at first because the clothing business is tough and although he worked on the export side, he’s been in this business for a long time. Now when we’re doing well, both parents get very excited,” says Zahia.

For Zahia, the future of Strides Co is to become the number one fashion destination. “We want to expand our product line and add lingerie, shoes, etc. Currently, we are also looking for funding and the right mindset to grow our business.”

The company will also try to expand sizing (currently it offers sizes XS to 3XL) and become more inclusive, she mentioned.

“We are trying to create a worthy brand in Bangladesh and also in the global market,” Alavi said. Right now they are running a pilot project on Amazon.

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