Going Dutch: Dirk-Jan Stoppelenburg
Dirk-Jan Stoppelenburg, CEO of Dutch fashion label Scotch & Soda, finds the charm of India alluring. “I love coming back to India every time, be it for work or holiday. And each time I come, I see a huge change in the country which is for the positive,” he tells Forbes India at a plush store of Scotch & Soda that recently opened in Noida. Making an entry into India’s dynamic fashion landscape in partnership with Reliance Brands (owned by Reliance Industries, which also owns Network 18, publishers of Forbes India) last year, Scotch & Soda has opened two flagship stores in the country, one at Noida and the other in Mumbai. Scotch & Soda “draws inspiration from almost everything”, says Stoppelenburg, 49, who took over the reins of the company headquartered in Amsterdam in 2014. “We could draw inspiration from a painting, a poem, a classic garment, an outrageous costume or even a rumour and that perhaps explains the history behind the name,” he says. Edited excerpts:
Q. Tell us about Scotch & Soda’s global presence and its foray into India.
Scotch & Soda is innately Amsterdam. A Scotch fan is a young man or woman who is an urban dweller, loves to travel, creative and independent, connected at home yet on the go and tech-enabled but not fixated. It’s a brand where the soul is of utmost importance. While it was founded in the 1980s, Scotch & Soda was rebranded later in 2001. We don’t have any target of entering any particular country. The way we operate is that we find the right local partner who understands the soul of the brand and presents it accordingly to the new audience. We don’t enter any country just for the sake of it. For instance, South Korea is a major fashion market, but we are still not present there. India has become an important market for us and we believe it will emerge in the top 10 business destinations in terms of priority.
Q. What is the master franchise agreement with Reliance Brands like?
Reliance is our partner in India that operates the Scotch & Soda business. Before we got into a tie-up with Reliance, our presence in India was small; we were present only through the wholesale channel. Now, our collective goal is to build a brand connect with customers.
Q. What is the key differentiator of Scotch & Soda?
We just concentrate on being ourselves and that makes us different. Globally, we make about 12 million pieces of apparel every year and for our biggest products, we make only about 18,000 pieces. What’s more, we restrict production to about 1,200 styles in different colours. That describes the freshness of our brand. Fashion in Amsterdam is highly individualistic and eclectic, and that is what we want to bring to India.
Q. What is your view about Make In India?
For the last five years, the share of our total sourcing from India has been growing. And in the last three years, the pace of growth has been exhilarating. India should become an important sourcing destination for us.