Triggered by the challenge to create the perfect leather jacket at an affordable price, Asem Chaudhary founded his brand Tigha straight after university in the surroundings of Düsseldorf. Today, his jackets are amongst the best sold in the country; Tigha has grown into a head-to-toe collection and recently even opened its first retail store in Cologne plus the 100 sqm pop-up space "Kreuz 11" in cooperation with Munich's prestigious Stierblut store (running until December 2016). We spoke to Chaudhary about his retail idea, future vision for the brand and why he stopped listening to others.
Congratulations on your first ever retail store. What’s it like and do you have concrete plans to open further stores in the future?
Thank you so much! We are very excited about our very first Tigha store. It’s around 270 sqm big and showcases the new fall/winter ’16 collection. On top of that, we stock a carefully selected range of other labels and products [such as Dr. Martens, Espadrij or Komono] to create a whole lifestyle world around Tigha. Of course there will be further stores – but it’s all in progress and we will see what comes next and are ready for new challenges.
You started Tigha in 2009, right after university. What was your motivation and vision for the brand back then?
In my student days I used to work as a fashion buyer and during one of my first orders I saw a clean biker leather jacket which cost around €1000. Having only little money, I asked myself if it was possible to make those kind of cool leather jackets at a more affordable price. I am an ambitious person and love challenges, so from that time on I wanted to prove to myself that I could realize my ideas and create a brand that offers premium quality within a fair price level.
Today Tigha is one of the better known German fashion brands, especially in the leather jacket segment. What is it that makes you so successful?
In my first season, back in 2009, I started with three jackets, both for men and women. I just put them in my car and drove to some selected clients and presented them what I got. The success was overwhelming – most of them are still loyal clients.
Tigha stands for cutting-edge shapes, high quality materials, a sophisticated styling, but at the same time it’s affordable and easy to wear – I often call that “urban avant-garde”.
We just do want we want to do and design what we’d love to wear. That’s why we don’t really look after the latest trends – we’re rather trying to keep up our own vision.
What were the most crucial points in your success story? Is there anything that you would do differently today?
I wouldn’t listen to other people so much. There was a time when everyone around me told me our logo was too big and we shouldn’t use it any more. When I removed it, suddenly the same people complained they were not selling our leather jackets anymore and asked for attachable logos...
At that moment I learned to trust my own guts and rely on my instincts.
Which new product categories are you focusing on, besides leather jackets?
The basis of the Tigha collection was and will always be the iconic leather jacket. But now we're able to offer a full product range of leather, denim, knitwear, jersey, sweat, tailored styles, outerwear and even accessories.
We’d all like to wear Tigha from head to toe which was the main reason behind extending the range. These developments have helped to pave the way for our recognition as a lifestyle brand. However I hate standing still and that’s why I push every single product category to a constant evolution – but at the same time stay true to the Tigha identity.
Your brand is very established in Germany. How big is your international business and which other markets are you targeting most strongly right now?
Naturally, our most loyal customers are in our home turf Germany, but also in the Benelux region, Austria and Switzerland.
Exhibiting on international trade fairs in Berlin, Paris and Copenhagen last season enabled us to get in touch with additional international markets, and we got a lot of attention from Scandinavia, Italy, UK, Russia, Greece and the USA.
Where do you see Tigha in 10 years?
The size of the company has doubled or even tripled each year over the last years. If you grow from 10 to 20 employees and then hit 85, that’s huge. But as all the important business fields are now covered with skilled people now, in the future we will only extend departments that are linked to our strategic growth goals, such as internationalization, verticalization and diversification. In the long-run, we will extend our brand awareness to more and bigger international markets – even overseas. Be sure we have a lot of ambitious plans that only wait to be put into action. Tigha is definitely ready to hit the next level.