Himmat Dhanda’s reason for starting Sculptmode is pretty simple: he noticed a gap in the athleisure and activewear market and decided to do something about it.
“I’m big on fitness myself and over the years I’ve tried most athleisurewear and fitness brands and have found that the cheaper ones aren’t very good quality and the best quality garments are typically too expensive for your average Joe,” he says.
“Fitness clothing needs to be comfortable, of a high quality and affordable, and we spotted a gap in the market to create something that ticked all those boxes; as well as being eco-minded.”
However, it’s no secret that the athleisure sector is becoming increasingly crowded. In the last month alone, high street stalwarts like H&M, Joules, Burton, Ann Summers and Boohoo Man have all been rushing to capitalise on the growing craze by adding athleisure and activewear apparel to their fashion ranges.
In addition, a report issued by Globaldata in August predicted that activewear would be worth more than £2.5 billion in the UK by the end of 2017.
Despite the stiff competition, Dhanda, 28, believes the sector still has potential, both in the short and long run.
“The market is steadily growing, and I chose this space as I felt I that something was missing personally,” he tells Retail Gazette.
“It is becoming very challenging with so many competitors, yet I remain undeterred as they all seem to go down the middle with their athleisurewear and sacrifice on their style and fit just to get their brand out there to the masses as quick as possible.
“I’m taking my time so that every next batch or new line is constantly monitored and tweaked to be even better and of a higher calibre than the last.”
Dhanda is a Durham undergraduate and postgraduate with a masters in finance, and has worked in fitness, banking and property management. He was even a fitness model with thousands of followers on Instagram before deciding to take a break to focus on Sculptmode – which he launched in May 2017.
However, prior to the official launch, he undertook market research that saw him team up with several yoga instructors, models and athletes to assist with the design and fit of Sculptmode’s apparel. From here, he researched factories where the clothing could be made across Europe and Asia.
From the initial order size of 2000 pieces, Dhanda said six items from the male and female range sold out within the first three months of launching. He took this as a positive sign that his market research and branding had paid off.
“I launched the brand not long ago and the developments made in that time have been great,” he says.
“Selling out of quite a few lines in our range already is a reflection of the hard work we put in and from having listened to feedback over the years to create apparel how we envisaged it from the start: quality products that match the biggest brands in the world today, but without the high price tags.”
Dhanda is also proud of the ethical ethos that comes with Sculptmode. Along with the goal of becoming carbon neutral “as soon as possible”, customers can also receive a mailer bag with their online delivery, in which they can send any old activewear clothing to The European Recycling Company.
In addition, 10 per cent of Sculptmode’s profits are donated to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), specifically its snow leopard protection programme.
“I am working tirelessly to make the brand green as soon as possible with garments being constructed from fully organic materials such as cotton, tencel as well as recycled polyester,” Dhanda says.
“This will be called the Black Series and will take our performance gear to new heights, whilst having a huge positive impact on the planet.”
Dhanda adds that while running his independent business has been hugely rewarding for him thus far – he acknowledges there have been “many challenges”.
“So many that I cannot even begin to list them,” he says.
“But I must say that no matter what anyone says or tells you, once you believe in something and you know it’s right, then nothing can stop you.
“Honestly, you will have hurdles every day, but the most important thing is staying mentally strong and positive through thick and thin as it will all be worth it in the end.”