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Akshay Kumar and Karan Berry on Force IX and their ambitions for the brand

Feb 22, 2023

Celebrity brands are big business when it comes to both profit and influence. After a few celebrity-owned brands like HRX by Hrithik Roshan and One8 by Virat Kohli among others have proven to be tremendous successes, more celebrities are now looking to launch their own businesses.
The entrepreneurship bug may have stung the Indian film industry relatively late, but now that it has, we see a host of celebrities launching their brands and products. The latest to join the trend is the ‘Khiladi of Bollywood’ Akshay Kumar with his athleisure brand ‘Force IX’.
FashionNetwork.com caught up with the actor Akshay Kumar and Karan Berry, Force IX's creative director, to know more about the brand.

"I am not a designer, but you will get a touch of my style in Force IX," says Akshay Kumar - Force IX

FashionNetwork.com: Tell us a bit about the conceptualisation behind Force IX, how did you come up with it and why did you name the brand “Force IX”?
Akshay Kumar: When we talk about force, there’s one big force that controls this world, then there’s Mother Nature and thirdly our Armed Forces. My father was in the army, so I’ve always had a soft spot and huge respect for our Armed forces. And IX is my birth date, nine is also my lucky number and the number nine signifies warrior. So, putting all this together, we’re called Force IX, engineered with emotion. The design team gathered months of research to understand the dynamic requisites of the audiences of today. From choosing the right fabrics to the colour palettes, every aspect of the brand has been a result of meticulous scrutiny.

FNW: How much of your creative ideation has gone into Force IX?
Akshay Kumar: If I must be brutally honest, I am not a designer. Yes, I have a sense of style, you can call me a curator. We have a young and talented team onboard who study market trends across the world, and tweak and put together the mood board for every season. I give my input and, in the process, learn many things from them. So, while I may not have designed the clothes, you will get a touch of my style in Force IX.
FNW: When it comes to clothing, what are you most comfortable in and tell us more about the products on offer or what we can expect from the brand?
Akshay Kumar: I love my tracks and hoodies, they’re my all-time go-to comfort clothing. We’ll have an entire range of products from t-shirts, polos, denims, track pants, joggers, socks, inner wear, shirts, chinos, cargos, bagpacks, belts, caps, and more.

Force IX

FNW: India’s athleisure market is estimated to be Rs 54,000 crore growing by 20% annually. Despite the huge market size, very few homegrown brands have managed to make deep inroads in this segment. What could be the reason and how do you intend to change that with Force IX?
Karan Berry: In a world that is at top speed with fast fashion becoming a mundane part of the macrocosm, we wanted to create a brand that is built on, what we believe, are the four most fundamental aspects to success. Price, quality, design and fit. These four aspects have been the premise of Force IX. Our aim is to deliver fashion at rational price points whilst maintaining quality, revolutionary designs, and precise fits at the same time.
FNW: Almost every apparel, and sportswear brand currently has an athleisure/activewear line, with established brands such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and Puma leading the way. What differentiates Force IX from others and how do you plan to make a mark amidst rising competition from a host of international and domestic brands?
KB: Every brand is unique. Eventually the fate of each brand is decided by its customers and not the competition. Our customers have become far more aware and have demanding. They know exactly what they want and how much they are willing to spend on it. Force IX is a brand that is built with a purpose. We are here to build a deep connection with our customers, be authentic in our core beliefs and create a space for fashion that will be relatable across generations.
FNW: Is there a specific target group given the pan-India popularity of Akshay Kumar and his connection with the masses? Also, in a price sensitive market like India will we see the brand diversify its range to cater to different markets from metros to tier 4 cities & beyond?
KB: Undeniably, our ensembles are designed by young minds that have a fresh and innovative take on fashion which makes our designs very youthful. Having said that, there was always a definite intent to be able to cater to all audiences, regardless of their age and gender. We proudly call ourselves the first Indian-origin athleisure wear brand. With a lofty vision, we have created our pieces within price points that we believe are rational and have an all-access pass across all the cities in the country. It is incredible how the youth of today, no matter where they are, have become fashion-conscious, which gives brands like us a golden opportunity to succeed. 
FNW: Force IX aims to fill the dearth of Indian-origin brands in the athleisure space. Give us a brief on the manufacturing and production side of the brand. Is it a completely ‘Made in India’ brand as Akshay Kumar has always been an advocate of 'vocal for local'?
KB: Absolutely! Force IX is a 100% “Made in India, Made for India” kind of a brand. Right from our fabrics to our buttons to the stitching, the logo, the tags, every single element that has gone into making our garments have been made in India.
FNW: Celebrity endorsement in India has helped boost sales of many domestic and international brands. However, very few celebrity brands (like HRX, One8 and more) have managed to make an impact. What is your strategy to change that and how can Force IX be a game-changer?
KB: Having a popular personality representing a brand creates a positive archetype for the positioning and value of the brand. But one can never sell a product if the product doesn’t have calibre. That only comes through fine making. Our core philosophy is to make garments that uphold superior quality, fit and finesse. It is only then that everything will make absolute sense to the discerning buyers, and they will instil the faith that one needs to make a brand successful.

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