An online, customized marketplace to bridge the gap in South Asia’s online clothing economy

aashi grover
3 min readMay 13, 2021

Growing up, my family and I used to take trips to India every couple of years. We’d eat a whole bunch of good food, spend time with family, and of course, go shopping for ethnic wear in the bazaars as we couldn’t get any good pieces here in Canada. I remember feelings of excitement and overwhelm walking in these markets. Colourful clothes hung outside of stores, fruit being sold from wheelbarrows, and hundreds of shoppers roaming the streets busy streets on the bazaar, as a little girl, it was easy to get lost. Worst of all, the hours upon hours my mom would spend trying to get the best bargain.

the crowded streets of an Indian bazaar

Life went on and things got busy. It had been 7 years since I had last gone, and we decided enough time had passed. We were going to India, and to my surprise, everything was just how I remembered. Crowded streets, small shops, hours upon hours spent finding a few good pieces of clothing.

Currently, ethnic wear makes up 70% of all womenswear spending in India alone, with an estimated market of $68 billion in 2018 and is growing at 10% CAGR from 2018 to 2020. Yet in bazaars all over South Asia, the process of accessing these clothes continues to be window or referral-based, in-person only shopping millions of people.

Countries like China have sites such as Alibaba, which is an organized e-commerce site with millions of products at wholesale pricing, to make shopping easily accessible online and allowing store owners to tap into that online marketplace. On a global scale 14% of retail sales are online, in contrast <2% of retail sales in South Asia are online. There is a lack of platforms for small businesses in South Asia to sell their clothing online, reach a broader audience, and even sell globally. What can we do to bridge this?

Introducing Soukseek: An online marketplace where customers can buy and browse a large collection of readymade South Asian clothing and access on demand custom tailored clothes.

In essence, it’s a South Asian Etsy, custom fit to meet the needs of customers and shop owners and bring South Asia’s already booming ethnic wear market, online.

This site works by allowing stores and tailors to post items and fulfill custom orders while keeping up will directly chatting with their customers. They can update and post items through WhatsApp or SMS or directly through site. Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Group posts can also be converted to item posts on SoukSeek.

Customers can browse by specific stores or styles, find products listed with measurements for each size, chat directly with the shop owner and decide on price and pay. This process builds a one-on-one connection between the buyer and seller, establishes trust and recreates the in-person shopping experience. Even the bargaining. Soukseek creates a bazaar-like experience, online, and from the comfort of your own home, wherever in the world that may be.

SoukSeek’s vision is to accelerate South Asia’s transition to an online economy through customizing the experience of one South Asia’s biggest sectors, clothing.