Global luxury brands woo Indian fashionistas

New Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) More than five international luxury brands, including Roberto Cavalli, Armani Junior, Tumi and Hackett, opened shop at the capital's swish DLF Emporio mall this year. For officials of these brands, choosing the destination was half the battle won because of its elite clientele and the presence of other "exquisite brands".

Spread over 320,000 sq feet, the DLF Emporio mall in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj area had opened in 2008. Spread over four levels, the mall is home to 65 international brands and 129 Indian designer brands. The list is growing each year.

Tumi, one of the world's leading brands for travel, business and lifestyle accessories, debuted at the luxury destination in July. Armani Junior, a subsidiary of international fashion label Giorgio Armani, opened doors for the Indian market in September, and so did British men's clothing and accessories brand Hackett London.

However, it was the launch of Italian designer brand Roberto Cavalli's first flagship store in the country here that stole the limelight this year. Cavalli himself flew down for the launch.

His store, spread over approximately 400 sq ft on the ground floor, resonates with the brand's trademarks - bold patterns and exotic animal prints.

"Keeping Roberto Cavalli's brand aesthetics in mind that eludes luxury and class, there would have been no better place than DLF Emporio to open our first-ever store in the capital," Cavalli told IANS during his visit, when he also launched his world-renowned Cafe Cavalli.

As a visitor to the mall, one would see a distinct crowd - often suited-booted men with well-dressed women, clutching expensive designer bags in hand, emanating a strong whiff of luxury perfumes, and with their heads held high. Of course, the stores and their products' prices only suit specific and limited pockets, given a minimum price of Rs.5,000 for even a small item like a card holder.

Dinaz Madhukar, senior vice president of DLF Emporio, agreed.

"There is a different customer base that comes to DLF Emporio. Our main idea of bringing in the luxury at the place is to familiarise people with the brands because the more they know about the brands, the more the brands will get business. Yes, we have an elite customer base and we are trying to make sure that people get the opportunity to experience the best at any given point of time," Madhukar told IANS.

The mall also saw the opening of leisure and resort wear brand Turquoise & Gold (T&G) in August.

"Our brand's primary focus to position itself as an exquisite luxury brand. As such, the clientele that frequents DLF Emporio is a perfect fit for us," Samara Mahindra, T&G's head of marketing and communication, told IANS.

Emporio already houses well-heeled stores of international brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Gucci, Christian Louboutin, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tom Ford, Bottega Veneta, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Dior, Paul Smith, Canali, Hugo Boss and Burberry, among others.

But that's no competition, says Mahindra.

"T&G is one of the very few brands in India that specialises in luxury resort wear. The USP of our brand is the prints that are specially crafted and customised from Europe. So, the presence of international brands does not affect our brand to a great extent, as T&G is unique and people are always looking for anything that is slightly off beat and different," she added.

Indian brands which retail at the luxury mall include Varun Bahl, Shantanu and Nikhi, Kotwara, Manav Gangwani, Abhishek Gupta, Abraham and Thakore, Ravi Bajaj, Ashish Soni, Neeru Kumar, Malini Ramani, Rohit Bal, Gaurav Gupta, Suneet Verma , Tarun Tahiliani and Raghvendra Rathore.

Monisha Jaisingh, Peacock Bride by Falguni and Shane Peacock and Anju Modi joined the list this year.

According to Madhukar, Indian brands occupy smaller spaces in the mall compared to the stores of foreign brands - a fact easily justified by the outside view of the mall itself, wherein the huge Louis Vuitton and Dior stores immediately catch the eye.

"Indian brands have actually taken smaller spaces because they don't require huge spaces. Also, international brands are mostly checked out for accessories and ready-to-wear. The rush for Indian brands gets heavier towards the festival and wedding season," she said.

The retail scenario in the capital is undergoing substantial changes and redefining is taking place, noted Dushyanth Ganjam, head of retail, Ganjam Jewellers, which also has a store in the mall.

"But focussed and specialised retailing will take some more time and effort to reach substantial growth and maturity in Delhi. DLF Emporio is experiencing this, and its future is positive," Ganjam told IANS.

One understands the rentals for the stores will be high - and vary according to the floor and the size of each store- but almost all brands were not keen to share financial figures or even footfalls.

However, Ganjam explained that "the profitability at DLF Emporio would take some more time to match up to the profitability of the other retail outlets. The density of business in Emporio is in its nascent stages and another factor is the comparatively high costs of rentals."

(Nivedita can be contacted at nivedita.s@ians.in)

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