Tag: Sheetal Jain

Personal choices

Those who grew up in the 1980s would remember wearing tailor-made clothes as there was a lack of decent ready-to-wear options. Now, for the last couple of years, made to order, or bespoke, has been back in fashion with an exclusivity twist. Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni, Canali and Kiton have long occupied the top space in this segment. Luxury brands such as Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Jimmy Choo and Louis Vuitton (LV) have joined the made-to-order club and introduced their made-to-order service in India, which extends beyond apparel, to shoes too. “The fact that brands are offering this service in India signals the evolution of the market for personalisation and customisation,” says long time Gucci fan, Chetan Jaikishan, MD, Express Foods.

Globally, bespoke was not always prevalent and consumers were, and still are, accustomed to easy ready-to-wear shopping. However, this preference has changed over time where consumers favour good quality and fit as per their specifications, over convenience. All brands want to give the best quality and use the best raw materials, and as they don’t own any of the farms from where their raw material is sourced, and there are only a handful of places where the raw material comes from, everyone goes to the same source. Hence, now as there is no exclusivity in sourcing the raw material, the exclusivity lies in tailoring to the customer’s choice.

Today, the luxury customer is not only an European, as used to be the case some years ago, but different people – Chinese, Indian, etc. So to cater to their tastes, it is easy to customise. This customisation has led to a surge in the bespoke and made-to-order segment over the last few years, primarily across luxury offerings due to the high-value of investment. This trend has extended to the Indian luxury retail market as well. According to Sheetal Jain, founder & CEO, Luxe Analytics, a New Delhi-based luxury consulting firm, made-to-order is the need of the hour for luxury brands. “It is important for them to go that way or else they’ll lag behind.”

In the luxury market, India is still a nascent story. While it is a good market with the great Indian middle class, most buyers are still aspirational, keeping sales numbers low. So when the market starts growing, then people usually buy accessories or apparel. Pricing is very important.

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Amrani MTM service allows the customer to create the suit as per their style.

Made-to-order, or personalisation, as it is also called, is when a brand can play around with the material, motifs, etc. and the price changes according to what the buyer chooses. For a fashion house, it is not a difficult proposition to offer. A standardised shape of garment or shoe is offered. The talking point is to explore how to make it more premium. Brands are always trying to be premium in their offerings – that’s a brand’s definition of luxury. Exclusivity adds on a lot of premium to the product. For the brand, besides being a way to grow, customisation and personalisation are also the differentiating factors.

The earlier brands to introduce made-to-order in India were Giorgio Armani (2014) and Louis Vuitton (2016).  Priced at Rs1,75,000 onwards, the Giorgio Armani made-to-measure service allows the customer to create the suit as per their style and comfort with the signature Giorgio Armani look. The service is available at the brand’s boutique in DLF, Emporio, New Delhi. It can also be availed via the brand’s home shopping service.

When in 2006, fashion designer Giorgio Armani decided that there was a need for something different; it was a bold decision for an established ready-to-wear designer to take. Armani believed that the time was right to return to the heart of the creative process, and produce a collection using the finest materials. “I realized that I have clients who really do want a unique product, made specifically for them. Hence, I decided to create a made to measure service, where a customer gets all the benefits of a tailor made garment – unique fit, fabric, lining, buttons, details – as well as the signature Giorgio Armani look. This collection really does bring the traditional and the modern together, combining the origins of the tailor’s craft with the innovations of a contemporary design studio,” explains the designer.

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LV’s Monte Carlo moccasin is available in an array of rainbow colours.

Louis Vuitton launched its made to order shoe service in mid-2016. The hand stitched Monte Carlo moccasin, priced at close to Rs2 lakh, is available in rainbow colours (literally). Customers can choose to have their moccasins made in either calf leather or suede. Though it is available at the brand’s New Delhi store, clients in Mumbai and Bengaluru can also place an order for these shoes from the brand’s website.

Speaking of shoes, Jimmy Choo’s made-to-order service includes a variety of classic shoes and bags which a customer can personalise by selecting the colour and fabric. It has gone a step further and lets you monogram your shoes, or put a plaque with a special date on your bag. The service is available at the DLF, Emporio boutique in New Delhi and at the Palladium boutique in Mumbai.

Last year Gucci launched its DIY (do it yourself) initiative based on the House’s Dionysus bag. Here customers could personalise their Dionysus handbags with embroidered patches, trims, hardware and monogrammed initials. The focus has now shifted to an extensive programme of customisable menswear that was launched last December.

At the Gucci DIY men’s tailoring service, customers can choose from a wide range of fabrics and buttons, as well as from a host of monogram lettering options. According to Jaikishan, their recently launched DIY service is a fun way of expressing one’s personality through customisation of selected products. “I don’t think any other brand offers the kind of customisation options that Gucci DIY does,” he says. “Although the aim of the DIY service is to encourage customers to interpret the Gucci aesthetic in a highly idiosyncratic way, the combination of materials, detailing and decoration on offer ensures that the end result will always evoke the spirit of the brand.”

So how is the Indian market placed to receive this bespoke trend? Well, according to Luxe Analytic’s Jain, may be in the coming years India will be better placed for this trend.

Showcasing luxury

Exhibitions. Exhibitions. Exhibitions. There are so many of them supporting various initiatives – be it upcoming artists, upcoming designers, home grown talents, and so on and so forth. So the recently concluded Luxury Lifestyle Weekend in Mumbai was a pleasant surprise. It was void the shove and push that accompanies such events. There was enough space for the 100 odd brands to enable their visitors to experience the bespoke services that they offered.

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“As much as luxury is about products, it is also about intangible nuances that inspire, delight and amaze you,” says Sheth.

For Akash Sheth, it was the culmination of hard work put in over the last couple of years. “I understood that everyone is interested in this space, but it becomes a non-exclusive space. So how can one make it exclusive to certain categories,” says Sheth, MD, Luxury Lifestyle Weekend. Having put his thoughts on paper, and checking the boxes, Sheth took the plunge to host the first luxury lifestyle weekend in the country. “LLW has surpassed everyone’s expectations from a brand satisfaction and consumer experience perspective,” says Sheth.

From the consumer perspective, globally luxury is moving towards the experiential age. People want to understand what is going on behind the brand, what does it stand for, what’s the brand story, the legacy, why should he / she go for a bespoke or tailor made product, etc. The idea was to create a platform where the brands get an opportunity to showcase all that, as well as be an opportunity for the consumer to engage and interact with the brand and understand it. According to Dr. Sheetal Jain, founder & CEO, Luxe Analytics, a New Delhi based luxury analytic company, “Exhibitions such as LLW, is a way that connect the consumers and the brands,” she says. “Today, luxury consumers are looking for an experiential value and this event was a step forward to curate such bespoke experience.  The luxury sector in India is still at a nascent stage; therefore such events are need of the hour. They would increase the brands’ visibility and may help to capture the hearts of relevant audience,” says Jain.

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The fact that, unlike the US and European countries, India had no platform to showcase luxury goods in the country, was motive enough for Sheth to think on lines of putting one together. Sheth put in close to $2 million in the event to give India its first Luxury Lifestyle Weekend. It was an interesting mix of 100 brands across nine categories that participated.

The way the venue was designed, there was enough space for customers to interact without being pushed and shoved. “As much as luxury is about products, it is also about intangible nuances that inspire, delight and amaze you. We have curated experientials that will help existing and aspiring consumers of luxury to engage and connect with the brands more deeply than ever before. Every brand presented an engagement that will encourage all guests to go beyond browsing and deep-dive into the story and philosophy behind a product,” says Sheth.

What Sheth looked for in identifying the participating brands was that a) they be leaders in their space, b) the brand is looking forward to creating an experience and tell their brand story correctly, and c) from his perspective, the brand should have an interest in the consumer, be able to draw in the right consumer and footfalls. What was also important was whether the brand wanted to talk to the current and potential consumers, as well as the new age millennials, who are going to become the next set of consumers.

While many brands already have a presence in India, a handful took this opportunity to get a feel of and introduce themselves to the Indian market. Just to mention a few brands: the Silver Room from USA, and Swiss chocolatier Du Rhone Chocolatier, both used the event to introduce themselves to the Indian market. The Silver Room, an art, culture and jewellery boutique brought to India by Dileep Doshi’s Ambiar Group, showcased their collection here for the first time. According to Vishakha Doshi, marketing, communication & PR director, Ambiar Group, the response was better than they had expected. The store will officially open on April 6 at south Mumbai’s Trident Hotel.

Du Rhone Chocolatier, a luxury chocolate brand based out of Geneva, presented its array of chocolates. According to Fatima Sham Mahimwala, business head, Liberty Luxuries Pvt. Ltd., company that is launching Du Rhone, the event was mutually beneficial to both, the company and the consumers. “It was more awareness building and a soft launch,” she says.

Atout France, the France Tourism & Development Agency, brought down La Vallée Village, a designer shopping space near Paris. “We wanted to meet the consumers directly, and this matched perfectly,” says Patrick Allais, business development manager, VR Services Snc.

On the experiential side, some of the watch brands flew down their watch makers. Luxury shoes and boots manufacturer, John Lobb, flew in their bootmaker from Paris to conduct a made-to-measure experience. Other brands, be it fashion, interiors or automobile, took the opportunity to present their new collections – Adil.I.Ahmad with Aditi Parashar, Gavin Miguel, Isaia, Kiton, Payal Khandwala, Payal Singhal, SVA Couture and The Palace Karkhana by Royal Fables.

According to a 2016 Assocham study, the Indian luxury market has been growing at 25 per cent per annum, and is pegged at $18 billion – a sign that the luxury space in India is moving forward aggressively. Given the population, and digital-friendly millennial generation, India is a market that everyone is interested in. Having surpassed all expectations with the launch event, Sheth says he will be back next year.