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3 posts tagged "India"

Is India The Next Big Player in Luxury Retail?

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Prada is reported to be in talks for an India entry. Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, and Stella McCartney are exploring real estate for stand-alone stores. After opening his first boutique in New Delhi last year, Christian Louboutin is readying himself for a Mumbai launch. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Louis Vuitton’s presence in India—it was the first luxury brand to set foot in the country. Is India finally reawakening to luxury? Historically, it’s a country familiar with all things luxe. After all, in 1925, India’s Sir Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala, granted Cartier its single largest commission: the remodeling of his crown jewels, a collection that included an exquisite 234.69-carat De Beers diamond. Vuitton’s gilded links with India go back well over a century, when the Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir, Bikaner and Baroda, ordered customized trunks from the company.

Then came freedom. For almost forty-four years after Independence, socialist India snapped all ties with luxury. It’s only in the last decade that the romance has rekindled. And it has to do with math. With a population surpassing 1.22 billion, and 81 million households falling into the upper middle class and high-income bracket, India is a serious market for luxury players. In fact, statistics show that India is one of the fastest-growing and largest luxury markets, with sales expected to touch $15 billion by 2015—nearly double what they are today. In November last year, Gucci opened its fifth and largest India store, spanning 4,220 square feet across two floors in Gurgaon, Delhi’s satellite city. Patrizio di Marco, president and CEO, noted, “The flagship store underscores Gucci’s commitment to India. This is our fifth store in this unique country, where we have been operating directly since the end of 2009, and it is a testament to the importance that we are placing on this fast-growing and competitive market.”

But Kalyani Chawla, vice president of marketing and communications at Christian Dior, insists India is taking baby steps. And she is right. The Western notion of luxury hit Indian shores only ten years ago. It’s still a country of salwar kameezes and saris. But the Indian buyer has grown interested in fashion, investing small but precious sums in brands. “Dior has seen a steady and encouraging growth. As is the case globally with most brands, accessories are doing very well [and] clothing is picking up,” she says, noting that this is partly due to the fact that Western wear has finally slipped into a bride’s wedding trousseau. And for Indians, marriage is the occasion for which discerning buyers splurge. Dior launched in 2006, and has three stores across the country. Continue Reading “Is India The Next Big Player in Luxury Retail?” »

What Do Pina Bausch and Cartier Have In Common?

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With first-world economies in a steep slide, India is becoming an increasingly important market for luxury companies. But lest we forget, it’s long been a place of inspiration for creative souls. Before the holidays, I caught the last Stateside performance of Pina Bausch’s Bamboo Blues at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, her new work rooted in many visits to the subcontinent over three decades. One of the show’s most striking elements are the delicate, jewel-toned, draped and pleated dresses by costume designer Marion Cito that subtly echo traditional Indian dress. In the audience I spotted a few of Bausch’s boldface fans: Rachel Weisz, low-key in a button-down oxford and jeans; and art stars Helen Marden and Alba and Francesco Clemente, the latter dapper as always in an impeccable wool overcoat and scarf. Fans of Bausch’s work need not fret if they missed the sold-out Brooklyn run, though they will have to be somewhat patient. Bamboo Blues will appear next in St. Petersburg in July. And if your appetite for Bausch’s unique brand of contemporary dance, performance art, theatre, and set design is still not satisfied, you can plan a visit to her Wuppertal Tanztheater in Wuppertal, Germany, where her company stages celebrated pieces from her multi-decade repertoire. It’s the kind of trip that makes sense these days, as cultural tourism seems more apropos than over-the-top luxurious getaways.

Photo: Richard Termine

rose-tinted spectacle: elizabeth hurley and others turn out for charity in mumbai

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Everyone knows pink is the navy blue of India, but on Thursday night it was also the color of one of Mumbai’s most iconic hotels, the Taj Mahal Palace, which played host to Liz Hurley and some of India’s biggest stars as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The event, which was also part of Estée Lauder’s Global Landmark Illumination Initiative, raised money and consciousness about a disease that affects a frightening number of women. Sweeping onto an outdoor patio overlooking the sea in an appropriately hued sari, Hurley gave a short but inspiring speech, and then, with the help of her son, Damian, flicked a switch and turned the Taj hot pink as her husband, Arun Nayar looked on. Hurley wasn’t the only famous face in the crowd—alongside an assortment of Mumbai’s biggest socials (who turned it out in typically Indian style, with statement jewelry and drop-dead silk chiffons), she had some company in Sonam Kapoor, a breathtakingly beautiful actress who is one of Bollywood’s brightest new names. It was nice to attend an event that had more of a purpose than a typical cocktail party, and given that India is relatively insulated from the economic downturn, it may have raised more money than an American charity event might these days.

Photo: Courtesy of Estee Lauder