The luxe TRAIL

Aparna Rod­dam ex­plores the emerg­ing LUX­URY mar­ket as fash­ion flies SOUTH

Harper's Bazaar (India) - - SARI SPLENDOUR -

Seven­teen-year-old Anut­tam Reddy is in a quandary. The school prom de­mands a tuxedo for the oc­ca­sion and those in the lux­ury fash­ion stores in Hy­der­abad aren’t age ap­pro­pri­ate. So, he has put a word out to Paul Smith in Ben­galuru, a brand known for its ‘cool’ quo­tient and ir­rev­er­ent take on the tra­di­tional that is more suited to a young cus­tomer. “It is a con­fi­dence boost to wear a lux­ury brand. You know that the fit and fin­ish will be im­pec­ca­ble. And it re­ally isn’t about name flash­ing,” Reddy as­serts. “For men, in­vest­ing in lux­ury cloth­ing can be equated to buy­ing art,” opines Ben­galuru-based Sid Poo­jari, di­rec­tor of Sukh Sa­gar Ho­tels and founder of S3 Lux­ury and En­ter­tain­ment Pvt. Ltd, re­fer­ring to the in­vest­ment value that comes from a brand’s legacy. D&G, Etro, Her­més, and Louis Vuit­ton are in­te­gral to his sar­to­rial choices.

Both Reddy and Poo­jari are the vox populi of a grow­ing tribe of brand con­nois­seurs in the south, where the mar­ket has opened up over the last few years and the buy­ing pat­terns have changed. There is a de­sire to con­sume lux­ury fash­ion brands here, es­pe­cially among the younger pop­u­la­tion, given the chang­ing cul­tural shift. Erst­while school grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies are now proms, suits have re­placed the school blazer, and lo­cal tailors are not even in the run­ning as pri­ori­ti­sa­tion has shifted in favour of ‘fit, fin­ish, and feel­good’. That is the change in the per­ceived value of lux­ury brands in the south. And for these brands, it is mu­sic to the ears! Well, al­most.

Lux­ury is a nomen­cla­ture that en­com­passes au­to­mo­biles, watches, homes, hos­pi­tal­ity, and ser­vices. So where do lux­ury fash­ion and ac­ces­sories stand in that sphere? With an older gen­er­a­tion’s predilec­tion to­wards long-term value-driven in­vest­ments, would the south in­vest in lux­ury con­sump­tion? “We launched pre­mium lux­ury fur­ni­ture in 2002 in Chen­nai. At that time nei­ther Delhi nor Mum­bai had much to of­fer in that seg­ment. The spend­ing power in Chen­nai is high and the mid­dleaged and older group, who seek value, in­vest in their homes first,” says Atul Mal­ho­tra who spear­heads the Evolv Group that es­tab­lished fash­ion chains Evoluzione in Chen­nai and Evolv in Delhi, along with his wife Tina Mal­ho­tra. The multi-de­signer store houses In­dian la­bels like Anamika Khanna, Anand Kabra, and Tarun Tahil­iani. “To­day, there is a younger group or an as­pir­ing and suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur who sees that same value in lux­ury fash­ion brands. The mar­ket may be small, but it is a well­ex­posed mar­ket.” And that per­haps is widen­ing the doors for lux­ury fash­ion brands in South In­dia. Es­pe­cially for men.

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