The luxe TRAIL
Aparna Roddam explores the emerging LUXURY market as fashion flies SOUTH
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.