A decade after DLF set up one of India’s first luxury retails malls, the game of luxury is all set to change
DLF Emporio completes a decade of decadence
The north of the country is always viewed as the place for all things luxury. With a culture of splurging on the best in the market, it has over the years, acquired a reputation for lapping up whatever international brands throw its way. DLF Emporio in Delhi was one of the first addresses for luxury retail in the country when it launched in 2008, and as the brand celebrates its 10th anniversary, we speak to Dinaz Madhukar, EVP, Luxury Retail and Hospitality, DLF on the evolution of the Indian luxury market and where it stands today.
The First Leg
“I joined DLF Emporio in 2010 at a time when the world economy was in a slump and things were tough. Luckily for us, all the partnerships had been tied up and brands had signed on. In the time since, it has only become easier and 2011-2014 were especially good years since we had first mover advantage and while there was uncertainty vis a vis the world market, people were interested in luxury retail. We had to clear several misconceptions as people
thought the Indian stores were showcasing what was last season while that was not the case. Also, there was a perception that it was more expensive to buy international brands in India but the truth is, India is cheaper than Dubai and Singapore so this is the best market to buy. More recently, there was the demonetisation dip but things have gone back to being stable after the initial hiccups so Indian luxury consumers are back on a buying spree.”
DLF recently launched The Chanakya. How is it different from DLF Emporio?
“We need more organised retail in the luxury space as a brand that enters the country cannot sustain itself through just one store. We try not to repeat our brands, so when we were launching The Chanakya we did not want to cannibalise DLF Emporio. Also for us, Emporio was a created luxury destination but The Chanakya is a natural luxury destination given its proximity to embassies, hotels, and the diplomatic zones. While Emporio is about timeless luxury we wanted edginess in The Chanakya so you could distinguish between the two. Emporio is a wedding destination while that is more luxury lifestyle and focuses on everyday consumption through international brands like Ted Baker, Hermes, and homegrown brands like Niocobar that are quality assured and luxurious but accessible.”
How has the Indian luxury consumer changed?
“As the market matures things change. When Indians first started consuming luxury it was all about branded logos and the logo that screams the loudest. Now brands and consumers are much more discreet and you can see brands themselves making that change from being in your face. We have not gone away from the logo as the first migrants to luxury still need logos to make a statement but the aesthetic is definitely more pared down. The Indian luxury market keeps evolving as a new wave of consumers keep coming in every now and then.”
Do you see great potential in Tier 2 cities?
“We have a lot of people coming in every weekend from Punjab and other parts of the north. In fact, we had a private charter from Ludhiana that brought people in for a private showing. Even over the weekend, we have a baggage on hold section at DLF Emporio since we have a lot of people who come in with strolleys, shop and fly back the same day. However, most of these Tier 2 markets cannot sustain a complete luxury mall. Most brands need to do numbers and if you don’t achieve that it doesn’t add up as the investment is huge. While we do trunk shows in other cities it is not yet economically viable to go there full time.”
WOWING INDIA Many of the international brands at DLF Emporio made their Indian debut at this mall