Are luxury brands, malls future of Indian economy?

While malls are reproducing at a steady pace, the question remains: do the brands they sell have enough takers?

Mumbai's waking up to a global alarm clock every morning. Be it in the field of technology, commerce, even industry, India���s financial centre is getting a global touch and a universal appeal. Think trade and infrastructure, and Mumbai's thinking big. Very big.

Imported brands are passe, ultra-luxury foreign brands are now making their strong presence felt here. Malls are not the exception now, instead, they are the norm.

The numbers speak for themselves: Mumbai is buzzing with malls at every corner, and yet, a recent retail report titled Upcoming malls, 2008 and beyond compiled by a real estate consultancy firm says Mumbai will be flooded with at least 30 new malls in the next two years.

Add to that, three ultra-luxury malls dedicated solely to high-end brands, that will open their doors to Mumbai in 2009. Phoenix Mills��� Gayatri and Atul Ruia are all set to introduce a luxury retail chain Palladium, which will offer exclusive and coveted luxury brands. This ���luxury destination", as the Ruias call it, will house a range of international luxury brands.

Then there���s the Hirani Group���s 55,000 sq ft, nine-level mall which will offer leading Indian and international brands. ���The idea is to provide an experience that defines elevated living through a mix of Indian and international fashion brands. There will be a zoning of lifestyle, fashion and accessory categories and brands,��� says Pradeep Hirani, Chairman of the Hirani Group.


While malls are reproducing at a steady pace, the question remains: do the brands they sell have enough takers? Is the Mumbai consumer ready for an ultra-luxury goods invasion? According to Gayatri Ruia, the answer is a definite yes.

���The decision to come up with this luxury mall was taken only after an intensive, qualitative research. There is an increase in luxury entrants into the Indian market, and the response is positive. Considering India���s current economic development, the time couldnt be more right. Fashion and luxury in Mumbai are going global, people���s spending power has increased, and the consumer now wants to move from high-street shopping to a high-end, upscale shopping experience,��� says Gayatri.

Image consultant Chhaya Momaya, who is on the advisory board of the mall, adds that while high-street brands are now becoming commonplace, luxury brands will cater only to the ultra-elite. ���Luxury brands don't make a bold brand statement, on the contrary, they exude understated class. A luxury brand goes beyond just its name or label, it's an experience, a lifestyle statement,��� says Chhaya.

Sanjay Kapoor, Managing Director, Genesis Luxury Fashion Pvt Ltd, that has brought international luxury brands such as Canali, Paul Smith, Kenzo, Aigner and Just Cavalli to India, and plans to open over 50 luxury retail stores for its brands across the country in the next 3-4 years, explains the marketing strategy of these brands.

���Globally, a brand���s decision to open in a location is guided by whether it is a fashion hub, is of historical significance, has aesthetic beauty or has the potential to radicalise the neighbourhood. In the past year, India has seen the opening up of retail environs for luxury, be it the UB City Mall in Bangalore or Emporio in New Delhi, allowing luxury brands the choice of stepping out of the environs of five star shopping hubs to stand alone malls. They are pioneers in establishing India���s Luxury Retail destination shopping outside a 5-star,��� says Sanjay.

However, there is a downside too, as Sanjay says, malls will always have a restriction of space, design and concept. "The character and charm of London���s Bond Street or Paris���s Rue de Fauborg St Honore cannot be recreated or captured in a mall."

Pradeep Hirani too strongly believes in the future of the luxury market in India, and he attributes it largely to the booming Indian economy. ���The luxury market may seem like a mirage today, but it will be an epidemic tomorrow,��� says Pradeep.



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