Courtship between fashion and luxury

Great fashion designers pass away but their creations remain hot property. The creations of London based celebrity designer Alexander McQueen who recently committed suicide are flying of the shelves. Luggage maker Samsonite which sells the McQueen collection of luxury travel bags and accessories has been its demand zooming. McQueen, 40, was known for his unique stunning and wacky creations. For Samsonite he had designed a suitcase that looked like a rib cage evoking mixed feelings across the globe with some terming his work outlandish. In India, Samsonite’s director marketing said that the demand for the limited edition of McQueen collection has suddenly gone up after his tragic death. At some outlets, we have run out of stock.

Fashion and luxury is an amazing concoction which both the traditionally well heeled and the nouveau riche Indians are embracing with a new found zeal. To add zing to her product portfolio companies tap well known fashion designers to come out with a signature line comprising watches, T shirts and even cosmetics.

Manish Aurora is a case in point. The Delhi based designer has created a color cosmetic collection for MAC, limited edition shoes under the Fish Fry brand for sports brand Reebok, besides watches for Swatch.

Having celebrity designer’s help in differentiating your product in the market has a cascading effect on other brands in the portfolio. Apart from McQueen Samsonite has collaborated with the maverick fashion duo of Victor & Rolf who have designed funky travel gear under the Black label collection.

The luxury luggage market is growing at a healthy rate and so are the jewelry shoes sunglasses and perfumes segments. It is estimated that the high end retail market would touch $ 30 billion by 2015, aided by designer inputs.

Designer products have always been the rage and the demand for them is growing, more so, among the young. Bangalore based restaurateur Christina Mathias is a brand freak and her closet is a testimony to her tastes: Prada bags to Sergio Rossi shoes to countless designer outfits.

Companies capitalize on this phenomenon. Creative Portico, a home furnishing maker, tapped clothes horses like Abhishek Duta, Anupama dayal, Gayatri Khanna s well as Shyamal and Bhumika to come out with the Dream Catchers collection which took its inspiration from nature.

The collection received an overwhelming response. We tried a novel way to take fashion from the ramp to the bedroom. We felt that bed linen created by designers would add value to our collection which would attract customers because of its novelty.

The company is planning similar tie ups with designers in the future.

The Fish Fry Collections is a rhapsody that harmonizes color pattern and trend with a strong individualistic character. The collection has done well for the brand and we should strive to provide our consumers with such interesting concepts in the future as well.

But what does the unique association with companies mean for fashion designers? Manish says that designing other products besides clothes gives him the opportunity to diversify his brand. It also gives his more creative outlets to express himself. Arora adds that it also helps him reach many more consumers who may not be able to afford his arguments but want to own something made by him.

But it is country’s jet setters that re keeping these hi fashion luxury brands ticking. According tot a DSP Merrill Lynch and capgemini report there were 84,000 high network individuals (HNIs, defined as those with assets of more than $ 1 million excluding their primary residence and consumables) in 2008. Though the latest numbers are yet to be published the long term potential of the region’s HNIs remains strong. Also, the recession that that spread from the US to Europe to Asia didn’t singe the Indian luxury market. No wonder then, every luxury brand worth its buck has India on its list. Recently Leonardo Ferragamo son of the legendary Salvatore Ferragamo, was in India to announce the launch of Swan luxury yachts which are priced at Rs 3 crores and above.

To woo their savviest customers companies hold excusive previews of their luxury products. Cosmetic firms throw parties make potential customers aware of their expensive personal care range. Custodians of such bands avoid the typical push and pull marketing strategies involved in the promotion of mass brands, said an industry watcher. An HR consultant said that sales executive at the high end retail outlets should unique skill sets,. They act as fashion advisors and should have versatile tastes to reach out to the niche customers.

Couturiers like Giorio Armani misoni and Versace have made their presence felt in the hospitality business too. Armani, who has designed mobile phones for Korean chaebol Samsung will soon be unveiling a hotel in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. In fact there have been reports of an Armani hotel being planned in India.

The courtship between fashion and luxury continues.