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Exclusivity extends the Mystique

Mass production of luxury brands is a strict no-no — so get ‘class-ist’ with a vengeance

business Updated: Mar 29, 2008 01:04 IST
Sushmita Bose

The Mystique of Luxury Brands’ session was eponymous, in a conference that had ‘The Mystique of Luxury’ as its theme. It was an all-Italian panel of shining stars who made their points — Andrea Perrone, CEO, Brioni; Paolo Canali, sales and marketing director, Canali; and Enrico Marinelli, CEO, Frette. The session was chaired by one of India’s leading fashion designers — and former Brunch columnist — Ravi Bajaj.

Does luxury have to be limited edition? Or is it all right to expand the canvas and go the way of mass production?

The verdict was unanimous: luxury brands are ‘elitist’ — and let’s leave them at that. Period. Canali threw in a figure: 54 per cent respondents of a survey conducted by Brand Canali said that they wouldn’t buy a brand if they felt “everybody has the same brand”. At the same time, consistent quality has been a given in the segment.

India is the next big stop. Canali set up shop here five years ago; growth has been cautious; currently, it has two points of sales in India, but, by 2010, it plans to have eight boutiques.

Perrone felt that it was a sound and sophisticated ‘knowledge base’ that drove the luxury segment. “There are intangible elements that appeal to emotions,” he explained. In this respect, Indians are perfectly poised to experience Brioni, so the brand came here before it went to China. “Last March, we set up our first outlet in Mumbai,” he said. “Our second store opens on Monday.”

Marinelli, who had supplied Frette home linen to Cecilia, French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recently-remarried ex-wife, pointed out that, in the next 60 to 100 years, the Indian economy will be as big the US’s. “It’s a fabulous market for us, more so because you guys are rooted to the home: you value your home, you entertain at home – like the Americans do,” Marinelli said.

A good-looking home would obviously call for some good-looking linen. Add to that top-class quality and the ‘experience’ factor. “We spend one-third of our lives sleeping,” he added, “so let’s take linen seriously.” Frette hasn’t yet arrived in India, but looks like it’s on its way.

Bajaj, for his part, read between the covers: “Don’t let anything get between you and Frette sheets,” he said.