Manish Malhotra is one of the leading fashion designers of India. He has designed and styled many successful actors. On the sidelines of the Mint Luxury Conference, Manish sat down for a chat with HT.
How do you think luxury and fashion have evolved in India as a business?
Luxury has been a part of our culture since the time of the Maharajas. Earlier Indians were very conservative and shied away from spending, but today they are doing that. Lot of people also travel and hence spend more on luxury.
How do fashion and business go together?
A lot of artists feel it is wrong to do business with art or commercialising creativity. I do not agree with it. Some artists sell their paintings for crores. I think business and fashion have a positive side, that is about reaching out to a lot of people aspiring to grow.
Is wedding also your focus apart from Bollywood?
Of course! It is my biggest business and I love it.
How do you look at the online fashion business and going digital?
E-commerce is the way forward and it is working for us. We are going to take on e-commerce ourselves and we will look at building an entire new team for it.
What about your label, which you started 10 years ago? How has that helped you?
I had a nice edge before I started the label…I had the popularity of working with films, styling stars etc. It was a side business and I wanted to move on to directing a film. But the label started getting popular. The focus then started shifting from movies to the label. There is lot more to do because if you ask me what’s the way ahead for Manish Malhotra, it is definitely via the label.
2-3 years down the line, what changes do you want to see?
I would want more variations, more innovative designs, wider reach, wider spread in terms of retail, thought, engage in more craft. I run an NGO which has about 280 girls working there. Earlier there used to be just 40 girls. We do lot of embroidery work in Kashmir, have started in Banaras and also in Andhra Pradesh. We have more weavers…
Are you open to partnering with Donna Karan or any other global label?
I would love to partner with Donna Karan as I look up to her as someone who is very positive and sincere. But I am not looking at anything global right now.
What are your expansion plans?
We have a 9,000 sq ft store in Delhi and I am planning to increase it to 11,000 sq ft this financial year. We will also refurbish the whole experience and look at opening two international stores in Dubai and London.
Where in India do you think is the market untapped?
I think we underestimate tier II and III cities. There is a lot of awareness and space there because of an easier lifestyle. In Mumbai and Delhi it is more crowded. Though I am not looking at any stores there right now.