For some, maxing out a credit card is child’s play. But not everybody can waltz into a store and zero in on the one thing that deserves to be in their wardrobe, without breaking into a sweat. Luckily, there is a solution to this ‘shopaphobia’.
A burgeoning crop of personal shoppers and bargain hunters who organise shopping tours are coming to the rescue of the aesthetically-challenged, whether it’s orchestrating a complete wardrobe overhaul, or just scouting for the perfect party dress.
Personal shopper Parul Shukla says that the current wedding season has seen business grow by leaps and bounds. “People usually shop for a formal occasion like a wedding, or an important party like a milestone birthday. They might be able to afford expensive clothes, but don’t feel comfortable in high-end boutiques because the sales staff can be quite snooty,” she explains. “When I’m there, I’m the one doing the talking, and since the staff at these places know me, the service improves.”
Low self-confidence seems to be the main factor for people to turn to the services of a personal shopper. Teena Ahuja Kapoor, who has a large number of housewives between the ages of 28-60 come to her for make-overs, says, “They just want to be praised and be treated as the ‘cool ones’ in their friend circle.”
Kapoor’s offerings include make-up and styling tips, and she even takes them shopping for fabric before introducing them to her preferred tailors. “Most of the people that I bump into later have kept up to the look. They know spending money to have someone shop for you is not a joke.”
The usual rates for a personal shopper start at Rs 1,000 per hour, and the areas they scour, whether street stalls or high-end designer boutiques, depend on the client’s requirements.
For those who consider shopping a social exercise, here’s a way to discover new bazaars and enhance your wardrobe. Sale-smart entrepreneurs now offer specialised tours, which focus on everything from gold hunts to sari scouting. “We usually cater to foreigners, but also welcome locals who’re interested in having an expert guide them around famous bazaars,” says Kunal Vahalia, of Namaste City Tour, adding, “We conduct about 10 tours a month, with no limit on the minimum number of people required.”
Kanika Kapur of My Mumbai Shopping allows clients to select options from an online list of boutiques even before they begin the tour. She creates hunts for requirements as niche as finding the right scarf, with a chauffeur-driven car included.
If you’re looking to learn about Mumbai’s iconic bazaars more than busting your bank account, Shriti Tyagi’s Beyond Bombay offers what she calls ‘market marches’. “My tours are about exploring the old bazaars, starting from Crawford Market to Shaikh Memon Street, Zaveri Bazaar, Lohar Chawl and finally Chor Bazaar. The whole trip usually takes about three hours, though I don’t rush my guests if they feel like browsing for a little time.”
Apart from just finding the best deals on silver, fake bags and pashmina shawls, Tyagi also offers shoppers information on popular landmarks. “Once in a while, customers call to say they went back to pick up artefacts they’d liked. But mostly, my clients come along to experience the old markets.”
Let personal shopper Parul Shukla help you out with your wardrobe woes by contacting her at email@example.com
To get Teena Ahuja Kapoor’s expertise on make-up, hairstyling and the right silhouettes for your shape, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the few tour companies that organises shopping excursions for men, check out Namaste City’s offerings by contacting them at email@example.com
For special packages for bridal trousseau shopping, check out www.shopwithmemumbai.com
To learn about Mumbai’s iconic old bazaars from Shirti Tyagi, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
To cruise through the city’s fashion street with Kanika Kapur as your guide, contact her at email@example.com
Our experts advise you shop for
Lucknowi chikan kurtis and dresses at Ahilaya stores in Colaba, Bandra.
Evening dresses at Forever New in Oberoi Mall or Chamomile at Palladium.
Funky jewellery at Colaba’s Cambay Agates or Bandra’s Aquamarine.
Neo-desi designs at Masaba Gupta in Juhu or Attic in Khar.
High quality weaves at Neel Fabric Store at Madhu Park, Khar or Mangaldas Market, Crawford Market.
Quirky designer wear at Bombay Electric in Colaba or D7 in Khar.
Bespoke shoes at Joy, Taj Mahal Palace, Colaba; Veruschka, Grant Road or A.K.A Bespoke, Bungalow 8 in Colaba.
Elaborate saris at Kala Niketan, Juhu; Warp ‘n’ Weft, Marine Lines or Manish Malhotra, Khar.