International luxury brands might have carved a profitable niche for their products in India, but experts here believe their growth in the apparel industry is still a distant dream. For now, their sales of accessories are on an unprecedented high.
"It will take a minimum seven to eight years for branded foreign luxury apparels to make their presence felt here, but the accessories market is booming," Rajiv Grover, associate vice president, said Genesis Colors.
Grover, whose company owns designer label Satya Paul and markets the Deepika Gehani label, was speaking on the sidelines of the Mint-Hindustan Times Luxury Conference here Friday.
He added that this burgeoning demand of leading international accessories with labels like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and others is a result of the constant urge to show off that customers have.
"A lot of time is required for the apparel industry of such premium brands to grow in India since the visibility of the label is much less in an outfit in comparison to that of an accessory.
"A Gucci or an LV logo would clearly show on a bag, scarf, shoes, wristwatch but not on a coat or dress. It would usually be mentioned on the inner lining which would not be visible. So because people want to show that they own a luxury product, accessories are a safer bet for them," he said.
Fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani seconded Grover - but with a different rationale.
"Accessories are easy!" he said, adding that people don't mind spending on accessories as they can flaunt it many more times in comparison to an exorbitantly priced outfit.
Tahiliani said: "Luxury brand accessories like shoes are not made to suit the uneven roads in India. That restricts a person to flaunt them only at special occasions.
"A person can flaunt an accessory on multiple occasions, but he or she will be hesitant to be seen in one specific outfit repeatedly, no matter what the brand or the price may be."
According to Rathi Vinay Jha, managing director of Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the country's apex fashion body: "The international luxury brand accessories market has a share of at least 20 to 25 percent in the total accessories market of the country".
Leena Singh of the Ashima-Leena fashion label also feels that accessories are hot.
"Good eyewear, bags, shoes, watches and those of the international brands are on a growth in India," she said.
Singh believes that although the Indian fashion industry is growing, the accessories market is still at a nascent stage and will take at least 10 years to make its presence felt.
On the reason behind the presence of branded international luxury accessories, the designer said: "Gucci, Prada and other such brands are old brands that have built an extremely good market over the years. People used to buy them 20 years back from abroad.
"But since they are now readily available here, people purchase it more often than before. Also, the rise in per capita income has resulted in this spurt."