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The glitter club

As urban Indians dust off conventional ideas of spending, they are increasingly shopping for impact. Bigger the label, bigger the bang. Zofeen Maqsood writes. Outrageous buys | HT-C fore Survey | India’s consumption habits and spending patterns

fashion and trends Updated: Oct 23, 2011 01:50 IST

This is the era of luxury living. For the newly gilded crop of Indians with big houses (and flashy tastes) this is the time to be. According to the AT Kearney report on Indian luxury, India is currently emerging as the fastest growing luxury market with a growth rate of 25%. By 2015, the market - including cars and jets - will reach a $ 30 billion mark especially with the European and American markets reaching a saturation point. By 2015, a quarter of the luxury market will be shared between India and China.

Sanjay Kapoor, MD Genesis Luxury that has brought brands like Canali and Paul Smith to India, says, "With a high number of aspirational buyers, over the last year, there's been a 20% increase in the luxury industry."

So as urban India blows the lid off conventional ideas of spending, trade experts say that for the nouveau rich what was once a fantasy is now becoming a status norm.

Never too rich
Industry experts maintain that we are still at tier one stage of luxury consumption - the louder you flaunt the label, the bigger the impact.

The concept of discreet luxury is still to seep in. Manishi Sanwal, General Manager, LVMH, watch and jewellery division says, "The current upper graph in luxury consumption is the result of a decade of serious marketing as it takes time to break consumer mindsets." While the luxury watch segment in India started expanding in the late Nineties, the premium fashion sector is only just opening up. Sanwal adds, "In the late Nineties when Cindy Crawford came to India to launch Omega watches, it lured the consumer into the luxury watch segment. And since it started early perhaps that's why this segment may be said to have reached tier two."

So while a watch worth a lakh is acceptable in the upper echelons of society, a pair of heels worth a lac still raises some curiosity though the ladies who love their louboutins are fast trying to change it. Priya Sachdev, CEO, TSG marketing, responsible for getting labels such as Lanvin and Gaultier to India says, "Women today are comparing style notes across the continents... couture is not just for make believe." No big surprise then that the ripple effect shows in all aspects of lifestyle. In Delhi's 'it' clubs, party-time talk often veers to who recently flew to London to get a crème de la mer facial.

Have money will flaunt
Sukanya Dutta Roy, director, Swarovski consumer goods business, India says, "Aspiration is strong right now but as we evolve, hopefully we will show signs of toning down."

The new crop of spenders is also indulging in daily luxuries. Dhananjay Chaturvedi, MD, Miele India, who deals in high-end domestic appliances says, "Last week, a couple ordered appliances worth R 3.65 crores for their kitchen including wine conditioners, wine coolers and steam ovens."

The new spenders, say analysts, are not just those with enough disposable incomes but also the prodigal sons who are coming back to India and are looking for bespoke Indian luxury coupled with the best of global brands.

What has beenthe impact of recession? "During the last recession, many big brands realised they can't rely on Europe and US alone and they thought of setting shop in India," says Sanwal. Dinaz Madhukar, vice president, DLF Emporio, says, "A host of foreign brands are just waiting to enter India. Once the foreign direct investment thing is cleared, the real boom will begin."

Outrageous buys | HT-C fore Survey | India’s consumption habits and spending patterns