A couple of days ago I was invited to attend the launch of the Versace store opening at The Emporio. In fact, it was only a day before that I went to the same mall for a meeting and bumped into Abhay Gupta, Executive Director of Blues Clothing, the company that is bringing Versace to India. Blues Clothing has earlier introduced luxury brands such as Corneliani, Cerruti, Versace Jeans Couture in the Indian market.
Abhay was nice enough to show me around the store and I found it quite sprawling with the merchandise on display well laid out. All that one can possibly think of from the House of Versace was there. He also took me to another room which was still being done up where I could see the Versace furniture laid out neatly. He told me that, apart from apparel and accessories, one could also order furniture from this store.
Looking around the products on display, I had a sense of déjà vu. I met Donatella Versace in 2005, when she was all upbeat about her brand entering the Indian market. Donatella told me that she planned to open six Versace store across India in the next few years and was quite confident of her plans then. For some reason, that didn’t quite happen.
Four years later, Versace has opened its doors to the growing market of Indian luxury brand enthusiasts. Its entry also marks the arrival of yet another big global name onto India’s luxury retail scene. Dolce & Gabbana had almost opened its store at The Emporio, but backed out for some reason. The spot is now occupied by Versace. Gucci is all set to open its second store, a massive one, at the same mall in a couple of weeks. Apparently, Prada too has made a few rounds of India looking for partners. Tiffany’s, in the meanwhile, has given up the spot marked for it at The Emporio.
But while all these brands enter the Indian market, some of them seem to forget that they are here to do business. They come here with their heavy weight names and refuse to do what their customers want (for instance, fail to send samples to their residences for them to choose from).
One of them, the India head of an Italian label, even told me that such practices weren’t part of their “international policy” and I told him that if the purpose of getting his merchandise all the way from Milan to Delhi was to sell here, he should keep his international policies safely locked in his back-office and go out and give what the customer really wants. This was a few months ago.
Last month, I heard that he was in Ludhiana, selling his merchandise at 60 per cent mark down. I presume then that the brands and their leaders in India are beginning to understand the demands of Indian customers. Back to Versace, with its apparel for both men and women, bags and shoes, watches and other accessories and of course the furniture part as well, Delhi's elite now will have a new store to head for!