Battle of the brands
Yeah right.. everyone's talking about the surfeit of high-street fashion brands, which have hit India big time. Known players like French Connection, Miss Sixty Energie and the soon-to-be launched Diesel have made the required noise.
But scratch the surface, and one is dumbfounded by to discover that Indian consumers prefer the high-street brands. Reason: they are affordable.
Price is the big diffentiator between a high-street and a luxury brand. Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino, Moschino and Escada cost five times more than a Diesel, Mango, Zara or Gap.
Value for money High disposable incomes are certainly on the rise in India. And it isn't just the affluent who into the ‘occasional splurge'.
"Three to four years ago premium brands like Mango were considered a luxury in India. Today when actual luxury is coming in, the aspiration levels for affordable brands is increasing. It's simple logic. If a person knows that he cannot afford luxury, he is going to opt for something more cost effective," says Suresh Bhatia of Major Brands.
"Luxury is not a necessity no matter how , well off one maybe, it's an occasional habit," says," model Niketan Madhok. He splurges on luxury brands only for belts and shoes.
"A large chunk of my daily wardrobe only comprises of high street brands like French Connection, Zara, Gap. I'm in a profession in which being well dressed is vital. But I don't feel the need to buy luxury brands," he adds.
Kalyani Chawla, brand ambassador of Christian Dior in India, adds a different twist to the argument. "The pricing for high street brands needs to be stabilised.
They are on the verge of it.. but it will take some time. A jacket by Diesel picked up abroad picked up abroad may not be as expensive as it is here in India."
But consumers are willing to pay a few thousands extra for a pair of denims by Miss Sixty or an FCUK. Parrita Engineer, brand ambassador of Miss Sixty in India, says, "We've cut profit margins to make the brand affordable for Indians.
We sell the clothes here for exactly the same price it's available abroad."
Individual standing High street and luxury brands peacefully coexist in other parts of the world. It will take time for the not so affluent Indians to accept the price points of luxury. The fact is that eventually they will have to blend in harmony.
"A luxury brands will have to be prepared for a longer gestation period," Bhatia believes that. According to Chawla, "A luxu ry brand is prepared when it enters an infant market. They have a different set of clientele. Someone who can buy a Christian Dior can buy a Zara, but that may not always be vice a versa."
There is no denying the fact that luxury tends to have a distinct standing. "They will do well anyway they don't look at high num .. bers," says Madhok. "We don't look at attract ing anyone and everyone. Only a certain class of people can carry off a Versace or a Moschino."
Popularity matters India is poised for major action in the retail sector globally While both luxury and high . street brands have been recent phenomenon, the foray for high street in India is quite strong.
And the credit for that goes to its popularity "Whether I am clubbing or I'm at work, I . am always in high street brands," says Madhok.
Engineer explains, "High street brands are high street brands are favoured over ‘luxury' because one can slip into a Valentino dress only for a special night out.. but one tends to wear a Miss Sixty jeans five times a week. It's the big price difference, you see."