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The Thought Leader Series | Fashion accessories: Home-grown, handmade, athleisure and live commerce define the brave new world of luxury

Top-end space now dominated by products that tell a great story and offer a strong emotional connection, which consumers discover through social media platforms such as Instagram reels.

May 07, 2021 / 06:37 PM IST

Dilip Kapur, Founder and President, Hidesign 

Storytelling is at the core of luxury: If I were to define what luxury means to us at Hidesign, it is a product or experience that offers a sense of exclusivity and a personal connection. In a product, it is imperative that there is an emotional and psychological connection to the values it signifies. The storytelling and the kind of aspiration that it creates is critical.

Hidesign Founder and President Dilip Kapur in Puducherry. Hidesign Founder and President Dilip Kapur in Puducherry.

The pandemic has changed how we sell luxury: Selling online is not an option; it is a necessity. Increased digitisation is a sign of the times. Establishing a digital connection with consumers through social media will help create more opportunities.

Getting back to the pre-Covid level will require strategic thinking: At Hidesign, we expect to take another seven to eight months to get back to pre-Covid levels. We will have to make key strategic changes in the way we display and sell the products, and how a customer relates to a product, both online and eventually offline. My guess is that by the end of 2021, we’ll be back on the growth path.

There will be a greater gap between the top-end brands and the bottom-end ones: It is the mid-level brands, however, that are expected to suffer. The top-end space will be dominated by exclusive brand-oriented stores and products that offer an experience to consumers, as well as a strong emotional brand connect. The bottom-end will be dominated by price-driven and promotion-driven brands. But the in-between brands, the ones in department stores, may collapse. At Hidesign, we expect to continue to be at the top-end and build a strong relationship with our consumer.

The pandemic took a lot of confidence out of the consumer for a while, but we are seeing some amount of bounce back: Consumers expected (premium and luxury) products to be available online at a discount, which hasn’t happened. We are already seeing a change as consumers come back to wanting a more aspirational product. Sustainability has been part of Hidesign’s DNA and there is growing appreciation for it. A while ago, we launched the East India Collection of sustainable fashion bags that saw great success.

Anshuman Singh, Founder-CEO, Paul Adams

The luxury leather industry is witnessing a ‘going back to our roots’ phenomenon. Consumers are looking to connect with their heritage and engender a sense of community that’s rooted in India. When we launched a 100% Made in India leather goods brand, a lot of questions were raised on how we will make sense of a luxury market dominated by global brands. Today, the market has gravitated towards Made in India. A lot is about homemade and handmade. Some consumers are willing to give handmade luxury in India the respect and price it deserves. The transition from just buying imported brands to buying Indian has been a beautiful experience.

Paul Adams Founder-CEO Anshuman Singh. Paul Adams Founder-CEO Anshuman Singh.

The story of a brand will now decide its destiny: Luxury consumers have become a lot more conscientious and put great value on the heritage and story of a brand. The internet and media have played a big role in this transformation. Consumers want to feel some connection with the brands they are investing in, as opposed to simply possessing them. A brand is a reflection of our heritage, a source of strength in tough times.

Luxury, in the Covid-afflicted world, will focus on ‘less is more’ aesthetic: Discovering and investing in a brand will be a journey rather than a destination. From a pen to a plane, from how we work to how we travel and communicate, the pandemic has changed our worldview. Luxury has to have meaning and value and go beyond mere possessions.

Ruchi Sally, Managing Director, Melissa India

Luxury has come to be defined as ethically-produced brands and products that are simple yet detailed.

Freedom of thought and movement: From the fashion perspective, if I am not able to enjoy or move freely while wearing a garment, a piece of jewellery or a pair of shoes, I won’t define it as a luxury anymore. Luxury is the freedom to express me with what I wear.

Ruchi Sally of fashion shoes maker Melissa India. Ruchi Sally of Melissa India.

Live commerce: One positive outcome of the pandemic is the rise and rise of Live Commerce in the luxury sphere. Live commerce is a new form of online shopping where customers make purchases during live streaming video events. It is a trend that will accelerate and take the shopping experience to the next level. Instagram reels and live selling videos are already being used by many home-grown luxury brands as a way to launch their collections. The result of the communication we send out and the sales we make will become more measurable through these channels of communication and sale.

Athleisure aesthetic: People are opting for an athleisure style of dressing, and that includes fashion accessories such as shoes. A formal look is becoming a cliché across all age groups.
Deepali Nandwani is a journalist who keeps a close watch on the world of luxury.