Luxury Facts The Unique, The Exquisite And The Rare Bottega Veneta’s Route to Social Media Detox By: Tejashee Kashyap

Posted on: January 18, 2021

The first week of 2021 started with much drama. But there are few who fulfilled their new year resolution so fast! So apparently, the rising star in Kering’s portfolio - Bottega Veneta - woke up one morning and actually went on a digital detox - something that most of us have been personally wishing for ourselves, but haven’t mustered up the courage to do so! In a time when brands, their spokespeople, publications - well, everyone made it obvious that digital is the only way forward, how would luxury’s next top house scale itself without a social media presence?

No Facebook or Social media

With the beginning of the pandemic, the entire fashion and luxury world followed all possible ways of learning and unlearning on how to master the art of setting up a phygital world. Even till now, brands are accelerating and bringing new methods of interaction to the table. From Balenciaga releasing its own video game to present the house’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection to Burberry releasing its first multiplayer video game to promote its TB Summer Monogram campaign, mostly all seem to be hooked on how to replace the theatrics of physical shows. But, upon careful observation, this movement by the Italian luxury house looks surprisingly inspiring.

Luxury and Social Media: A Need?

Social media has been crowned as the new communication helm, a marketing tool to move forward and a direct line of interaction. Brands have increasingly relied on social platforms, particularly Instagram, to generate buzz and strengthen relationships with users. In this pandemic, it proved an even bigger asset. Bottega Veneta, in particular, used social media with impressive effects since its new Creative Director Daniel Lee joined the house. Its jumbo-sized boots, bubbly-intricate bags and sandals, and supersized leather ready-to-wear found much favor with the millennials on social media. 

But, first, lets try to understand the intricate relationship between luxury and social media.

“For luxury brands, it is all about being seen in the right places and with the right people, which is why as a PR and social media expert I get frustrated when it is suggested that a measure of success can be judged on individual mentions of a brand regardless of where that mention is. The same goes for likes on social media at the expense of engagement. This puts quantity ahead of quality and is a dangerous place for a luxury brand to be. You need to be looking at a longer-term product placement strategy that carefully identifies people whose values and approach align to that of your own,” says Rachel Lloyd, PR, Social Media Consultant and Founder of Ebb & Co.

No Facebook or Social media quantity ahead of quality

Actually, there has been a saying around, 'When you see too much of a brand, it means that it’s not too much of a good piece, and they need to do too much publicity to push it forward.' Jon Pearce, Global Chief Creative Officer of Hudson Rouge, comments, “This is especially relevant for luxury houses. The consumer must perceive that the products of a luxury house are not ubiquitous, and not so easy to discover. The valuable luxury product is the one that not only says you have the financial ability to possess it, but the knowledge and discerning eye that says you are a cultural elite who is ‘in the know’.”

Personally, I have always loved how some brands work in secrecy and still manage to build a cult! Hermes has crafted the perfect strategy and is tasted by only a few. But, does that mean such brands don’t do good? Duh, they always do! Hermès is one of the rare remaining private and popular luxury houses who appeal to consumers’ imagination, has built a trustworthy dynasty and doesn’t need to rely on influencers to inspire sales. On the same lines, Celine has maintained a cult women troop without many sightings on social media. Luxury houses and companies ideally must not behave as mere brands, rather they should stand as leaders. 

Ms. Lloyd notes an important point: “It’s less about the platforms luxury brands are seen on and more about the individuals that their luxury goods are seen with, and on occasion, an influencer can actually do a brand more damage than good. It, therefore, makes good business sense for a brand to think strategically and longer-term about who they work with and gift to. A less is more approach could be beneficial.”

The Bottega Move: A Marketing Stunt?

Most of us are of the speculation that it's another PR/marketing stunt. But, what makes us think so? There is no denying that this move has put them at the forefront, getting all eyes hooked on the brand before the grand SS’21 release. “I don’t think anyone knows at this point, but in removing their social media presence, Daniel Lee has most certainly brought focus to the brand in the immediate term. If it’s just a stunt, it delivers a powerful, collateral message: we don’t need to show off to you through social media. We have great confidence in our products on their own merits, and if you are discerning enough to appreciate and afford us, you will find us.” Mr. Pearce expresses. 

Bottega Veneta Spring Summer 2021

Bottega Veneta Spring Summer 2021 collection presentation

As more speculation arises, the expectancy bar definitely has broken through the roof by now! Ms. Lloyd reasons out, “It’s more of a strategic business decision driven from the top by the creative director, Daniel Lee. He will be keen to make his mark and drive change, which can be challenging to do unless you court some sort of controversy. He’s done exactly that. A gamble – yes, but one worth taking as the luxury market continues to go through a period of change.”

In Vogue’s retail report analysing what sold in 2020, seven of the 10 retailers surveyed listed Bottega Veneta among their best-selling brands, making it quite clear that even amid a pandemic, Bottega’s collection is on roll and in circulation for good. I find Mr. Lee’s private nature alike to Kris Van Assche – Berluti’s Artistic Director. While most luxury designers dazzle in glistening games and updates, both of their designs and approach makes you hopeful of the future with feet aligned in tradition. Isn’t that what luxury is supposed to be? 

There’s hardly any loss Bottega Veneta would be going through by this move. They have banged out hit after hit collection. It has been able to build a following that associates and identifies with Mr. Lee’s creative essence and the brand’s discreet approach effectively. Be it a select group of industry insiders, celebs or influencers with really fine taste, mentions of the brand will be out there, allowing it exclusivity.

Daniel Lee Bottega Veneta

Daniel Lee taking a bow at the end of his first show for Bottega Veneta

Mr. Pearce puts out a wonderful point: “What this may do is possibly inspire a re-evaluation of how luxury brands show up in social media. My hope is that, instead of leaning into pay-to-play influencers, luxury brands invest their presence in what really sets them apart. The best ones aren’t merely putting out collection after collection, but have a real sense of who they are and their role in the world.” 

Down the lane, luxury brands are planning to preserve their mysticism and aura, bring back some of the allure. Ms. Lloyd explains, “For a luxury brand it is about striking the right balance and ensuring that they focus on high-quality content with influencers or creators who best complement their values. We will see a gradual change in the behaviour of influencers and brands as they are increasingly held accountable by those active on social media for their actions.”

Back To Store?

The last year was spent in elevating digital experience and bringing in all kinds of technological advancements in the fashion world. The forced increase in digital investment was a way forward for luxury brands. However, with vaccines around, luxury houses are concentrating on increasing their footfall and store experience again. 

“Beyond the couture shows, the foundation of luxury houses are the living theatres they create where their products can be purchased. Through architecture, staging, lighting and music they convey the ideal rarefied environment that transmits so much of the ‘vibe’ of their brand. And the vibe is what you buy into, isn’t it? Additionally, the ability to see, discover and touch the products firsthand is what allows you to form that deeper connection to the brand,” Mr. Pearce remarks. 

Bottega Veneta shall become a brand that travels only by strict word of mouth. It’s one of those brands that never has banked on flashiness. It is comfortable in its skin, abhorring all thoughts of stamping the brand name across their iconic designs. The brand’s clientele aren’t the show-off peeps of social media. It is a cult brand in the making. By maintaining its discreetness, worshippers will generally have only one option - flock to the stores, the only holy space to find out what’s up with the brand! 

Bottega Veneta Spring Summer 2021

Bottega Veneta Spring Summer 2021 collection presentation

Most definitely, Bottega’s stores may be elevated to the next-level experience, a cool touch preferring to woo shoppers into its tasteful boutiques. “There is absolutely still a place for luxury brands to have a physical touchpoint with their consumer. Now, more than ever, we are longing for that human interaction and this is the time for luxury brands to be thinking about the future of their store experience, and particularly where and what that experience should be.” Ms. Lloyd adds.

With travel beginning, a curated experience which was missing might take a peak again.  Mr. Pearce adds, “We’re also seeing major investment from brands like Gucci, LVMH, Dior and Prada in creating curated, immersive experiences and exhibitions where direct selling is not the goal at all. Here’s it’s all about forging those deeper cultural and emotional connections with people. And if you look at who’s attending these experiences, you’re seeing a younger crowd – millennials of course, but even Gen Z – absorbing and having fun with the heritage and iconic nature of these brands.” 

Being a millennial and Gen-Z choice brand, the decision of Bottega is very alike to ours - go on a digital detox, stop mindless scrolling, focus on ourselves, and yes, playing hard to get! A wonderful example is the Tiffany experience that happened in Shanghai in late 2019. A great job was done to remix the iconic Tiffany blue colour with classic Tiffany moments like Audrey Hepburn’s ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ - a super fun experience, accepted by both millennials and Gen-Z. 

This very detox move reiterates that luxury isn’t about thirsty influencer gifting and numerous spams of reshares, rather it is about building something for patrons who understand ‘luxury’ - traditional mixed with futuristic vibes, the freedom to do something different without compromising on tradition and heritage.

Luxe 2021 – A Peek into the Future By: Abhay Gupta, Founder & CEO, Luxury Connect | Advisor & Mentor to Luxury Brands | Speaker | Author

Posted on: January 11, 2021

The year 2020 was a rude awakening for global luxury, leading to a first ever negative growth in several decades. As per Bain & Co, the growth trajectory of personal luxury goods averaging at a CAGR of +6% through 1996-2019, was reversed to a -23% during the 2019-2020 period. 

                              Luxury market in 2020

So what should luxury look up to in 2021?

When there is haze, things can get even more dangerous! As 2020 ended with a new strain of corona penetrating the world, crystal ball gazing is challenging. The disruptions caused by Covid continue to affect every aspect of our lives as we obsess over infection rates, social distancing, masks, quarantine, lockdowns and travel restrictions even while waiting for the promise of relief through vaccination. Covid has transformed the way we live, work, learn, buy, consume, play, pray, entertain, travel and connect with others. 

The year 2021 brings along some recent lessons that luxury marketers shouldn’t miss. Here is what the world of luxury is likely to look like:

1. A digitally disrupted Luxury

The world of luxury has always been vary of the digital medium. The classic clash of ‘for the classes’ versus ‘for the masses’, made luxury remain at arm’s length with digital technology. However, the pandemic has changed it all. In today’s world, the entire business cycle is intercepted by digital interventions. Rapid digital strides across the entire length and breadth of the business model and quick adoption of the same by consumers has accelerated the process. From AI based style, trend & product forecasting to robotic manufacturing to merchandise planning to predictive sales and customer targeting, the entire process seems to be digitally intelligent.

Bid for the Louvre auction by Christie's

The online auction "Bid for The Louvre", by Christie's, which offered exquisite products and phenomenal experiences, realised 2,365,000 Euros after 15 days of bidding in December 2020

2. The rich are super quick to the digital uptick

From hesitant acceptance to accelerated penetration, the Richie Rich have not only taken on, but are loving the digital mediums. They are well on-board, and now asking – “we are done with the digital transformation 1.0, so what’s next?” To answer this, brands need to pull up their socks to quickly take their customer experience strategies to the next level. It is believed that the 10 months of Covid have resulted in a tenfold increase of digital front end sales. Christie’s has reported an accelerated shift to online sales with a 41% increase in luxury lots sold in online auctions; 82% increase in the number of luxury online sales, and a 205% increase in the value of online luxury sales YoY. 

3. Enhanced digital branding & engagement

As stores remained closed in many parts of the world, communicating digitally with customers became a norm. Further acceleration on digital investments with a focus on customer activation via video walk through, virtual sales and 3D store profiling became compulsory. Aside from enhancing just the websites, partnerships with reputable e-retailers is desirable. Digital marketing could help not only boost online sales but also entice consumers to visit stores once they reopen. The omni-channel approach by putting advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, Internet of Things (IOT), and AR-VR into action, is expected to be one of the hottest trends in the coming year. It would not only enable retailers to offer the comfort of online shopping in bricks and mortar shops, but also it would introduce the lively experience of offline shopping through the world of e-commerce. However, training your teams and staff on new digital technologies is a must to ensure complete protection of your brand.

IWC Schaffhausen virtual boutique

Watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen launched its virtual boutique experience in Middle East in September 2020

4. Rise of the Robots 

Covid-19 triggered new concerns about physical contact in industries like retail, hospitality or warehousing, where social distancing is almost impractical. Robots seemed to be the easier solution. Research suggests that automation often gains ground during a recession. In the pandemic, companies accelerated work on machines that can check guests into hotels, cut salads at restaurants, or collect fees at toll booths. It seems human touch is the new luxury. High end customers seem to want a combination of automation for efficiency and human connect for the last mile emotional appeal. More and more brands are adopting to such hybrid technological support. Luxury realizes that technology alone is not enough - it needs to be suitably blended with emotional intelligence and empathy for a complete and unforgettable customer experience. Education and training in new technologies is hence a must.

5. Silent luxury over bling

“Silent luxury” which pays more attention to classic elements, such as craftsmanship and heritage will be in vogue. The pandemic has taken a heavy emotional toll on people’s mind, thereby impacting their behaviour, reasoning and need for simplicity. Being subtle and less conspicuous to a point of completely avoiding “bling” is perhaps the way forward. 

Fendi Spring Summer 2021 Collection

Fendi's Spring Summer 2021 collection is a nostalgic trip down the memory lane, focusing on classics, well-crafted, simpler creations

6. Transactional sales to relationship oriented sales

The purpose of luxury has more often than not been to provide the feel good factor. Historically speaking, post any kind of an economic crisis, there has been an increased demand for products that bring in the feel good factor. Hence, post the vaccine, luxury can anticipate a surge of first time shoppers over seasoned luxury shoppers. It is always more difficult to forge a relationship with new customers, that too newly recruited ones. Hence with superior customer service, focus on brand storytelling and adequate training of front end staff, brands will have an opportunity to turn transactional customers into long lasting luxury shoppers. 

7. Home is where the heart is 

With the pandemic locking customers into their homes, newer categories of luxury have come centre stage. New re-invented hobbies for music, cooking, home work out, video meetings and self-dependence has necessitated a pull towards making home a safe, comfortable and fully equipped haven. Work from home demands a technology laden work station, a fully loaded kitchen and a safe, healthy and peaceful environment. Non-urban, country side homes with all facilities seem to find favour and remain in demand. Leisure wear, casual clothing, home work out equipment and home technology products will continue to see an uptick.

Aparna Kaushik Interior Design

A home office design by interior designer Aparna Kaushik

8. Hybrid fashion and trade shows

At the peak of the pandemic, most luxury fashion and trade shows went on line with virtual fashion shows. Some also went season less with just one collection for the year. In India, top notch designers put up digital shows at a much more efficient cost. However, luxury brands like Etro, and even Paris Fashion Week soon resorted back to physical shows for SS 21 and brought back the element of glamour, hedonism and physical energy. The future will perhaps be a combination of the two formats where a selected few will now be invited for the physical show whilst the others access the same through live transmissions.

9. Luxury shopping is local

A typical luxury customer has been shopping during his global travels during business and holiday trips. Attraction of a larger selection, better pricing, tax free havens or simply the ‘mood’ were all reasons favourable for this trend. However, with travel restrictions not going away soon enough, more and more shoppers will continue to buy luxury closer to home. This, of course, has a beneficial impact on local stores where travellers locked in to their own countries continue to find solace with brands and stores closer to them. A great opportunity for luxury brands to hook them on with excellent customer service and personalised relation building.

10. Purpose will precede brand

As the world emerges from the pandemic, a permanent shift towards ‘purpose’ and ‘brand values’ will remain central to purchase decision. The young, the restless, the I-generation do not just want to buy more buy cheap, but buy less and buy good. The purpose of the brand, its contribution towards mankind & social issues, inclusivity, environment and nature play centre stage. This shift to value-based consumers can be daunting for brands with outdated business models, or having a bad reputation. However, going forward, a brand that operates with heightened value and transparency, sincerity and commitment is most likely to be rewarded with lasting customer loyalty and trust. Ethics, sustainability & transparency move into the design room from being just another marketing buzz words. Luxury moves from being conspicuous to being conscious and sustainable.

Serapian grape leather collection

Serapian, a 90 year old brand, released its first sustainable capsule collection, made from grapes leftover in the winemaking process, in July 2020

11. From ownership to experience and back again

Some kinds of travel came to a near halt. Global tourism fell 72% in the year through October, according to the United Nations. Business trips could disappear forever as meetings move online. With vacations upended and mass events like festivals and concerts called off, the trend among consumers to favour “experiences” over goods has been disrupted. And going forward, when activities do resume, they may not be the same. In the past few years, the luxury consumer across generations had begun to prefer ‘experiences’ over ‘products’. However, the pandemic seems to be reversing the trend once again towards more classic, more expensive, more carry on iconic products over experiences. The value proposition of instagrammable products over high end hotels, resorts, cruises and restaurants seems to be switching back.

12. Micro vacations are here to stay

Long stay vacations came to a near halt during 2020. Weekend getaway, motor-able destinations, boutique properties with special personalised experiences came into demand. With fear of long distance travel to unknown destinations continuing to remain strong, micro vacations with close family and friends to smaller boutique properties in easy-to-reach destinations will remain in flavour. An upsurge in such demands will remain strong and persistent.


*Compiled with Inputs from reports by McKinsey, Bain & Co and various articles over the public domain.


Abhay GuptaAbhay Gupta, a certified Marshall Goldsmith coach, is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). Author of The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar, he has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. Fondazione Altagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

How Relaxation is Changing in a Post-COVID World By: Nikita Vivek Pawar 

Posted on: October 26, 2020


‘Social Distancing’ – this term tore apart the very existence of the wellness and hospitality business by attacking its core of personalisation and interaction. Given the circumstance, letting anyone touch our face is a potential risk. 

While it might seem like a pessimistic perspective of seeing the glass half empty, spa and salons have opted to take away something different. Mr. Yuki Kiyono, Group Director of Spa, Aman Resorts, said, “Lockdown has made us focus on the strengths of our brand which naturally fit with travel demands in the post-COVID 19 world. In numerous ways, our generosity of space and efforts to slow down time, has always been firmly ingrained our brand DNA, from the architecture and design of standalone pavilions with private pools, to the low room count and subtle service which now makes us a blueprint for the future of travel.” 

Amanbagh India Swimming pool

In the light of these uncalled for events, resorts have increased the amount of outdoor spaces and private dining areas at each property as well as in-room spa treatments to make a start at a new way of hospitality.

Accepting the new reality

Whether we like it or not, there is an eminent change expected in the industry. Where touch and physical contact is the basis of the experience, procedures have to be altered to adjust and adapt to the new norm, the first being booking lesser appointments and following stringent health protocols. While that would be an additional cost to the business, it is necessary to survive. Reducing reception time and accepting digital platforms is now imperative. Businesses will need waitlist management, and also create smart waitlist technology that automatically informs clients if a spot opens up, by an automated text message for example.


Embracing digitalisation is imperative. But would a spa online be possible? Hilton Shillim’s spa, Dharana, has introduced online video consultations, personalised online sessions of Yoga, Ayurveda, mental wellbeing & dietetics. Though it may seem like lost business, but is instead loyalty creation. 

Yoga at Dharana Hotel Shillim

On the other hand, Aman Resorts introduced in-room spa rituals with Aman Skincare range that guests can do themselves. Products are displayed with an accompanying card on how to apply each step in the privacy of their room. An example of this is the Korugi Facial, a five-minute ritual which comes with a detailed illustration.


The hospitality industry is considered to be the worst-hit industry due to the crisis. Many brands had to postpone or stall launches and introductions. The LifeScience programs at Dharana Retreat (by Hilton Shillim) had to been stalled in India as well as the UK.

Together we stand stronger

Jean Claude Biguine (JCB) India engaged its brand partners L'Oréal, Wella as well as the Beauty & Wellness Sector Skills Council (B&WSSC) to put together trainers and created planned calendars for 45 days that focused on attitudinal training by inviting retail and hospitality specialists. The entire workforce is now certified by the reputable B&WSSC on Safety, Health and Hygiene norms. Samir Srivastav, CEO of Jean Claude Biguine India said, “Distance, declutter and digitalise is our mantra at JCB Salons. We are only accepting pre-booked appointments and have scheduled it as per our safety guidelines to maintain social distancing. Besides reduced appointments to avoid over-crowding, we also do mandatory temperature/health checks along with a safety declaration form signed by all our clients.”

Aligning with the guidelines by the government, JCB actively worked to source efficacious single-use kits and innovative new services that reduce skin contact between clients and employee. An example - the newly sourced waterless manicure and pedicure from Brazil that comes with a single-use kit of disposable tools, cream-based moisturizing gloves and boots ideal for observing cleanliness and hygiene. Waxing services now use single-use cartridge wax and disposable service kits.

Jean Claude Biguine India


What to expect when you enter a spa post-COVID-19? Mr. Kiyono of Aman explained what the new version is: “We have implemented various measure in our Aman Spas including masks being worn by all therapists, with the option to wear gloves should the guest prefer. Therapists change all PPE between treatments and we are recommending guests to wear masks during their treatment. As per our usual brand standards, we have a minimum of 30 minute turnover time between treatment rooms to ensure proper cleaning and sanitization of treatment rooms.” 

Reducing the number of people going in and out as well as restricting the number in common areas like swimming pools and saunas is also crucial. “Only one party is allowed at a time inside shared enclosed spaces such as a steam room or sauna – these times can be privately booked on the resort and we have removed facials from our menus. For added guest comfort, we have extended our in-room spa services as well as offering in-room wellness self-care kits,” Mr. Kiyono further added.

The rise of a new industry?

The pandemic has made us more aware of the importance of health and finding a work-life balance. This time has also given us a chance to reflect and find a new purpose in life (what the Japanese would call ‘Ikigai’) and learn what we should prioritize to feel fulfilled and happy. Like the bull and bear philosophy in the share market, experts predict a rise in the wellness and recreation industry, provided they make required alternations. 

Meditation Cave at Dharana

The Wellness Economy, which is currently estimated at around US$4.5 trillion, is further expected to grow post-COVID-19. As the need for a healthy lifestyle leads to holistic changes and habits, the wellness industry would expand and enrich the existing offerings to accommodate the rising demand. Sectors like Wellness Tourism, Wellness Real Estate, Workplace Wellness, Spas, etc., are seen to create a formidable ecosystem as mental wellbeing will take the front seat. Dr. Arun Pillai, Wellness Director at Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, explained, “Mental wellness becomes an even bigger focus. This experience has shifted what people need most and thrown into sharp relief how healthcare is failing us on this issue. But when you talk to people now, what matters more is all kinds of wellness. COVID-19 has made what’s important to people come into very sharp relief: physical and mental health and connection with family and friends. It has truly accelerated the mainstreaming of wellness.” 


Dharana Retreat has also put together two unique Dharana Retreats which cater to the current demand of the situation that ranges from 5 to 14 nights. The first, Dharana Rasayana Retreat, is a tonic for immunity boosting that integrates quantum physics and traditional Ayurveda for enhanced immunity. The second, Dharana Resilience Retreat, resets mental wellbeing by focusing on healing and learning resilience techniques to ground and calm down the overwhelmed mind due to fear, anxiety and depression. Both retreats help combat stress and adopt a healthier lifestyle. “We are glad to be in one such location with a very naturally social distanced layout in a pristine 320 acres of a retreat space based within the larger eco-sustainable forest of 3500 acres in the Sahyadri. So these fortify the facts we are gearing up to welcome more guests as the relaxation of the lockdown begins,” Mr. Pillai said.


Apart from mental wellness, another important aspect in the proximity to nature. Amanbagh by Aman Resorts has enhanced its organic gardens for local produce which is used in their daily menus in the restaurant, while also introducing immunity-boosting spa therapies at Aman Spa. Aman has incorporated nature in almost every facet of the experience, for example, forest bathing (shirinyoku) at Amanemu, Japan or hiking at Amankora, Bhutan. This form of movement and mindfulness allows guests to reconnect with nature and improve their wellbeing. 

Refreshment at Amanemu Japan

Lastly, for the ones that cannot or do not want to leave their haven of security, JCB is working on the commencement of Home Salon Service division, JCB Home. Observing utmost safety, hygiene and health measures, and using the finest tools, sanitization systems and protective gear for customer and employee safety, JCB plans to continue offering wellness irrespective of location. 


The pandemic might have slowed us down but it has also given us an opportunity to be aware and be responsible and be better. While travel might not be the first thing on our to-do list, we are assured times are only going to get better, and more relaxing, from here!

COVID-19: How it Brought Fashion & Technology Closer By: Jiya Sharma

Posted on: October 16, 2020

Fashion’s new normal has been transformed by its increasing mergers with technology, giving rise to an increasingly well-known and celebrated segment called ‘Fashion-Tech’. While not all of Fashion-Tech is intangible, a lot of it is. And this shift to ‘intangibility’ has been greatly accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, where the shift towards Digital, Automated and Global has been a matter of “survival of the fittest”. The narrative driving this new relationship has grown exponentially and its imperative to know how technology has coupled with fashion. Here are some of the strongest Fashion Tech trends during and post-lockdown. 

Technology in Sustainability

Being one of the largest industries in the world has unfortunately come at a huge price. Fashion habits, especially those of Fast Fashion brands and consumers, have led to immense environmental damage. Technology is being used to curb these activities. AI is being used to analyze consumer data and predict not just overall demand to prevent over-production, but also personalize suggestions given to consumers due to which the volume of items returned has reduced drastically. Firms such as California based work to create personalized homepages for individual consumers. “Tapping into its extensive database, the company uses AI-driven visual recognition and includes attributes that define wear and tear enabling the company to assign resale value at scale for each one of its millions of unique items”, as described in this article by Forbes.

Iris Van Herpen 3D printing fashion

Speaking of on-demand production, 3D Printing has gained widescale attention by the industry. By shortening production time as well as reducing the waste material produced, the technology serves well to Fashion’s sustainability requirements. While argued that 3D printing might take away from the craftsmanship of luxury goods, as well as endanger IP rights of the designs more than today, these cannot compete with the value produced in terms of speed and personalization that 3D printing brings. Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen is a perfect example. Known for her iconic 3D printed designs, the designer has managed to make a mark and build her own niche, loyal audience. 

Another very important part of sustainable practice is Transparency. Consumers have a right to know where and how their products were produced. Upcoming technologies including Blockchain shall play a huge role in the same. “Blockchain, as a technology based in transparency, has some great potential to improve supply chains, and provide information about the sourcing of the product at every step. Blockchain stores an up-to-date copy of the ledger on every device, increasing transparency between participants,” says Maggie Clarendon, Editor at dGen, a Berlin based Think Tank. 

Ulysse Nardin blockchain technology

Virtual Fashion & Digital Runways

In a recent podcast by WIRED magazine on Virtual Beings, Lauren Goode & her guest, Emma are quoted saying “if you can believe in Kim Kardashian, you can believe in Lil Miquela”. Virtual influencers have taken the Fashion Industry by storm. From modelling in ads for brands such as Calvin Klein (featuring Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela) to endorsing clothes by Prada Instagram, virtual models live lives very similar to those that real models and influencers live online. In the midst of the current pandemic, the relevance and use of these virtual models is skyrocketing. While impossible to create “contactless content” with real models, since the process involves styling, makeup and a lot more, virtual models make perfect subjects for the same. 

Personally, this is what I was expecting when the news of the first ever Digital Fashion Week broke earlier this year. But if not that, it did however open a new chapter in how brands hold events and communicate with audiences. Digital wholesale platforms such as JOOR, Le New Black thrived and the aim of the shows during Fashion Week differed completely. While some, like Loewe, did it with extra emphasis on the clothes, for Louis Vuitton, it was the Brand. At Maison Mihara Yasuhiro it was design and at Philipp Plein, it was the details. Many brands focused on storytelling and many focused on designer journeys. “We’ve been trying to break the standard pattern of straight runway up and down for a while … Now, what I’ve been tasking my team with is: Let’s start ideating on our dream scenario. Where would you do a show if you had no constraints of time, space, or location?”, said Gayle Dizon from Dizon, a creative production studio. 

From what could be seen, the technology used this Fashion Week was restricted to green screens, creative editing & digital wholesale showrooms. With combinations of 3D modelling, 3D printing, AR & VR as well as fintech investments, in my opinion, digital fashions weeks could have no limits, even featuring “See now, buy now, pay later” deals! 


Fortnite, Animal Crossing, B-Surf, we’ve heard it all. Luxury fashion brands can be seen indulging more and more in gamification of their designs. With so many stores closed, travelling inhibited and physical shows cancelled, brands are addressing their community where they are sure they will reach them: their phones. Consumers have time and access to the internet. The two usually come together and give way for rising social media applications and mobile games. 

Burberry B-Surf

“By 2021, the global games market is projected to exceed £146 billion, according to the research firm Newzoo. But the biggest surprise? In 2019, 63 per cent of mobile-game consumers are women,” said Vogue UK. Also, according to Dandelion Chandelier, “to the delight of game developers everywhere, female gamers are 79% more likely to make an in-app purchase than their male counterparts. They’re more likely to buy things like virtual currency, extra lives or even trendy digital outfits for their characters”. Since women make up the larger portion of the audience for brands such as Burberry and Gucci, investing in gamification is an interesting example of experience marketing. Diesel and Moschino collaborated with ‘The Sims’, Burberry with ‘B-Surf’, Louis Vuitton with ‘Riot Games’ and Animal Crossing already hosts a number of luxury players. 

However, gamification doesn’t always refer to video games. In China especially, shopping is widely accompanied by interactions with online versions of products such as animated outfits on online platforms that users can use to dress their avatars. Ralph Lauren’s recent collaboration with Bitmoji is an example. “Bitmoji are important vehicles of self-expression in the digital and social space. As the world of digital avatars continues to accelerate, it’s interesting for us to test and learn how audiences respond to fashion in this space,” Alice Delahunt, Ralph Lauren’s chief digital officer says.

Overall, Fashion Technology does not restrict itself just to these fields. During the pandemic, the Manufacturing sector has taken a big hit, with supply chains equally impacted. Technology shall play a huge role in their revival. Not to mention the current socio-political atmosphere that seems to be shifting the focus from major manufacturing hubs, to a more inward facing methodology.

Purchasing Jewellery on a Tablet: The Need & The Way By: Claire Adler, Jewellery Public Relations Expert

Posted on: September 26, 2020 

2020, it has to be said, will go down in business history as the year no one could have predicted. And I’d hazard a guess that one thing every luxury jewellery CEO is mulling right now is how to create a seamless omnichannel luxury experience for high net worth customers.

Le Vian Cat's Eye Alexandrite ring

While luxury sales declined by 85% over February and March in China, by 95% in Italy, Spain and France, with sales of jewellery and other luxury items nosediving 79% in February in Hong Kong, luxury jewellers are increasingly turning their attention to new ways of meeting people’s wants and needs.

During a July webinar hosted by Bloomberg News focusing on the luxury retail market, Paris-based luxury retail reporter Angelina Rascouet confirmed that sales of the Richemont Group (which owns Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels) were down 37%. Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton reported that sales were down a disappointing 38%. Neither figure strays too far from Bain’s prediction around April that the luxury market would need to brace itself for a sharp fall southward of around 35%.

Times Present for Jewellery

Most industry insiders agree there will be a positive rebound once all this is over, but against the current backdrop, jewellery businesses have their back up against a wall. They need to adapt the way they produce, communicate and sell. If they don’t, they won’t survive. In late July, a stalwart of London’s Mayfair, William & Son, which sells jewellery and other collectibles and is owned by William Asprey (seventh generation of the Asprey dynasty), announced it was filing for bankruptcy.

77 Diamonds Duchess Sapphire Engagement ring

While it might be reasonable to think that the global nature and shock of Covid-19 might have brought only doom and gloom to discretionary spending, there have also been some pleasant surprises in recent months.

For example, when Hermès reopened its Guangzhou-based store in China in mid-April, it earned a record-breaking $2.7 million worth of sales in a single day. Evidently Birkin bags have retained their reputation as sound investment pieces. The Financial Times reported that while fans of luxury in China are no longer able to buy goods abroad due to travel restrictions, they are choosing to shop in the mainland, resulting in a 49% boost to sales for the Richemont group in China. 

American celebrity favourite Le Vian, a family-owned luxury jewelry company, broke their own record for the most expensive item to be sold online – a necklace costing $60,000. During March and April, when the doors to thousands of brick and mortar stores remained firmly shut, digital fashion site Moda Operandi recorded a 35% rise in jewellery sales. Meanwhile, the record-breaking sale of a Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet by Sotheby’s for more than £1.3 million, the most expensive jewel ever sold in an online auction, proved to be a welcome surprise for an industry in transition – as well as for one very lucky lady. Following this, Christie’s broke this record in early July, when a 28.86 carat diamond was snapped up online for over $2.1 million.

Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet auctioned by Sotheby's

Times Ahead for Jewellery

While much of the jewellery industry has been relatively slow to adopt retail technologies, the combined pressures of COVID-19 and the rising numbers of younger Gen Z and Gen Y wealthy who by 2025 are estimated to account for 45% of global luxury purchases, have forced jewellery brands to rethink. Online purchases, including via website browsing or virtual private appointments, are now pivotal to luxury jewellery brands.

Auction houses selling jewellery have been successfully adapting the way they work, by offering condition reports via video call, or even through Instagram Stories, and some are offering free contactless delivery. Sotheby’s hosted four online jewellery sales in March, totalling $6.1million, and the London Fine Jewels online sale achieved $3.7 million, breaking a record for a digital jewellery auction. The fact that 30% of bidders were under the age of 40 demonstrates how Millennials and Gen Z are interested in vintage and antique jewellery, and how they are responding well to digital auctions.

“Fine jewellery stores need more than a sleek website and an attractive social media presence,” Sonia Esther Soltani, editor of diamond magazine Rapaport, told global behavioural research agency Canvas8 recently “They need to be able to offer consumers a virtual experience that is as close as possible to the real thing – amazing images, AI, a personal concierge.”

Le Vian geo-fencing technology

Companies that committed early to retail technology have been better positioned to respond at speed during the pandemic to accelerate digitalisation. Galeries Lafayette is offering a live-streamed personal shopping service, while Swiss watchmaker Hublot launched its $27,000 Big Bang MECA -10 black Magic model via WeChat.

American jewellery powerhouse Le Vian introduced Le Vian TV in early 2020 and by April was garnering a 1.5 million reach on some primetime shows. In 2015, Le Vian developed their proprietary Style Bar to show customers their entire range via tablets, while showcasing thousands of one-off Le Vian pieces, usually only available at 4,000 trunk shows annually. In 2019, Le Vian added eight foot tall iPhone-style Le Vian Totems into 250 stores, allowing customers to reserve and buy pieces on the spot. In recent months, they have worked closely with all their retailers to enable comprehensive, remote interaction with all customers. Now, they are transporting this technology to 180 of Signet’s Ernest Jones and H Samuel stores in the UK.

Wealthy buyers are now focused on online purchases and luxury leaders are responding. “In the past 18 months to two years, there’s been a real investment in online selling of luxury fine jewellery,” according to Rachael Taylor, founder of The Jewellery Cut, a glamorous bi-annual, London-based jewellery buying event. “Net-a-Porter has created a specific invite-only fine jewellery section on its website where you can’t see anything unless you’re invited as a very special client. Farfetch has invested in its fine watches and jewellery section as well,” she says.

De Beers Oval Chameleon ring

And for those jewellers who may a need a little extra encouragement, according De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver speaking in a late July webinar in conjunction with the charity Diamonds Do Good, while consumers may be buying less in the coming months, they will attach more value to what they buy, which suggests the average price spent could be on the rise.

Claire Adler Jewelry PRClaire Adler is the founder of Claire Adler Luxury PR and a former luxury journalist for publications including the Financial Times. Claire Adler Luxury PR helps clients build their online reputation and enhance their reach through a mix of press coverage, beautiful communications and strategic introductions. Clients range from established luxury houses to UHNW individuals including Jaeger-LeCoultre, De Beers Group, Le Vian, Vanessa Pederzani and 77 Diamonds.

13 Questions with Gayatri Khanna By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: September 9, 2020

The story of Gayatri Khanna has a lot of intertwining themes. A woman entrepreneur, a mother, an advocate of Made in India, and an appreciator of Indian crafts, Ms. Khanna has been all this and more for the past 20 years. 

A graduate in Entrepreneurial Studies and Marketing from Babson College, Massachusetts, Ms. Khanna gained valuable experience with various garment companies in New York, eventually joining Saks Fifth Avenue as a buyer for designer wear. But the business bug bit her soon enough, prompting Ms. Khanna to launch Milaaya Embroideries in 2000 – a multifaceted design house that services the likes of Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Giorgio Armani, Etro, Oscar De La Renta, Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Balmain, Paco Rabanne and more. With a base in five fashion capitals of the world: New York, Mumbai, Milan, Paris and London, Milaaya Embroideries provides complete packages with fabrics, trims, embroideries, embellishments, stitching and packaging for these global fashion brands.

Gayatri Khanna House of Gaya

At the turn of a new decade, and arguably a new era, Ms. Khanna has now launched GAYA, a fashion brand, which utilises all the expertise of Milaaya and turns it into a beautiful expression of her design sensibility. Starting with embellished, innovative masks for men and women, GAYA couldn’t have found a better niche to begin business with.

With much experience, style and sense under her belt, we talk to Ms. Khanna and delve into her personality with our 13 Questions series.

LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child?

Gayatri Khanna: I always aspired to become a businesswoman. I wanted to have something I can call my own, have a swanky office and a team of people I can work with and lead. I guess dreams do come true!

What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why?

I think the years I spent in the US while studying at Babson College gave me the much needed exposure to a different world, meeting new people, coming across new cultures, a different and a more independent way of life than I was used to living. It really broadened my horizons both personally and professionally. My conviction of being an entrepreneur only solidified further during this period in my life. These years laid the foundation for what I am today and I truly cherish them!

What advice would you give to your 18-year old self?

My advice to my 18 year old self would be to follow your passion and listen to your inner voice! There may be roadblocks and setbacks on the way but each day is a new learning and eventually you will get where you are supposed to be. So do not be too hard on yourself. It is the age of growing, experimenting, exploring, making mistakes and learning from them, and most importantly enjoying myself as the responsibilities only grow from there on!

What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh?

The things my daughters say and their antics make me laugh. The time spent with them is my stress-buster always leaving me with a hearty laugh and a smile on my face!

Gayatri Khanna House of Gaya

What is the most exciting part of your work day? The most tedious?

The most exciting part of my day is when our creative mode is on. The entire creative process from research to the inception of ideas to the brainstorming with my design team, to designing the collections is one of the most exciting parts of my work day. I look forward to watching these designs turn into reality! 

The most tedious yet important part is my meetings with the Finance Team to discuss the numbers or the overdue from clients and such!

How do you decompress?

I like to spend time with my family and friends. I enjoy playing and spending time with my daughters. My ‘me-time’ would be holidays on the beach or my work-out sessions. 

What was the first thing you thought about this morning?

How grateful I am for all that I have!

What is the last thing you do before going to bed?

I sum up the wonderful day I had and express gratitude for it!

What is the one luxury item or service you can’t live without?

My big Gucci bag that fits in all the essential things I need as I step out of the house!

What is the meaning of life?

Life, in its profound simplicity, is finding your divine purpose and connecting with your soul!

What’s love? 

Love is so many emotions and feelings put together. The expression of love comes in so many different forms but is difficult to put into words. It is the feeling of warmth, joy, passion, adoration, care and so much more.

What are you most afraid of?

Ironically, I am most afraid of being fearful!

What is one existential, difficult-to-answer question you wished you knew the right response to?

What existed before the Big-Bang? What started the Big-Bang? Is there really a parallel universe?

From Swarovski to Brunello Cucinelli: Changing Dynamics of Luxury Leadership By: Nikita Vivek Pawar 

Posted on: September 2, 2020

Virginie Viard for Chanel

With blurring boundaries, brands now have a global reach but also face brutal competition. But as Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility”, the leaders of such companies and brands need to acknowledge and appreciate the different mindsets and ideologies without hampering creative freedom as well as the financial numbers. As 2020 took an unexpected course of events, companies and brands have re-engineered their structure, welcoming new leaders with fresh perspective and energies to help the brands re-invent, re-innovate, re-think, and re-act better. 

According to the dictionary, a leader might be someone who drives and navigates the company towards a decided goal, but leaders in 2020 need to do much more. A creative director of a luxury brand is not only responsible for the design and products, but is also invested in various other business aspects of the label. Olivier Rousteing, who has been the Creative Director of Balmain since 2011, talked about his profile on Instagram being one of the important sources for business for Balmain as people were invested in what the Director does. Luxury leaders might majorly work behind the scenes, but they sure catch the eye of the audience. And if ‘change is the only constant’, the audience takes it quite seriously. 

Olivier Rousteing, Balmain

Carrying the legacy forward 

Houses like Chanel, Dior, Balenciaga have years of legacy and history. They have not just created a formidable reputation, but have also contributed to the luxury industry as a whole. A new leader is, therefore, expected to innovate and ideate without drifting away from the true ethos of the brand. When Karl Lagerfeld took over Chanel, he metamorphosed the brand by disrupting current trends, while keeping the core values intact. The current Creative Director of Chanel, Virginie Viard, is expected to walk on the same line. 

Similarly, for the first time in its 125-year old history, Swarovski has named Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert as its creative director. Fashion, jewellery and accessories are the natural sectors for the newly appointed Creative Director, but she will also oversee the Austrian company’s ventures in chandeliers and other design-led products. 

Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert Swarovski

“Swarovski, to me, is a platform to express creativity in a very cross-disciplinary way. I have a passion for the joyful Embellishment of Life [brand message], which ultimately is what Swarovski crystal is all about—whether it is around your neck, in your home, or your spirit,” said Ms. Battaglia Engelbert. “We are set to enter a new era and will reveal more in the collection for spring/summer 2021. I am proud to be part of shaping the future of Swarovski together with so many brilliant minds.”

Dr. Timo Gruenert started his journey with Oetker Group as Assistant to the Managing Partner in 2005. In 2009, Dr. Gruenert co-led the founding of Oetker Collection and has served as Co-Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer ever since. Now, as the new CEO of Oetker Collection, Dr. Gruenert commented, “I am deeply honoured to step into the role of CEO and continue the journey that Mr. Frank Marrenbach and I began over ten years ago. It has always been our aim to grow Oetker Collection into a brand that operates exceptional hotels – true Masterpieces – with a family spirit, elegance and genuine kindness. I firmly believe that this puts us in a unique space in today’s hospitality landscape. The company, its Masterpiece Hotels and my fellow-hoteliers around the world occupy a very special place in my heart and I could not be more excited to lead us into the next chapter. We will continue to write the story together.”

Dr. Timo Gruenert, Oetker Collection

New direction 

As a brand flourishes, it is recognised by a certain pattern, design, logo or product – a signature. But the challenge is to continue building on that same pattern, design, logo or product to maintain the consumer’s interest and will to buy. But building up in a new direction is necessary for all brands to sustain and thrive in the ruthless competition today. “Before moving ahead, it becomes important to de-clutter, clean up the visual language and upgrade it,” explained Mr. Rajesh Pratap Singh, the newly appointed Creative Director of the brand Satya Paul. The Indian brand, known for exquisitely detailed saris, eventually diversified into handbags, scarves, stoles and more. With prints at the ethos, the designer plans to explore more on the design frontier. “Changing techniques, designs, movement in voice and making it relevant for the times are a few processes we are working towards, slowly and gradually, but with innate focus. I want to get both the aesthetic and quality higher for all the products, not just the saris, though they will always remain at the core of Satya Paul.” 

Rajesh Pratap Singh

Taking forward the French luxury fashion and perfume house of Givenchy, American designer Matthew Williams has accepted the role of Creative Director at the legendary brand. He would be the seventh designer of the house, succeeding Clare Waight Keller. Talking about his design aesthetics, they match to that of Riccardo Tisci with hints of Gothicism and streetwear. Overlooking both men and women collections, the designer is all set to showcase his debut collection for Givenchy in Paris in October 2020. 

Matthew Williams Givenchy

Creative freshness

The luxury industry is often considered to nurture the classics and the evergreen, but getting too comfortable is dangerous in this business. Brands and companies need to reshuffle to make room for some fresh ideas, perspectives and experimental designs. Céline, the French luxury brand that was once dormant and outdated was revived by Pheobe Philo’s classic yet neo design philosophy. The brand reportedly drove upwards to €750 million in sales for LVMH. 

Isamaya Ffrench Burberry Beauty

Similar is the case with Burberry. The British luxury brand has been undergoing major renovation since 2018, and the latest addition to the team of Burberry Beauty is celebrated make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench, who has joined as the Global Beauty Director. “I’ve had such a wonderful experience working with Burberry over the past year and I’m incredibly honoured to be part of the team. Riccardo has a brilliant mind and is such an inspiring leader – he always pushes me creatively. It’s a very exciting time to be joining the company and I can’t wait to show the world what we have been working on,” said Ms Ffrench. Her bold and vibrant aesthetic along with the keen know-how would help re-shape the brand in the future. Her first campaign as Burberry Global Beauty Director will be released in Autumn 2020.

On the same lines is the iconic French luxury trunk-maker Moynat with the appointment of Nicholas Knightly as the new creative director for the company. Mr. Knightly succeeds Ramesh Nair, who was appointed shortly after LVMH took over Moynat in 2010. Mr. Knightly comes from being the director of design of leather goods for Louis Vuitton, a position he held for over 15 years. 

Nicholas Knightly Moynat


The appointment of some leaders is perceived to bring in growth in reputation as well as commerce. After Hedi Slimane took over the creative reign of Yves Saint Laurent, the business drove a revenue of €707 million in sales. 

Italian luxury brand Brunello Cucinelli recently appointed Luca Lisandroni and Riccardo Stefanelli as new CEOs wherein Mr. Lisandroni would look after the markets and Mr. Stefanelli would be in-charge of product and operations. The brand also hired Moreno Ciarapica as Chief Financial Officer. They closed the year 2019 with net revenues amounting to €607.8 million, an increase of 9.9% compared to €553 million in 2018. “I envisage that these two young men in their forties, individuals of huge professional value and in love with the great universal concepts of truth, beauty and humanity, will be able to lead the enterprise for a long time as examples of guardianship for future generations,” said Mr. Brunello Cucinelli.

Indeed, these are words full of wisdom, which many brands are hoping to come true with their respective new appointments, especially in a brave new post-pandemic world.

Dear Fashion, What Next? By: Tejashee Kashyap

Posted on: August 25, 2020

The current halt has been unnervingly frustrating. A straight lockdown of almost four months and an unwavering air of uncertainty still hasn’t answered most of our woes. A global trillion-dollar industry that once remained the centre of social galas has been now pushed under the bars of confinement. Luxury Fashion has been a beautiful, alluring industry - from design aesthetics, old money to aspirational extravagance. However, the current time has generously showered us with some bombs of truth that includes a dosage of dissipating smoke and broken mirrors. 

Louis Vuitton store facade

But, is the pandemic the only reason for the downfall of certain designers and brands? Quite recently (and very shockingly), ace designer Diane Von Furstenberg had been making plans to close 18 of her 19 remaining directly operated U.S. stores. The brand had been already losing money for years. The pandemic has left many businesses exposed, with a run towards the need to change from a brick and mortar model immediately. Some, hidden under the glam, have been on the verge of collapse for a very long time. 

Closed Shutters

Fashion Critic, Robin Givhan in her article for The Washington Post writes, “For shoppers, fashion was an all-encompassing pop culture phenomenon — but a phenomenon is not necessarily good business. Bricks-and-mortar retailers opened outlet after outlet, e-commerce expanded its reach, all the while discounting merchandise that customers refused to buy until it was discounted even more because mostly everyone had learned to shop by the mantra: Never pay full price.” 

Amidst the price war, the industry is still debating the ‘need to fix and make its supply chain transparent’, sustainable steps in all parts of the manufacturing process and how they can be more sensitive to public emotions - but, for how long have we been stuck in these conversations? To add to it, the recent war of racial injustice makes it a lot more important for design houses to understand the medium of real communication and needs to right itself. 

The fashion industry right now is much more than just the game of aesthetics and glam, as it was in the 1990s. During the 2008 recession, when the economy was hurtling down, Saks Fifth Avenue took the lead in frantically discounting merchandise, and other stores followed. Well, currently, luxury powerhouses like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci have raised prices to combat the pandemic and aid its lower sales impact. On the other hand, British label Mulberry went on to lower its prices to entice consumers to buy. Decreasing prices always remains the first, prompt strategy. But, does that damage brand values? Luxury is trying to save where they can, which brings us to extensive job losses too. Recently, Burberry revealed that it plans to make 500 job cuts after its comparable retail sales fell by 45% in the three months to June 27th. Similarly, Harrods has announced that 14% of its workforce will be made redundant, and Harvey Nichols has also warned of job cuts.

Highlighting grave episodes of bankruptcy in the wake of the pandemic, Ascena - the conglomerate behind Ann Taylor - filed for bankruptcy and said it will close at least 877 of its 2800 stores after declining sales and ballooning debt. J. Crew was the first big US apparel retailer to file for bankruptcy protection after struggling with declining sales and a huge debt of US$1.65 billion. In another shocking episode, New York-based luxury label Sies Marjan closed its doors due to the significant financial impact from the pandemic. According to a statement by the brand, founder Sander Lak said, “What we have worked on has been a dream come true. Thank you to everyone who has given their time and talent to Sies Marjan over the years." Following the announcement, the brand’s Instagram page has since been deleted too. In an article by The Washington Post, Designer Prabal Gurung said that he had been putting money and effort into things he thought he needed, such as a big marketing budget, only to now think it was all unnecessary.

How to be saved?

All of us have had enough tough times. With online sale and e-commerce being the only fruitful means, the future still doesn’t look sweet. Kering reported an interim revenue decrease of 29 per cent to €5.4 billion and a profit dip of 58 per cent while LVMH reported a 68 per cent earnings decline. Kering’s star performer, Gucci, wasn’t immune: sales at the group’s biggest brand fell 45 per cent. Prada Group swung to a €180 million loss in the six months ending 30 June 2020 from profits of €155 million in the same period last year. But who and how can one bring positivity to the sales and marketing values? 

Prada Bag

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that we are witnessing a major millennial global revolution. As Alvin Toffler in his book ‘Future Shock’ writes, “Not merely an individual but an entire society, an entire generation — including its weakest, least intelligent, and most irrational members—suddenly transported into this new world. The result is mass disorientation, future shock on a grand scale. Change is avalanching upon our heads and most people are grotesquely unprepared to cope with it.”

However, brands remain positive in their outlook that consumer spending would pick up pace in most countries as stores reopen. Retail has taken a remarkable hit and design houses who have worked on solutions quickly seem to be in a better spot. Brands which had been relying on an old business model got nowhere to hide. The reselling culture was driven by the streetwear model of product drops, which is now widely adopted by luxury brands, like Telfar. 

Yoox Net-a-Porter Group (YNAP) and Armani have announced a new strategic development that will redesign and develop a digital and integrated shopping experience for customers. It will integrate Armani’s digital stores with their physical boutiques and leverage YNAP’s global logistics network to create more flexibility and connection between Armani’s customers and products, both online and offline. 

Going Digital

Talking about online, technology, combined with some ‘real’ connection with the community, can eventually save the prominent constituents of the industry. An example is Burberry’s first ‘social retail’ store in China. 

Fashion shows are now directly sent to us in our emails or Instagram, ending the ‘front-row’ policy. Now, you can be in your PJs with Cheetos and witness Valentino’s digital magic from your bed itself. But, in that process, are we killing the various people involved - event curators, guards, stylists, photographers? Luc Deperrois, a florist talks to NYTimes, “For us, couture week is very intense. We could be doing the flowers in Mademoiselle Chanel’s apartment in the morning, then for the Lutetia hotel, then a dinner for a brand. Or Chanel calls and says they want 100 bouquets of flowers delivered to clients who are coming to their show in the next 24 hours. Now it’s all mostly stopped, though. There are some orders — enough to keep our staff, but not for anyone extra. I am hoping that because so much of fashion is on Instagram now, there will be a need for flowers to animate the sets and the looks, to bring some humanity to the digital world. And that in September, life will begin again.” 

For independent companies that are dangerously sailing without a global footprint, the struggle to survive can be especially lonely and terrifying.

Burberry Social Retail store China

“The problems facing the industry are most often caused by short-term fixes instead of long-term strategies, the belief in quantity over quality and, of course, ego and inertia.” writes Robin Givhan. The pandemic has bought both the most powerful and ‘not-so’ powerful ones to build each other up through funds, online sale and friendly interactions. If one has to find the silver lining, it’s that the remaining fashion system could be reset, a reboot that can keep everyone at the heart of it together. Well, only time will show us how and when the restructure happens!

When Royalty Cares for the Rural: Princess Diya Kumari Foundation By: Prateeksha Guruji

Posted on: August 22, 2020

Rajasthan, a regal state with an unparalleled aura created by opulent palaces, rolling deserts, blue lakes and majestic hills in between, has immense splendour to offer. Its culture, sophistication and colors have much to inspire and teach.

Rajasthan temple and girl

But then, it has its weaknesses, and that’s where Princess Diya Kumari of the Royal Family of Jaipur has stepped in to make a change. 

Striving for girls’ education and creating livelihoods for women as a constant effort, the Princess Diya Kumari Foundation (PDKF) has worked extensively towards uplifting the lives of underprivileged women and girls in Rajasthan where literacy rates are low and women cannot progress given the economic and socio-cultural barriers. 

With programs like the Shiksha Diya Project that was started in five schools, the organization has offered scholarship and material support while creating awareness on topics like menstrual hygiene as well as providing digital literacy programs. They have also been acclaimed by the UN Women Committee of Canada for empowering women by providing them financial literacy workshops. 

A state so rich in culture, Rajasthan is a gem. The foundation has been instrumental in promoting this heritage by training women in craft, embroidery, stitching and soft toy making. Their work has also been showcased at the Rajasthan Heritage Week. PDKF’s recent partnership with Airbnb is an effort to display Rajasthan’s hospitality and to give rural women an idea of micro-entrepreneurship as they opened their houses to welcome Airbnb guests. 

PDKF, founded in the year 2013, is heralded by the Executive Director of the foundation: Ms. Shivina Kumari. A global citizen with a glorious career of 19 years in business development, consulting and strategy, she strongly believes in women supporting women. Her experience is diverse. She is the founder and president of Invictus, a luxury communications consulting company. From serving as a corporate affairs advisor for Piramal Pharmaceuticals to Client Relations Manager India for Constella-Future Group, USA, a public health company, her work ranged from working with international government organizations and contributing to a myriad of healthcare projects. She has also worked with luxury brands like Hermes. 

Princess Diya Kumari Foundation tote

In an exclusive interview, Ms. Kumari shares the journey and the extraordinary contribution of the Princess Diya Kumari Foundation.

LuxuryFacts: What led to the beginning of PDKF? What was that moment when Princess Diya Kumari decided to start the foundation?

Shivina Kumari: Over the years the Jaipur royal family has been supporting people in need and Princess Diya Kumari of Jaipur felt the need to create an organized platform for philanthropy.  Princess Diya Kumari of Jaipur founded PDKF in 2013, to empower disadvantaged women and girls in Rajasthan. There are many social, cultural, educational and financial barriers faced by underprivileged women and she has spearheaded efforts to empower them through the skill building and livelihoods programs at the Foundation.

The PDKF has 5 centers in Rajasthan, the head office in Badal Mahal, Jaipur and 4 are in villages.  We set up centers with infrastructure, equipment, supervisors, provide training, design and the link to market. 

LF: How has Covid-19 amplified the hard lives of the villagers in Rajasthan? 

SK: Covid-19 had a widespread effect on the lives of people in rural Rajasthan. Families of 90% of the women that are associated with PDKF have lost their livelihoods. It keeps me awake at night knowing they face adversities as they struggle to meet their daily needs. Access to medical and sanitary products have become even more challenging. The women at PDKF need the income from the products they make and their contribution to their family income is even more necessary now. 

Princess Diya Kumari Foundation masks

LF: How is PDKF helping them in this difficult time?

SK: PDKF, since the very beginning of this pandemic in March, started skilling women at all the PDKF centres in making face masks for donating to frontline medical teams and our Covid 19 relief work. Later, the face masks were made for sale, which not only generated employment for them in these tough times but also gave them a sense of security and confidence of being the sole earners of the family in these tough times. We are striving daily to make sure that we have orders and work for the women to sustain them. 

LF: What are some of the products that the team of PDKF makes? What is the level of craftsmanship that goes into it?

SK: At PDKF there has been a continued effort to revive and sustain the heritage crafts of Rajasthan. In our work there is an amalgamation of traditional techniques such as ‘gota patti’ and applique with contemporary colors and design. There is a level of skill and craftsmanship required that is taught to the women at PDKF. All our products are painstakingly made by hand with attention to detail and finish. We organise special skill building, training and quality finish sessions for the women at the Foundation because we strive for perfection in our craft.

Some of our signature products are ‘gota patti’ elephant tote bags in silk with hand quilting, ‘gota patti’ soft toys, hand embroidered potlis, cloud print facemask sets and our hand embroidered chiffon and chanderi sarees. We are inspired by old patterns, traditional motifs and have so much inspiration from the beautiful architecture of the City Palace. 

PDKF has been invited to present our collection of Heritage saris and lehengas at premiere fashion shows such as the Rajasthan Heritage Week 2018, The Bombay Times Fashion Week 2019 and the Liva Miss Diva Regional Event 2020 as the designer for the show. PDKF also designed and made a hand embroidered sari worn by Suman Rao, Miss World Asia, at the Miss World Pageant 2019 in London.

We are so proud of our PDKF women who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have gone through hardships, who today are able to create products that are appreciated at national and international platforms. 

Princess Diya Kumari Foundation kota silk dupatta

LF: How are you trying to take your creations to a more national or global stage?

SK: The world as we know it has changed due to the pandemic and now we have campaigns such as #VocalforLocal and  #SustainableFashion, but this has been PDKF’s ethos for years. Our creations promote local artisan crafts, local materials and every product sold supports an underprivileged woman and her family. 

We have been creating products for tourists who visit the City Palace, Jaipur. This has been our primary market but now we are also trying to expand to the national stage. We have been using social media to create interest around our products and have also used national online portals to help market our creations.

Our experience has also shown us that the global stage appreciates ‘Sustainable Fashion’ and values PDKF as a brand that empowers and promotes women artisans. We regularly have people reaching out to us from all over the world to order products from us. We also have some wonderful collaborations with international designer brands such as Chatelles, Paris. We have created the first Baby Chatelles handmade shoes for them in our signature cloud print. 

LF: How many products do you produce in a day? How much time does it take to create one piece?

SK: Our aim at the Foundation has been to generate maximum employment for women in rural Rajasthan and that gets reflected in our production. We plan our production with the goal to distribute work to all the women across all 5 centers. 

We make a variety of products and the time taken for each product is different. Typically, each product is worked upon by 2-3 women, as we design products that allow women with different skill levels to participate and earn on each product. Each woman does her part in the creation of the product at any of the 4 village centers, then the products are sent to the PDKF Jaipur center for the final finishing and packing.

Princess Diya Kumari Foundation masks

LF: Producing ‘Made in India’ products from the grassroots, do you think the Indian government is giving enough,  genuine support to initiatives such as yours?

SK: The ‘Made in India’ campaign is a wonderful initiative and we appreciate the Indian Government’s initiative. We have also seen an increase in Indian companies sourcing locally made goods as a result of this. 

LF: Where do you require most support as of now?

SK: With the ongoing pandemic the tourism industry has come to a standstill and tourists were our primary clientele. The Foundation has to find sustainable ways of supporting underprivileged women artisans that are a part of PDKF in this new paradigm.

The Foundation needs support in terms of finding new avenues of sale, more bulk orders of products and more design collaborations that are focused on Indian customers. We would love Indian designers to collaborate with us and design products that can be made by our women to sell in their online or retail stores.

Princess Diya Kumari Foundation baby gift set

LF: How can one buy products from PDKF?

SK: PDKF products can be purchased by contacting us through Instagram, our upcoming website, online portals, our PDKF stall and Palace Atelier at the City Palace. 

(Written in collaboration with Veronique Poles, Luxury Lifestyle Fashion Consultant)

Watch us in conversation with Ms. Shivina Kumari live on Instagram, as she shows some exquisite, divine creations made by the women of Rajasthan. Tune in on August 27, 2020 at 5pm IST and follow us on @luxuryfactsmag and @princessdiyakumarifoundation to access the session

Retail Reopening 2.0: New Protocols of Shopping By: Tejashee Kashyap

Posted on: August 11, 2020

Her Story store India

When I heard Carrie Bradshaw declare, “Shopping is my cardio,” it became my motto for quite some time, until this grave pandemic decided to pay a visit. For 4 months now, retail, flagships, pop-ups, malls have been under closed shutters. With China’s luxury market being the first one to open its doors, it sure did bring hope that the pandemic can be combated. With eased lockdown and strict safety measures after four months, India was ready to welcome its retail guests. However, with the virus lurking around and the digital medium going into ultimate soaring notes, would physical stores and malls gain back their patrons?

In the early days, the press was populated with stories of revenge shopping (in China, Hermès achieved record single-day sales of $2.7 million during the re-opening of their flagship store), but did ‘revenge buying’ happen in India too? According to BloombergQuint, “Early indications suggest that consumption has seen a spurt as the lockdown eased but economists and company executives remain uncertain about the sustainability of that pick-up.” 

Priyanka Modi of Indian fashion brand AMPM says, “The future is hard to predict, but from what we have seen so far, there has been a positive shift towards conscious consumption across the board. We do think the audience will become even more discretionary and will look at many factors surrounding a brand before endorsing one. In the coming months, there will be a lot of changes in how business is conducted and how brands present themselves.” 

As stores have finally opened their doors, what would be this new world of ‘Reopening Retail 2.0’ be like?

AMPM fashion store India

Safety Mantra

Sanitizers, gloves, masks are our constant guardians, almost like an ID, to enter any venue. While shopping happens to be a ‘personal and touch-based’ activity, stores were fast enough to confer safe services to its consumers. Good Earth has opened its stores in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Jaipur, Chennai and Hyderabad. Explaining its safety protocols, the team said, “The stores are disinfected every 2 hours. Social distancing is being maintained at all times, with only a limited number of customers being allowed at a time in the store to ensure safety. Mandatory hand sanitization and body temperature screening for both, customers and the store team. Customers have also been advised to opt for online payment methods in order to minimize contact.” 

Sitanshi Talati-Parikh, Brand Head (Creative), of modern jewellery brand, Her Story, which has re-opened its boutique in Mumbai, says, “All Her Story home appointments follow the strictest guidelines and our retail representatives are in full PPE suits. We have the strictest safety guidelines and procedures in place - hygiene and deep sanitization and disinfection of spaces and products, ensuring regular temperature checks and social distancing is consistently maintained. During the current scenario, Her Story will ensure that during a client interaction, the client has exclusive use of the boutique premises, with no other shopper at the same time in the premises. Jewels are sanitized before and after any interaction or contact, and masks are compulsory while shopping.” 

For clothing stores, trial rooms happen to be a useful factor. Hence, AMPM has come up with an effective solution. Ms. Modi says, “As we are not allowing physical trials at our stores as of now, customers are requested to share their measurements at the store and our team suggests the appropriate size that would fit them. The customers are then asked to take the merchandise and try it inside the safety of their homes. For this process to run smoothly, we have relaxed our exchange policies for the moment. In case a customer doesn’t like the fit of a particular garment, they can return the merchandise at the store.” AMPM has opened its stores in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Hemant Sagar, Co-founder and designer, Lecoanet Hemant says, “The entire purpose of visiting a store is to feel, touch and try your potential purchase. It then becomes our responsibility to provide a safe experience to our shoppers. Regular sanitisation of trial rooms, consistent disinfection of clothes, installation of thermal cameras are some interventions that will go a long way in fighting the possibility of transmission.”

GENES by Lecoanet Hemant

Online V/S In-Store Purchase

With brands and organisations constantly looking for ways to reinvent and restructure their strategies, a shift to online retail and e-commerce has been an important pillar of building and sustaining purchases and consumers. A great leap can also be seen in a brand’s participation through innovative social media programs. To provide consultation at home, Ayurvedic brand Forest Essentials has introduced a personalized Ayurveda consultation session. To overhaul their in-store shopping experiences, they bought a ‘Talk To Our Expert Near You’ feature where consumers can speak to their favourite in-store beauty representative, or even video call them to order their favourite products for doorstep delivery, get personalized recommendations and updates on products just as in-store!

Design House, Raw Mango, makes its entry in the online retail space too. Although slated for a year later release, the online store’s earlier opening was necessitated by the global level shutdown of stores. “As the world faces unprecedented times, given the accelerated shift to digital space in the way we engage with brands and each other, I believe it is important to embrace innovative methods to reach our audiences,” said Sanjay Garg, Founder & Textile Designer, Raw Mango. 

In the coming months, there will be a lot of changes in how business and stores conduct themselves – both online and offline. Brands are continuously encouraging customers to shop from their web boutiques, personal shoppers and customer executives assisting through video calls, and home deliveries. Ms. Modi adds, “We believe that in the next few months, even if the lockdown is fully lifted, people will exercise caution when it comes to regular social activities like shopping or eating out or going to the movies. People would want to spend the majority of their time at home, social distancing and avoiding human contact as much as possible, or till a vaccine is introduced. This will result in a major spike in online buying that will take precedence over offline sales. It is crucial for us to align ourselves to the updated consumer behaviour and accept the ‘new normal’ post the lockdown.”

Good Earth store facade

The Emotional Quotient?

Mr. Sagar says, “In any scenario, whether a stand-alone flagship store or a shopping complex, a well-measured contingency plan needs to be chalked out. At the same time, e-commerce will certainly have an upper hand over the brick and mortar model. With no-contact deliveries and easy payment methods, shopping online will also become a more popular choice.” While the world is continuously adjusting to the new digital age, there will be unique moments always when people would like to enjoy ‘live’. The emotional quotient cannot be replicated in an online format completely.

It’s the time to readapt, rethink and reconsider the whole age-old concept. Brands will have to re-assess their long-established strategies and focus on providing customers with ethics along with aesthetics - which can also be ‘out of the blue’ manifestations and protocols in order to replicate the ‘physical emotions’ of purchase and shopping in a digital medium.  

Ms. Modi further adds, “Before the lockdown, our retail structure was segregated in a 90:10 format, where 90% of our energies were focused on offline sales and 10% of our revenue came from online buyers. Going forward, this ratio could dramatically change to 50:50, where we will put equal emphasis on both revenue streams for at least the next one year. Moving forward, people will look for effortless fashion that is classic, sophisticated and super-versatile; putting in a united effort to buy more from our local suppliers, working with native artisans and support the ‘Handmade in India’ movement, which will gradually strengthen our national economy. The core intent is to deliver timeless designs that are true investments and wearable over seasons - designing more such investment-worthy pieces to build a more conscious and lasting wardrobe.”

AMPM store interior

Although caution is the prime key to opening stores in India along with physical distancing and clinical-level sanitization being the new norm, India’s drive into the ‘virtual format’ is at a peak too. Even after the introduction of a vaccine, shoppers might continue to prefer digital. However, there will be scenes of getting together as they used to earlier, albeit with certain precautions. Technology will remain the prime focus with the merge of ‘human connection’ being a necessary factor. It will be interesting to see the course of changes in the Indian Luxury market, welcoming the ‘New Retail World 2.0’.

Luxury Post-COVID: 3 Issues the Crisis Highlighted By: Jiya Sharma

Posted on: August 4, 2020

In our everyday lives, it is quite natural for us to get stuck in a loop. Between professional work, necessary at-home activities, social lives and healthcare, the bigger picture is often lost. As you zoom into something particular, the background fades away. The suddenness with which the COVID crisis and eventual lockdowns hit economies, nobody had an option but to stop and zoom out. The bigger picture is now clearer. As times get harder and aid is needed more than ever, Luxury finds itself in the middle of some very important conversations. We encapsulate some of the biggest conversations.

Artisan Rights: #PayUp

Indian rug weaving

As events unfolded in 2020, for most enterprises, focus first shifted inward. Unlike other segments of Fashion, Arts and Crafts, where mass production is the norm, not a lot of machine work goes into the production of luxury pieces. ‘Handmade’, ‘bespoke’ and ‘haute couture’ all contribute to the grand role that individual artisans and crafts(wo)men play in the industry. Despite their role, these workers are often not given the compensation they deserve for their hard work which has led to what the Business of Fashion called a ‘Respect Deficit’, especially with regard to those employees that work in foreign countries, such as India, where labour laws differ and are usually not as comprehensive. 

Often belonging to economically weak backgrounds, these workers and artisans find themselves most vulnerable during the COVID-19 Crisis. In June, luxury heritage brand Sangeeta Boochra and Silver Centre declared permission to their network of crafts(wo)men across India to work from home in midst of the crisis. “We are providing daily wage, work from home, medical help and aid, food and all other necessary requirements that are useful for their livelihood. The brand’s ethics are so deep-rooted that we value the life of each and every employee and artisan of the company,” informed Abhineet Boochra. Anita Dongre also created a Rs 1.5 crore ($203,000) fund to cover medical fees for small vendors and self-employed artisans. 

A social media movement under the hashtag #payup also brought to light the empty promises companies make to their employees overseas, as well as interns and employees that work in their very offices. While the majority of names called out have been in the field of Fast Fashion, changes are being made in Luxury segments as well.

Diversity & Equality in Representation: #PullUpForChange

Black Lives Matter

As a part of its CSR, LVMH announced that it would work to push higher representation and gender equality in the workplace through its social responsibility program. On June 4, Gucci paused all U.S. operations in honour of George Floyd and numerous others that lost their lives as a result of police brutality. Many more Luxury enterprises took grand steps in light of the outrage following the death of George Floyd, but not all were received quite so positively. While Salvatore Ferragamo was called out for a “homophobic and racist work environment”, the #VogueChallenge was social media users’ way of exhibiting how a fair, diversely represented collection of Vogue Magazine covers would look like. 

While the conversation has been going on since long before the COVID crisis, what truly differentiates these protests is the intensity of unity and togetherness despite the need of the hour, health-wise, being to socially distance. If the consumer believes so strongly in a cause, companies inevitably react. The depth of the actions is what matter. As influencer Tamu McPherson stated, “Their stories are strong and their voices are being heard. If the industry ignores them, they can be kept accountable. Everyone is sharing, and corroborating, their stories.'' 

#PullUpForChange is a social media movement addressing workplace representation, bringing attention to managements that have failed to offer proportional representation in the workplace and senior leadership. The movement has been successful in bringing about change with important players such as Estée Lauder, Revlon and L’Oréal, who rose to the challenge and made amends. Revlon, for example, declared employee distribution, stating that 27% of Revlon Inc. USA’s employees and 5% of Director Level and above individuals were black. They promised to work on higher representation in the near future.

Animal Welfare & Sourcing: #crueltyfree

Fur fashion

The very origins of the COVID crisis are reason enough for major changes to be made in how animals are treated. According to PETA, “The fur and exotic skins industries create breeding grounds for pathogens like the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.” PETA claims that the exotic-skins industry increases the risk of future epidemics due to the filthy environments in which these animals are kept and treated for further utilisation. 

Since before the COVID crisis, animal skin and fur had been gradually evading top trends. This declaration by PETA, however, is furthermore raising ears. Many major designers and retailers—including Chanel and Victoria Beckham—have banned exotic skins from their designs. In an attempt to concretize the move toward a more animal friendly fashion industry, PETA bought shares in around 20 businesses including luxury giants such as Kering, Burberry and Ralph Lauren. These shares supposedly constitute the minimum number needed to have influence on company decisions. The rise in overall proactivity and awareness has also motivated organizations such as Four Paws, which has developed the world’s first ‘Animal Welfare in Fashion Report’. The report’s first issue analyzed some of the top names in the global fashion sphere and found that only a very small minority are transparent about the sourcing of their animal derived materials. 


In the current market, as profits take a dip, for businesses numbers would seem to be more important than ever. However, with time to pause, think and revise, so is purpose. The Luxury Industry in particular is poised perfectly to make a change. With the sheer amount of resources that are at its disposal along with the strong community that is at each segment’s foundation, enterprises can’t help but create a trickle-down effect and make an impact from the grassroot level. Each employee wants to be able to go into work today and know that their work makes a difference and impacts the lives of those they touch in the best way possible. As a result, brands are working harder now to fulfill their purpose, and these conversations contribute much into the hard work.

Hands On to Hands Free: The Luxury Beauty Industry Post-COVID By: Jiya Sharma

Posted on: July 23, 2020

luxury Beauty industry skincare

You may not consider yourself an active participant in the world of fashion and beauty, but they definitely play an active role in you. If it isn’t Balmain glam, its comfort wear and if it isn’t makeup, it’s skincare. The COVID-19 crisis impacted all industries and the Beauty industry has been no exception. 

However, as an industry that holds adaptability and innovation at its core, the industry has come up with some creative solutions to ensure that each consumer can satisfy the same ‘pre-COVID’ needs in an ‘on-COVID’ manner. As the industry perseveres to satisfy and overcome, here are a few highlights to know.

Label Transparency: Be Plain & Simple

‘Cruelty free’, ‘fair trade’, ‘organic’, are all terms used by beauty products which attract large number of ethic-driven consumers. Due to the direct impact these products have on the user’s skin, reassurance plays a huge role in whether or not consumers invest in a product. Reassurance could range from claiming “100% Cruelty Free” to promising “Younger looking skin in 2 weeks”. However, with time, consumers have evolved to realize the sheer vagueness of the aforementioned terms. 

luxury beauty products Chanel

The rising physical as well as emotional need for cleanliness and safety during this pandemic have led to consumers looking for a higher transparency on the labels of the products they use. Transparency here would mean, not only in terms of what exactly the brand means when umbrella terms such as ‘organic’ are mentioned, but also, clear and understandable terminology in the ingredient section of products, especially those that claim to partake in ‘clean beauty’. As Arnaud Meysselle, CEO, Ren Clean Skincare believes, “Brands must take the sustainable development shift immediately, because in two years’ time it will be too late.” 


A recent study by Infuenster and Bazaarvoice found that 69% of women surveyed found ingredient information on products from sources excluding the brand itself! Only 1% were able to trust brands and found the information given sufficient. It is true that as consumers, we tend to trust customer reviews and google more than what the brand has to say for itself. However, the identity and story conveyed gets lost if this information doesn’t come from the brand itself. While the biggest names in the industry are yet to announce how they shall continue on a path of higher transparency, consumers and experts alike are now weighing competitors’ transparency levels and deciding which brands make for a better contender. In a recent article by Forbes, for example, Karen Young of The Young Group states "There is a transparency to Bobbi Brown. It's never tried to be something it isn't.”

Testing & Sampling: Hands free!

Using testers at cosmetic retailers to try on makeup has been an instinctive action for any beauty shopper up until January 2020. Within a span of months, even weeks, the action has been deemed unimaginable. Touching a foreign object in a store with your bare hands and putting it on your skin? The horror! However, while the action is out of the question, the concept is still very much in. 

Charlotte Tillbury Magic Mirror

Beauty consumers still want to sample products before making a purchase. The only alternative to sampling would be to take the product home, test it and return it in case of dissatisfaction. However, these returned products almost never make it back to the shelves. They are discarded and add on to the infinite amounts of waste that is disposed off into landfills and oceans. 

Hence, testing and sampling must continue. How? Let’s take a look. 

Firstly, Artificial Intelligence. Virtual try-ons have been around since long before the pandemic, but the current time might be its moment to shine. Charlotte Tilbury has Magic Mirror, L'Oréal Paris has Makeup Genius, Guerlain has the Voir app and so on! Currently being promoted as a safer alternative to physical trial, virtual try-ons have been widely adopted.

Orlandi V Shape testers

Secondly, Individual Testers. Pre-packaged individual testers have gained fruition in the current state of Beauty Retail. While Virtual Try-ons work just fine, they aren’t always an accurate representation of a product’s texture, longevity, reactivity and so on. Orlandi, a USA based fragrance and cosmetic sampling specialist has come up with V-shaped testers, which are beauty samples that can be opened with one hand. On opening, a single dose of the product, be it fragrance, oil, cream or even shampoo, is dispensed. Fragrances and scents are also being transformed to gel and wipe forms for easier testing. 

Thirdly, manpower hasn’t been underestimated post-COVID. With rigorous daily checks on Beauty Advisors, retailers such as Sephora have equipped their advisors with rules and procedures that follow a no-touch policy with the consumer. All the products are handled only by the duly sanitized staff, who try and sample products on themselves, as a sampling for the consumer, followed by verbal information. 

Makeup & The Mask

An impact on the Beauty Industry due to the need to wear masks may seem like a stretch to some, but the numbers back it up! As wearing masks in public areas was declared a compulsion, makeup purchase numbers showed drastic effects. 

The beginning of the lockdown saw many consumers backing away from makeup as a mask hid half their face and the rest got covered by shades. However, as we’ve accepted our present reality, makeup on the skin, eyes and brows, at the very least, are back in the game. Tutorials on ‘Makeup with a face mask’ have been quick to flood our feeds and inspire our creativity. As have makeup tutorials for Zoom meetings. 

Leaf transparent N99 Mask

Consumers are looking to brands that are adapting to their current needs. These needs include functional attributes of the products such as transfer-proof foundation, long-lasting mascara, colorful eyeliner, shinier highlighter, etc. Anything that makes the top half of their face look glamorous enough to match the designer mask that covers the bottom.

As for the egalitarians, not to worry, masks are adapting as well! For example, the recently launched LEAF Mask is one of the world’s first FDA-registered, clear mask to have N99-standard air filtering abilities as well as a self-purifying feature, thanks to a built-in UV-C light. It is a perfect model of a mask that shall allow the Beauty Industry to thrive while keeping users safe and secure from the virus. A true friend of the makeup industry.

The Rise of Skincare

As you read this, you are probably on your bed or desk, with green tea in one hand and a face mask brush in the other. Self-quarantine has offered the perfect opportunity not just for economies but for each individual citizen to look inward. As we do so, consumers are back to basics, turning actively from makeup towards skincare and haircare. The low social interaction is a cherry on top, offering the perfect opportunity for a reboot inside-out. 

The need for cleanliness has further driven the concept of ‘Clean Beauty’. Skincare post-COVID focuses not just on the results products have on one’s skin, but also on what impact they have from production to disposal. Brands such as Lamazuna, that focus on zero waste products, are increasingly gaining customer attention. 

Lamazuna products

The industry has always evolved with its people and continues to do so even today. As the future unfolds and the to-be-knowns of the COVID-crisis are revealed, one can be rest assured that whatever happens, beauty shall always remain a close friend and an adaptable one at that!

Marketing Luxury in the Times of COVID-19 By: Srimoyi Bhattacharya, Founder & Deepika Prabhu, Partner, Peepul Consulting

Posted on: July 15, 2020

After many months of waiting and watching, both international and homegrown brands have rearranged inventory, assessed and re-forecasted their 2020 budgets for marketing and PR. As an example, most brands in the Peepul portfolio are now preparing for busy Quarters 3 and 4, thanks to e-commerce and return of intimate events/ occasions. 

No matter how agile you have been, the service industry, like retail or hospitality, has specifically been most affected, because their pillar is human interaction connected to a sentiment. And if that cannot happen, the need to introspect and reinvent the scope becomes urgent and inevitable. 

Digital luxury marketing

In a business where customer sentiment and perceived exclusivity is the name of the game, how does one manage a new strategy to maintain brand value and equity? More importantly, how do brands create a virtuous circle that includes legacy, product, experience and retail bound by the thread of technology? 

The need of the hour is for luxury brands to go back to the drawing-board as they revisit their short-term and long-term PR and marketing strategies. Hence, a renewed attention to spotlighting classic pieces and attention on function and versatility will recalibrate the wheels of the marketing cycle. The joy a purchase infuses in the daily will be as important as value and aspiration, if not more. 

How can brands build relations with consumers who aren’t spending at a time like this? 

By being empathetic! 

The post-lockdown consumer mindset has evolved to become more cognisant and demanding of alternatives to existing service standards from brands. They don’t want to be sold a product. They want to be guided to it and given all possible information on why it is relevant to their lifestyle and how it may be purchased with the aid of technology. They are also more inquisitive and mindful of the contribution of their purchase(s) to the environment- this is a factor that no brand custodian can afford to ignore any longer. 

We also see that the media is changing the narrative for the consumer as well. Mental and physical well-being, community-building and supporting local businesses, conscious buying - we are all finally as a country gearing up to embrace the many layers of sustainability. 

The impetus on legacy, values, human capital through the lens of workmanship...brands have used the quiet time to deep-dive into their back-stories to be able to move forward. Brands who have done so in an authentic manner, and included their customers and followers in the journey, will certainly have a stronger share of heart! 

Now, more than ever, we are thankful for the power and reach of social media. At Peepul too, we are using our social media handles to delve deeper into our brands’ stories and spotlight the amazing entrepreneurs, founders and visionaries behind each of them. 

Digital luxury marketing we like you

It’s vastly important for brands to meet their consumer - existing and potential, halfway on the demand-supply spectrum. Social media gives all of us the perfect space to do so. For eg: Kama Ayurveda’s ‘Calm With Kama’ playlists take the mindfulness conversation beyond Ayurveda into the realm of sounds that soothe. Good Earth’s new collection STILL presents an aesthetic that celebrates the positive nuances of quietude – the time we have had to relax and reflect. 

Online v/s in store, does this crisis shift the see saw? And how does one deal with a broken supply chain? 

The break in the supply chain shares a massive opportunity to innovate point of sale! When ‘footfall’ is moot in light of social distancing and safety precautions, it is imperative to look at the route to market as not just a sales strategy, but also as the most important pillar of building and sustaining customer relations. 

While times like these underline the importance of e-retail, it also is a great starting point for conceptual thinking. NYFW was born at the height of World War II to give American fashion a much-needed impetus. Similarly, we see this crisis as an opportunity for retailers to shift resources from multiple physical shops to pop-ups/ experience pods/ VR retail that share an accessible invitation to a larger pool of audiences across geographies. 

In terms of PR strategy, how does one now pitch to fashion magazines? Since Brand Events won’t be a viable PR Tool for some time, what other ways can customers be engaged? 

We are being mindful to retrofit our brands into stories that the media are devising keeping in mind their readers. At a time when the world is battling survival, we have taken the focus away from consumption to education, engagement and knowledge-sharing by sharing access to brand spokespersons. 

Once again, leveraging social media has been crucial as we wait to see how events change format in the time of social distancing. 

From inviting followers to join AMPM’s Priyanka Modi on a tour of her home over IGTV to curating Zoom webinars with industry experts to share insights and outlook for students of Istituto Marangoni and GENES Lecoanet Hemant’s conversations on Instagram Live with celebrity stylists – consumers engagement is at an all-time high! These storytelling initiatives have helped in building appreciation not just for the product but also for the personality of the brand. An effort for which companies spent millions of marketing monies just a few years ago! 

Will there be a greater focus on sustainability when it comes to brands? 

Yes, and through all facets of Sustainability - environmental, cultural and economic. While the first steps towards this have already been underway, the post-lockdown era will see consumers wanting (or even demanding) to know more about how a product is made. 

While a consumer may buy less frequently, when they do buy it will be a well-thought investment taking into consideration purpose, function, longevity. As a result, what happens in a brand’s workshop will be an equally important narrative as what is picked up off the shelf. 

In light of this, we see communication tools evolving. A brand’s background note will now have to take the shape of a manifesto outlining its purpose and commitments. Labels on a garment will possibly evolve to give information beyond country of origin. Newsletters will evolve from being electronic pamphlets to content care-packages that a customer will look forward to receiving every fortnight. This will be the differentiator between good and great offerings in the direct-to-consumer world. Again, some brands have already been doing this beautifully. But, now, the need of the hour is for a unifying body in India to lay down processes and protocols to protect, encourage and develop our country’s rich crafts and cultural heritage - the roots of all homegrown luxury. 

Digital luxury marketing do something great

What has been the greatest takeaway from this crisis? 

The last few months have been a reiteration of our belief in the power of relationships. Human connection, in real-time or virtually, will never go out of style. Any brand that has recognized this and ‘talked’ to their stakeholders has set themselves up for implicit trust. The success and sustenance of a brand have been dependant on both agility and authentically upholding its values. These factors have helped brands that we work with build strong connections among their human capital – be it consumers or employees and service-providers. Technology will continue to evolve, but human connection and relationships will continue to direct the course of business for the foreseeable future. In a nutshell, do less, and do good for good. 

Srimoyi Bhattacharya Peepul PRSrimoyi Bhattacharya, Founder of Peepul Consulting was born and brought up in Paris, and has over 25 years of communications expertise. She is passionate about helping brands build their image, support their growth through the creation and execution of strategic and creative marketing / communications programs. Srimoyi worked in PR in Paris in corporate and new media for over 7 years before moving to the US in 2002. Prior to founding Peepul, Srimoyi headed communications and public affairs for Hampshire Hotels & Resorts, a hospitality group headed by the Chatwal family in New York. While she handled public affairs for the hospitality group, she helped with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s visit to India, a press campaign for the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation for the HIV/AIDS Initiative, and numerous fundraisers. In April 2006, Srimoyi co-founded Peepul PR in New York. Today, Peepul Consulting has offices in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru and manages a curated portfolio of brands like Tarun Tahiliani, Kama Ayurveda, Good Earth, Bumble India, Swarovski, Hidesign and Sotheby’s.


Deepika Prabhu, Peepul PrDeepika Prabhu Partner at Peepul Consulting began her career in PR and Communications 16 years ago and brings with her experience from across both sides of the fence – as a consultant publicist as well as an in-house communications manager. Over the years, she has planned and executed PR programmes across the hospitality, fashion and lifestyle, social media and corporate sectors. Deepika began her career with Le Royal Meridien Mumbai, followed with a four-year stint on the agency side, spear-heading and working on campaigns for Moët Hennessy India, Gucci, MySpace, Lindt Swiss Chocolates, Swarovski Elements, Accor Hospitality and Park Hyatt Resort & Spa to name a few. This was followed by an assignment at Moët Hennessy India as PR and Digital Manager for the company’s portfolio of champagnes, wines and spirits.

International Travel After Lockdown: Trends & Thoughts By: Sonu Shivdasani, Founder and CEO, Soneva

Posted on: July 13, 2020

Meditation luxury travel experiences

I have been fortunate enough to experience many crises during my lifetime. My choice of the word ‘fortunate’ is deliberate. The Chinese word for crisis is two characters: ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. According to Lao Tzu, the Chinese writer and philosopher, ‘good fortune has its roots in disaster.’ Over the years, I have come to understand these words and have realised that these crises are opportunities to learn, grow and develop. I have realised that if we consider a crisis in a positive way, we can always find an opportunity to learn and develop and make our lives more enriching as a result. 

The current crisis has allowed many people the opportunity to pause and rethink their values and importantly their priorities. I believe that only through introspection can we shape a better, new reality post-Covid-19. In a post-COVID-19 world, consumers will be more conscious of the impact that they will have on both nature and the communities which they visit. I have to specifically mention air travel, which, while it is a big part of an individual’s ecological footprint, is a very small contributor to greenhouse gases, and its contribution is less than the negative impact of the beef and dairy industry. 

Firstly, I believe that corporate travel will be permanently affected by COVID-19. It takes 21 days to create a habit and I suppose the same to break it. People have just broken the old habit of going on business trips and reconsidered how actually necessary they are. That habit has been broken relatively quickly, and replaced by a new habit of working online and connecting through fantastic communication tools such as Zoom, Skype, etc., that we have today in the 21st century. 

Air travel after pandemic

In regards to travels, personally, I will be reducing my travel going forward. I do not think I will need to visit countries so often for press and sales conferences and meetings as I used to in the past. My past routine, for example, was an annual trip to Russia, one of our biggest markets. I will now do it once every 2 or 3 years, just to get a feel of the Russian cities and interact with Russian clients in Russia. 

There will be some trepidation or anxiety initially about boarding flights and travelling to other countries, since there are a lot of people that had to spend their lockdown period far from families and friends, but after a while, people will get used to flying again. I believe, that one of the first and the obvious candidates are the airlines of the Middle East, which are very progressive and have considerable capital to restart businesses. I suspect that these airlines will ultimately be beneficiaries as they have the money to change the infrastructure and experience on flights. We can see Europe starting to open borders and allowing travel within the European Union. The Maldivian Government has also just announced opening borders for international flights arrivals from July 15. 

I believe that airlines will suffer from a sharp decline in corporate travel and also, most importantly, a decline in tourism, as with restrictions and quarantine rules in different countries, tourists will do fewer trips but would stay longer, which is an undoubtable benefit for hoteliers. Long haul carriers like Qatar Airways and Emirates will benefit from this trend as people will most probably take fewer holidays, knock out the short weekend breaks and instead go long haul for a longer period. But, regional airlines will suffer. I believe that customers will pay more for more space and security because they are taking fewer trips but travelling further.  

Soneva Fushi Maldives aerial view

I suspect, that even though the second quarter of 2020 may be the period of the greatest economic decline in history, I think consumers will be prepared to spend that little bit extra for a unique experience as they will value the precious time with their families more now than ever. Travellers will also become more health-focused, more aware of nature and more sensitive to the challenges of the planet. It is true that there will certainly be much more supply of certain types of hotel than demand. We were already seeing that even before we went into this crisis. The crisis, and the recession that will follow, will only exacerbate the situation.

As we recover and journey out of this crisis, we will reach a fork in the road. I do hope that we will clearly know where we want to go. The current global pandemic has highlighted how interconnected we are, and how important it is that as humans on planet earth, we break through our national boundaries and collaborate together to preserve life on earth as we know it. 

Soneva Fushi Maldives seaplane

If we do not change, and just go back to business as usual after this crisis, it will be a sad, lost opportunity. All the suffering that we have been through over these past months will have been for nothing. This pandemic will end, but the important question is whether the bond we have with the way we live and our daily reality has been sufficiently broken, and whether we can attach ourselves to a new reality and a new way of doing things. 

Or if we will just go back to our old ways….

I hope not.

Sonu Shivdasani Founder SonevaSonu Shivdasani, born in England, is an alumnus of Eton College in England, and Le Rosey in Switzerland. He later graduated from Oxford University with an MA in English Literature. Sonu met Eva Malmström, his now wife, at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix during his time at Oxford. Also during his time at Oxford, Sonu and Eva travelled frequently to the Maldives. It was during those trips that Eva and Sonu developed a dream of one day living there. Soon Sonu and Eva built Soneva Fushi on the island of Kunfunadhoo in the Maldives in 1995. These beginnings led to the founding and growth of Evason and Six Senses Resorts and Spas. In 2012, they sold Six Senses and Evason to focus wholly on Soneva, as part of the ‘One Owner, One Operator, One Philosophy, One Brand’ strategy. In 2010 Eva and Sonu founded the Soneva Foundation, a UK-registered charity committed to supporting the development and operation of projects and campaigns that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact. For 25 years Sonu and his wife, Eva, have created the template for sustainable tourism, coining the concepts of “SLOW LIFE” and “Intelligent Luxury” which recognises the ability for luxury holiday making and care for the environment to co-exist in harmony. Whilst the role of CEO and Joint Creative Director of Soneva keeps him quite busy, Sonu still finds time to enjoy water sports, reading, art, architecture, wine, travelling, skiing and wellness.

Aston Martin: Winds of Change By: Somnath Chatterjee

Posted on: June 5, 2020

Is there any other carmaker that we feel so deeply connected to? The endless Bond references, the panache and yes the cars. The iconic ‘Goldfinger’ DB5 to the voluptuous DB9s via the Daniel Craig era DBS - Aston Martin had always elevated itself to the top of the pyramid when it comes to sheer desirability. And a lot of that stems from the aura surrounding the brand and the allure it still has to this day. There are other super car brands which are as cosseted as Aston Martin, but none could be cooler, and Sir Sean Connery might have something to do with that...

Aston Martin car

However, more than its box-office record, lately Aston Martin has been more in news for its endless financial troubles and the lack of monetary clarity which has been affecting the company. 

But before we dig deeper into the current situation, looking back at Aston's history suggests that it’s never been as smooth as the svelte lines on its cars. Its ownership has changed several hands and that meant it never had the financial mettle to take on the likes of Ferrari or Lamborghini. Ferrari is cash rich and Lamborghini is under the massive Volkswagen empire - something Aston never had. To develop ground breaking sports cars you need endless reserves of cash and years of research. Plus with the automobile industry knocking its doors on a massive supposed shift towards electric mobility, the sports car has entered uncharted territory. 

All these were huge obstacles in the way of this revered British marquee, however, the last decade has seen Aston Martin revitalize, and one of the reasons for that has been Andy Palmer. He came from Nissan, but being British and having an eye for both product development as well as company management, he seemed the right candidate for this top job. To give a brief back story, before he came to Aston Martin, the product line-up was ageing and the company needed a turn-around badly.

Andy Palmer Aston Martin

Mr. Palmer did exactly that, and within three years of joining, he made Aston Martin register a profit - a first for this decade. The line-up of products was set and a plan was chalked out by Mr. Palmer, which included a new sports car range, a new SUV, a new mid-engined line-up, new al. The crucial DB11 that had launched under him started off well and put Aston back as the maker of gorgeous GT cars.

But amidst this new found optimism, the biggest mistake made by Mr. Palmer was probably floating Aston Martin on the stock exchange. Share prices fell shortly after some time, plus the Vantage - expected to be the best selling Aston - failed to take off.

Meanwhile a new factory for the DBX SUV, plus Aston’s vast new product line-up, including bringing back its Lagonda as an EV luxury brand, had run into teething troubles. Financial woes thanks to the ongoing Coronavirus also only stoked that flame further.

Aston Martin DBX

In need of cash badly, in came Lawrence Stroll, a billionaire, Ferrari dealer, F1 team owner and fashion mogul. With him infusing much needed cash, the lofty product strategy of Aston Martin is saved for now and Mr. Stroll would also rename his F1 team as 'Aston Martin Racing', thereby connecting road-cars to the racing business. However, while initially expressing faith in Mr. Palmer, Mr. Stroll has shocked everyone and replaced him with Tobias Moers.

Who is Mr. Moers? He is the current boss of AMG. AMG supplies electronics plus engines to current Aston Martin cars, while Daimler, parent of Mercedes, owns 5 percent of Aston Martin. Connecting the dots? This move signifies the strengthening of the Mercedes and Aston Martin relationship. Mr. Moers had helped AMG in a massive sales expansion, thus making him the perfect candidate for the job. He turned AMG from a mere ‘performance’ division of Mercedes to a full Porsche rivaling performance car company with numerous new products being launched under him.

The same would be expected from him with his new job. Aston Martin is expected to go all guns blazing on the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bentley and others. It would not be easy, owing to market and economic headwinds, but on the face of it, Mr. Moers seems to be a strong roll of the dice from Mr. Stroll.

Tobias Moers Aston Martin

In a way this makes the future of Aston Martin more secure. But what about the rather abrupt exit of Palmer? Well, while he may not have left this company in the best of ways, he will be remembered for engineering a turn-around with the relatively meagre resources that he had. The new product line as well as the cars in the pipeline envisioned by him show that it is indeed a remarkable achievement. 

Thus, as things stand, the current plan to get the DBX luxury SUV rolling out of the new plant is well underway, and so is the Valkyrie hypercar with planned customer deliveries later this year, along with the mid-engined supercars like the Valhalla. However, the electric Rapide four-door as well as the much anticipated Lagonda has been put on the back-burner for now.  So yes, despite all of the corporate drama engulfing Aston, it seems that 007's favourite getaway car lives for another day...

Luxury and Bees: A Humble, Buzzing Connection By: Tejashee Kashyap

Posted on: May 25, 2020

Luxury and Honeybees

In a town just south of Houston, 500,000 to 600,000 bees were swiped out of the environment in 2019. The bee population is rapidly declining around the world due to habitat loss, pollution and the use of pesticides, among other factors. They are not just beneficial for that honey-flavoured cocktail you’re sipping or the sweet pastry you can’t stop Instagramming about. On the recently observed World Bee Day, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall - who has been named the first-ever President of Bees for Development - highlights the importance of bees and how they help alleviate poverty and encourage biodiversity. 

While people have been confined to their homes in lockdown, wildlife has faced less human disturbance, traffic and polluting fumes. Lockdowns have put a number of insect-harming practices on hold, creating a safer world for bees as well. Adding to that, luxury hotels - from Waldorf Astoria New York to Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver - have been creating a buzz for being bee-friendly landmarks. Synonymous with luxurious and exclusive motoring, even Rolls-Royce is doing their bit through their sweet new venture of saving bees. But, what makes the culture of apiary and urban beekeeping a favourite among luxury?

Moving Up in the World

World Bee Day, celebrated on May 20, aims to strengthen measures to protect bees, which are vital pollinators for almost 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species and more than 75% of global food crops. Despite their importance in supporting food security and biodiversity, bees are under significant threat worldwide from intensive and monocultural farming practices, land-use change and habitat loss, pesticides and rising temperatures linked to climate change.

Rolls-Royce Apiary

Richard Carter, Director of Global Communications at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said, “We are helping to raise awareness of the real, present threats facing this fascinating and incredibly important species. We all depend on bees and other pollinators to produce much of our food and safeguard and enhance the biodiversity of the world around us.” Although car manufacturing has been temporarily suspended, the home of Rolls Royce also made the buzz for the world’s most exclusive honey. The Apiary project is Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ response to the real and present threat facing Britain’s honey bee population. 

There are over 20,000 different species of bee, found on every continent except Antarctica and without them, the delicate balance of the Earth's ecosystem would be destroyed and a third of global food supplies would disappear. Showcasing its solidarity, even vegan material science label Pangaia collaborated with Japanese artist Murakami and launched a 'Bee the Change' fund, featuring clothing with flowers and a unique bee character created specifically for the project. The fund aims to protect and preserve vulnerable and endangered bee species across the world.

Pangaia and Takashi World Bee Day shirts

Buzzing Hotels

Many luxury hotels have been utilising their unused rooftops to produce locally grown honey. They have also used it to let people learn and be aware of the insects’ role in ecology. World-class architects known for their design language make hives interesting and creative too. For example, in Baur au Lac, Zurich, the hive was designed as a miniature version of the hotel itself. Britain has been facing major bee challenges, hence St Ermin’s Hotel, steps from the Buckingham Palace, has been raising awareness by hosting a thriving colony of 300,000 Buckfast honeybees inside their “Bee & Bee” hotel. Visitors can sign up for a 2.5-hour Urban Beekeeping workshop too that outlines the complexities of a bee society, offers guidance, and teaches how to site hives in gardens or allotments. 

St Ermin's Hotel London

Shangri-La, Toronto features a  “B-Wall” which includes a $35,000 luxury condominium beehive setup designed by Birks, a Canadian high-end jeweler. The hive design is elevated, allowing the bees to take flight faster and in the opposite direction of people. The staff can harvest kilograms of honey to use in their cocktails and pastries. Many hotels can be seen doing a wondrous job in saving the world population of bees from the dramatic decline. Instead of allowing those largely unused rooftop spaces go to complete waste, they are now rooms for saving earth’s ecology.

Shangri-La Toronto

The Takeaway, Honey!

The United Nations has designated May 20 as World Bee Day to mark the birthday of Slovenian artist, designer and apiculturist Anton Janša (1734-1773). Considered as the father of modern beekeeping, Janša pioneered many methods still in use today. In his seminal treatise, A Full Guide to Beekeeping, published posthumously, he declared: “Amongst all God's beings there are none so hardworking and useful to the man with so little attention needed for its keep as the bee.” 

Baur au Lac Zurich honey

Human survival depends on bees. They contribute to the pollination of one-third of the world’s global food supply. So as well as giving wild bees themselves a temporary respite, bee specialists are hopeful that increased awareness and engagement with bees could be a boon for conservation.

The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar: Decoding India Through the Ages By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: May 12, 2020

The Indian luxury industry is at a cusp of sorts. The year 2020 was leading up to an emergence of a more mature Millennial customer, an increasingly conscious Gen Z-er, and an industry that was at the verge of finding that unique, ideal balance between online and offline when COVID-19 struck. And with a force that has shaken the entire world, making it bend its knees in acquiescence. 

The luxury products market in India, which is around $6.25 billion, was expected to grow at 10-15% until 2022 (The Economic Times). But of course, these numbers are going to change extraordinarily now. 

The formulas have changed now, but maybe not by much. Covid-19 has made the Millennial even more mature, the Gen-Z even more conscious, and the luxury industry is hurtling towards digitalization, artificial intelligence and other technologies at a breathtaking speed. There is no balance between online and offline. For now, it’s only online. The hardest hit industries are, of course, travel, F&B and hospitality, which were once destined for the highest success. 

The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar

All these unforeseeable changes don’t mar the importance of ‘The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar’, a well-researched publication by Abhaya Gupta – someone who has seen the industry up and close for the past 15 years, ever since the modern Indian luxury industry took birth. After working with many international luxury brands such as Versace and Corneliani, Mr. Gupta currently heads Luxury Connect and Luxury Connect Business School.

With more than 50% of its population being young, India is an attractive proposition for all retail brands. But as Mr. Gupta said in his short video interview, it is this young consumer, which makes India a hard nut to crack for luxury brands. 

There are these and similar other conundrums which Mr. Gupta has addressed in his book. The book begins very interestingly, by minutely combing through India’s history, which begins as being one of the richest Asian kingdoms. The author regales us with stories of grandeur, moving towards today, as he analyses the various political and economic policies that led to the democratization of luxury. Wealth has today moved from the treasuries of Maharajas to the bank accounts of entrepreneurs and skilled executives. A decade-by-decade analysis helps the reader to seamlessly traverse through the changes in India’s consciousness. 

The book then moves towards a category-by-category status report, talking about existing brands, their entry, exits (if any) and successes. Mr. Gupta gives emphasis on the success stories of Indian luxury brands as well. Consumer trends today have been discussed in detail as the author defines the various types of consumer and their psyche. Adding to the millennials and Gen Z, the book has mentioned the next generation as well – Generation Alpha (those born between 2013 to 2025) – a magnificent name for the tiny tots!

Impact of recent phenomena such as demonetization, implementation of GST and high import duties have also been explained. These major economic changes did shift the seismic plates beneath the luxury industry, which have been thoroughly examined in the book. 

Trends in luxury such as consolidation, sustainability, street fashion, micro influencers, etc. (most of which still hold true in a post-COVID era), have been covered in the volume. But then understanding the trends won’t help till barriers to luxury are conquered. Mr. Gupta explores problem areas, such as regulations, FDI and counterfeits, in detail as well. 

It is towards the end that the author gives a potential success formula which luxury brands can adopt to capture the highly elusive, complex Indian consumer. Called the 5Cs model, this theory could help all those international luxury brands make inroads into this ancient civilization, which may be traditional at heart, but trend- and technology-savvy in mind.

While understanding the luxury industry comes naturally to Mr. Gupta, authorship is something he trained himself for – as he mentioned in his interview. And that shines through this much-required, simple to understand book. A glamourous cover leads onto a holistic journey through the Indian luxury industry. The paperback and hardcover editions are yet to be launched, but the Kindle edition of the book is currently available. The book can also be pre-booked at the author’s website.

And as a quick reaction to our current situation, the author, after combining first-hand research and surveys, is also offering an e-book – ‘Corona Virus and its Impact on Indian Luxury’. Along with the rest, this particular e-book is worth a high price. Because navigating through the current scenario will take every ounce of intelligence and strength that the industry can muster together. 

Name: The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar

Author: Abhaya Gupta

Price (Kindle): Rs 1,295 | $ 29.99

Available at: Amazon India | Amazon US |

The Luxury Rebound – Shape of Things Post COVID By: Abhay Gupta, Founder & CEO, Luxury Connect | Advisor & Mentor to Luxury Brands | Speaker | Author

Posted on: May 2, 2020

The recent Corona Virus has perhaps been the biggest disaster that the world and the luxury industry have ever faced. Nothing of this magnitude ever was imagined or experienced even post the world wars, the famines or the financial mayhems of 2008. However, with every such past crisis, history has been witness to human resilience, his ability to adjust and create a new normal. Life goes on – time and tide wait for none as they say.

Louis Vuitton Spring 2008 collection with masks

With every crisis, there comes new opportunity. Time and again, this has been proven true. Despite the telephone having been invented in late 1800s, it became a new normal immediately and only after the First World War. Likewise, in 2003, post SARS, Taoboa emerged from Alibaba and became a new phenomenon. In India, the Demonetization of 2016 led to digital money and its leader PayTm becoming the new normal.  9/11 changed travel security and 26/11 changed hotel security for ever. The Covid crisis is already making work from home, digital banking, e-commerce and social distancing as the new normal. 

How about Luxury?

In 2019, the global luxury industry was estimated to be worth 281 billion euro at 4.1 percent CAGR. Many of the top luxury groups and brands enjoyed double-digit growth for several quarters. And 90 percent of that growth was thanks to Chinese customers alone, reaching 35 percent of the value of luxury goods, according to a 2019 Bain study. 

Luxury, since its very origins, meant slow pace, attention to detail, and custom made. Rarity was the reason that justified a high value of the product. Luxury was the story of passionate creators aiming to leave a lasting mark in the history of excellence. More art than commerce was the true essence of luxury.

Soon after corporatisation of luxury, segmentation and targeting became the norm. Luxury positioned itself as an industry that sells items often bought for status or self-pleasure or differentiation or even the feel good factor. However, in a time comparable to a war like scenario, it won’t be a priority for many of those customers who used to stock their wardrobes with pricey items.

Besides, as per a study by Harvard Business Review, during a recession or crisis like it is now, the normal market segmentation does not hold true. It changes into four different categories of:

1. Those who slam on the brakes and conserve every penny they have.

2. Those who are pained but patient to be cautious with their expenditure and wait for good times to return.

3. The comfortably well off affluent customer, for whom recession or economic downturns do not matter.

4. And finally, the YOLO or live for the day generation.

Luxury essentially targets the last two of the above. 

Louis Vuitton Champs elysees store

So will luxury have a set back? 

Yes surely, but will bounce back quickly simply because for someone whom luxury is a way of life, his benchmarks will not change. A hedonist enjoys what he buys. His taste levels do not accept anything lower than what he perceives as acceptable. He was always buying for his own satisfactions and will continue to do so. On the other hand, the aspirant for whom luxury is a treat, a social declaration of his success, his feel good trophy, he will continue to live for the moment. Of course, quantity will be replaced by quality. 

So what will post Covid luxury look like?

After the Covid-19 crisis dissipates, we will see brands and companies fall into one of two categories

There will be those that don’t do anything, hoping such a disruption won’t ever happen again. These companies will be taking a highly risky gamble. 

And there will be firms that heed the lessons of this crisis and make investments in mapping their supply networks so that they do not have to operate blind when the next crisis strikes. They will rewrite their contracts, operating procedures and processes so they can quickly figure out solutions when disruptions occur. These companies will be the winners in the long term.

Luxury sales are expected to suffer a year-over-year decline of 25 percent to 30 percent, according to the latest research from Bain & Company.

Aspects that are expected to continue into 2021 and beyond include: 

- Decrease in consumer confidence

- Decrease in willingness to spend

- Travel will shift from no travel to cautionary and necessary travel.

The evolution and duration of the pandemic will surely be impacted by the response of individual governments and populations, however Bain & Company predicts that the market is likely to recover in two different schematics for 2021 and forward.

Bain and company luxury rebound 2020 after covid chart

Strategies for the new normal

Some new consumer trends that will emerge from this scenario are: 

a. Accelerated shift to Digital shopping: This is likely to super-accelerate because consumers not only have more time on their hands, but also because interacting with e-commerce sites has become a necessity. Omni-channel is the necessitated future.

b. Changes in store operating procedures: Restricted number of clients permitted into the mall and stores; heightened sanitation procedures; staggered and longer operating hours will all be a result of the new social distancing normal. Operating costs will rise, while inefficient stores will face closure. Brands with multiple stores will keep the best performing ones on, while rest will shutter.

c. Shows without live audiences: With travel restrictions and limitations on crowd assembly, digital launch of collections is a new normal. Besides, cost of travel will shoot up, due to reduced number of passengers allowed on board.

d. Heightened environmental & social consciousness: For pioneering brands, investments in sustainability and innovation are of high strategic importance. Quality over quantity will be the new mantra. Sustainability beyond lip service will be warranted.

e. Sharing economy may suffer: Health-related concerns growing out of the pandemic will impact the growth of rental and re-usable luxury. Hygiene and sanitation SOPs will become the deciding criteria for consumer choice.

f. Rise of a post-aspirational mindset: Ethics will become as important as aesthetics as consumers prioritize purposeful brands. Anticipate a visible shift in consumer mindset.

g. Strengthened local pride: Brands need to avoid being insensitive to local cultures. The de-globalisation phenomenon is backed by a rising urge of patriotism. 

h. Expanding the need for inclusion: Brands need to include reduced spending powers by ensuring response to mall ticket players. The lip stick effect is most prominent amongst the aspirational class. This time, lipstick is likely to be replaced by eye liners and mascara, given the need to wear a mask in public.

i. Stay relevant to customers: Reassure existing customers through editorial and personal engagement wrt social distancing, hygiene and other such measures they may be taking.

j. Develop a 360 degree customer strategy: Be more customer centric, agile and sustainable. Adopt the HEART framework of sustained communications:

Humanize your company

Educate about change

Assure stability

Revolutionize offerings

Tackle the future

YSL handbag

Credits: Research inputs from Bain & Company; Harvard Business Review and study by the author, ‘Corona Virus and its impact on Indian luxury’, available as an extension to The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar


Abhaya Gupta luxury expertAbhaya Gupta, a certified Marshall Goldsmith coach, is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. Fondazione Altagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

STIMULUS 2020: Addressing the Upcoming Challenges for India By: Nikita Vivek Pawar 

Posted on: April 21, 2020

Despite geographical insecurities and recession fears last year, the global luxury market was valued at an estimation of $1.4 trillion. The beginning of 2020 had predicted a promising increase in the global as well as domestic markets. But that was before a virus outbreak of such a vast and dangerously contagious magnitude. While China has been successful to contain the virus to some extent, that’s not the case for others yet. COVID-19 has made the once bulletproof industry’s future now seem blurry, unpredictable, with a lot at stake. 

Emerald diamond luxury jewelry

Redefining the usual seminars, employing the terrific power of internet, STIMULUS 2020, an exclusive webinar, was organised by The Global Luxury Group and Crosshairs Communications (PR Partner), with LuxuryFacts as the Digital Partner. The aim of the webinar was to connect with strategists, business owners and executives to canvas possibilities and new ideas in media, luxury, lifestyle, leadership and other industries. About 70 speakers (bought together in a short time of 10 days) from different facets of the Indian luxury industry, who were hosted over 14 panel discussions, contemplated and talked about the future of the luxury business in India. 

The last few weeks in quarantine have afforded immense self-reflection. With the forced shut down substantially altering not only our habits and way of living, but also our perceptions and understandings, we were forced to adopt alternative procedures, techniques and methods to function and sustain. As social circumstances affect market dynamics, the luxury sector is no exception. Though regarded as a recession-proof industry, COVID-19 has created multiple doubts. Emerging from the extensive two day webinar, here are few scenarios deemed evident across all sections of the Indian luxury market. 

Artificial Intelligence and Digitisation 

As the lockdown has shut down shops and showrooms, brands have to adopt alternative or diversified distribution channels. While fashion and media would have to adopt the digital media, artificial intelligence might take over certain aspects of tourism, hospitality and home decor sectors. Although luxury brands have been quite hesitant of the online platforms, Ms. Pria Kaataria Puri, fashion designer (aka the Kaftan Queen), rightly suggested that established luxury brands and labels wouldn’t face many problems in adopting the digital medium as people are familiar with the brand’s products. She also added, “However, newbies, who have just entered the industry and whose business also does depend a lot on experiential marketing, will have to face the glitch as one can never do away with physical store completely.” 

Will the age of digitisation close brick and mortar stores? No. Apart from the product, physical stores offer a luxury buying experience – one that makes the customer feel more valued. Mr. Ramesh Somani, Founder and CEO of Exhibit Magazine & BBC Top Gear India, explained: “While buying a new car, the customer wants to experience the car, have a test drive, feel the interiors - have the purchase feeling.” Adding on to it, Ms. Nonita Kalra, Editor of Harper’s Bazaar India, highlighted that the print sector would always be the luxury of media, where the quality of the paper and the content would be impeccable and eventually turn into a collector’s piece – another testament of the value of an elevated experience. 

Digitalisation in Indian luxury

Content has always been the king

The Indian audience has been diverse and experimental, as seen from the surge of Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and other social media platforms. Sadly, creativity in terms of content was seen shrinking and more commercialised. Contained in their homes and with not much to do, content consumption has seen a tremendous increase. From binging television shows and reruns of the classics, people are now looking for more qualitative and productive content. Content has always been the king, but post-COVID-19, the choice and type of content consumed will evolve. Amidst this chaos as well, people are sensitive, responsible and encouraging, truly understanding the gravity of the situation. In the future, only appropriate, credible and authentic content will thrive. Experts predict that the apocalyptic genre of cinema might emerge as a new genre for the Indian film industry. 

Conscious over conspicuous

Along with our lives, the lockdown has shown evident changes in our surroundings as well. Better air, decrease in pollution, clearer water, or animals coming out on the streets, we are given a testament of the forced changes we inflicted within a short period. Witnessing the change, people would be moving towards sustainable, reusable and environmentally friendly alternatives, choices and methods. From fashion to automobiles and from hotels to homes, a conscious effort will drive our lives. People now would want to associate with brands and labels that try and reduce their carbon footprint, implement better manufacturing processes and push for zero-wastage. Electric cars, organic and sustainable fashion brands, renewable energy resources will see a significant upward graph curve in times to come. 

Sustainable luxury

Change in consumer behaviour 

Consumer behaviour has been dynamic and a subject of interest for many. Changing times, circumstances, mindsets, and consumption of information and content contributes to people’s buying tendencies and preferences. Considering the pandemic situation, Mr. Abhay Gupta, Founder & CEO of Luxury Connect, said, “While speaking about the purchasing pattern of the consumers’ post-COVID 19, we will see two segments of consumers emerging strongly in the forefront. The conscious and the aspirational buyer, who will be mindful of their spending and shall only purchase if it is a necessity. On the other hand, we will find premium buyers, who would want to go all out and might want to go on a shopping spree to kind of deal with the happiness of being free and this, in turn, will bring back the much-needed optimism in the economy.” 

Another prediction was people are now invested in the thought of ‘you only live once’ and would increase their purchases of luxury goods as they would now prefer quality over quantity. Brands that have a strong sustainable storyline and are practising sustainability will have a high chance of increasing their turnover.



An entrepreneur is key to any business economy. Mr. Suhel Seth, founder and managing partner of the consultancy firm Counselage India, where he advises leaders across the globe on branding and marketing, explained the basic virtues of efficient leaders that we need both on political and apolitical grounds, to flourish as people and countries. ”Firstly, leaders lead by examples and not speeches. Secondly, leaders are defined not by platitude but actions and finally, leaders involve people and create engagement without confrontation.“ He also felt great that there is scope for more reinvention than rebranding. 

To find opportunity within chaos is another crucial and differentiating quality of an entrepreneur. Mr. Ashish Kashyap, founder of Goibibo, co-founder PayU and currently with INDwealth and AI-based SuperMoneyApp, rightly pointed out that the biggest startup successes have risen from recessions or crisis, be it Airbnb after the last recession, or the surge of packaged foods after World War II. The post-COVID-19 era would certainly see the rise of entrepreneurship that would probably create the next big thing of our economy. Searching opportunity in adversity, this economic depression might also lead to successful start-ups and ventures.

Going sector by sector, experts at STIMULUS 2020 highlighted the below factors that will dictate business post COVID-19.  


Lamborghini car tyre

Luxury cars have seen a significant rise since the economic reforms in 1997. Mr. Jatin Ahuja, Founder, Big Boy Toyz, highlighted the growing acceptance of luxury cars within the Indian market. According to statistics, Audi sold about 70 cars in 2000 and over 13,000 in 2019, certifying the increasing demand for luxury automobiles within the Indian market. However, the Indian automobile industry has also seen its fair share of ups and downs from demonetization, the implementation of GST and various banks bankrupting. 

Super luxury cars like Lamborghini saw about 15% growth last year. Mr. Hemant Arora, CEO/Business Head at Lamborghini & Aston Martin - New Delhi, stated that the rise was because of the launch of the SUV model from the brand. The ‘you-only-live-once’ audience is deemed to be the saving grace of the industry. However, people would be driven to opt for a hybrid or an eco-friendly car over the traditional one. Brands, thus, need to push on Research & Development for better alternatives as well as create designs that do not compromise on the luxury aspect. Having said that, as humans return to their older habits sooner or later, it is expected that the safe-playing audience sector would soon be back. 

The most significant deciding factor, however, according to experts, would be the tenure of the lockdown. Considering the lockdown and its aftermath lasts less than six months, the automobile industry would be able to recover at a much faster rate than if the repercussions last for more than a year. 

Fashion & Jewellery

Stimulus 2020 Speakers 1   Stimulus 2020 Speakers 2

The reopening of an Hermes store in China saw record sales of $2.7 million in a day. The concept of ‘Revenge spending’ thus got light. Due to the recent restricted access, people are expected to shop relentlessly. After a month-long quarantine in China, with the largest luxury market of the world bouncing back, there might be hope for the Indian Fashion market as well. Mr. Abhishek Agarwal, Founder, Purple Style Labs (PSL), who recently acquired Prenia’s Pop Up Shop, clarified that the concept of reusable luxury or preloved luxury is still in a very nascent stage in India and it would take some time before it is commonly known. However, the big, better and fatter aspect is predicted to die due to the demand for sustainable, responsible fashion. 

The most affected sector of the Indian economy are the daily wage workers, which also includes craftsmen. Though designers are trying their level best to retain them, the ultimate decision is with the audience. Fashion designer Mr. Tarun Tahiliani wishes the ‘buy less buy better’  to be the future thinking of people, moving past the Instagram life, and to owning items that are classic, versatile and mindful. Also, this is a great time for contemporary brands to incorporate Indian fabrics to encourage the craft as well as contribute to the economy. The designer himself has created a contemporary silhouette collection using Chikankari. While the big fat Indian wedding would soon be back in business, the bridal sect of the industry would soon recover and be thriving as earlier. Affordable luxury brands will also see a positive response after the quarantine gets over.  

Jewellery, on the other hand, has accepted the digital mode. Ms. Neha Lulla, Celebrity Jewellery Designer, said, “The Indian consumer will spend, but will spend in a very conscious way. Even though consumers like to have the touch and feel factor come into play while purchasing jewellery, in the current lockdown situation, jeweller apps that allow you to shop jewellery online will see a hike in sales.” Having said that, people would still prefer the brick and mortar stores for the touch and feel of jewellery, especially bridal jewellery. Ms. Lulla further clarified that the reusable luxury concept won’t be welcome in case of jewellery as it is not just a product but also has emotional sentiments attached to it. 

Hospitality & Tourism 

Luxury travel

It won’t be wrong to say that the hospitality and tourism sector is the worst-hit sector due to COVID-19, and will probably take the most time to recover and be back in action. Moving forward, hygiene and health will be a major factor of consideration while deciding a travel destination. Most luxury hotels have all ready started creating an improved health and sanitation protocol. Dr. Ankur Bhatia, ED, Bird Group, mentioned all the Roseate Hotels & Resorts would have a disinfecting booth at every entry gate, both for guests as well as employees. 

Due to a long time in quarantine, there is hope that restaurants and bars will see a rise in guests. Even then, people will have to follow social distancing and other hygiene practices even after the quarantine, mostly as a precautionary measure. Ms. Priyanka Bahl, Founder/Editor, The Dram Attic, explained people would want to have the experience of a bar and still have the privacy and feel-safe environment. The spirits and alcohol sector will have a definite and continuous surge as people are desperate to move out after the lockdown.

While it is estimated that international travel would take about a year to normalise, we don’t see a cosy picture for domestic travel as well. Mr. Chetan Jalan, founder of ChaloHoppo, a leading travel outfit catering to north-east India, worries that the continuous curfew beginning from the CAA amendment followed by the quarantine would adversely affect the tourism sector, especially the north-east states of the country. Travel within the country would be limited to the metropolitans, if necessary, as people would be wary of travelling for a considerable time.


luxury watch rolex

With the Mecca of the horology industry, BASELWORLD, skipping a year, the future of the watch industry is claimed to be a in much better position than others. Regional or group based tradeshows might rise in the near future as watch brands are moving away from heavily consolidated fairs. Luxury watches like Rado, Patek Phillipe, Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre and more are expected to recover soon, due to either revenge spending or the aspirational portion of the audience. 

A key aspect of luxury brands is the connection that they establish with the consumer, leading to a loyalist audience. Luxury watch brands can diversify into digital platforms, but the watch industry, just like bridal jewellery, would remain in the physical stores' format. Apart from digitalization, and people going from global to local, Mr. Mitrajit Bhattacharya, Founder, the Horologists & the Corner Room Project, briefly explained the short term and long term steps for luxury watch brands in India. 

Short term steps include Safety for employees and customers (like Rolex which has completed stopped manufacturing not only to ensure employee safety but also unwanted production in case of strategy changes); Proactive Communication (to communicate safety protocols and procedures, while also  going live on Instagram and Facebook to ensure constant communication with audience); and Reassurance for a long-time commitment (where the top line management needs to create confidence for a better tomorrow among their employees and stakeholders).


The long term steps include Reviewing 2020 inventory and revising the 2021 collection (as the apocalyptic situation will give rise to the discounting, counterfeit watches and fakes in the market, companies need to have clear data on the inventory across the country and rethink and design the 2021 collection according to the market analytics); Enhancing digital engagement (via custom activation, e-commerce and digital marketing); Managing cash well; Clean Sheet Demand planning (as with the inventory spread all over the world, it would be difficult to clear the inventory as retailers will try to discount, which might further worsen the company’s situation); and Adjusting the Supply Chain and merchandising plan. 


Luxury homes

The homes session of the webinar was a rather insightful and heartfelt conversation, majorly revolving around concepts in the home décor sector to make it more sustainable, eco-friendly and cohesive. The panellists agreed that this scenario would propel the home sector in a positive direction. 

The home décor sector is expected to see a rise of brands that are using products and materials that have a great environmental value. With a change in mind-sets, maximalism might see a short death. The youth or Gen Z is more aware and conscious about the effect on nature and would want to implement ways to mitigate the adverse effect. Greenhouse practices and incorporating nature and environment to its maximum level would be the key driver of trends in the coming decade. Electronic devices and applications in the home industry would see more of Artificial Intelligence, and a vast segment of customers would opt for value over volume. In the light of the current scenario, there is a foreseeable up-rise in home-based entertainment equipment, and house gatherings and parties over meetings at public places.


Influencing has been a crucial part of the eco-system, be it celebrities, socialites, social media influencers, etc. The market post-COVID-19 would turn their heads towards real people, whom the audience can connect and relate with. As rightly put by fashion writer and sustainability activist Bandana Tewari in a session: “The consumer of tomorrow is not greedy.” Consumers will not look for superficial value but rather explore the experience. Consumer behaviour patterns showcase that they would sway towards sustainability and also not put emphasis on the price tag of a genuine product’s true essence and making. Thus influencers in the form of media, entertainment, and social activists will need to resemble this thinking and accordingly provide intelligent discourse. 

Stimulus 2020 Speakers 3   Stimulus 2020 Speakers 4

During the entire span of the webinar, hope and resilience was evident. The quarantine has not only helped alter our preferences, but it also has a massive silver lining that reminds us of the strength mankind has with the will to sustain and survive. The post-COVID-19 world would surely be a much better place to live in, with newer ventures and ideas and the resilience to achieve our goals.


Images courtesy: Cris Ovalle, Engin Akyurt, Marvin Meyer, Noah Buscher, Nordwood Themes, REVOLT, Riccardo Annandale, Toa Heftiba, STIMULUS 2020

Luxury & COVID-19: Unity in Adversity By: Jiya Sharma

Posted on: March 30, 2020

COVID 19 protein molecule structure

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon a sudden global crisis. Be it economic, financial, emotional or mortal, the pandemic is taking its toll across the world. In times like these, humanity possesses the beautiful ability to come together and brave the storm as one. Everyone is affected yet everyone wants to help. Some are in a better position than others to do so. Luxury brands across the globe are taking initiatives and doing their part during this crisis. 

First tremors

The gravity of Coronavirus has been felt since the beginning of the year. The world began to react at a rather slow, but increasingly rapid rate. The first big news in Europe emerged when Milan Fashion Week was disrupted and luxury houses such as Armani cancelled their physical fashion shows to hold them live online without an audience. 

With an escalation in global cases, WHO declared the Coronavirus to be a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Immediately there was an irreversible shift across both company and consumer behavior. After China, the next biggest luxury market to be hit was Italy, which saw a rapid rise in the number of cases and ordered for closure of various non-essential public spaces such as pubs and theatres. France quickly followed and three of the world’s largest luxury markets were inactive. The Cruise Collection shows were cancelled, already causing great losses for major houses including Prada, Gucci, Versace, etc. The brands lost not only the money invested on the pre-production, but also the ROI on the marketing these shows create for brands. 

Ethics vs Business

As cases grew, awareness rose and problems intensified. Brands faced quite the dilemma in markets where there were no government mandated closures. Brands had to choose between business and ethics. While keeping the stores open for business was a financially healthier option, timely closure of stores led early-adopters to be lauded for their efforts to control the pandemic and ‘doing their part’ by consumers. 

coronavirus masks

Eventually it became obvious for brands to shut down operations across all levels of the supply chain and take all measures possible to protect their workforce. Human life must take precedence over financial gain. Luxury has, therefore, been hit in the core of its manufacturing base. While China is a big player in luxury goods manufacturing, the crisis in Italy has made brands question their entire manufacturing foundation. Brands are withdrawing orders and factories are shutting down. For example, Fossil recently halted production at its biggest factory in China, threatening the very future of the factory itself. 

Actions & Initiatives

Numerous domestic measures in different countries weren’t enough and travel bans across the world began to emerge, causing a dip in potential customers. This was accompanied by closure of all “non-essential” stores, which included luxury stores in Europe and voluntary closures across USA. 

Faced with the crisis, luxury brands such as Versace led the way with Chief Creative Officer Donatella Versace and her daughter Allegra Versace Beck personally donating $222,000 to the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, while Giorgio Armani made a donation of €1.25 million. Soon after, LVMH announced its plans to manufacture disinfectant gels in French factories to battle the shortage. 

Brands across the world have come forward with actionable measures. The Zegna family, together with the Group’s top management, have pledged personal donations to the Civil Protection in Italy totaling 3 million euros, in support of the nurses, doctors, scientists and volunteers across Italy. They also converted a part of their production facilities in Italy and Switzerland to manufacture medical masks for Zegna’s employees and cater to the wider needs in Italy and Switzerland. 

Similarly, Kering Group provided the French health service with 3 million surgical masks, which the Group purchased and imported from China. And the French workshops of Kering’s brand, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent, are manufacturing masks. Kering has also made a financial donation to the Institut Pasteur to support its research into Covid-19. On March 11 in Italy, Kering also made donations to four major foundation hospitals in Lombardy, Veneto, Tuscany and Lazio.

Gucci Covid 19 donations

Gucci, calling on its friends and followers from its global community, began the #GucciCommunity initiative to invite people to make donations to the Solidarity Response Fund for WHO through the “donate” feature available in their IG stories. It has attracted donations from more than 200,000 people worldwide and from some of the biggest multinational companies.

Luxury companies across the world have made efforts to aid in the fight against the Coronavirus and the luxury industry is no stranger. Along with financial support and manufacturing measures, brands across the world have spread the message of strength and unity, assuring their communities globally that this shall pass too, and standing together, the world will come out a better, stronger place!

Luxury Consumers of 2020: “Why should I buy you?” By: Gaurri Malhotra, MD, IPURPLE

Posted on: March 16, 2020

Today, in an omni-channel world, consumers are enthusiastic about adopting innovations and engaging with relatable brands. When consumers use brands to help shape their personal image, traditional values like quality and craftsmanship will simply be expected. 

Luxury shopper

Companies need to launch strong awareness and trial-building campaigns supported by positive product experiences. There are few influencing factors that are largely responsible for the buying behavior of the new age customer. This tendency is identical to asking for taste without offering salt. If you want customers, you need to blend it into a flavor that builds trust in the marketplace, while simultaneously giving your prospects something to assuage their cravings. Your brand message is the salt that adds flavor to your efforts.

Connect with me!

Our lives have never been so navigable. In this age of awareness and existence of deeply opinionated consumers, there is a need for rapid change in brand behavior to match with the rhythm of the ever evolving millennial. The growing relevance of social media in life has dramatically influenced decision-making. While supporting their customers in strengthening their self-images, brands need to move away from just creating products and services, to re-thinking how they fit into their customer’s lives. 

A brand that has championed sustainability way ahead of its time shall have a history to share, while other luxury brands are still only gliding the surface. A forward thinking brand sets the tone to cater to the new age affluent consumers - youth who strongly believe in self-expression through what they purchase or wear, rather than what they already have. Regardless of race, culture, colour, sexual orientation, there is a feeling of coherence when it comes to making an ideal brand choice. 

Beyond their historical credentials, brands need to continuously look for new avenues of relevance that connects with the new age audience. The consumer today is looking for a brand that comes with a belief that they can relate to. There are brands which have been embraced because of their beliefs and approach towards LGBT, gender bias and racism and some being rejected for the same reason. Think John Galliano! 

The socially aware consumers of today have a very strong view of the world around them. When brands speak their language, these customers connect with them in an instance.

Value for every dollar spent!

As we step into the new decade, another element affecting the consumer’s purpose-driven shopping behavior is customer experience. It has become the key to gain a competitive advantage over others. Brands are increasingly embracing technology to offer a dynamic experience to customers that keeps them engaged and looking forward to new and better services. Clients increasingly expect adaptive services to fit in their changing needs. Hence, brands need to work on delivering real-time, personalised experiences and seamless conveniences such as facial recognition, sensors and smart objects. 

Luxury shopping consumer behavior

While craving digital conveniences has increased, human interaction has not lost its sheen. Top-end spas and salons, hotels, art museums, local galleries and restaurants offer customized experiences with experts, curators and personal shoppers to build a long-lasting relationship with clients. The very business of concierge services revolves around authentic and relevant customer service. They offer tailor-made solutions to any need in the lifestyle of their clientele and their services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year making the curated luxury lifestyle experience even more delightful. 

Influence of Technology

Technology is also been utilized to make the back-end operations of brands more efficient. Brands are slowly adopting technologies that incorporate machine-learning and data-driven capabilities. Traditionally, brands focused profoundly on aesthetics and brand messaging. Now it’s a balance of art and science. For example, high-end apparel brands depend on artificial intelligence engines to utilize data insights for clarity in customer demand. This ensures that brands focus on creations that appeal to their target audience. Combined with inputs from merchandisers and brand designers, brands can offer customers a curated experience. The fusion of data collecting methods with personalized and inspiring products and services will help create authentic and unique brands that are well defined in the eyes of their clients.

The Social Business Dynamics

Social ecommerce is flourishing in 2020. The increasing traction in the growing platform of Instagram and Facebook for shopping are changing the dynamics of business altogether. Expectedly, online sales continue to gain market share globally, with affluent consumers increasingly influenced and enabled by digital channels. 

Making my presence felt!

Consumers are continuously moving to seek alternatives to popular online communities and social media platforms. Niche social platforms will continue to gain popularity among well-heeled consumers. Users will embrace more intimate digital spaces that foster meaningful, life-enhancing connections with like-minded peers and brands. 

For luxury brands, it will mean a commitment to customer-centricity and the adoption of alternative social platforms to answer consumer desire for a more authentic, unfiltered look behind the scenes. Going beyond story-telling and equity, brands will have to now keep working on value creation. 

Building brand loyalty is a persistent process to match footstep with the new generation. For change is the only constant that will exist forever!


Gaurri Malhotra Narang iPurpleGaurri Malhotra has 14 years of experience in providing branding solutions. She runs two companies - IPURPLE working with luxury and corporate brands from all over the world, and PROMINENT, providing branding services to talent from all walks of life. Impeccable planning, meticulous implementation, and champion results are core pillars of her work culture

Tiffany & Co. in India: Painting the Town Blue By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: February 14, 2020

Tiffany T Collection


Thoroughly loved by fashionistas, New York residents and frequent visitors, the Tiffany's flagship store at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan, which has operated since 1940, is a celebrity in its own rights, having been featured in films including Breakfast at Tiffany's, starring Audrey Hepburn, and Sweet Home Alabama, starring Reese Witherspoon. 

Stealing a bit of NYC’s spotlight is Tiffany’s newly opened first store in New Delhi. “Tiffany & Co.’s debut in India represents an important milestone for our iconic brand. As a global luxury jeweler with stores in many of the world’s most important cities, Tiffany’s emergence in Delhi presents a unique opportunity, particularly given India’s growing luxury consumer base and passion for jewelry,” said Tiffany & Co.’s chief executive officer, Alessandro Bogliolo. 

Tiffany & Co store India The Chanakya

With over 300 stores globally and retail outlets in more than 25 countries in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Japan, Europe and UAE, Tiffany & Co. has partnered with Reliance Brands in India. Its next store in India will be in Mumbai, and is expected to open within the year.


Since 1837, when it was founded by the jeweller Charles Lewis Tiffany, the brand has become synonymous with elegance, innovative design, fine craftsmanship and creative excellence. The unique blue – or green (the debate on the exact colour is almost as old as the brand itself ) – has sparked many a sparkles in the eyes of dames and dowagers. The brand, which was recently acquired by LVMH, has seen ownership change hands a few times, and has in the process expanded its product range, though it remains best known for its jewelry, which over time has grown to offer more reasonably priced models.

The Delhi store

Central to the store in New Delhi are Tiffany & Co.’s new designs as well as its classic collections including Tiffany T, Tiffany HardWear, and Tiffany True, accompanied by the Home & Accessories collections.

Tiffany & Co store India The Chanakya


The iconic collections are meticulously spread across the store in an array of display units. Tiffany T – yes, where the ‘T’ plays such a designer role - is upfront. The turquoise Ts come in a wide range of settings, though the collection also features tiger’s eye, pink opal and black onyx—as well as lustrous mother-of-pearl. On the right of the entrance is The Return to Tiffany Collection, inspired by the iconic Return to Tiffany key ring from 1969, and for many a chance to stay in touch with the brand, as the name suggests. 

The more exclusive classic collections are towards the back of the store, including Tiffany HardWear, which is urban in attitude yet elegant in appearance. It's a luxurious mix of subversive sophistication inspired by the edge of New York City. 

Tiffany & Co Elsa Peretti collection


Tiffany’s artisans are said to use time-honored techniques to precisely cut and hand set the stones and mother-of-pearl in each necklace, bracelet and ring. Meticulous craftsmanship ensures the stones and mother-of-pearl sit perfectly with the precious metals in each design to create clean, sleek lines.


Contemporary expressions of timeless brand elements can be seen in every aspect of the store design, which is spread over 2,600 square feet of retail space. Modern and sleek, the store boasts a flexible environment while remaining true to the signature Tiffany & Co. aesthetic.


The storefront at The Chanakya mall has a striking façade in transparent and blue-lit glass which illuminates the entrance, inviting customers into a modern yet romantic atmosphere. Visitors will notice a Wheat Leaf design used on the façade that draws design inspiration from Tiffany’s NYC flagship store - a common Art Deco reference to progress and modernity.

Tiffany & Co Return to Tiffany collection


Within the store, fluting details are expressed in mirrors on the millwork. These surfaces add depth and reflectivity to the space. Thoughtful interiors welcome customers into the world of Tiffany, providing a pleasing and elegant showcase for Tiffany & Co. jewelry. A luxurious private salon for scheduled appointments awaits, heightening the Tiffany shopping experience.


With the launch of its first store in India, Tiffany & Co. aims to create an immersive and engaging experience for the customers of a new and emerging market, which is vibrant, energetic and full of personality.


Playful and elegant, Tiffany’s first ever store in India celebrates the craftsmanship and exceptional quality that characterize the brand’s renowned, extraordinary pieces.

Made in India: Making Local Luxury a Successful Philosophy By: Nikita Vivek Pawar

Posted on: February 7, 2020

Making of Jaipur Watch Company watch

India is considered to be an emerging global superpower, a growing market, and has been eyed by every retail giant of the world. While the $30 billion worth global luxury market offers a huge giftbox of opportunity, it is also difficult to create and maintain a niche in such a large industry. With rising costs, a dynamic customer base with ever-changing preferences, and the need to remain authentic to one’s origin, surviving might get a little daunting. Even then, these four brands have carved a definitive space in the Indian luxury market for themselves. 

In Love with the Abstract 

Studio Renn jewelry India

While jewellery is considered to be a mere accessory to be complimented with an attire, Mr. Rahul Jhaveri, founder of Studio Renn and third generation diamantaire, believes it can connect people on a deeper level. In a long ago dead language, Renn translates to rebirth or reincarnation, and the brand’s designs mean to rekindle human emotions and expressions. “We are not looking to make jewelry. The jewelry just gets made. It is a medium we use to express ourselves. We encourage people to slow down – look – listen – feel. Do not buy our work but collect it if it speaks to you,” he expressed. 

A certain pair of earrings, which one might find looking like a shell, might look like a dried flower to another. And that’s the beauty of abstract. Creating such designs requires much more emotional and mental involvement than traditional jewellery designing. Every piece has a story, and it speaks differently with everyone. That is precisely the reason the brand opts to not have a store, to not confine itself in a limited space, and exist without any inhibitions. 

Studio Renn jewelry India

Designing so innovatively does require a disruption in traditional thought-processes. “The preliminary conceptualization happens not keeping jewelry in mind at all. We work with artists who have no experience with or knowledge of jewelry. We discuss concepts, ideas – make sketches, sculptures, write phrases and poetry – and from this a visual language emerges which is then expressed through the jewelry we design and create," explains the designer.

In this new decade, trends no longer are the only driving factor of the industry. The consumer is aware, independent and no longer under the pretext to fit or in settle in. “Consumers have begun to wear jewelry for themselves and not because it is required of them, or because they ought to. People are breaking out of molds and taking risks. Designers are not limiting themselves by materials or capabilities – they are working with various materials, innovating with technological advancements and collaborating with designers from other fields,” explains Mr Jhaveri. 

Studio Renn jewelry India

The Indian consumer has broadened its perspective of art, beauty and creativity. The openness and acceptance of the consumer has helped a brand like Studio Renn create a space for itself. “We pride ourselves in being Made in Bombay (not Mumbai). It is a very important part of our identity. This identity is not static or predefined. No one belongs to the city but everyone does. There is a lot of talent in India which we feel isn’t utilized to its full potential. It is a conscious effort that we make everything – not only the jewelry – but the cases, boxes, props, packaging, etc. – in India. And we try to push the standards of quality and design for all these elements, which also gives the manufacturers a new challenge and renewed pride in their work,” adds Mr Jhaveri.

In Love with the Heritage

Anjul Bhandari Chikankari detailing

One of the oldest techniques of India, Chikankari, originated in the 3rd century, in the Nawab City of Lucknow. Known for its intricacy and complexity, owing to the 32 different types of tankas or stitches, it’s almost impossible to create the same pattern. While most designers use only 3-4 different types, fashion designer Anjul Bhandari uses over 20 stitches in her creations. 

A revivalist of the almost forgotten art, Mrs Bhandari says, “We try and use as many [stitches] as the craft originally used, trying to revive a few, as that keeps the authenticity of the craft alive. For the first couple of years, I focused on creating new Chikankari jaals and used my signature Japanese pearls, sequins and baby mirrors as highlights. Once we had the technique figured out, we worked closely with our artisans to establish how to use them to create the most exquisite looks.”

Anjul Bhandari Chikankari dupatta

Keeping these traditional arts thriving is as vital for business as it is for the development of India’s grassroot economy. “It's important to keep ancient art forms alive as they provide a livelihood to the craftsmen who also tend to indulge their offspring into the art. Those qualities and skills must be harboured rather than diminished to try to ensure their quality of life. Hand work is exceedingly being replaced by machine work, which is cheaper and quicker. However, the beauty of hand embroidery cannot be replaced, and a true connoisseur of the arts will recognize that and is willing to pay for it as well,” said Ms Bhandari. 

Anjul Bhandari Chikankari lehenga

The designer’s atelier in Awadh houses over 1400 artisans. Along with Chikankari, the designer also works with Kamdani and Mukaish embroidery. “What makes us proud is that we are not only a 'Made in India' luxury brand but we are also… giving craftsmen, and especially master craftsmen, the free reign to create exquisitely. We are creating an international market by giving a specific treatment to Chikankari which is subtle and elegant. And nothing makes me prouder to be able to do all of the above.” 

In Love with the Culture

Champs Fleur India flowers

Flowers are associated with every ritual and ceremony in India. From roses to marigolds, each flower has its own importance and position. Whether joyful or remorseful, every occasion is accompanied by lovely blooms. But to create a business is difficult with natural flowers. Champs Fleur founder, Chitra Das, tried an uncommon channel of business by creating a subscription service that delivers fresh flowers. “We tried to think of the easiest way for our clients to understand the concept. Subscription services are still something new in India so we had to make it easy,” explained Ms. Das. 

Making most of the technology at hand, the customised subscription orders are taken on Whatsapp. All the orders are processed by a backend system . This young company is constantly learning and adapting to the dynamic changes in the trends and preferences of the Indian consumers. 

Champs Fleur India bronze roses

Flower décor at home, though extremely beautiful and elegant, is kept at bay for quite a few reasons. Some being reduced availability of quality and varied produce, and lack of knowledge in creating that eye-stopping arrangement. Here comes the USP of the brand. “Our preserved or LonglastingⓇ flowers are sourced from around the world depending on the type. The roses are either Columbian or Kenyan, hydrangeas are usually from Columbia too, but we are seeing more African Hydrangeas. Eucalyptus is from Australian and the Lavender from France. Our fresh flowers come directly from Dutch markets.”

The primary issue with the perishable product sector is the oblivious mindset of customers, demanding affordable rates, and conveniently ignoring how labor-intensive it is. The flowers have a value and so do the handling, their logistics and storage. Creating beautiful arrangements and the right combination of flowers takes immense work. “For fresh flower decor, we are trying to target small scale events such as private dinners and pre-wedding functions - events where there is an emphasis on flowers and they are integral to events. We are also trying to reduce the waste around fresh flowers and recycle almost all of our blooms,” explains the young founder. 

Champs Fleur India flowers in an envelope

With a business that thrives entirely on its workforce and the people associated with it, Champs Fleur is definitely interesting, unique and smells great (quite literally!). ”I really love the people in my team and the team of vendor/suppliers. At the end of the day, this is what makes us "Made in India". I'm incredibly blessed to work with such an amazing team who do great things daily,” says Ms. Das.

In Love with the History

Jaipur Watch Company stainless steel 3d printed watch

History has been a subject of novelty, intrigue and fascination. And coins are one of the best preserved artefacts of the past. Jaipur Watch Company employs old coins to epitomise the past. “Jaipur Watch Company (JWC) is India’s first and only Coin Watch Manufacturer. JWC also specializes in unique Swarovski Crystal Watches. All our watches are made in a very limited quantity, thus making them extremely unique,” said Mr Gaurav Mehta, founder of Jaipur Watch Company. 

Founded in 2013, to amalgamate numismatics and horology in a bespoke manner, every watch by JWC becomes an heirloom piece. The company offers the audience a fresh and unexplored arena of both the coins and their history as well as the bespoke experience. Impeccable craftsmanship and precise attention to details has helped the brand position itself in the Indian luxury market. 

Jaipur Watch Company coin watch

Through meetings and sessions with the consumer, the artisan understand their needs, preferences and inspirations, then tries to imbibe the purchaser’s personality and story within the watch. Every design decision is taken solely by the consumer. To add to the intricacy and the exclusivity, the back of every watch can be monogrammed with texts and engravings in gold and silver. A handmade sketch of the monogram is prepared before creating the final product with the help of the state of an art CNC machining. The watches can be handcrafted in gold and silver too.  And the clients can choose from a select range of straps in genuine leather or precious metals. 

Even though the company is quite young, it has been successful is creating a loyal client base and following. Their watches are a product of innovation, with a subtle hint of tradition. Every watch is a story, a life experience and a memory to cherish. Taking anytime between 2 weeks to 6 months to create a bespoke JWC watch, depending on the complexity and innovation required, the result is an immaculate creation.

Jaipur Watch Company Peacock watch

The Indian watch market is approximated to be INR 10,000 crore with a contribution of roughly 20% from international brands. The scope of growth and expansion is substantial in this sector. “Our journey is just 6 years old in this market, but from our experience I can comment that the market has matured, there is space for newer brands, and with the matured audience there is certainly a liking and appreciation for Indian fine watches,” says Mr. Mehta.

The company wears its heart on its sleeve, and the city of Jaipur prevails in the DNA of the company. The company has its manufacturing unit in Bangalore as the founder wanted to craft an Indian bespoke watch experience. And indeed, the brand has been successful in making an impeccable Made in India product!

Past & Future Unite to Make Today’s Jodhpur Luxurious By: Jiya Sharma

Posted on: February 5, 2020

Jodhpur Rajasthan scene

Jodha, Mughal king Akbar’s mystical queen, whose very existence is debatable for most historians, was supposedly a Rajput princess who hailed from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Although most films and poetry claim she was Akbar’s love interest, many historians say she was actually married to Jehangir, Akbar’s son. Nevertheless, Jodha’s legacy goes far beyond, co-joined to the legacy of the City of Jodhpur. 

Founded in the 15th century by Rao Jodha, Jodhpur almost instantly became a valuable landmark, serving as the capital of the Marwar kingdom. Over the four following centuries, the magical land of Jodhpur experienced and experimented with a variety of leadership, culture, art, tradition and exposure. It was quite a close call getting Jodhpur to be a part of the newly formed Dominion of India in 1947. Incidentally, it was only under Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s persuasion that Hanwant Singh, the king at the time, acceded to India. During the redistribution of states in 1956, Jodhpur found its lifelong home in the wondrous state of Rajasthan. 

Today, Jodhpur is one of Rajasthan’s most precious gems, deemed by tourists as a must-visit destination. Even for its residents, Jodhpur provides a perfect mélange of ancient art, culture, modern education and technology. It is on the path to becoming a hub for aspiring artists, musicians and designers, with institutions such as NIFT investing in the talent that Jodhpur hosts. Apart from the scenic desert terrain of the city, Jodhpur’s history still survives in the form of forts, palaces, lakes and fairs, spread across the city. Thousands of years’ worth of tribal and royal heritage can be seen throughout Jodhpur even today. The heritage and all of its symbols are, however, unfortunately on the course of deterioration. It is with this cause in mind that Motherland Joint Ventures (MJV) and Blue City Hospitality have joined hands to embark on a journey to revive the ‘Sun City’ to a new height of glory. 

Jodhpur Rajasthan The Blue city

The Birth of a New Jodhpur

When a city has existed for centuries with a long legacy of kingdoms that have led it through the years, countless monuments and sites of historical relevance as well as cultural importance are born, that together write the city’s biography. With the inevitable, haphazard urbanization of such a city, however, it is natural for these sites to lose their sheen and integrity. Especially today, when we live in a time when the world is looking ahead towards a future led by technology and progress, there are cities like Jodhpur that find themselves in a dilemma. A struggle between the past and the future. Questioning what to adapt and what to retain. 

The solution to such a dilemma lies in realizing that we are, in fact, in the 21st century. A time in mankind’s journey on Earth when more is possible than ever was. If not now, then when else can one say with confidence that it is indeed possible to live in as much harmony with the past as we have excitement for the future! In 2015, the Royal Family of Jodhpur and MJV commissioned the Jodhpur (JDH) Urban Regeneration Project, which is doing exactly that. 

Together, the two parties, along with Architecture Discipline, a multi-disciplinary design studio, aim to renew and breathe new life into Jodhpur’s priceless landmarks. As an epicenter of talent and ideas, this project unites a range of new ideas complimented by modern technology and local community volunteers to lead a fruitful and environmentally sustainable regeneration process. The invaluable expertise and knowledge of the locals in Jodhpur is at the core of the project. In doing so, each and every one of the transformations that do take place are done in complete awareness of cultural sensitivities and community opinions. 

Jodhpur Rajasthan Mehrangarh Fort

An initial development was done at Laxmi Nivas, the first haveli to be acquired, which has been transformed into a grand commercial space with luxurious stores interspersed with native retail shops. Another great example of the work being done is the ancient stepwell, ‘Toorji ka Jhalra’ that has seen a monumental restoration. The first step was to eradicate the waste that had filled the well to the brim with toxic water over the years. A recent investigation had led to the discovery of a stone, hidden deep within the depths of the stepwell. Sandblasting along with careful manual effort to avoid any damage to the stone, finally revealed it to the world. 

Today, the stepwell buzzes with pious, dedicated locals of all religions and intrigued tourists who spend their evenings exploring the stepwell and the ‘New Step Well Café’. The cafe’s balcony opens up to the depths of Toorji ka Jhalra on one side and the heights of Mehrangarh Fort on the other. An interesting infographic timeline at the café narrates tales of Jodhpur’s historical encounters while spreading awareness about the regeneration project. Through the eradication of litter, introduction of diverse food outlets and even luxurious lifestyle shops representing India’s finest labels, Toorji ka Jhalra is a symbol of how a great effect can lead to an even greater impact. All these changes have elevated the stepwell to become a Jodhpuri hotspot which has something to offer for every visitor. 

Along with weakening heritage landmarks of Jodhpur, urban spaces such as the grain market and main market street have been restored as well. From pedestrianizing the market streets and urban planning moves regarding traffic control, to creating stairs on Jodhpur’s sloped terrain, the overall quality of the urban landscape has increased. 

Jodhpur Rajasthan Toorji ka Jhalra

The awaited inaugural of a clock tower and its opening up to the public hand-in-hand with a Reuse-Recycle-Regenerate mindset reimagine the city of Jodhpur to be a modern paradise. It is quite ironic, in fact, that the area being redeveloped is infamous for its brass thieves, but despite the numerous project signages across the area in brass, including even the custom-designed brass fountain, not one incident of theft has been recorded, recounts principal architect, Akshat Bhatt. With the project’s well-thought out developments, the local communities gain economically and socially, as a result of which the project has their full support.

A New Forest Essentials Store

Today if one were to visit Jodhpur and walk up to the stepwell square in the Old City, one would be faced with a marvel of Art Deco architecture that immediately arises a curiosity to explore further. If one were to then, follow that wanderlust instinct, a Forest Essentials Store reveals itself. A store, that stands as one of the core pieces of regenerations in the JDH Project. A ‘residence-turned-retail’ space, as it is called, it was built using the existing mass using strategic re-planning and efficient additions. 

Jodhpur Rajasthan Forest Essentials

What strikes the visitor in the first go is the vivacious color scheme of the store. With interiors in pastel green and a seemingly gold-plated outside, the retail outlet is something one could call ‘traditional chic’. The northern facade is masked in COR-TEN steel which corresponds to the colour and texture of the regional Red Sandstone. The metal is consciously selected because of its ability to change its appearance with time, allowing the building to respond to the changing weather conditions and environment. Not just the colors, but also the design scheme is breathtaking. Re-introducing brass and gold, metals synonymous with Art-Deco, the store is a new jewel for the area. 

The flooring of the store is conceived in hand-cut and wax polished linoleum, representing an adaptation of an old mosaic inspired flooring pattern. Following the illusion like designs on the floor, one is surreally guided eventually to a dramatic golden spiral staircase that compels one to want to continue the journey onto the upper floor. After the bewildering exploration, one can’t help but feel the need to sit and admire what is all around. That’s where the furniture in velvet and suede with compliments of brass and gold framing, make one feel like a king or queen, relaxing in their palace. 

Jodhpur Rajasthan Good Earth store

The examples of Forest Essentials and Laxmi Nivas along with other brands such as Good Earth, Nicobar and Rajesh Pratap Singh, are a symbol of how the JDH Project has managed to internalize the soul of Jodhpur, keeping in mind everything and everyone that make it. To represent Jodhpur’s massive heritage and culture in a way that the 21st century understands, is not an easy task. At the end of the day, however, Jodhpur is going to become a lesson in how heritage cities can walk together with the globalized world.

Images courtesy: JDH Project, Anshu A., Fred Nassar, Jyotirmoy Gupta & Yash Raut

Green is the New Black: Luxury Sustainability in 2020 By: Roasie Virq Ahluwalia

Posted on: January 29, 2020

If there is one word that will gain currency in 2020 and the years ahead, it is ‘Sustainability’. It is not just a fashionable fad, but a lifestyle that you will need to survive. Climate change is now a term of yesterday, we are already in the midst of multiple climate crises. Quick on the uptake, many global luxury brands have made sustainability their inherent value. As Meghan Markle put it when she spoke at the British Fashion Awards, 2019 is the year where ‘it’s cool to be kind’, and ethical fashion has never been higher on the agenda. Come 2020 and the voices are more widespread. To survive you have to sustain.

Luxury Sustainability Fashion  

Our generation has probably been fortunate enough to literally have ‘been there and done that’, consumerism and brand euphoria being at their peak in the decade gone by. Come 2020 and there seems to be a visible shift in the way most people are thinking. Hence we prefer to call it the evolution of the human mind. It is no co-incidence that 16 year-olds such as Greta Thunberg are on the cover of Time Magazine for highlighting climate issues and what governments have thus far failed to tackle. 

According to Euromonitor International’s Lifestyles Survey 2019, 60% of global respondents agreed or strongly agreed that climate change is a worrying issue, up from 55% in 2015. As a result, the percentage of respondents feeling good about buying ecologically or ethically sourced products grew from 24% in 2015 to 28% in 2019 globally. Vegan, fair trade and natural are becoming must-have brand credentials.

From Fashion to Art, everyone is trying to reduce their carbon impact. After Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney who have pioneered the movement, everyone is turning to green, as it’s becoming more and more apparent that fast fashion is damaging the planet. H&M’s ‘Conscious Collection’ is all about creating fashion from re-cycled fabrics. Of course there is a lot of green-washing too that happens, but sustainability is undeniably something no brand can discount the need for if they are to keep their customers coming back. 

Tesla luxury sustainability

However, a larger question remains – are luxury brands able to be completely sustainable? Most luxury brands are built on heritage and craftsmanship. Mastering processes that have been passed down the generations do not always leave space for innovation. To be sustainable and not do damage to the environment, many processes in manufacturing have to change. Some brands like G-Star RAW have done exactly that. They have mastered the technique of low wastage. A few other brands have followed suit.

Auction house Christie’s recently committed to halve their print production by the end of 2020 and put most of their catalogs online. ‘Luxury with sustainability’ is the new buzz-phrase for 2020. 

In automobiles, Tesla being a front-runner in the concept of emission free vehicles, is being followed by Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Mazda, Suzuki and every other car brand on the planet today. Green is the new black. 

Closer home, corporations such as ITC in the India sub-continent have made a serious commitment to ecological and sustainable living. WelcomHotels Lanka is dedicated to delivering the finest – and greenest - residential and hotel complex in Colombo along with its attached Sapphire Residences project. 

Ninety Percent fashion luxury

Then there are also ethical brands that give back to the communities via charities and other unique initiatives. Fashion brand Ninety Percent is one such company, as the name suggests. They give back 90% of their proceeds to charities in Bangladesh and Turkey. Kate Spade New York has taken a different approach to the ‘per-product donation’ with its On Purpose initiative, where it has actually fully integrated ethical suppliers in its production chain. 

If product modification is not an option, luxury brands are looking for other avenues to make a difference. Mexico City, in partnership with Pernod Ricard, is fighting air pollution with giant murals using airlite paint, an innovative product that neutralises air pollutants. It works similarly to photosynthesis; when exposed to sunlight, the paint oxygenates the polluted air around it. Through the Absolut Street Tree initiative, three murals have been painted to eliminate the total volume of pollutants generated by 60,000 cars! 

From a consumer point of view there is an increasing thought process veering towards reducing conspicuous consumption in one’s daily lives. Shall we blame it on uncertain futures of global economies, where people want to hold their money close, or be more optimistic and call it evolution? I’d personally support the latter. 

‘Vegan January’ has been taking social media by storm. There is a clear movement out there asking people to turn Vegan in January 2020. A one-month challenge! There is after all sufficient data to prove that most of the damage to the environment comes from meat-processing industries or dairy farms. 

So even if you’re not a champion for animal rights, you could get logical and try to reduce environmental damage by taking small steps in the direction that could save the planet’s future and that of your kids.

Roasie Virq AhluwaliaRoasie Virq Ahluwalia consults with luxury brands and also runs her own NGO, The Air Foundation, with the purpose of creating awareness about co-existence with the planet and devising sustainable solutions. The organization is hosting The Earth Carnival (India's first fully Green Event), which is scheduled for March 2020. 

Trends 2020: Sustainability & Millennials Redefine Luxury Travel By: Rajeev Nangia, COO, TRAC Representations

Posted on: January 6, 2020

Baku Azerbaijan Luxury Travel

Outbound travel industry has been growing exponentially with a large section of the affluent middle class, not only from the urban capitals but also from Tier 1 and Tier 2 markets, driving the travel growth trajectory. Change and evolution is more fast-paced than ever, with shifting demographics and developing technology creating brand new travel trends. Consumers have become conscious travellers and the current trends reflect that. The travellers are moving over traditional packages and are aspiring for experiential indulgences.

An interesting trend of ‘Do it myself’ is gaining popularity. Self-planning is taking over the traditional dependence on travel trade. More significantly, travel agents are now like facilitators and implementors. Travellers today want to be in control of their holiday planning, and the availability of online options and deals are empowering them to choose as per one’s budget.

As we enter a new decade, the following trends will be big in the travel industry:

1. Sustainable Travel

Monaco Green is the New Glam campaign

The importance of traveling with sensitivity to the environment is going to be higher on the agenda of the travellers. Destinations, airlines, hotels are embracing this trend, and is only set to become more prevalent in the coming years. As awareness and action about the environmental issues we are facing become more mainstream, travellers increasingly desire to travel sustainably. For instance, a glamorous destination like Monaco is exhibiting ‘Green is the New Glam’ as their vision to travel sustainable, which is not only educating, but also aspiring travellers to travel responsible amidst high-end luxury.

2. Rise in Experiential Travel

Bespoke, tailor-made and customized experiences are further growing in popularity vs. traditional off-the-shelf itineraries. People want to travel better so as to develop a deeper, emotional and a more personal connect with the destination. The savvy travellers of today want to experience and get under the skin of the destination through further exploration.

3. Exploring the Less-Explored Places

Blue Mountains Jamaica

2020 will be the year of travel exploration. Uncommon and less travelled destinations will be in trend. The biggest growth in demand will come for destinations that aren’t the usual tourist hotspots. For example, instead of Paris and Switzerland, the top trending destinations now are French Riviera, Italian Riviera, Azerbaijan, Jamaica.

4. Expansion of Wellness Travel

Today’s travellers are moving towards trips that allow them to start a healthy lifestyle. As the shift to holistic development and taking care of oneself continues to grow, people have increasingly sought to fulfil these needs while travelling. Peaceful retreats, digital detox, Ayurvedic therapy, Yoga retreats, quality-ageing treatments will be in demand. 

5. At Your Own Pace Travel

2020 will be the year to travel at your own pace. We will see an increase in the popularity of slow travel. The new-age traveller wants to live the place by opting to travel at his/her own pace. Local will be focal. From enjoying local cuisine to celebrating regional festivals and attending local events, they want to experience every detail of their trip at a relaxed pace.

Havana Cuba

6. Micro-escapes

Micro-cations have taken a leap over big grand vacations. Travellers will squeeze curated travel itineraries into shorter timeframes. They will find ways to fit micro-cations in their busy schedules without having to sacrifice time at work or with family.

7. Rise of Millennial Travellers

Millennials, who are people born between 1982-2000, will continue to be a pre-eminent force in the travel industry and will account for substantial amount of travel spend in 2020. This generation has the mindset to spend and they want to use it on experiential travel to new and exotic destinations. 

Millennial luxury travel

Lastly, as social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are advancing, its users are actually leaning on the influx of posts, whether from their peer-groups or influencers or celebrities, to inspire their next vacation. When people are attracted to a particular destination, they tend to plan their holidays centred on what they had seen on social media. User-generated content is the modern word-of-mouth, it has become a popular source of inspiration for modern travellers, and often impacts the initial decision to plan a trip.


Rajeev Nangia COO Trac RepresentationsA senior management personnel with over 30 years of experience in travel, trade, and hospitality industry, Rajeev Nangia has been working with TRAC Representations since 1993. Having extensive experience to handle complex and challenging business environments and an expert in Travel & Tourism domains, he is an accomplished professional with a proven track record of successfully managed business operations having professional relationships with leading bodies in tourism and its affiliated sector. As part of the core group of TRAC, Mr. Nangia is an active member in procuring the accounts as well as conceptualizing and implementing strategies for various destinations.

10 Drivers for the Indian Luxury Market - Trends 2020 By: Abhaya Gupta, Luxury Expert, Author, Speaker, Professor of Luxury Management

Posted on: January 3, 2020

Cartier window display luxury

The socio-economic-political gloom all over the world paints a not-so-rosy picture at the end of a cold and wintry 2019. However, the rich continue to spend, and the personal luxury goods market continues to grow at 4%. This, irrespective of disturbances in Hong Kong, the Brexit reality, the possible impeachment of Donald Trump and the Modi government facing its worst ever crisis since it return to power for a second term.

In such a depressive scenario laced with geo-political uncertainties and fears of recession, is there hope for India’s luxury industry? Will the Indian rich continue to spend? How should a luxury brand prepare itself for not only survival but a growth trajectory? 

There is no doubt that the Indian luxury opportunity clearly looms large and attractive. However, considering the cultural diversity, the geographic divide, the challenging environment and other technicalities, a luxury brand would do well to take note of the key performance drivers  currently prevalent in India.

Millennial luxury consumer

1. The Inverted Pyramid Phenomenon is Peaking

With the millennials and Gen Z seeking authenticity over brand name, the true mix and match culture is at its peak. With luxury brands trading down and high street fashion brands trading up, the trend is an amalgamation of the two. It is quite common to see the stylist effortlessly showcasing an expensive hand bag or shoe with a Marks & Spencer’s or even a Zara dress.  

2. Reusable Luxury is not a Taboo Any More

From cars to watches to fashion and accessories, the new luxury consumer is preferring to buy a pre-owned highly positioned luxury product over a new product from the lower level of a luxury brand. Clearly, democratised luxury lines are facing the heat from their own higher ups. Names like Big Boy Toyz (an Indian company selling pre-owned luxury cars from brands such as Audi and Aston Martin) have created history by clocking unheard of sales via their online mediums.

Luxury beauty brands chanel skincare

3. Beauty & Skincare are Driving Luxury Sales

The wellness transformation of the luxury beauty and skincare market has taken a major leap with emergence of South Korea as a leader. Have the Koreans discovered the elixir of youth, or is it all just a marketing puff? The advent of Tik Tok celebrities from smaller towns drawing instant fame to almost cult positions is driving the small town India towards a look good phenomenon. While the likes of H&M, M&S and Zara bring fast fashion to small towns, it’s the beauty business which is laughing all the way to the bank. After all, you can’t rent a lipstick can you? 

4. The Rainbow Bridge

With the clearance of Article 377 in India, an open arm acceptance of the LGTBQ community is being celebrated all over. Fashion is more universal and gender neutral, make up is following and so is jewellery.

gender neutral fashion paloma

5. The Lazy Generation

Digital assistants driven by remote devices are now being discarded and replaced by voice activated assistants. No longer does the generation want to lift even a finger, but uses his voice to command devices. And technology surely is aiding this lazed out approach. From TVs to air conditioners to cars to phones, all seem to respond to his masters’ voice!

6. Wanderlust Drives Micro Vacations

The desire to see more, explore more, share more and post more is driving youngsters to locate, experience and wander to unchartered locations. Mini vacations replace month long family holidays. Weekend trips see hordes of SUVs driving to remote locations for a micro break.

luxury micro vacations agra taj mahal

7. Time & Clean Air are the New Luxury

With traffic and environment conditions deteriorating, new models of work, living and entertainment are emerging. With a customer’s time being at a premium, anything which can help save time is preferred. A new trend towards home delivery, home shopping, and home entertainment is creating a new economy. The gig economy, the zero distance retail and entertainment hub real estate projects are fast catching trends.

8. Emergence of the ‘Seenager’ Consumer

With more and more brands focusing on the young, a newer breed of products are seen to quietly target the ageing baby boomers. Aptly coined as ‘seenagers’, this cohort has the money to spend, is knowledgeable, patient and willing to experiment unlike his forefathers. Special living homes, assisted travels, curated holidays and service at the snap of you finger are being designed and offered to this consumer. And yes, the elders are simply loving it!

Affordable luxury

9. Affordable Luxury is the Segment to be in

A strong case exists for catering to first-time luxury buyers who have recently seen a rise in their disposable incomes. Thanks to 4G, they now have access to cheap and fast internet via smartphones. With sophisticated tastes and awareness of international trends, this affluent demographic wants better goods and services which the luxury industry is primed to offer, starting first with fast brands such as Uniqlo, M&S, H&M and Zara.

10. The rise of the ‘fit’ customer

Another megatrend is fueling the demand in active wear and sportswear. Worldwide, there is a cultural shift towards sports, including running, as part of a growing emphasis on fitness, especially among the urban population. Technology is getting integrated as part of wearable. There are smart clothing items in the market with embedded health sensors and medical monitors. Outside of apparel too, fitness wearables that sync to smartphones have gone mainstream.


The above forecast is partly credited to the yet to be released book ‘The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar’, authored by Abhaya Gupta.

Abhaya Gupta luxury professional expertAbhaya Gupta, a certified Marshall Goldsmith coach, is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. Fondazione Altagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

Classic Blue: Living the Shade with 7 Luxury Products By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: December 24, 2019

From the color of the night sky to the color of the water to the color of the core of a flame, classic blue has been a shade which is a part of nature, of emotions, of style and of science. A prominent pigment that is everywhere, yet ignored subconsciously, Pantone has bought this color to the fore by declaring it the Pantone Color of 2020. 

Indeed, as we enter the next decade of the 21st century, trailed by divisive politics; atrocities against the planet and its creatures; and a world economy on the brink of plummeting, adding classic blue around you might just be the hint of calm you need to deal with all these pressing issues.

So we made a roster of some luxury products bathed in this shade, to help deck you and your home in this immersing, profound shade.

AM:PM Jacket from Altai Collection

AM:PM Altai Classic Blue jacket

A stunning, long woolen jacket resplendent with floral-inspired applique metal sequins embroidery, this jacket is uber-stylish to pair with pants or even short dresses, as you make an impression in that cocktail event or afternoon tea get-together.

Price: ₹28,950 | Available at:

Chopard Happy Moon Watch

Chopard Happy Moon blue watch

Interpreting the star-lit sky on a dial, Chopard’s Happy Moon watch, has an 18-carat ethically-mined rose gold bezel and is adorned with snow-set diamonds. The dial is made of aventurine glass. To complete the night-sky appearance, Chopard has dotted it with gold studs and threads tracing the outlines of the most famous constellations in the Northern hemisphere. Nothing speaks heaven better than this.

Price: $46,000 | Available at:

Devon&Devon Admiral Tub

Devon&Devon Classic Blue Admiral Bathtub

Bring tranquility to your bathroom once you install this freestanding cast iron bathtub with enamelled interior. Its retro design is timeless, and details such as the Eagle feet add a luxurious touch. The free spirit in you will certainly appreciate the Bohemian feel of the tub.

Price: € 3.920,00 (suggested) | Available at: 


Latique Sparkling Sapphire Necklace

Latique Sapphire Diamond necklace

Offering layers of sapphire goodness, Latique joins diamonds and sapphires to create strands of awe. The brilliant necklace has been crafted in 18 carat gold with the unique beauty of baguette cut diamonds. A modern, contemporary design, with majestic art deco diamond features on the sides, the necklace will add effervescence to your personality. 

Price: On request | Available at: The Oberoi, 443, UdyogVihar Phase 5, Sector 19, Gurugram, Haryana, India

Fendi Casa Annabelle Armchair

Fendi Casa Annabelle Classic Blue Armchair

In a case of geometry meets curves, the Fendi Casa Annabelle armchair is a plush, medium-sized, deep blue seat which will be a conversation starter. Created with fine materials, right down to the metallic copper finish at the bottom, this armchair mixes patterns and solids in a sophisticated way, adding spark to your living room. 

Price: On request | Available at: Seetu Kohli Home, H 5/2, Haveli, Ambawatta One, Kalka Das Marg, Behind QutubMinar, Mehrauli, New Delhi, India

Raghavendra Rathore Blue Jacket

Raghavendra rathore Classic Blue jacket

Sharp cuts, Nehru collar, princess line – this Raghavendra Rathore jacket for women screams power. A coat-style double-breasted jacket, featuring surprising twists and turns, the bespoke piece signifies characteristic royal penchant for order, richness and fine materials. 

Price: On request | Available at:

Hands Moire Blue Carpet

Hands Blue Moire Carpet

This lustrous, hand-knotted carpet by Hands is perfect to add that touch of glam in your living room. Featuring delicate detailing, the wool and botanical silk carpet is a lesson in how less can be more. Couple with metallic accents and you have an elegant setup ready. 

Price: On request (depending on the size) | Available at:

*Some products may deviate slightly from the exact Pantone Classic Blue shade

Luxury Cars & The Green Crusade By: Abhay Gupta, Luxury Expert, Author, Speaker, Professor of Luxury Management

Posted on: October 28, 2019

Despite strong marketing, impressive brand value and an interesting product line up, luxury car sales in India have slumped with a mere 5% increase in sales in 2018. Market volatility, increased upfront insurance costs and liquidity crunch are few of the major concerns which have forced customers to delay their big-ticket purchases such as a luxury car - despite a slew of year-end schemes and discounts being offered to attract new customers.

Audi E-Tron

A crucial factor for the lacklustre year has been India’s policy push against Diesel Cars. In a highly price sensitive country like India, where car mileage plays a very important role, even in the luxury car industry, diesel cars have lost favour with customers. The enhanced price of diesel cars, policy push towards EV cars, negligible price difference in the diesel and petrol costs and the 10 year period maximum validity for diesel cars have slowed sales tremendously. Add to the fact that as the industry moves towards Electric vehicles, automobile makers are investing in R&D towards the future, due to which new diesel model launches have stalled. 

Volkswagen,which owns Audi and Skoda, is already facing heat worldwide for Dieselgate and has hence stayed away from launching any new diesel models. Jaguar Land Rover, a Tata group owned luxury automobile brand, has recently announced layoffs of more than 4,500 employees worldwide due to the slump in car sales. This comes after the 1,500 employees laid off last year. The company claims uncertainty due to Brexit, diesel car sales slump and a sales slowdown in China as the primary reasons for the strategic decision. The company claims it is making investments to adjust future product lines focusing on electric cars production.

Policy Push: Move to the future

With the Indian government’s push toward electric mobility and the introduction of Bharat Stage VI fuel standards, carmakers in India are focusing on creating platforms that would support electric, hybrid and other future tech-enabled cars. At least half a dozen zero-emission cars, hydrogen cars and pure electric cars have been scheduled for launch in India.

Nissan Leaf 2018

And while the automobile industry is still pondering over the thought of developing electric cars for the Indian market, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd., the Indian subsidiary of Japan's Toyota Motor Corporation, is prepared to introduce hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric cars. “We are ready for BS-VI rollout as far as petrol engines are concerned. However, diesel is still not made available by the government. All our launch schedules will be firmed up during the first quarter of 2020,” said N.Raja, Deputy Managing Director of TKML.

Audi E-tron, Nissan Leaf, BMW iSeries cars and even Lamborghini’s TerzoMillennio may soon be launched in India. Most car companies, however, have stayed quiet about the launch timelines in India. Volvo plans to launch four plug-in hybrids in India. With changes in import regulations, once a car is certified in the home country, it no longer needs homologation in India. It is amove welcomed by the automobile industry as it would be cost saving, running into crores, for each model that is introduced in India. Mercedes plans to introduce more than ten electric models in India over the next three to four years. Rival Audi plans to introduce more than a dozen by 2025. The change in the import regulations will allow for a simultaneous launch of the luxury cars with their global launch.

Lamborghini Terzo Millenio

In a bid to reduce costs for electric vehicles, the government has drastically reduced the import duty on parts and components of electric vehicles to 10 to 15 percent. However, the exemption of customs duty on battery packs for electric vehicles has been eliminated and the customs duty on battery packs for mobile phones has been doubled. This move is aimed at promoting ‘Make in India’ which would push manufacturers to set up facilities in India. Niti Aayog, a sustainable development aimed policy think tank in India, plans to apply a cess on conventional fossil fuel based vehicles to promote subsidies on electric cars. This would further increase the cost of luxury cars in India since most cost upwards of Rs. 30 lakhs.

On a more positive note, various international startups have plans to launch luxury electric cars in India such as the London-based enterprise, Laureti, which plans to launch its e-SUV, Dion-X by 2021. And in comparison to Audi’s yet to be launched E-Tron with a sticker price of Rs 1 Crore, Dion-X will cost approximately Rs 40 lakhs and claims a mileage of 540 kms per charge.

Laureti DionX

With electric being the way forward, luxury car makers are leading the way to the future. Indian government’s policy push to promote e-mobility is highly exciting. As the world’s second largest automobile market after China, exciting times lie ahead for the fans of electric mobility and luxury cars. Soon, we believe, we will see a flurry of car launches to entice the Indian luxury car aficionados.

Abhay Gupta Luxury ProfessionalAbhay Gupta is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. FondazioneAltagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

The Balvenie - Stories from Speyside By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: October 17, 2019

For those in love with single malts, Balvenie is a name they hold dear. And have done so for a long time. This Speyside distillery is a legend in the world of whisky - handcrafted, floor malted and with its own coppersmith and cooperage. It still grows its own barley.

The Balvenie Stories

A little over 125 years old, Balvenie was born in 1892, in Dufftown, Scotland. It has stayed true to what it refers to as its Five Rare Crafts - Home-Grown Barley, Malting Floor, Copper Stills, Cooperage and Malt Master. Now owned by William Grant & Sons, it lays claim to the most handcrafted of single malts.

To explain Balvenie’s numerous stories, Gemma Paterson, The Balvenie Global Brand Ambassador, was recently in Delhi. Over an evening of story telling and music, Ms. Paterson narrated a number of tales and anecdotes highlighting the brand’s values. She held guided tastings of the 12-year-old, the 14-year-old and the 17-year-old expressions of The Balvenie in different cities in India. “We have the longest serving malt master in the industry, David Stewart; and we’re committed to our people and would like to share their stories with Balvenie lovers in India,” Ms. Paterson said.

As a Balvenie Ambassador, Ms. Paterson helps communicate the brand and its values across the world. About her job, she says, “No two days are ever the same.” She is based at the distillery, where she says she spends a lot of time. “This year I have spent a lot of time at the distillery. I have spent a lot of time with the craftsmen - getting stories and working on recordings and podcasts with them, which you can access online. There have been a lot of visiting bartenders at the distillery – from China, Korea, from all over the world, and some of our collectors as well. I have also worked a little bit on some of our new products in our London office with our new marketing team.” She also works with the new members of the team to do their training. “I also support our markets where we do not have ambassadors, like India.” She says it is really exciting to come to India and help grow the brand.

Communicating the knowledge

As you might have observed, global ambassadors are a ‘thing’ now, with multiple liquor brands adapting the model to increase their visibility. “Lots of brands are seeing that it can be very lucrative for them if they hire ambassadors. People now do not react as well to traditional advertising; they like to have a human connection to the brand. It is definitely a very successful way to bring a brand to life. For me, our ambassador team, we work hard to support our trade, we work as educators and experts in our field to support the trade and bartenders, help them increase their knowledge, help them get tools they can use in their work. There are lots of touch points that ambassadors are looking at. I mean, whisky is a complex subject, and people are often very confused about what whisky is. I often get questions like ‘what is Scotch actually?’ or ‘what’s the difference between Scotch and whisky’. Its helpful to have an ambassador to help people navigate that”.  

Gemma Paterson Global Brand Ambassador The Balvenie

Incidentally, Ms. Paterson is the first woman on the Balvenie Global Brand Ambassador team, now 11 strong. She, however, points out that now there are other women in similar roles. “There are a lot of women behind the scenes involved in making our whiskies, so perhaps it makes sense to have some talking about the brand,” she says. Her journey was simple. “I worked at the distillery and at Glenfiddich – looking after trade and VIP visits, people were coming from around the world. I was very passionate about Balvenie and the team helped me become a brand ambassador in the US in 2015. From there I had the opportunity to move into a global position for Balvenie. I don’t think any of that is because I am female, it’s because I have studied our whiskies.”

Ms. Paterson points out that William Grant & Sons already have three ambassadors for their other labels in India - Monkey Shoulder, Grant and Glenfiddich. “One day hopefully we will for sure have an India ambassador for Balvenie too.”

What will it take to have a Balvenie ambassador in India? Well, Ms. Paterson says healthy growth is a must. “You need to have a bit of awareness and knowledge before it is beneficial to have an ambassador.” While Ms. Paterson declined to specify India’s share in Balvenie’s global sales (Balvenie is incidentally one of the top 10 selling single malts in the world), she just mentioned it was “very small”. India is, however, already among the top 20 in global Balvenie sales. US is its biggest market, followed by Taiwan and travel retail.  

The Balvenie future

Incidentally, in the past, as it is small distillery, it only had a certain amount of whisky to sell. Once upon a time, a lot the production went to blends. Now Balvenie is kept for single malts, which has raised total production. “In the future, we will have more Balvenie to share,” points out Ms. Paterson. The annual production for Balvenie is 6.8 million litres, making it the sixth largest single malt brand sold globally. “Balvenie will always be smaller than other bigger brands, but it will always be there for people who want that deeper knowledge and understanding,” Ms. Paterson says.

And if you are considering having a sip of the golden Balvenie liquid, then the ambassador advises: “Block out my voice and think about all the different sensations and textures that you feel. It’s like eating a meal and really tasting everything you’re trying.”

During her trip to India, Ms. Paterson spent a lot of time with trade and with bartenders. “Every part of the world has different drinking culture, and India is one of the biggest whisky markets globally. You see people moving up from blends to the single malts.” And that’s a space Balvenie is well positioned in to be the beverage of choice.

Millennials & Gen Z: The Impact of True Digital Natives on Luxury By: Abhay Gupta, Luxury Expert, Author, Speaker, Professor of Luxury Management

Posted on: September 11, 2019

The luxury market is going all guns blazing, looking forward to another year ahead of growth across verticals, fuelled by various favorable factors. 

Millennials Gen Z Luxury Shopping

Several reports suggest that luxury goods sales in the year 2019 & 2020 will be dominated by brands that attract the most millennials and Gen Z customers. A more recent study by Bain & Company and Farfetch, an online luxury apparel, and accessories e-commerce platform suggests that almost 40% of luxury sales by 2025 will be generated by millennial consumers. 

Furthermore, with the mass adoption of social media and digital technologies across generations, behavior patterns and expectations are changing all across. The most prominent trend being noticed is the advent of luxury experiential micro-holidays rather than annual vacations. Short trips that offer unique and memorable experiences are on the rise wherein consumers are intentionally choosing offbeat locales in search of those Instagram-worthy unique experiences. This ‘millennial state of mind’ is now a widespread mindset across the demographics wherein products and brands are chosen based on the values they represent rather than the intrinsic value of the product itself. 

It’s no longer enough to be the best leather handbag. Consumers want the product to be made of ethically sourced raw materials with fair trade and sustainable production practices. Herein, lies the concern. With trends changing faster than the seasons, what is it that the millennials and Gen Z luxury consumers really want? What can brands do to stay ahead of the curve, identify upcoming trends and stay ahead of the curve? 

Traditional Luxury Consumer Behaviour

Luxury industry has always been more about a lifestyle statement, an appreciation for all things fine and beyond excellence, wherein exclusivity and limited editions played a major role. For over a century, luxury brands across the world have managed to attract consumers based on this premise. However, for Gen Z and millennials, this premise is no longer attractive. Just because it's a famous logo, it wouldn’t necessarily convert to better sales than last year. Discountsmay drive sales up, however, the risk of being associated as a discount luxury brand can be catastrophic for the brand. What the millennials and Gen Z want are luxury goods that align with their value systems. More than ever, these value systems drive purchase decisions. 

While traditional aspects still appeal to a large demographic and are valuable marketing assets, there is a strong shift towards popular lifestyle values, such as sustainability.  

Local shopping vs global brands

Millennialsvs Gen Z: Different Behaviour Patterns

Millennials are consumers born between 1980–1995 while Gen Z are considered to be the generation born between 1996 and 2015. This means that by 2025, millennials would be 30 - 45 years old while Gen Z would be 10 - 29 years old. Both demographics hence will be key consumers in the luxury industry. 

1. Purchase Patterns: While both Millennials and Gen Z are digital savvy, there are distinct differences in the purchase patterns. As per a detailed study by Research Gate, while Millennials are aware of their purchasing power, have been known to “want it all” and “want it now” and digital technology has catalyzed this behavior, for Gen Z, it is more about the quality and service(adequacy, kindness, and quality of the staff).

2. Experiences reign supreme with Millennials: As per a recent report by salesforce, millennials have higher expectations for customer experience and are willing to pay a premium for it. In fact, as per the report, 74% of millennials have higher customer experience standards than others. 

3. The Impact of .com and tech era boom: Growing through the years of man landing on the moon for the first time, the launch of Apple, IBM, Microsoft products, internet expansion and the mass use of internet, more than 80% Millennials expect companies to continue innovation in their products and services, whereas innovation is the new normal for Gen Z consumers.

4. Gen Z focuses on maximum ROI for their money, millennials seek experiences: Spoilt with choices, itis clear that Gen Z is a more cautious spender looking for the maximum bang for their buck. However, millennials are known to seek more novel experiences even if that means a more premium. 

5. Millennials want authenticity, Gen Z wants individuality: Transparency and like-minded value systems have been a key demand by millennials from brands and companies alike. Gen Z on the other hand, is focused on individuality, and brands that can cater to such individual tastes and preferences are in high demand.

6. Gen Z prefers in-store shopping; millennials shop online: As per the salesforce report, with a boom in e-commerce and fast delivery, millennials prefer online shopping, however, Gen Z consumers research online first and then prefer to shop at a store. What this means is that both categories are actively researching their next purchase online and may choose offline or online stores to complete the transaction. 

Online digital shopping

Ultimately, Millennial and Gen Z luxury consumers anticipate communicating with brands across digital platforms. Even though digital technologies are changing the luxury retail landscape, millennial and Gen Z consumers are still important for in-store retail shopping as well. Digital platforms and new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies, and augmented reality present opportunities for luxury brands to adapt their business models to meet the changing demands and stay abreast with the latest trends. 

Technology offers both demographics unprecedented connectivity across the globe and with the rest of the population. This makes generational shifts more rapid and frequent, hence more important for luxury brands to keep their eyes on them. For luxury brands across the world, as the two generations mature, these continuously shifting preferences will bring both challenges and equally attractive opportunities. 

Abhay Gupta Luxury ExpertAbhay Gupta is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. FondazioneAltagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

Mohanjeet Grewal: The One who Conquers Love By: Jiya Sharma

Posted on: August 21, 2019

It is the summer of 2019 in Paris…you could just hear “c'est très chaud (it’s very hot!)” everywhere! France felt more like India in summers with temperatures soaring to +45 degree C. It was the week a heat wave hit Europe, the strongest heat wave in decades. 

Well, braving the unusual heat in the boulevards of Paris, I made my way from the metro station to her house. She had invited me over for a dinner party on my maiden visit, so I knew my way around. As you enter her building, climb to the fifth floor and exit the lift, you are faced with two doors. Within a second, you would know which door to knock! The one with a sweet decoration of stickers and artifacts around it. As Indian as a house can get. 

Mohanjeet Grewal

I entered into a house which was so magical, it could put Hogwart’s libraries to shame. A house full of color, craft, photographs, art and most of all memories. Magazines, journals, newspapers, stereos, and music records surround the floor while her own personal, colorful forest grows on the windows. Every wall is covered with huge paintings and artworks. There are photographs everywhere one looks. Photographs of her, clicked by her and many photographs dear to her. “This house contains my life,” she went on to tell me. 

I was soon greeted by a distant, soft voice speaking in Hindi. I wondered, where is she? I entered the kitchen, and saw a creatively dressed elegant lady, faced the other way, instructing her house help as she prepared a salad. There she was! Mohanjeet...Mohanjeet Grewal; the person I admired so much and finally had a chance to pick her mind. Amidst all the heat and the related frustration, meeting her was like a cool breeze that relieved me of all my angst. We instantly hit it off with one warm hug (more than French and less than Punjabi) as we chose between the language we wanted to communicate in - after all, we share so many! 

There were many others at her house the other night. People she knew dearly and people she had never met in her life. She was a sensation for us all. “How do you know Ms. Grewal?” I asked someone. “I don’t. I just heard so much about her, I couldn’t help but come and meet her in person,” he said. Everyone, from age 5 to age 45, was talking about her generosity, warmth and how even as 30-year olds, they would rather hang out with her rather than their own age group. My favorite moment was when she broke into dance on some old ghazals, shortly joined by us all. Let’s just say, I realized very soon that there is nobody like her. 

What Makes Her

Mohanjeet Grewal was born in undivided India, in Lahore (now in Pakistan). She moved to separated India one night before the subcontinent gained independence and partitioned into present day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is when her insane but glorious journey began. After having lost her mother at a very young age, she worked hard to gain opportunities to study abroad, which she did! After a master’s in political science at the University of Los Angeles (UCLA), she obtained the Doctorate at Berkeley in 1955. 

She wrote her first articles as President of the university student association. Subsequently, she left for New York and began writing for the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Times. In the following years, she worked with UNESCO in France. She had by then realized that while they had created a huge buzz for India within UNESCO, nobody outside the offices knew about it. Shocked at this ignorance, she was full of ideas when she returned to India nearly 10 years later. 

A Mohanjeet Paris creation

India, truly a land of creativity, colors and imagination had so much to offer which the west was completely unaware of. Despite having no definite family to return to and financial instability, she convinced people around her towards glorifying India and motivated them to bring Indian art and craftsmanship to a global stage. Her idea was to simply sell and display Indian work in cities like Paris. She herself picked out a selection of items that she thought would fit well with the needs and expectations of the French well beyond their imagination. To start with, she had collaborators; but over time, almost everyone had backed out of the plan. Ms. Grewal, who has always been considered unique, eclectic and willing to go against the tide ever since she was 5 years old, decided to go along with it herself. Voila! There she the 1960s, when she arrived in the city of lights, fashion and love, Paris, and opened her first shop “The Malle of India” at 89 Rue de Bac, Paris 75007. Soon, she opened the shop bearing her first name “Mohanjeet” in 1968. 

Paris saw with utter admiration as Madame Mohanjeet entered into the Parisian world of fashion with aplomb. The media loved her persona and creativity and she had a great share of prominent clientele like Romain Gary, Jean Seberg, Catherine Deneuve, Yves Saint Laurent, Jane Fonda and Bridget Bardot. She was covered by journals like Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and many more. Once, Princess Caroline was photographed on the streets of Paris after her shopping from spree from Mohanjeet.

The legacy of Ms. Grewal restricted itself not just to France but expanded to Spain, Monaco and USA. She sold to Anne Taylor, Bloomingdales and had presence on the prestigious Fifth Avenue, New York. She clearly recalls how her “wrinkled collection” in a “three penny suitcase” was unfolded in the presence of Diana Vreeland, the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue America at that time. On seeing her fluttering fuchsia pink silk gharara (a traditional outfit worn by women in India), Ms. Vreeland exclaimed “Ah! fuchsia is India's navy blue!”. Few weeks later, this very pink silk gharara was on the opening fashion pages of Vogue. Ms. Vreeland travelled to India, loved its colors and told everyone she met, including big buyers in America, about Ms. Grewal’s work in Paris. Ms. Grewal believes she established a bridge for her to walk across. “There won’t be anyone like her,” reminisces Ms. Grewal as she fondly remembers Ms. Vreeland. 

Jane Fonda in Mohanjeet Paris

During this time of her relationship with Vogue, the magazine's celebrated photographer  William Klein, better known as Bill,  had decided to make a film on Vogue's sway over the fashion industry, powerfully personified by its Editor - Diana Vreeland. “Everything at Vogue was, is, exaggerated. Bill was going to go beyond. Far beyond. I was asked to reflect this exaggeration,” remembers Ms. Grewal.

The project took two-three years, but the movie “Qui Etes Vous Polly Magoo” (Who Are You Polly Magoo) became a cult movie of the era. Many characters in the movie wore Ms. Grewal’s clothes. “We, my friends, several of my famous clients can be seen enthusiastically heehawing in unison in the movie!

Mohanjeet Grewal with William Klein

Fashion With the Enigma

We settled down with a coffee in her living room. “Fashion is not about following trends and releasing collections season by season. The number of seasons increase every year with more designs for the rest to copy,” was her first take on fashion today. Ms. Grewal believes that fashion was never about copying, rather it was always about expressing. 

Fondly remembering her college director, who she was immensely close to and considered a father figure, she recalled a conversation they had. “The moon is the same, the sun is the same, so is water. Why are people so different?” she asked him. To which he said, “It’s our geographical conditions that determine what we are. We are made of the dust that surrounds us.” Ms. Grewal, with her gaze fixed at the sky, whispered, “I thought about it all my life and I can say with confidence that I don’t know anyone who has said anything wiser”. The real sophistication lies in understanding one’s surrounding and adapting one’s fashion to it. “There is a reason why traditional clothing across the world are what they are. In my days, during summer in India, you would never see any person of status wearing black. Once, I wore a black kurta and Satish Gujral, a close friend of mine exclaimed ‘what are you wearing? Don’t you know this is summer?’ This is the sense that we have lost.” 

Ms. Grewal believes fashion has changed almost completely since she started out. “Why is everyone always dressed in black or on special occasions a grey, a darker grey and if we’re lucky, a lighter one? You wake up, you wear black shoes, black pants, black this, black that and you’re ready. You’re ready for the day’s struggles. Why do you always look like you’re ready for war?” she exclaimed. Well, looking at my complete black attire with the exception of a light grey shirt, I couldn’t agree more! 

A Mohanjeet Paris creation

Curiously, I asked about her personal style to which she replied, “I love loose clothes. I hate anything that fits. It’s like you put me in jail”. A free silhouette for a truly free spirit! 

Ms. Grewal has never considered herself a fashion designer, neither has she ever taken any courses on sketching or designing. For her, fashion is her way of life as it should be for everyone. Ms. Grewal creates bohemian chic, one of a kind designs that truly capture the aura of India. It is difficult to capture such a multicultural country in design, but she definitely manages to. At the same time, her designs are evidently modern and bring a twist to the traditional attire. 

In 1967, she created the ‘mini-sari’, a twist on the traditional Indian drape. When asked about what inspired this creation which created a scandal back home, she said “You see, there isn’t much to it. I was still wearing saris and I had never worn mini clothes. It just happened”. Beamingly, she continued, “I was very prudish about my body. This body - it’s mine, nobody can have an easy access to it.” Immediately after, she broke into a laughter! I was amazed at her charming ways! 

The mini sari by Mohanjeet Grewal

I was amazed to note how everything inspires her. She doesn’t need specific supplies to create what she does. Instead, she could use curtains, carpets, quilts…even handkerchiefs, if fitting! Within six months of her first store opening, it was already full. She dressed clients in designs made out of exclusive, rare, authentic and expensive fabrics. At a time when Indian fabrics and colorful patterns were all the rage, Ms. Grewal’s work was on everyone’s mind and everyone’s magazines. All these years she has continued designing precious jewelry, silk scarves, and clothing with pristine embroidery. In 1973, actress Jacqueline Bisset is seen using all-natural beauty products made by Ms. Grewal in a feature by The Sunday Times magazine. Which eventually received great reviews and were sold to women not only in France but also in USA.

India, Luxury & Nature

Over the seasons, she has created many collections for wholesale, but today, she creates at her own pace, one piece at a time, the only one piece of its kind. Her biggest inspiration, however, is nature itself. “It saddens me that we are not aware of the world that surrounds us. We are aware of the world we have made for ourselves within the one that surrounds us. We try so hard to keep our inheritance and what we buy intact, so why not the same for nature?” She paused for a water break and I could see the glint of subtle sadness in her beautiful eyes. She looked out of the Parisian window and continued, “The shop next to me, it gets things from India to sell them here. I’ll take you there one day. It’s all grey! Dead grey and deader grey!! Imagine you walk up the Swiss mountains and all you see, are grey flowers!!! Why are we eliminating what life is?” 

Despite having lived majority of her life outside the country, Ms. Grewal is very Indian at heart. She is a lady with a French façade and a true Indian soul. While we spoke, she urged that we spoke in Hindi or Punjabi (official languages in India). “How can you be Indian and not proud,” she said, quoting her close friend, the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi. She does not relate to luxury and fashion the way the world does. Taking the example of Business Class on airplanes, she said “You’re paying money to be alone. More alone than you were already. That’s the luxury I don’t understand”. It was very easy for me to decipher that ‘being able to be herself and live a life on her own terms, free from any barriers is her form of luxury’. “I always wanted to be at a stage where I didn’t have to count my money. If I did, I’d be separating myself from 80% of humanity itself. I don’t want that!”. 

Mohanjeet Grewal with Jackie Kennedy

According to her, the luxury in India is something that cannot be expressed in words. It is sublime, it is not materialistic, and it is definitely not exclusive. The answer to every single question in the universe, is in the ancient scriptures and epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. The world came to India looking for knowledge, India never went anywhere. If not this, what bigger luxury exists for an Indian? She concluded her thoughts on luxury by saying, “If you can live as yourself, you’ve achieved the greatest luxury there is.

The pearls of wisdom and experience incessantly flowing out of Ms. Grewal was awe inspiring for my young mind. This was the time when the salad was served and the gourmand in me really could not resist delving into them. I asked her views on prevalent materialism and a message for the younger generation. Ms. Grewal came around me, put her frail but steady arms on my shoulders, and said, “If I had anything to say to the future generations… it is, be close to nature and never seek anything from ‘high society’ or ‘rich people’. Your true friends will always do much more for you than this group ever can”. I turned around and she looked at me and continued….“our relationship with money decides what we are. Money is supposed to ease your life, not swallow it up. We want money, but we don’t know what for. So, we don’t know how much we need. Main paise ko haath hi nahi lagati, isne meri zindagi kharab kar deni hai (I don’t touch the money, for it would ruin my life)”. She follows it up with an amazingly enchanting smile!

Today, nearly half a century after her first fashion show in Paris, Ms. Grewal continues to be ‘celle qui conquière l’amour’ (the one who conquers love - that is her name Mohanjeet!). This enigma has led a fearless life in her own terms. I was wondering what influenced her life the most? She spontaneously replies “Roti, Kapda aur Makaan” (food, clothing and house). I had been all along wondering whether Ms. Grewal was truly an Indian, Punjabi, American or French? I did not have to ask her, for I had come to know at the end of the dinner that this enigmatic lady was a passionate and grounded Indian, enthusiastic Punjabi, modern American and fearlessly independent French! As I came out of the lift to the boulevard, my mind asked my heart… ‘Can there be another Mohanjeet’? The reply was ‘NO’.


Written in collaboration with Veronique Poles.

Luxury Brands & The Growing Experience Economy By: Abhay Gupta, Luxury Expert, Author, Speaker, Professor of Luxury Management

Posted on: August 6, 2019

Steve Jobs famously once said, “Design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.” The founder of Apple had spent years in ensuring all Apple products excelled in the way they worked, how they were designed and how they looked. However, there was one more aspect that he had focused - the User Experience. Today, the experiential value of a product has become a benchmark for the technology industry. So much so that today, it is not about how things work, but the Experience of how it makes you feel.

Welcome to the Experience Economy!

The term “Experience Economy” was first used and coined by a Harvard Business Journal in 1998. The journal discussed how people ultimately spend more money on experiences rather than products or commodities. Over the years, there’s been a movement where consumers don’t want to just consume, rather experience new emotions, and feelings as they use the products. For examples, vacations are not just about visiting new places, it’s about experiencing the place from a new perspective, something that creates a moment and brings out an emotion.

Experience Economy is defined as an economy in which goods or services are sold by emphasizing the effect they can have on people’s lives. Today, Experiences are their own category.

Experience Expert – Joseph Pine, explains the concept in his best-selling book ‘The Experience Economy’, with a simple example: coffee.

Coffee experience

From simple beans that traders bartered to ground coffee powder that was sold in a grocery store to brewed coffee in the local coffee shop, coffee became a style statement. Today the coffee experiences come with free wifi, great music, chic ambience, great decor, multiple flavours and combinations, and beans sourced from exotic locations. You are not just paying for a coffee. You go to a coffee house today for that amazing experience. Today’s coffee shops are a place where cool people hang out and it’s hip to be seen in one of these places. Anything less in this experience and it’s a waste even if the coffee is great.

This new model has done well for companies that have adapted their products and services accordingly. Tesla revolutionized the driving experience with the autopilot feature and the recently launched ‘enhance summon’ feature that allows a car to drive itself to the summoner. The Virgin brand is world famous for its laser focus on great customer experience. Virgin America is the only airline in America that offers economy passengers cushy black leather seats. It is also the only American airline to ensconce first-class passengers in plush all-white leather recliners that come complete with fully adjustable leg rests, lumbar support, an industry-leading 52-inches of pitch and individually adjustable reading lights and massage functions as well. Similarly, Airbnb is changing the way people travel, Uber is driving millennials away from car ownership, Apple’s new Card will change the way Americans think of credit cards.

Millennials are leading the charge

A lot of companies are catching on to the fact that the more immersive the experiences are, the more it influences their consumers and the people in their network. A generation that has been exposed to the latest technology and social media, awareness levels are extremely high among millennials. For every transaction and interaction with a brand, this generation demands nothing less than wow. For every wow experience delivered, the referrals generated from that are much stronger as compared to standard marketing practices. In India, Veg-NonVeg, an experiential sneaker showroom, does just that. The sneaker boutique curates top-of-the-line sneakers from Nike, Adidas Originals, Air Jordan, and more, and also offers a small café, for customers to engage with the labels’ identity. Art Deco architecture, live events and store parties strengthen interaction with their consumers. 

With the young generation being the core demographic that retail is focusing on, what does it mean for brands?

For the retail industry, the first step in having a successful strategy is to define what the goal is in terms of their relationship with the audience and the wider context of its brand and business strategy. Is the goal going to be to excite the audience, to inspire, to give them things to talk about or to celebrate their way of life? 

For instance, to celebrate the new-found desire in consumers to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, sustainability needs to be the core messaging of the brand. Franco-Indian luxury fashion brand Lecoanet Hemant’s sustainable fashion line, Ayurganic, promotes just that. Created under the supervision of Ayurvedic scientists in India, Ayurganic represents a new benchmark in consciously curated apparel. Scientific, sustainable and spiritual elements merge with design to form comfortable, breathable and distinctive clothing. Ayurganic exclusively uses GOTS certified cotton and is hand-treated following century old Ayurvedic recipes.

The garments, or Ayurvastra (Ayur and vastra meaning health and cloth respectively in Sanskrit), have been permeated with special herbs and oils, making it free of synthetic chemicals and toxic irritants. Wearing these garments help restore balance within the body and strengthen the immune system. The messaging to their consumers, fans and loyalists is loud and clear – it is a healthy, eco-friendly fashion line for the international Indian. And customers are loving it.

Why should Brands focus on creating immersive experiences?

Immersive experiences are not new. For years, luxury retail and high-end fashion industry has created bespoke events as part of their marketing strategies. But as luxury approaches more affordable segments and premium brands expand their product lines to cater to the luxury consumers, such immersive experiences are in huge demand.

Luxury experiences

Primarily there are two aspects within the experience economy: Customer Participation and Connection.

Bespoke events which customers can be a part of, actively or passively, define Customer Participation. For example, a fine dining workshop by a high-end kitchenware brand. Customers may choose to take part in the workshop where the brand gets to showcase its products or just passively talk about the event or share moments on social media. Either way, since the reviews come from a trusted source, the impact is higher than standard social media updates by a brand.

Building a strong connection with the end-customer is the most important aspect of an immersive experience. For example, by embedding elements of wellness, and sustainability into their offerings, luxury brands from the beauty and fashion industries have been able to deliver a level of experience that goes well beyond their products. This connection, that is built by merging the needs and aspirations of the consumers with luxury goods, is a much stronger bond that lasts for a long time. And in the current times, where brand loyalty is available in small measure, such steps can actually help build those bridges.

Benefits of Connecting Immersive Experiences With Luxury Products

Instant Fandom: When done right, immersive experiences drive unparalleled acceptance and growth. If customers love an experience, they promote that experience to friends and family. Such referrals, based on positive personal experiences, directly relate to stronger positive response towards the brand, leading to faster new customer acquisition. In a world of rising customer acquisition costs, your customers become your brand’s mouthpiece, activating their network and becoming your best converting channels.

Pride of Ownership: Exclusive merchandise, limited edition stocks, limited access, exclusive invite-only clubs. As social media continues to invade further into our personal and professional lives, customers want to be seen as part of a better life that is only available to a select few. Exclusivity and limited accessibility to such immersive experiences are driving forces for viral content. With immersive experiences, this interaction between brands and their customers simply gets amplified due to social media and brands must utilize it to their benefit.

Enhanced Value: The sole purpose of an immersive experience is to showcase the value of a product and help customers understand how it makes their lives better. More than a simple consumption, it adds meaning to the product, a sense of purpose. Uber Luxe offers on-demand rental luxury cars for consumers; Louis Vuitton products are collected by consumers world over as collectables; and Mercedes Benz offers memberships in their brand clubs to car owners where specially curated events allow owners to connect with other like-minded individuals. The enhanced value the brands offer to consumers beyond the product itself is why these brands are loved.

Island resort with small plane

Communicate your brand values throughout the customer journey

Spread across the entire customer journey, luxury brands need to clearly communicate the core values that define what they are about. Going beyond just standard marketing and brand messaging, luxury brands need to showcase what those values are by living those values and building their business around it. It’s about the embodiment of the values that the brand associates with. For instance, a brand that has a tradition of artisanal craftsmanship should open its workshops for exclusive tours.

Over the course of the next 10-12 years, the experience economy is projected to grow to $8 trillion by 2030. Industries like hospitality, travel, retail, wellness, food and fashion can no longer afford to be one-dimensional. The experience is and has always been part of a luxury purchase. There exists an emotional aspect and an aspiration to buying high-end goods which goes way beyond a simple transactional event. But that experience is now going much further than retail. At a time where affluent consumers are shifting their spending towards personal life experiences, luxury goods brands need to think beyond their product features to inspire shoppers. The winners are going to be those who successfully design their business models and organizations around a holistic, cross-category experience.


Abhay Gupta Luxury expertAbhay Gupta is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. Fondazione Altagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

Indian Luxury Brands - Diversifying in Design By: Nikita Vivek Pawar

Posted on: July 23, 2019

JJ Valaya Homes

In this day and age of dynamic environment and fast-paced market, nothing is permanent. Everyday a new brand is born and another ceases to exist. Creating a legacy for a brand is more challenging than it was before. The most basic survival instinct would be diversifying into a different sector to establish an overall presence. If not a need to survive, brands diversify to broaden their reach or create a cohesive ethos for the brand.

The Indian market has been witness to some unparalleled talents, and out and out brilliant collections and designs. But keeping a tab on the ever-changing character of the market, some designers decided to branch out. We mention some of the best designers India has and their expansion ventures. 


Manish Malhotra and My Glamm

Manish Malhotra X MyGlamm

Manish Malhotra has been quite a big name in the fashion and Bollywood industry. He’s been in the business for a good stretch of two decades. Throughout his career, he has had done many collaborations with Chandon, Hindware and Forevermark to name a few. But the best among the lot is his diversification project into makeup and cosmetics. 

The 52-year-old designer launched his cosmetic venture, partnering with Indian cosmetic company MyGlamm in November, last year. The collection line stands true to his name, his reputation and legacy. The collection with MyGlamm is not only a creative outbreak, but also an encouragement to Indian brands to deliver on international standards. 

Just like his designs, the make-up collection has sophisticated packaging with classic black and rose gold components! The Bollywood glitz has been passed on to his makeup assortment too. The collection consists of a plethora of options, from eyeshadow palettes to nail varnishes, and a varied shade range to choose from. There are more products being added to the line regularly. The best part? There are a host of products with a neutral undertone, thus, suiting everyone. 


Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla x Janavi 

Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla X Janavi

India is synonymous to festivals and celebrations, bright colours and vibrant designs. Generation long legacies of handicrafts have kept up the spirit and significance of the rich culture we have. Spearheading this rich, luxurious heritage is the designer duo Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. Ever since their eponymous label launched in 1986, there hasn’t been any turning back. The duo has been celebrated for elaborate silhouettes and intricate designs. The designers, in their three-decade career, have had many laurels to their names. But more than that, the designers are invested in reinventing the long forgotten or very seldom used traditional techniques, pulling them back to their former glory. 

One such collaboration of the Couture house is with Janavi, an Indian luxury brand that celebrates the heritage of Kashmir with some of the most anfractuous pashmina shawls. The collaboration was born out of the sheer need to commemorate the festive mood and rich culture we possess. The Capsule collection consists of embellished cashmere and pashmina shawls. Inspired from the Mughal era and the Art Deco period, iconic motifs like exotic birds and elephants are extensively used. Gold and silver silk thread embroidery is seen on various beautiful pastel backgrounds. Techniques like Zardosi have been given a twist by using crystals with it. We also see sequins and oversized or bugle beads. These two brands fit together as neatly as the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.


Shantanu & Nikhil for Journey of Couture to Cuisine 

Shantanu Nikhil Journey from Couture to Cuisine

Shantanu Mehra and Nikhil Mehra are a power-packed brother duo. One heads design while the other heads business. Their partnership is the ideal scenario of a successful business and their label Shantanu & Nikhil vouches for the same. Established in 2000, the duo has been creating designs and collaborations that are world apart. Among the various unique and creative assosciations, there is one which stands out of the lot. Amalgamating the two worlds of Fine Dining and Haute Couture isn’t often seen. Daring to do exactly that, Shantanu & Nikhil partnered with four very accomplished chefs to create a dish around their designs. 

Chef Manish Mehrotra (owner-chef of Indian Accent) looked at the Neo Drape lehenga as his muse and created a dish using beetroot and other pink hues, and a golden leaf to match the pink and gold combination of the dress. Chef Bani (owner of Miam Patisserie), inspired by a mauve cocktail bride dress, created a multi-tier cake keeping the theme for a contemporary bride. Chef Dhruv Oberoi’s (head chef at Olive Bar and Kitchen) inspiration was an Indi-chic ensemble’s silhouette, brooch and the leather, creating a picturesque dish of a mulberry and almond popsicle.

Shantanu Nikhil Journey from Couture to Cuisine

Chef Lokesh (Executive Chef at CAARA) went with an Indi-chic anarkali. Sourcing a special type of marble from Rajasthan to be used as the plate as well as his canvas , Chef Lokesh created a tempting dishes using beetroots and incorporated the frills of the dress with yogurt sponge and carrot foam.  


JJ Valaya Homes

JJ Valaya Homes

Home décor is the second-best diversification stream that every other designer thinks of. Reason? The vast scope of creativity and business. According to a TechSci Research report, ‘India Home Furnishing Market By Product Type, By Region and Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2010 – 2020’, the home furnishing market in India is estimated to cross INR 40,000 crore by 2020. A significant rise is seen in the demand for contemporary designs, branded and custom designed furniture along with an increase in availability of innovative and affordable home furnishing products in the country. The best home décor diversification we believe is by JJ Valaya, the celebrated Indian fashion designer and an important Indian luxury brand. 

JJ Valaya Homes

Expanding his repertoire from fashion to home, the couturier launched Valaya Home where in he started designing homes, hotels and other such spaces. Valaya Homes became synonymous with uber luxury and unparalleled sophistication. He treats a home décor project like a collection. Cohesive, relatable, and relevant, experimenting with the client’s brief and creating something new and innovative. He even has a core team helping the client with specifications and suggestions. Calling travel his biggest inspiration, the designer also launched ‘The Home of the Traveller’, his first flagship home décor gifting store on MG Road in Delhi in 2014. The 6,000 sq ft store has items specifically curated by JJ Valaya and TJ Valaya (the designer’s older brother) of home décor furnishings and lifestyle accessories along with rare and collectible items. 


Sabyasachi Fine Jewellery

Sabyasachi Fine Jewellery

Sabyasachi Mukherjee is one of the few Indian fashion designers to gain immense international recognition. While he was recently invited by Business of Fashion to talk about the dynamics of fashion and the wedding business, he remains firmly stuck to his roots and values. The fashion designer has had a great year with all the A-list celebrities donning his wedding ensembles for their most important day. The list of the brides he has dressed include Anushka Sharma, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Deepika Padukone, Isha Ambani and Shloka Mehta to name a few. 

Sabyasachi Fine Jewellery

Sabyasachi has had a long list of triumphant collaborations and associations in various sectors of the industry. His two-time collaboration with Christian Louboutin is public knowledge now. He has also collaborated with Asian Paints, Taj Suites, Bombay Dyeing, Pottery Barn to name a few. With the wedding business in India amounting to an approximate of $50 million, it was a rather obvious diversification venture. 

Sabyasachi Fine Jewellery

Sabyasachi Jewellery has been an out spurt for his creativity with all things blingy and shiny, offering a plethora of options for heritage jewellery, fine jewellery and men’s jewellery. The designer has successfully tapped into various eras and cultures to create his designs. The heritage jewellery emulates the tastes of traditional royalty. The fine jewellery is a line of contemporary designs for the modern woman, with collections that are more trendy yet classic. Although his jewellery line hasn’t yet gained the level of attention his other collaborations enjoy, the jewellery brand displays exuberant designs, meticulous precision and craftsmanship with precious and semi-precious gemstones, metals and pearls – characteristic of the vibe Sabyasachi gives with his fashion too.

Sabyasachi Fine Jewellery

Social Media Influencers? It's Time for Virtual Influencers Now! By: Abhay Gupta, Luxury Expert, Author, Speaker, Professor of Luxury Management

Posted on: June 25, 2019

Lil Miquela Instagram Virtual Model Influencer

Meet ‘Lil Miquela’, a Brazilian-Spanish virtual influencer, Instagram model and music artist claiming to be from Downey, California. Lil Miquela, full name Miquela Sousa, is the latest in the world of Social Media Influencer marketing. Since 2016, Lil Miquela has picked up quite a fan following with over 1.5 million followers on Instagram. The biggest draw for fans and brands to such influencers:

Miquela does not exist. Well, in the real world sense.

Lil Miquela is a fictional digital character and a digital art project which began in 2016. Over the years, she has engaged with fans using her digital presence across social media channels sharing stories as she goes on and about with her daily digital life. 

Margot Shudu Gram Zhi  Balmain Instagram Virtual Model Influencer

Lil Miquela is not alone. Another digital influencer created by The Diigitals, Shudu Gram, is considered to be the world’s first digital model. There are already digital startups working on creating an entire fleet of such virtual influencers complete with individual personas, preferences and dislikes, virtual lives and life events for drama. A recent life event included an account hack by a fellow digital influencer that created a social media sensation. Today, several digital influencers exist from various backgrounds offering their services as influencers for top brands. While Shudu Gram was recently spotted in Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty lipstick in an Instagram post that went viral, Miquela regularly promotes Prada and Chanel through her social media, among other brands.

Lil Miquela and other such influencers are not the first of their kind, per se. Purely in terms of digital influence by a fake group or character, various characters have been used time and again for brand marketing and endorsements. Fido Dido was a character created for a 7 Up commercial, who also has his own social media channels. Other cartoon characters come to mind as well. However, one group that comes close to the concept of digital influence based on entire personas, with the creators being anonymous or hidden from popularity, would be the British virtual band ‘Gorillaz’ that was created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett. The band primarily consists of four animated members: 2D, MurdocNiccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs. Fans got to become a part of their fictional universe via music videos, interviews, and other short cartoons released over the years. Gorillaz has an online presence and has endorsed or partnered with several brands for promotions as well. 

Lil Miquela Instagram Virtual Model Influencer

Just as in the case of Gorillaz, the modern day virtual influencers have an entire profile complete with causes they associate with, people they follow, their followers and needless to say, brands and products they endorse. There are social causes that the digital influencers associate with, charities they donate to, movements they support and are even aware of the latest events and hence address them on their social channels. This allows digital influencers to live a more real ‘digital life’ and better connect with like-minded fans and followers. At the onset, brands did worry on the efficacy and abilities of digital influencers to actually ‘influence’ their followers as real-world influencers are able to. The large fan followings and thousands of likes, comments, and tweets per post have since eliminated any such concerns. 

The Choice Dilemma - Real or Fake Influencer

A core concern that digital influencers eliminate for brands is the issue of the real brand ambassadors and associated influencers getting involved in scandals that may lead to negative publicity. For example, if a brand ambassador or an associated social media influencer gets involved in a scandal that leads to a public outcry, the negative media attention on the brand is highly risky for the brand’s image and for its stock value. Cleaning the brand’s image post-scandal then becomes a major concern combined with the legal hassles of disassociating with the influencer or the brand’s image. Various such examples exist where actions of real-world influencers have caused concerns and created trouble for the associated brands. 

The Kardashians

Digital influencers, on the other hand, are controlled by entities who have created them. Generally, such digital entities have a large team of creators involved and due processes are to be followed, which eliminates any chances of wrongdoings from a virtual influencer. 

The creation of virtual personas solely for the purpose of promoting brands highlights the shift towards the new trend and it’s easy to see why a number of brands have already associated with Lil Miquela, Shudu, Margot and others and other such virtual influencers. 

The primary operative model is on similar lines as with real social media influencers, however, in a more controlled environment. Additionally, working with a virtual influencer is a lot easier because of various logistics issues being eliminated. Celebrities may not be available on days the brands may need them for a shoot. With virtual influencers, the angles, the colors and the imagery is a lot easier to manage since all of it, in any case, is created from scratch. So there is more control on how the end visual would look like. This is more of a challenge with real world influencers wherein a lot of post-production is required to get the desired results. 

The key benefit from using virtual influencers is the target demographics. One can always create new influencers to target specific audiences. Lil Miquela has a huge fan following from Millennials and Gen Z. Creators can similarly create further influencers who are age-similar, have specific looks and background stories that target specific demographics, immediately attracting more followers made of the specific audience they need. It becomes a win-win for the brands and the creators of the influencers. 

Shudu Gram Instagram Virtual Model Influencer

Whether this is just a trend or a long-term winner, remains to be seen. However, what stands true for now is the fact that there already are several virtual influencers filling the digital world with their influence, have millions in followers,are going viral by the day, and top brands are already lining up to have their products endorsed.


Abhay Gupta Luxury ExpertAbhay Gupta is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organizations. Fondazione Altagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

Smart Watches vs. Traditional Timepieces: What is the Future? By: Abhay Gupta, Luxury Expert, Author, Speaker, Professor of Luxury Management

Posted on: May 14, 2019

April 24, 2015 will be remembered in the history of wearable technology as the day when the world was introduced to its first Apple watch. A vivid technology trend started with no precedent, Apple shook the world with its vision of a futuristic world. Today almost every cell phone brand is launching or has already launched their own smart watch. 

Cartier watches luxury

With millennials being exposed to such gadgets from an early age, adoption of smartwatches has been relatively easy. Smartwatches offer a plethora of functionalities that traditional or luxury timepieces will not be able to offer in their current form. In the near future, will smartwatches be known as a fad from yesteryears, it remains to be seen. However, one needs to understand that there is a clear differentiation between a smart watch and a luxury watch. 

A smart watch is a technology gadget. While it may offer a lot of oohs and aahs, with newer hardware and software applications, smart watches become obsolete quickly, sometimes in under six months to a year. Luxury watches, though mechanical or automatic, have a certain timelessness to them, one that is only understood by those who appreciate these crafted timepieces. Luxury watches have been around for quite some time and have a very rich history behind every brand. Rolex for one, the epitome of luxury watches, is considered to be one of the most famous luxury watches and has gained more significance over time. Much like most luxury products that have been cared for and treasured over the years, the value of a vintage classic Rolex only increases with time. The same cannot be stated for smart watches.

Ideally, smart watches are for those who want, rather need, to be constantly connected to social media. Fitness goals have also had a role in propelling the popularity of smart watches. This means that the entire millennial population has learned to appreciate a smart watch over a luxury watch, especially since few have been exposed to luxury watches. Apple’s Tim Cook’s 2017 presentation at the launch of Apple watch 3 confirmed this when the CEO stated that the company now is the biggest seller of watches in the world, far beyond the numbers achieved by Rolex, Omega and others. However, this doesn’t mean that the world of luxury watches is nearing its death soon. 

Tag Heuer luxury smartwatch

The reaction of the luxury watch companies so far, has been mixed, to say the least. Some connoisseurs and experts believe that smart watches have created an ancillary market where luxury watches have a clear advantage. Various luxury brands have launched smart watches that cater to both demographics, people who appreciate tech and luxury. For example, Tag Heuer’s latest connected modular smart watch is a hybrid smart and luxury watch with modularity at its core. With prices ranging from $1700 - $180,000, the modularity allows customers to customize their watches based on personal preferences with configuration options available in size (41mm and 45mm); modules (ceramic, titanium, diamond, gold, aluminium); straps (rubber, calfskin and rubber, ceramic, and titanium); and  lugs (titanium satin finish, titanium with diamonds, capped gold, black mat ceramic finish).

As per Tag Heuer, more than 4000 combinations are available with the smart connected modular pieces for customers to choose from.

Breitling’s first connected chronograph has built the functionalities of a smart phone in its watch, especially catering to pilots and yachtsmen, complete with an electronic tachymeter, a “Chrono flight” and “Chrono regatta” device for recording flight and regatta times, and many more sophisticated functions built inside a specially crafted Titanium casing. With prices ranging from $7100 - $18,600, this is a luxury smart watch for those who truly savor form, functionality and luxury.

Louis Vuitton Tambour watches

Louis Vuitton has also launched their Tambour Horizon watch collection recently and each watch is a piece of art, with a stunning design for a fun element. The watch series comes in several designs with the Horizon Black being the most expensive at $2900. The watch runs on Google’s Wear OS and is both iPhone and Android compatible.

Michael Kors’ Access Collection, Bulgari’s Diagono Magnesium, Hugo Boss’ Touch, and Frederique Constant’s Horological are many of the luxury brands and their luxury smart watches. With technology being democratized, the transition of luxury and smart connected devices is already happening. However, there are still many brands who have not taken the leap and still believe in maintaining their pristine history of crafted mechanical timepieces. Rolex, for one, has not released any smartwatches till date with no known plans in the future as well. Rado is another brand that is following similar lines. Many other Swiss brands have also so far stuck to fine mechanical timepieces. 

Bvlgari Diagono Magnesium

Currently, smart watches are witnessing a boom, however, luxury watch brands need not fret. It is clear that luxury watches have a win on their hands. While smartwatches are primarily seen as purely functional, luxury watches focus on the aesthetic value. Due to this reason, unlike smart watches which have pesky battery lives, luxury watches have better battery life, are better looking, are more meaningful, last a lot longer and most importantly, have a better resale value - something that smart watches would never be able to offer. This is why luxury watches such as Cartier, Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Breitling, and others will always be seen as a better investment than smart watches for years ahead in the long run.

Abhay Gupta Luxury ExpertAbhay Gupta is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organizations. FondazioneAltagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

Veen - A Water Sommelier & His Trade By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: May 1, 2019

Veen Finnish Luxury Water BrandWater is a bare necessity. Even then, it is not available to millions of people in the world. At such a time and era, a discussion on luxury bottled water might seem unnecessary, even cruel. And having ‘water sommeliers’ in the world might seem elitist, senseless perhaps. In the luxury water business, it might seem that a free item is repackaged and resold as aspirational. But we sat down to talk to Mr. Ganesh Iyer, India’s first water sommelier, and National Sales Director of Veen, a Finnish luxury water brand, and gathered that there is more to the story of luxury bottled waters. He has no misconceptions about the challenge he has in front of him. A connoisseur of nature’s vital resource – Mr Iyer is prepared to create an impact and place taste and hygiene above everything else.

“On an elementary level – free water is a basic right to every citizen,” says Mr. Iyer. But he explains where this basic right is falling short. We are in part of the world where hygiene and sanitation levels are at deplorable and questionable levels, despite the efforts done by successive government towards improving the same. Secondly, availability of quality portable water remains a big challenge, not just in rural areas, but in urban as well. “At this juncture, we aren’t even getting into the surface level discussion on water-borne diseases. And even if water is being made available, the distribution is not uniform,” he says.

These fundamental issues lead to the importance of supplying bottled water, especially in India. Mr. Iyer counts some of the valid reasons as: (a) Bottled waters are relatively safer to consume as compared to tap water where one is not sure whether the respective quality checks have been administered consistently or not; (b) Bottled waters are life savers when it comes to any natural disasters or otherwise for obvious quality reasons; and (c) Bottled waters have a consistent shelf life of anywhere between 6-12 months. 

Ganesh Iyer, National Sales Director Veen Water SommelierFrom bottled water to luxury bottled water is another discussion however. Packaging is one aspect which designates a water brand as luxury or not, depending on the target market they are serving. “For example, bottled water in plastic containers to a vast majority of the Indian populace which are from low income group is definitely a luxury, but the same reasoning cannot be applied to the urban city bred populace. For the crème de la crème, bottled water in plastic bottle is a strict no-no because of the ubiquitous influence and impact of poor PET quality, so they would prefer a glass offer,” Mr. Iyer explains.

The Finnish story

We have established the inevitability of bottled water – luxury or otherwise. Which subsequently brings us to Veen. Majority owned by an Indian now, Aman Gupta, Veen was named after Veen Emonen, Mother of Water as per the Finnish epic ‘Kalevala’. Currently only available in hotels and restaurants such as Hyatt, Accor, InterContinental Hotel Group and Jiggs Kalra’s Masala Library, the brand plans to retail its Ayurveda range and craft mixers directly to consumers soon.

At the moment, Veen offers natural spring waters – Velvet and Effervescent – which are sourced from the Konisaajo natural spring area in the Arctic wilderness of Lapland, Finland. Its natural mineral waters – Still and Classic – are sourced from Khana Bharti River in the lower foothills of the Himalayas in the district of Samtse, Bhutan. “At this time [during the ideation of the brand] the UN did the world water assessment and Finland was voted to have the best quality of water in the world. This sparked the idea of creating a premium water brand from Finland, with appropriate packaging and design, to cater to the best dining tables of the world,” Mr. Iyer tells us. 

Nordic Soda Water from Veen Finnish Luxury Water Brand

Apart from the basic offerings, Veen also sells cocktail mixers, which includes Nordic Soda Water, Tonic Water, Ginger Ale and Bitter Lemon. It is, however, the new range of Ayurveda waters which gets us excited. Developed in consultation with Dehradun-based Ayurveda practitioner Urvashi Naithani, Veen’s natural spring water is infused with Ayurvedic fruit and botanicals, in four blends: Amla and Tulsi; Saffron; Ginger and Honey; and Blackcurrant, Apple and Mint. Infused water is currently seen as the ultimate way to restore fluids and nutrients in the body, specially in hot weather or after workouts. These pastel-colored liquids will be launched in 2020 in Finland, Bhutan and India to begin with. Then there is the Ayurveda Super Shot offered in 100 ml bottles, again including four concoctions to detox, stimulate your brain, increase immunity or power you up.

Counting India, Russia and UAE in its list of biggest markets, Veen’s focus for the next two years is to continue to develop the 16 markets they currently distribute in by launching their entire portfolio into these markets. They do plan to retail some of their products directly to consumers in India, but that is still to be worked on. 

The taste of water

I am sure you are thinking why water needs its own sommelier? Water tastes like water. It’s not wine or scotch. But that’s where gullible individuals like us tend to fail. Water is an incredible natural alchemy of energised molecules, it has a taste. You probably didn’t care for it before – but I am sure now you will. 

Ayurveda water Veen Finnish Luxury Water BrandWater also has a feel, a flow, an aftertaste. “There is something known as Gustatory perception, your basic tastes, which are Sweet, Bitter, Salty and Sour. And two unknown ones are Umame and Fat – which are rarely experienced. These gustatory perceptions define the elements of water tasting,” says Mr. Iyer as he begins a short lesson on how to taste water. 

As per Mr. Iyer, when trying to define water, you should look at the below Threshold Values:

- Detection Threshold – This has the lowest stimulation towards a particular taste

- Recognition Threshold – This has a minimum stimulus intensity

- Difference Threshold – This is intensification of the stimulus.

- Saturation Threshold – This level has a maximum sensation and one cannot taste water beyond this level.

“With this you define the basic character of water, its flow, the mouthfeel and finally the aftertaste on your throat,” says Mr. Iyer. 

Trying to put this in practice, water sommeliers would qualify Veen’s Bhutan-sourced standard natural mineral water (with a Total Dissolved Solvents (TDS) range of 275-320 approximately) with its orientation being basic alkaline considering the PH level at approximately 7.5. It is high on calcium, so taste notes would have a mild chalky aftertaste.

Veen Finnish Luxury Water BrandAsk Mr. Iyer where is the purest, most clearest water available on Earth, and pronto comes the response: “There is nothing called purest or clearest water on Earth. These are brilliantly marketed myths by beverage giants like Danone and Nestle. Water is water and is defined by its minerality or as commonly known as TDS and PH level.”

A sommelier’s life

It’s definitely not easy. Water is something people take for granted. And for those who don’t have it, they need it too much to get into its intricacies. “Forget about the challenge as a water sommelier, the basic challenge is to educate B2B and B2C on the importance and significance of water in your day-to-day life and its commercial relevance in a hotel or a restaurant. Once this is defined and accepted then comes the challenge and the introduction of an absolute nascent profession of water sommelier in the context of the Indian Subcontinent. Yes, it’s a daunting task in itself,” Mr. Iyer laments.

Even then, the profession is on a rise. If you haven’t heard, Martin Riese, one of the first few water sommeliers in the world, makes a living creating ‘water menus’ for high-end restaurants in America. This German water enthusiast was, in fact, admitted into US via the O-1 visa, which is reserved for “individuals with extraordinary ability.”

Ayurveda Water Veen Finnish Luxury Water Brand“Yes, I see us to be the best thing to happen to the epicurean and culinary world because…a wrong selection of mineral water/sparkling water to a food purist can ruin the experience itself,” says Mr. Iyer. And yes, there are food and water pairings. Although, being a new kind of technique and subject, it is still open to exploration. To begin with though, Mr. Iyer recommends pairing salads with the Veen Effervescent, and seafood (such as sear fish) with Veen Natural Mineral Water.

Like I said in the beginning, a discussion on luxury bottled water may seem snooty, but it’s time we change our outlook on this precious commodity, because it is indeed precious. 

Want to Work for a Luxury Brand? Here's How You Do It. By: Abhay Gupta, Luxury Expert, Author, Speaker, Professor of Luxury Management

Posted on: April 11, 2019

The luxury industry is expanding at an unprecedented rate. With a more diverse product portfolio that caters to various demographics, the appreciation for all things luxury is becoming widespread. Millennials across the world make up for the biggest consumer demographic for luxury brands. 

With products that range in hundreds, thousands of dollars and more, brands need to maintain an appropriate image for their products. This combined with the growing luxury market size in various markets has created a need for skilled luxury professionals who understand the intricacies involved in the luxury industry. With brands focusing on providing an omni-channel experience, there is a higher need of employees who can provide an overall skill set in handling a variety of situations. The retail manager should also know how to click images for social media while the digital head should understand consumer patterns offline as well. Hence, hiring the right employees that emulate the brand’s ethos is crucial for their success. 

One of the key aspects of working in the luxury industry is a clear understanding of the difference between luxuries vs. designer vs. super-premium vs. premium. 

Working in the luxury industry

Breaking into the industry and working for the luxury industry needs a certain attitude with the blend of appropriate academic excellence and professional experience. As a luxury retail professional, one is expected to provide a unique ambiance and atmosphere, reflecting and reinforcing the brand’s ethos. You must also have innate sensibilities for appreciation of time and sheer labor that goes in crafting such beautiful products. Therefore, knowledge of a product’s most intricate details is crucial for all employees. Acting as a product expert, delivering that extra special experience of shopping in a luxury store is highly critical. As a result, employees take on the role of brand custodian, product expert, and a fashion or lifestyle consultant. 

Currently, career options are available in various segments such as Fashion and Accessories, Watches and Jewellery, Fragrances and Cosmetics, Home ware and Interior Design, Wines and Spirits, Retail, Leisure and Hospitality, Artwork and Collectibles, Real Estate, Luxury Spa and Wellness, etc. Some reputed posts for which brands are always on a lookout include Luxury Brand Manager, Luxury Goods Product Manager, Fashion Retail Buyer, Fashion and Product PR Specialist, and many more depending on your capability, skills and interests.

Skills required to craft a niche in the luxury industry

Luxury is a zero-tolerance domain. Luxury companies seek practitioners who are well-versed with the needs and requirements of the customers. Hence, one needs to be a keen follower of the luxury industry and have personal aspirations for the products. Additionally, empathy and a natural ability to be able to strike up a conversation is key. Attention to details, a dynamic personality, ability to perform with excellence in customer service, awareness of the latest trends in the industry, a natural flair for inter-personal interaction and excellent communication skills are key to success in the industry. 

Following are few important skills that a Luxury Manager must have:

1. Dynamic personality: If you want to work as a front-facing luxury professional, you will be dealing with a diverse range of customers, and you should essentially possess a dynamic personality. The right amount of charm, intelligence, sense of responsibility, credibility mixed with good manners, etiquettes, and a high level of fitness further leading to an overall pleasing persona are desirable essentials. You should have high interpersonal and communication skills. Moreover, you should be a good listener and be capable to motivate others within the team.

2. Command over English language: English is one of the most prevalent form of universal communication. It is accepted and adopted by a varied set of geographical customers. Having a very good command over this language is hence of extreme importance. Correct language skills right from basics of punctuations and grammar, leading to crucial writing skills is extremely necessary. Good writing skills are, therefore, valued in the workplace. People who are good writers are preferred. A Luxury Manager cannot afford a single mistake in delivering the right message to his/her clients, vendors, team members or management. Hence, this is the foremost soft skill. She should be well versed to communicate via various mediums like Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, blogging, emails, etc. 

3. Good Verbal and Nonverbal Communication: A typical luxury manager should have good command over not only verbal but also non-verbal communication. The way you speak, the way you stand, your entire body language, gestures, your voice tonality, pitch, grammar, punctuation, spelling etc, defines you and your brand. It is a well-established fact that 93% of communication is “nonverbal” in nature. What you say is as important as how you say - a Luxury Manager is essentially a combination of 60% substance and 40% style.

4. Etiquette and Mannerism: In any working situation, you are perceived as more capable, more professional, and more intelligent if you are familiar with the proper code of conduct for the workplace. The science of personal space, client privacy, humility and gentle persuasions are to be mastered. 

5. Strong Networking Skills: The key to a being a successful luxury manager is building strong relationships with right people at every occasion. Luxury is a business of references and almost everything works on personal relations. From a job to a client, all can be located and networked into. Luxury events, conferences, trade meetings, award shows, etc. are good places to establish a network. A luxury school that can help you get a chance to work in such events with prominent brands is a win-win: You will get the practical exposure of working in a brand, and it would also be helpful for networking.

6. Be Informed: Being informed of latest happenings, not only in the luxury trade, but also in environment, politics, global updates, consumer preferences and general awareness, are key to easy engagement, leading to great networking opportunities. A luxury customer loves to engage with an equally knowledgeable service provider. Hence being an up and about person is essential to work in this industry.

Working with luxury brands

How can one acquire the requisite knowledge and skills to work in the Luxury Sector?

Over the years, complexity of managing the luxury business has got intense and further challenging due to different geographical markets servicing varied cultural customers, consumer behaviors and service expectations. Democratization of luxury into various sub-categories of core, aspirational, accessible, super-premium and premium has added to further challenges. To meet such demand, several business schools around the world offer a specialization stream of ‘Luxury Brand Management’. This stream takes an aspirant through a structured learning journey of the historical evolution of luxury brands, the complexities involved and the special strategies employed by these brands.

Needless to say, choosing the right business school is logically the next step for an aspirant.

How to choose your gateway to Luxury?

The demand for trained professionals is high in the industry. Hence, this is the perfect time to choose this as a career opportunity. With so many schools offering Luxury courses, the correct selection of the school is a foundational step in one’s career.

A few important tips could be:

1. Normal School Vs Luxury School: Pursuing a course specifically from a business school which focuses only on luxury as a stream should be the preferred choice over other business schools which offer luxury courses along with other streams. 

2. Faculty of the school: Choose a school which has a mix of academic and industry experienced faculty. Industry practitioners are duly able to curate in-depth practical knowledge as they implement the practices rather than just the theory. Being a part of the industry, they also offer opportunities to be informed about the latest trends, developments, happenings besides also act as an access point into the industry.

3. Deep rooted associations with various International organizations: Pursuing a career from a luxury business school is a great first start that can definitely help with the lucrative career of working with some of the most known luxury brands in the world. Association of the school with international trade and brand bodies leverages the association into practical exposure from a global perspective.

4. Industry connect opportunities: A school that offers real-time industry exposure and interaction with a well-rounded set of industry leaders from various sectors helps grow your understanding and reach. Since the luxury industry encompasses a wide domain ranging from fashion to travel to automobiles, health and wellness, travel, wines, etc, the more you get exposed at this stage, the better career choice you will make.

5. Real time exposure to industry events and site visits: Does the school of your choice arrange for you to visit industry events like fashion shows, launch events, luxury conferences? Do they offer you an opportunity to actually visit stores, offices, design labs and workshops of luxury brands? Are you able to mix classroom sessions with actual field trips?

6. Live projects, entrepreneurship and incubation centers: Does the school of your choice send you to real time industrial live projects where you actually work on a problem being faced by an organization? Do they encourage you to innovate and be an entrepreneur? Do they have an incubation center to facilitate your journey into luxury entrepreneurship domain? These are some questions you need to answer while selecting your preferred school.

With the large demand for trained professionals in the industry, students and professionals can drastically increase career possibilities by pursuing specialized courses such as a Post Graduate Diploma in Luxury Brand Management which specifically caters to this need. Pursuing such specific skill-based courses help fresh graduates and experienced professionals to acquire the skills and attributes needed to start a career in the Luxury industry. However, one must choose wisely.

Abhay Gupta Luxury ExpertAbhay Gupta is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organizations. FondazioneAltagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

13 Questions with Eefa Shrof By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: April 5, 2019

Eefa Shrof Sports NutritionistThere is a chef. And then there is a fitness chef. Meet Eefa Shrof, a bubbly, charming personality, who takes food seriously. A graduate of the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, Ms. Shrof is a sports nutritionist with a passion to create foods from different cultures which benefit your health goals. “I feel too many people are falling prey to a culture that lives in food psychosis based on non-science and I feel strongly to help people re-make a connection with food and wine that is based on love, abundance and self respect,” she says.

A beautiful writer in her own self, Ms. Shrof is a TEDx speaker, and has consulted and cooked for the likes of Hrithik Roshan, Suzanne Khan, Abhay Deol, Gayatri Oberoi and Tanisha Mukherji to name a few. Sporting a perfect figure herself, we are sure she deserves the celebrity clientele!

The instantly likeable Ms. Shrof, with an adorable dimpled smile, opens her heart out in her answers to our 13 questions. You can actually feel the love and energy in them. So without further ado, here is what she says. And if you want to get a sample of her creative cooking and infectious laughter, Ms. Shrof is in the process of hosting multiple pop-ups around Mumbai!

LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child?

Eefa Shrof: At first it was a journalist and a news reporter. Later into my teens it developed into ‘story-teller and rock star’. I very much enjoyed writing and speaking in public ever since I was very young. I wanted to share my ideas with the world and believed I could make it a better place in doing so.

Eefa Shrof Gourmet Festival

What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why?

In the early 90s, I spent three months working in Milan as a fashion model. At the age of 22, I was pretty aimless about what direction I wanted to take in my career. I knew it wasn’t modelling. One morning after another late night of partying and waking up late, I had quickly showered and rushed to rehearsals where I knew I was going to hear it out from my choreographer. Unable to function without my morning coffee, I stopped by the café, the same one I used to each morning.

I ordered a take-away on my coffee, using my broken Italian. The café owner, a passionate old 75-year-old started shouting at me in fluent Italian. I couldn’t understand a word but I knew from his hand gestures and tonality that he was asking me to leave. Thinking he’d misunderstood me, I repeated my order more animatedly, getting increasingly annoyed with the old man. Hearing the banter, the old man’s grandson came rushing in from behind the kitchen. Luckily he spoke enough

English to translate to me that his grandfather was angry about my order. He said that his grandfather took great pride in making coffees for his customers and demanded enough respect that his guest take the time to at least stand, if not sit, at the coffee bar and drink it out of a porcelain cup. A take away, was an insult to him and his forefathers! Besides there was no such thing as a paper cup in his restaurant inventory!

I quietly stood there, soaking in his words and something in my heart warmed up. I ran up to the old man, apologized in Italian (with a little help from his cute grandson) and kissed his artistic old hands with respect. He accepted my apology, ruffled my hair, mumbled further in Italian and went on to make me my coffee.

I sat patiently, and savored every sip. It was the best cup of cappuccino I’d ever had. I was beyond terribly late for rehearsals and knew I risked being fired from the show, but I couldn’t care. I knew I’d found my calling. I was going to be a chef someday no matter what it took or how many years.

Eefa Shrof Le Cordon BleuWhat advice would you give to your 18-year old self?

You can make money following your passion. Never trade money for passion! Glory lies in following your heart. Falling and learning to get up is embarrassing, but you know what? As a young person, one has to become a professional failure anyways. That’s how we learn and grow into full blown mature adults. So why not do it, doing what you love! Oh Ya! Don’t use substance abuse as a way to feel better about your failures. Instead feel the pain, learn from it and come back better, bigger, stronger

What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh?

Gosh…so many! My doggies’s wagging enthusiasm to see me every morning, my perfect cup of coffee each morning…and afternoon…and evening…and night, Mom’s khichri and dry fruit raita cooked with immense love, a funny one-liner by a guy who recently asked me out, my last glass of Moet and the list goes on and on. I smile and laugh a lot.

What is the most exciting part of your work day? The most tedious?

Most exciting – one-on-one consultations and seeing my clients dance around after having met their weekly assessments, sometimes even overshooting their goals!

Most tedious – The first 20 minutes of writing…working on my book or a speech

How do you decompress?

Meditate, listen to music, travel and go home to Mom who lives in the hills.

What was the first thing you thought about this morning?

My top 4 goals

What is the last thing you do before going to bed?

Read a topic on personal excellence

What is the one luxury item or service you can’t live without?

i) Good quality freshly brewed, pure Arabica coffee

ii) Top quality fresh produce to cook

iii) My secret bread and pizza dough

iv) A semi dry, bubbly glass of sparkling brut wine

Food by Eefa Shrof

What is the meaning of life?

A celebration in good times, a great teacher in the not-so-good times

What’s love?

Love is that one ingredient that makes everything taste, feel, look, sound and smell better. Love is

life’s heartbeat. The queen of all emotions.

What are you most afraid of?

That I’ll run out of coffee, wine and fresh dough to bake. That and big waves.

What is one existential, difficult-to-answer question you wished you knew the right response to?

How do we reverse global warming, find a practical and healthy alternative to plastic, clean up our planet and bring harmony to all its people? Most importantly, how do we create a system so that no person on the planet goes hungry?

13 Questions with Jahan Tahiliani By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: April 2, 2019

Jahan Tahiliani CEO Ahilia HomesIt would be completely wrong to say that he is only a son of Indian designer Tarun Tahiliani. The young 28 year old Jahan Tahiliani is also the CEO and Promoter of Ahilia Homes and packs much more than meets the eye. 

Unlike his aesthetically inclined father, Mr. Jahan chose to undertake the operations and finance side of business. Handholding the home and interior business of Mr. Tarun Tahiliani, Mr. Jahan is currently overseeing all operations at Ahilia Homes, from sourcing land, financing, project management, sales and post sales services. As a reflection of his success, Ahilia Homes has delivered Rs 100 crore worth of inventory for its clients, starting from 2016 when it was set up.


Along with extensive economical experience in the real estate and capital markets, Mr. Jahan has an innate eye for uniqueness, exquisite materials and love for design (even though all design-related work is left to his father). He knows how to flourish and embellish a business, making it a success.

A surprisingly mature individual, Mr. Jahan is a book lover and fierce believer in the power of people. We quiz this sports enthusiast with our 13 questions.


LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child?

Jahan Tahiliani:
It changed over the years. I started off wanting to become an athlete during my pre-teen years. Eventually it changed into a musician in middle school. When I graduated high school I was hell bent on working in micro-finance. When I graduated from university, I wanted to work in the sports science industry. A lot has changed since then.


What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why?

The life experience that has impacted me the most was taking the decision to leave my previous organization and start my current venture. The learning curve has been immense and 4 years in to this journey I still feel like a fresher everyday in some regards. Being a student never ends.

Jahan Tahiliani


What advice would you give to your 18-year old self?

Trust the process and follow your instincts. With the lack of exposure at that age it’s virtually impossible to be certain about where you will end up in the future or where your career or life path will take you. Keep your eyes and ears open.  Learn, read, listen and engage with your surroundings and constantly take out time to think about where you are in your journey and where you want to go.


What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh?

Monty Panesar on a UK television trivia show called Mastermind. I highly recommend it.


What is the most exciting part of your work day? The most tedious?

The most exciting part of my workday is when we get to see our new designs and creations come into fruition. The most tedious part of my workday is discussing anything that involves social media, as that is an alien concept to me.


How do you decompress?

I like to play sports, I like to play instruments and I like to read in my free time.


What was the first thing you thought about this morning?

Having been away from work, the backlog I have to catch up on


Jahan Tahiliani playing footballWhat is the last thing you do before going to bed?

Read my book


What is the one luxury item or service you can’t live without?

Live sports broadcast


What is the meaning of life?

Not to sound like a nihilist at all but I don’t think there is an over arching meaning of life. I think that entire notion is beyond what any of us can imagine. So I think if you’re searching for a meaning, it’s going to be a long road ahead. Not to say you shouldn’t have a purpose or to be actively involved and engaged in your community. The meaning of life is PEOPLE, RELATIONSHIPS and COMMUNITY.


What’s love? 

Trying to describe what the word love means to us is easier said than done. If someone asks you to describe the love you have for your parents, your spouse or your pets – I don’t think you can put it adequately into words. Love is that feeling of warmth and comfort inside you that you try to express in many languages, but simply fall short. That’s love.


What are you most afraid of?

I sometimes get scared on flights, when they have heavy turbulence.


What is one existential, difficult-to-answer question you wished you knew the right response to?

What space-time continuum were we in before the big bang? What did infinite emptiness look like? Mind = blown.

Belvedere: About Relearning Natural, Arjun Kapoor & Cocktail Culture By: Niyoshi Shah 

Posted on: April 1, 2019

Belvedere Grapefruit and Dragonfruit cocktailWith more than three-quarter of India’s bars selling a diverse variety of cocktails, vodka has now moved into the mainstream market in India. Hence the paradoxical shift towards healthier and more natural options was inevitable, and Belvedere has been at the forefront of this change. 

With an enviable lineage of 600 years of Polish Vodka-making tradition, the brand is known for using only three perfect ingredients: rye, reverse osmosis water and character. Made entirely from Polish Dankowskie Gold Rye and blended with water from its own natural source, the spirit’s taste profile is what sets it apart. While we understand how a healthy cocktail may sound like an oxymoron, several brands are developing outreach programs to enhance their nutrition value and cut down on damaging properties in an endeavour to make the entire experience more sustainable, healthy and as organic as possible.

The Belvedere Relearn Natural program is the result of this changing dynamic in the industry. An homage to the brand’s natural roots, it was launched globally in 2016 as an endeavour to re-orient vodka-lovers to a lifestyle that celebrates conscious choices while savouring taste.  Alice Farquhar, the Global Brand Education and Training Manager of Belvedere, has been instrumental in setting up this naturalness philosophy in India. 

When Ms. Farquhar was in town, combining her love for travel with work, we arranged for a special tête-à-tête to navigate the diversifying cocktail culture, the new era of “Drinkstagrammers” and how bar tenders have transformed the cocktail market, paving way for a more conscious consumption pattern.

Alice Farquhar Global Brand Education Manager Belvedere

Niyoshi Shah: Do you think social media has impacted the cocktail culture globally?

Alice Farquhar: My answer to that would be Yes and No. There is definitely a focus on creating something that can be viewed as “instagramable” and the creation of a destination cocktail to encourage more vodka aficionados to try it out. However, there were always unique and beautiful looking drinks being prepared, but now we are privy to those images thanks to the social media. So it has impacted the cocktail culture in terms of increasing the visibility of drinks and experiences that potentially already existed. 

NS: What are the top flavours in cocktails in 2019?

AF: This year, there is going to be a rapid return to classic cocktails with traditional ingredients in terms of flavour profiles. People are going to use spices and natural flavours. I have already started seeing experimentation with spices and condiments globally. Cherry, Port and unfortified wines have made a comeback, which is very exciting because they had been long forgotten and relegated to the older generation or viewed as a post-dinner drink. These liquids are now interestingly used in cocktails in a big way. And from a sustainability perspective, people are using whole and natural ingredients in their drinks which is positive progress.

NS: Please tell us more about unusual natural ingredients, their taste profiles and how they make for interesting cocktails.

AF: The use of spice is the most interesting addition. It’s challenging to work with spices but they can be used well as infusions, like the flavour trends of tea and coffee that have become huge this year – earl grey martini or an espresso martini. People are using these flavours in unique ways.    

Belvedere Lemon Yellow cocktailNS: Are cocktails becoming ‘healthier’ with cold pressed juices and more natural ingredients being used?

AF: Well, no cocktail is ever completely healthy. As a brand we have a responsibility to the trade and to the consumer to ensure that it is consumed responsibly. However, people are far more aware and conscious of the ingredients they are using in their drinks. We are seeing a turn towards better options like cold pressed juices which are lower in sugar and a lot less sweetening of cocktails. Which really just leads to a great understanding of the trade and keeping up with the consumer’s choices and preferences. 

NS: Are bartenders increasingly becoming the centre of a dining/cocktail experience?

AF: Yes, more and more so. Earlier you would only see a mention of the head chef or sommelier on a menu, but now the head bartender or bar manager are becoming permanent fixtures there. They are blurring the lines at various restaurants where the drinks experience is just as important as eating. Cocktails are being included in a tasting menus alongside food. For the longest time I have considered bartenders as chefs in their own right, because their understanding of ingredients and flavour is no different to a chef’s. A lot of them are trained chefs and its slightly more scientific than what most people would imagine.   

NS: How has Belvedere impacted the cocktail culture in India?

AF: We have done so primarily by helping people think differently through our Relearn Natural program. It is an opportunity to talk to the consumer honestly and authentically. It is not only about Belvedere being a one hundred percent natural, sugar-free and additive free brand, but how we bring that to life through the cocktails that we create. It creates an atmosphere of conscious consumption and a better understanding of key ingredients. We help bartenders source local, fresh and natural ingredients instead of anything artificial like syrups and sour mixes, and that enables consumers experience cocktails differently. 

Belvedere Pineapple cocktailNS: What are the global trends and innovations in bartending?

AF: There is a strong trend of combining the dining and drinking experience globally. Sustainability and zero waste programs in terms of sourcing local ingredients and using it entirely with no wastage is another innovative change we can see. For a wider environmental impact the bartending community must be credited for the adaption of single use plastic. At Belvedere, we don’t use any straws in our drinks and have incorporated the use of biodegradable alternatives. 

NS: Can you tell us about the Pan-India trade competitions that led to the formation of the first ever Belvedere India Bartender Collective?

This was an amazing initiative based on the Relearn Natural program. It was a countrywide competition with 120 participants, all of whom were creating their interpretation of the Relearn Natural cocktail using Belvedere. This really gave them an opportunity to learn more about the brand and its philosophy and bring it to life through their own expression. Our team was in Delhi scouting local, farm-fresh ingredients to include them in the program. And the winner was a woman – which is great! I understand that she was one of the first woman to win a bartending competition in India. We were able to create this collective of bartenders who are now well-versed in the program and that really feeds into the global DNA of Belvedere which is the idea of community.   

NS: Conscious choices and savouring taste: Would this endeavour extend to locally sourced ingredients, region-specific recipes and natural sugar or reduced sugar?

Yes, this again brings me to the competition where the bartenders were asked to look for locally-sourced ingredients. From a sustainability perspective, it is important for them to support local produce because they are feeding a local economy. You also have traceability in your ingredients and you know where they have come from, hence you can determine its quality. Conscious choices are being made and the trend is definitely bent towards a reduced sugar concept – everyone is far more aware of that.

Belvedere Pomegranate CocktailWith an influx of cocktails using natural ingredients like the “Green Garden” or “Lime Lyte”,  healthy options are increasingly becoming popular among millennials. Mixologists and bartenders are also working with immune-boosting vitamins and nutrients. All of which can be attributed to Belvedere’s Relearn Natural program. 

Since its inception, 25 years ago, Belvedere has been a commercially savvy and a socially relevant brand, and has a veritable kaleidoscope of ideas up its sleeve, each with its own loyal following that embraces evolving trends. Making themselves more relevant to India, they have recently announced the second edition of their annual India specific platform - Belvedere Studio B  championed by Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor. 

This year the event will see an artistic collaboration uniting popular talents from the worlds of fashion – Kunal Rawal, gastronomy – Prateek Sadhu of Masque and design – Shilo Shiv Suleman. The three masterminds will conceptualize and create a never-before-seen expression inspired by Belvedere which will be unveiled in avant-garde style in Mumbai on May 2019.  

Belvedere has been at the forefront of artistic fusion and the celebration of the most prolific creative minds like John Legend, Usher and Janelle Monae amongst many others. It has become an essential component to building a communal spirit and distinct cocktail-culture where individual expression and collaboration can lead to a beautiful, raw, sensory experience!

Kama Ayurveda & Puig - A Fragrant Partnership By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: March 28, 2019

Vivek Sahni Kama AyurvedaIf you haven’t already heard, the Barcelona-based fashion and fragrance house Puig has partnered with Indian beauty brand Kama Ayurveda for a minority stake, infusing approximately INR 100 crores into the Ayurvedic brand. 

While there has been quite a bit of movement going on in the Indian luxury market with mergers, acquisitions and partnerships, this one makes us significantly more honored as an Indian. It’s not just the recognition of a wonderful Indian brand, but also of an organic, ages-old Indian philosophy by a global conglomerate. This kind of news and pride doesn’t come everyday in the Indian luxury industry. 

Puig owns brands such as Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci, Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur; and holds fragrance licenses for Prada, Christian Louboutin and Comme des Garçons. 

Mr. Vivek Sahni, co-founder of Kama Ayurveda, is obviously exubrant. “We are very happy and extremely proud that a small homegrown Indian Beauty brand could get attention from such a large Global Luxury corporate like Puig. We are very excited about the partnership and for our future,” he said.

Marc Puig Chairman PuigThe story goes that it was during their travels to India that the PUIG team discovered Kama Ayurveda. They bought some products from the store, used them and absolutely loved them. That was the start of the conversation between Kama Ayurveda and Puig.

It wasn’t a quick decision for Mr. Sahni though. “We had interests from two very large conglomerates in the market. We chose Puig because of the clear synergy. They are a third generation family run business with very similar set of value systems and we found the right partner in them,” he says. 

For Puig, investing into Kama Ayurveda helps them segue into an emerging market, through a beauty brand – which are a forte of the Group – giving them a chance to develop their retail business worldwide. Mr. Marc Puig, Chairman & CEO of Puig, explains, “Emerging markets outside of North America and the European Union accounted for 44% of the company’s [Puig’s] business in 2017, with a growth of 9% versus the previous year. Through this partnership with an Indian brand, Puig enters an emerging market with strong growth opportunity for beauty and fragrances.”

Kama Ayurveda, which started in 2002, currently operates 52 stand-alone and shop in shop retail outlets across India, and has a strong online presence as well. Through this partnership, Kama Ayurveda will have a strong opportunity to leverage Puig’s global presence to support its further expansion into global markets. In addition, Kama will also gain access to Puig’s expertise and resources in brand building, technology skincare and perfumery.

Puig is a formidable advocate of sustainability. As of 2017, Puig had reduced its corporate carbon footprint by 12% while still achieving a 20% business growth. The company has reduced its plastic and paper consumption in packaging and administrative use. Hundred per cent of its electricity at headquarters and production facilities comes from renewable sources. Puig’s sustainability ambitions is one more reason why Kama Ayurveda proved to be such a picture-perfect fit for the company’s investment portfolio. “The science of Ayurveda echoes to today’s consumers’ awareness and willing for authenticity and wellness. This partnership is in keeping with our company commitment to sustainable and responsible business models,” Mr. Puig said.

Kama Ayurveda Gift Box

But the victory goes to Mr. Sahni. “The journey has definitely paid off, from when we first started, to the opening of our first store in Khan market, New Delhi, to finding the first round of investments in 2014 and now to standing at 40 exclusive stores. This will be a new chapter, to take us out globally,” says the very humble crusader.

Luxury Airline Menus - Trends in High Flying Flavors By: Akanksha Maker

Posted on: March 11, 2019

Aviation has seen a number of innovations in the past few years. Whether it’s the launch of new classes or the introduction of unimaginable cabin spaces, the business of flying has become a significantly luxurious one. Food is an essential part of any service industry — and it’s safe to say that it’s quite important in aviation too. A few airlines have recognised the discerning tastes of their premium passengers and have taken interesting steps to craft extraordinary gastronomical experiences onboard. Here are a few such trends. 

Chef George Calombaris for Qatar Airways

Collaborations with hospitality 

One of the most striking trends in the recent past has been airline collaborations with hotels. A number of airlines have partnered with hospitality players to recreate hotel-like dining experiences onboard. It is only understandable why airlines have chosen this move. Hospitality and aviation are two industries that always go hand in hand. Their premium passengers (first- and business-class) resonate with a certain league of hotels, and these carriers bring their food to life on airplane mode. Speaking to Qatar Airways gave me more perspective on what carriers are endeavouring to do. “It’s not easy to emulate an experience in the air to that found in your favourite fine dining establishments, but top airlines are moving away from the traditional inflight service by adopting an experience more aligned with that of a restaurant style — larger crockery, good glassware and cutleries and menus that are more extensive and complex,” says a spokesperson from Qatar’s national airline. 

One of the first airlines that partnered with a hotel group to give their passengers the five-star treatment is All Nippon Airways. In 2017, the airline associated with chefs from the Kowloon and Island Shangri-La hotels in Hong Kong for their new in-flight menus (for business-class only). The airline had already worked with the hotel group in the past and spread across three new elaborate menus across the year. Executive chefs of the Shang Palace (Kowloon Shangri-La) and Summer Palace (Island Shangri-La) restaurants designed the eclectic business class menu that ran until July. After which, menus curated by the restaurants were served onboard. Dishes offered in-flight included the likes of chilled marinated pork knuckle and stewed wagyu beef short ribs in royal style. 

In more recent developments, Lufthansa, in May 2018, partnered with The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts for their flights out and to India. Chef Vinod Soni curated menus across classes that blended traditional Indian ingredients with a contemporary twist. While the revamp spread across all classes, passengers in business- and first-class were served exclusive dishes. This included dishes like roasted chicken with sunflower seeds, carrots, honey, sesame oil and mint leaf and raw mango salad; martaban gosht (red meat cooked in spices and chilli); chandani murgh korma and shalgam gosht (red meat curry with turnips).

Lufthansa First Class meal with Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts

A collaboration between Mandarin Oriental, Taipei and Thai Airways took place last year as well. Thai Airways’ flights from Taipei to Bangkok featured a new series of dishes developed in collaboration with the hotel and were served to business-class passengers until the end of August 2018. Each of the new dishes were inspired by those served at the hotel’s Michelin-recommended Italian restaurant Bencotto and the Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant Ya Ge. Some of the dishes served included smoked salmon with crostini, dill cream, and caviar and roasted US prime beef tenderloin, rucola flan, crushed potato, mushroom jus. 

Partnerships with chefs

Alliances with eminent chefs is another trend that’s made news in the airline industry. Air France is one of the forerunners of this trend. Back in 2011, the French carrier brought on celebrated chefs to curate dishes for business- and first-class passengers on its long-haul international flights. The airline has worked with names like Joël Robuchon, Guy Martin, Michel Roth and Thibaut Ruggeri to create sophisticated menus for their premium customers. Recently, Régis Marcon developed several à la carte options for first-class that featured items like free-range chicken with black morels and brill and shrimp with chanterelles. 

Chef Regis Marcon for Air France

A number of airlines followed suit and partnered with famous chefs too. Back in 2012, British Airways partnered with one of the most renowned chefs in the world — Heston Blumenthal. He was asked to overhaul their premium menus and add “umami” to meals on British Airways. (Umami, the savory taste, is one of the five basic tastes together with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness). Some of the dishes served on the business- and first-class menu included mint, dill and lemon-cured Shetland salmon gravlax with vegetable caviar and lemon Cornish sole with saffron and pine nut sauce.

In the same year, Qatar Airways introduced its pathbreaking Culinary World Menu panel partnering with four celebrity chefs. Nobu Matsuhisa of the eponymous restaurant chain Nobu, and India’s two Michelin-starred Vineet Bhatia were brought on board. Thyme-roasted chicken supreme with potato gnocchi and seared tomatoes, oven-roasted mustard-dill salmon with dill pine nut rice and a banana-caramel tart were some of the dishes that were served in business- and first-class. “Currently Qatar Airways features menus on its Australian routes designated by TV chef and restaurant owner George Calombaris and soon to start in 2019 with US Iron chef and Michelin starred Geoffrey Zakarian who’s unique signature style of dishes will feature on menus to and from selected North American routings,” says the airline’s spokesperson.

Local, sustainable and more 

Donal Skehan for Virgin Atlantic

Sustainable is the latest buzz word, and it is relevant to the aviation industry too. Virgin Atlantic very recently brought this trend inflight with its partnership with Irish food writer and TV host Donal Skehan. Titled “Dine with Donal”, the menu takes inspiration from different cities of the world and stresses on sustainable, fresh ingredients which bring restaurant standard food to the skies. Some of the dishes that made it to this menu include aromatic Thai vegetable stew with jasmine rice, and charred cod with spicy mango salad and Nam Jim dressing. 

Virgin Atlantic wasn't the only one to bring this unconventional yet latest trend thousands of feet above sea level. Korean Air is one such airline that literally took the concept of farm-to-table to air. Back in the 1990s, the airline took over Je-Dong Farm on Jeju island. There after, Korean Air pioneered a unique “From Farm to Cloud” concept in which ingredients such as beef, chicken and vegetables sourced directly from Korean Air’s own farm were used to prepare dishes in their business- and first-class. 

Korean Air ad for Je-Dong farm

While most airlines have taken the fine-dining route to inflight dining, Cathay Pacific focused on local food for inspiration. Called “Hong Kong Flavours”, the airline rolled out a new series of menus featuring locally influenced dishes. A revamped restaurant-style dining concept featuring dishes like roasted duck with lai fun rice noodles in soup in business class and braised abalone with flower shiitake and choy sum-layered bean curd in first class is being served. The new menus will be available in business class across all long-haul flights by June this year. 

Two years back, the Hong-Kong-based airline went a step further to introduce its own brand of beer called Betsy. A pathbreaking innovation, Betsy Beer was brewed to defy the change of flavour that cabin pressure and altitude had on passengers’ tastebuds. Made using a combination of science and traditional brewing methods, it became the world’s first hand-crafted bottled beer brewed to be enjoyed at 35,000 feet. 

Betsy Beer by Cathay Pacific

From partnering with iconic hotel brands to bringing world-renowned chefs on board, it’s safe to say that airlines have upped their dining game to a significant level. Some have even gone further by bringing in trends like sustainability and local cuisine onboard. While the quotient of luxury remains a common denominator in these concepts, it’s definitely exciting to see what the future holds for inflight dining trends for business- and first-class.

3D Printing & Nanotechnology Redefine Luxury. Here's How By: Abhay Gupta, Luxury Expert, Author, Speaker, Professor of Luxury Management

Posted on: February 21, 2019

The industrial revolution of the 1800s brought with it mass production in large volumes that were previously unheard of. As a result, traditional craftsmanship eventually became an economically unviable industry for most. But a few saw the opportunity in producing very high-quality handcrafted products with pricing that only select few could ever dream of owning. Thus the advent of luxury brands such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, Chanel, Prada and others. 

Balenciaga Autumn Winter 2018But how is this story relevant 200 years later? We are once again at a pivotal moment where industrial manufacturing, as we know it, is changing for the better. 

Welcome to the age of 3D Printing and Nanotechnology. 

3D Printing as a term is actually a misnomer. The science can be better understood with the term ‘Additive Manufacturing’. Unlike most production techniques which are generally subtractive, additive manufacturing or 3D printing adds layers to create objects. A 3D printer works a lot similar to how a regular printer works. 3D Printer continually applies very fine multiple layers of additive chemicals on top of each other at specific locations controlled by the computer which is based on a CAD program. This layer-by-layer addition of liquid molecules or powder grains being fused together slowly builds up and starts forming a three-dimensional shape. 

Unlike traditional manufacturing techniques, since no special tools are required such as cutting tools or molds, the layer-by-layer addition process of 3D technology allows for complex structures to be created easily. For example, Desktop 3D printers can melt plastic filaments and build objects by adding layers on top of layers. On the other hand, industrial-sized 3D printing machines use a laser to melt thin metal layers or plastic powders to create objects. Due to the lack of complexities present in traditional manufacturing, the applications and possibilities are limitless. Rather than the technology remaining as a large scale manufacturer’s tool, 3D printing will eventually democratize manufacturing. Already, there are fashion houses using 3D printing technologies to create intricate biomimicry fashion designs that reflect a bio-infused approach.

Initially, the technology was limited to plastics, however, it has since outgrown that limitation and now a variety of polymers or metals can be used that were previously not possible. The latest being Gold Jewellery designs. Complex designs that used to take days for a traditional craftsman to create for a piece of jewellery, with a simple CAD program, a 3D printer can create similar or even better designs in a matter of hours with actual 18 carat gold. 

Balenciaga’s Autumn/Winter 2018 collection consisted of 3D printed high fashion pieces. The brand took 3D scans of the models’ size and fittings, programmed it in CAD, after which the designs were 3D printed as per the fitting requirements, moulded and cast with lightweight foam. Post that, the designers, bonded the foam with tweeds and velvets to create finished products. The brand’s garments had minimal stitching and fit the models as per their body shapes. 

Bugatti 3D Printed Titanium Brake Caliper

Bugatti is using 3D Printing to create custom titanium brake callipers for their cars which enhances the stopping power of their cars. Porsche has already announced plans to use 3D printing technique to produce metal and plastic spare parts on demand which would be a great cost saver for the company besides the numerous advantages in the ability to create innovatively designed parts for better performance. 

At the same time, advancements in nanotechnology are allowing for newer nanomaterials to be created that offer superior qualities than traditional materials. Nanotextiles have already made inroads in the sports and performance industry due to their superior qualities that outlast, aid aerodynamics and even withstand extreme pressure. For 2018, Prada had re-launched their classic line Prada Linea Rossa with the range being distinguished by the new age materials. These include nanotech fabrics with high conductive capacity that favours fast body temperature regulation, water repellent microfibre and ultralight Nylon 3L with high abrasion resistance, the thinnest membrane in the world. 

Prada Linea Rossa made with nanotechnology

Bausele, a luxury watchmaker commissioned the creation of Bauselite for their new Terra Australis collection. As an innovative new lightweight ceramic watch casing material jointly developed by Flinders University Centre for NanoScale Science and Technology and Bausele, Bauselite is a defect-free and super-strong casing material. The new material also allows high-precision drilling in watches, which allows designers to create bolder, more adventurous designs. 

Future Forward: A glimmer of hope or disaster?

One of the biggest pain areas for the luxury industry is counterfeits. Counterfeiting which is already a USD$1.85 trillion industry causes huge business losses to luxury brands across the world. With 3D printing allowing for exact replicas being created, identifying counterfeit products would become extremely challenging for the luxury brands since 3D printed products would be near identical to the original. Remember the Cartier Toussaint necklace in Ocean’s 8?

Anne Hathaway with Cartier Toussaint necklace in Ocean's 8

However, recent advances in nanotechnology research by Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Research Institute has the potential of possibly destroying the nefarious counterfeit industry for good. The research institute’s proprietary blend of chemicals, when applied to a glass surface as a vapor, changes into photonic crystals. Made up of nanoparticles, the crystals convert UV light into different colours based on the geometry and their alignment. Based on the pattern printed onto the glass surface, only under UV Light do the unique patterns lighten up. Such a ‘nanoscopic watermark’ would be extremely difficult to replicate as the counterfeiters would need to know the exact chemical composition for replicating the light pattern and the specific colour.

Another application where nanotechnology is being researched to build a practical solution is Nano Barcodes. Unlike traditional barcodes, using specific chemicals in specific proportions, an ink is created. This ink can then be used to print barcodes at a nano size on products. To identify originals from fakes, all one needs to do is use a camera flash and the nano-barcode would be seen. Since the chemical composition needs to be in the exact proportions, replicating the same colour of the nano-barcode would be extremely difficult. 

Apart from the obvious cosmetic benefits, nanotechnology contributes to better quality and stronger products. Already sports equipment manufacturers and design houses are experimenting with Nanotextiles due to their amazing qualities. What we will see in the very near future would be even better nanotextiles that control body temperature better, maintain their strength and have near zero wear and tear when compared with current textiles. As the technology matures, nanotextiles will become mainstream textiles of choice due to our ability to modify their composition based on the desired end properties such as composite reinforcement, barrier properties, flame resistance, electro-optical properties, cosmetic applications, bactericidal properties. NASA is already using nanocomposites to make their spaceships, astronauts’ suits, and equipment lighter, faster, more heat and cold resistant and more agile. 

Lamborghini Terzo Millennio self healing concept car

Similarly, companies such as Audi, BMW, Porsche, Bugatti are using such composites to develop technologies such as self-healing car paints, spare parts with better tensile strength than carbon fiber, engines that weigh a lot less and have higher performance. Lamborghini, for example, has introduced the new ‘Terzo Millennio’ which is being touted as the world's first self-healing sports car. The car conducts real-time health check via sensors to detect any damages and self-repairs itself by filling cracks with nanotubes to prevent the spreading of the cracks. Lamborghini is also exploring carbon composite batteries that utilize nanotechnology to reduce weight and increase the discharge capacity of the batteries, thereby increasing range, speed, acceleration and launch capabilities.

In the fashion industry, we would see newer fabrics based on nanotextiles being used in mainstream for greatly enhanced function. From superhydrophobic textile that repels water completely to self-cleaning odour-controlling fabrics to even fabrics with nanoelectronic devices, we might one day see flexible optical sensors and display screens woven into shirts and other garments.

3D printing and nanotechnology will change the way the luxury industry operates. The technologies together will bring large-scale optimization in production processes, customization possibilities, costs, storage and logistics, retailing and loss prevention. In a world of constant technological advancements, early adopters will be at a significant advantage. By the time, the technologies become mainstream and competitors catch up, early adopters would have already integrated the technology platforms saving millions in costs and created the next generation of products.

Abhay Gupta Luxury ExpertAbhay Gupta is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. Fondazione Altagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

13 Questions with Abhay Gupta By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: February 15, 2019

When I had first met Abhay Gupta, he was working with Blues Clothing Company – one of the first companies to start bringing luxury brands to India – while I was a rookie reporter. Fast forward 10 years where Mr. Gupta is now not only a veteran of the Indian luxury industry, but also a pioneer in luxury education in India, while I…well, you know where I am. 

Abhay Gupta luxury expertKnowing him for 10 years, he is an astute and observant individual who knows exactly where the industry is headed, and what is going to be the future. No wonder then that Mr. Gupta has been showered with accolades and awards, with the most recent being acknowledged, yet again, as one of the 100 most influential people in the Indian luxury industry by Blackbook India magazine. 

A marine engineer by education, his credentials are well-known as a retail and consumer expert. But as the founder of Luxury Connect Business School, he has also proven that one of the most important ways to make a difference is to shape the minds of young India. Trained, passionate luxury personnel will pave a brighter future for the Indian luxury industry. He is creating a revolution which is slow, but steady, and will surely bear fruits. And as the owner of Luxury Connect LLP, he is helping luxury brands understand and thrive in this very complex Indian market.

And we are very proud to say that while Mr. Gupta has been contributing for LuxuryFacts off and on, he is going to be a regular colmunist on board, bringing his immense knowledge and foresight into his exclusive columns for us! Since his articles will give enough insight into his multifaceted brain, we thought we’ll begin with asking him some personal questions on life. A conscientious, charming personality who has seen much, he talks about karma and some of the purest emotions which define living.

LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child? 

Abhay Gupta: That’s a tricky question! As a child, one keeps changing his professional goals from one to another as per the fantasy which passes through the child’s mind. In our times, our parents influenced our higher educational decisions as per the prevailing trends. When I was finishing school, the trend was limited to either engineering or medicine. However, I look back now and guess that perhaps my ever latent craving to ‘be different’ than the rut made me fascinated by a career on ships even while being an engineer. This way, I guess I found a balance between my parents’ aspirations and my own fantasies.

What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why? 

I guess life out at sea impacted me the most and laid the foundation of what I am today. The hardships, the discipline, the cutoff from society, living with a limited handful of people and the never say die spirit is an outcome of those days. As a young arrogant youth, I recall an instance from my initial shipping days when the very first vessel I had sailed on, met with a life threatening accident. Those few days when the ship was drifting fast towards an iceberg near Sweden, we were stranded without food, power, fresh water and fuel, I realized what gratitude and humility are all about.

What advice would you give to your 18-year old self? 

Life is a journey – enjoy every moment of it. Don’t worry since your passion will find the best for you. Humility and values make all the difference.

What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh? 

The innocence of a baby laughing to itself in its own sweet world. Oblivious of the terror, the pollution, the stress and routine pressures on us grown ups, the baby laughs and lightens the atmosphere all around.

What is the most exciting part of your work day? The most tedious? 

I enjoy the eager enthusiasm when I walk into a class room and engage with my students. Their hunger for knowledge, their innocent curiosity, their harmless pranks on each other and their raw energy makes me all charged up, driven and ready to go.

The most tedious part is the commute to work, surrounded by traffic, honking cars, pollution and impatient drivers all around.

How do you decompress? 

My morning yoga and meditation are perhaps the best stress busters and chargers to start the day well. A small power nap after an intense yoga session helps to freshen up the body after the soul. A family chat at the dinner table ends the day well for all of us.

Abhay Gupta Luxury in IndiaWhat was the first thing you thought about this morning? 

These answers are long overdue and must be completed today!

What is the last thing you do before going to bed? 

Thank the almighty for all that he has given me.

What is the one luxury item or service you can’t live without? 

I guess without hesitation it has to be my I-phone. But is it really luxury anymore or just another necessity as of now?

What is the meaning of life? 

Life is a beautiful journey, a story, a commitment, a boon and gift of God. Each day is a surprise and a further boon to fulfill your goals.

What’s love? 

Love is perhaps the most beautiful emotion, a feeling, a thought and expression of joy.

What are you most afraid of? 

I guess loneliness?! Although I prefer solitude to a crowd, peace against a lot of noise, genuine against hypocrisy, I hate to be alone. The feeling of having someone for you is perhaps the most secure thought that one can have.

What is one existential, difficult-to-answer question you wished you knew the right response to? 

The birth and death cycles. Is there life after death? Does your past life affect your current life? Is re-incarnation a myth? Does karma define us? Is Dharma bigger than Karma? Who chooses our parents and who chooses our kids?

Slow Fashion - What it Means & Why it is Important By: Akanksha Maker

Posted on: January 31, 2019

Elizabeth Suzann Slow FashionEssentially a means of self-expression, fashion is an empowering medium that encourages an individual to embrace his or her creativity. Today, the fashion industry is valued at a staggering $2.4 trillion, as per the Global Fashion Index released by McKinsey in 2017. 

About 20 years ago, a commercial phenomenon called Fast Fashion led to a meteoric rise in the value of this industry. Manufacturers like Zara, H&M and Primark began outsourcing production to third-world economies such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, to reduce the cost of production because of the cheap labour available there. This dramatically increased the supply of garments. In the original realm of fashion, there used to be only two collections launched each year — Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. This new wave of increased production led to collections being launched almost every two weeks in stores, encouraging buyers into shopping sprees, brought about by a sea of choices. 

It’s safe to say that Fast Fashion devolved clothing and accessories into low shelf-life products that are disposed off easily. Reduced prices further enamoured customers into rotating their wardrobes with the latest trends quite frequently. 

Watching the Netflix documentary called ‘The True Cost by Andrew Morgan’, I was exposed to the dark side of fashion. It brought to light the unfortunate 2013 Rana Plaza collapse of a Fast Fashion factory in Bangladesh that killed 1,134 labourers because of poor working conditions. It was gut-wrenching to say the least and opened my eyes to the accountability held by not just the manufacturers but also consumers of fashion. 

Dear Frances Slow Fashion footwear

While mass-producing brands continue to follow the Fast Fashion route, there are niche labels who have acknowledged the damage this industry is capable of — and also the responsibility it carries. By streamlining their processes, they have delved into alternate ways of production that are not just more ethical in nature, but sustainable to the environment too. 

Eileen Fisher Slow Fashion luxury fashionAmiable to humanity and the planet, these brands uphold and carry the torch of a relatively new philosophy called Slow Fashion that has stirred the industry. Coined in 2007 by researcher, author, consultant and design activist Kate Fletcher, Slow Fashion is the antithesis of everything that Fast Fashion stands for. In simple words, it is about designing, producing, consuming and living better and more consciously. Not time-based but quality-oriented, Slow Fashion is a different approach to doing business in which producers are more cognizant of the impact their products have on communities, eco-systems and labour. 

Slow Fashion is inspired by the Slow Food Movement that was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986, that associated pleasure and food with responsibility and awareness. In the words of Carl Honoré, the author of “In Praise of Slowness” — “‘slow approach’ intervenes as a revolutionary process in the contemporary world because it encourages taking time to ensure quality production, to give value to the product, and contemplate the connection with the environment." 

A new outlook to fashion in the age of sustainability, Slow Fashion intermingles pleasure and fashion with awareness and responsibility. Quoting Ms. Fletcher in her article that first appeared in The Ecologist back in September 2007, “Slow Fashion is about choice, information, cultural diversity and identity. Yet, critically, it is also about balance. It requires a combination of rapid imaginative change and symbolic (fashion) expression as well as durability and long-term engaging, quality products. Slow Fashion supports our psychological needs (to form identity, communicate and be creative through our clothes) as well as our physical needs (to cover and protect us from extremes of climate).”

Naadam Cashmere luxury slow fashion movementAs fashion shifts from quantity to quality, the production is not time based any more. This allows suppliers more freedom of planning orders, predicting the number of workers needed, thereby investing sincerely in the long-term. Slow Fashion labels build relationships that are not just profitable but mutually beneficial to all the stakeholders of the product. They do not set unrealistic deadlines for workers like Fast Fashion companies do. Instead, the employees are more secure with regular hours, good quality working conditions and opportunities for appraisals and promotions. 

Slow Fashion encourages a qualitative dialogue between the designer and the artist, the artist and the product, and eventually the product and the consumer. In consequence, it creates long lasting relationships that transcends the nature of this fierce business into something more meaningful and with greater humane value.

Indeed, consumers are increasingly demanding for more punctilious brands. Market research provider, Euromonitor International, recently released a report on ‘Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2019’ where the second and third most important trends were ‘Back to Basics for Status’ (shoppers searching for authentic products and experiences, moving away from overt materialism to simplicity as well as from generic to higher quality products) and ‘Conscious Consumer’ (what used to be the domain of ethically-positioned, niche producers is now being embraced by conventional companies through higher welfare products) respectively.

Elizabeth Suzann Luxury fashion minimialistIt isn't uncommon for Slow Fashion to be mistaken with sustainable or ethical fashion philosophies. However, it is the amalgamation of three key concepts — ethical, lasting and eco-friendly fashion. It goes against the ideal of instant gratification that Fast Fashion stands for. Slow Fashion is responsible, fair and holistic that realises a different and more sustainable way of doing business. 

Of course, good quality is more expensive. Slow Fashion products are higher in value but fewer in number — epitomising what luxury originally stood for. Although not all Slow Fashion brands are luxurious in nature, here are a few picks that could catch your fancy. These conscientious companies invest into manufacturing more responsibly and uphold the integrity of the business.

Dear Frances

“Let’s Slow Fashion down” — reads the website of Slow Fashion shoe brand Dear Frances. Adorned by the likes of Selena Gomez, Bella Hadid and Katy Perry, Dear Frances’s shoes are handcrafted at a multi-generational artisan factory in northern Italy. The makers work closely with the artisans to bring the highest level of design and craftsmanship, without the wholesale markups. Dear Frances has effectively slowed the fashion cycle and led the way for socially conscious businesses.

Dear Frances luxury boots slow fashion

Elizabeth Suzann

A namesake label born out of an apartment in Nashville, Tennessee, Elizabeth Suzann believes in mindful and careful consumption. They create long-lasting garments that are handmade keeping in mind the people they work with, relationships, the community, the environment and humanity. It was reported by WWD that the company reached $1 million in sales after a little more than a year in business. 

Naadam Slow fashion luxury cashmere

Eileen Fisher

Based in New York, Eileen Fisher is an industry leader in ethical and sustainable fashion. Known for their strong social and environmental beliefs, Eileen Fisher maintains fair working wages by carefully overseeing their supply chain processes. The company’s vision is to have 100% organic cotton, linen fibres, no-waste operations and responsible dyes by 2020. The company has over 1200 employees with over 56 retail stores in fifteen states.


Naadam’s mission is to “democratise cashmere by translating transparency into real sustainability, better prices and better quality for their customers”. The brand operates direct-to-customer to produce ultra-soft cashmere that is hand brushed from the goats (this is better for the animals). They are Cradle to Cradle certified and are responsible towards towards the people and resources involved in the production processes. Their humanitarian and eco-friendly efforts are realised by the support they offer to nomadic herding families in Mongolia and the veterinary care they provide to the goats there. 

Luxury Hospitality Design - 2019 Trends By: Kayur Patel, Founder & Creative Director of RIZO by Studio Cast Glass

Posted on: January 25, 2019

RIZO by Studio Cast Glass Travellers today have become extremely savvy, seek extraordinary experiences and are completely clued in with the visual aspect of savoir faire.

In an age of social media, where platforms like Instagram have become pertinent for business – it is important for the hospitality industry to push themselves to create spaces which balance the growing appetite of their guests’ expectations. 

By creating visually and intellectually inspiring luxury canvases which heighten the overall experience of their stay, hotel designers, hitherto, have the responsibility to create a design strategy catering to different types of guests. It’s not just about being comfortable anymore. It’s about beauty, stylishness AND comfort, which travellers can’t find anywhere else.

We list six trends that are keeping designers awake at the mood board.

Immersive Social Space

Create design driven experiences in common areas such as receptions and lobbies. Don’t be afraid to go bold by including avant garde elements with unique textures, unexpected treatments to surfaces and an engaging, intelligent mix of material. Let elementary functions be enjoyed in ambient spaces where luxury and design takes centre stage. RIZO’s “EVOLUTION” finish can be adapted to accomplish concept driven lobby furniture and iconic, multi-dimensional feature walls.

Evolution Surface by RIZO Studio Cast Glass


Picture Friendly Ambience

Keep guests engaged by creating areas which urge millennials and others alike to take “selfies” or pictures of the property. A sculptural ceiling that amasses 70% of the surface or an eye catching  installation running through a corridor could tell a beautiful story of the hotel and its history. RIZO’s ORO STREAM finish from the “Transitions” Collection could be wonderfully integrated to create bespoke picture worthy holiday moments. 

Rizo's Oro Stream Panel


Homely Hotels

Hotels are homes for travellers. To make every guest feel warm, welcome and at home, while giving the complete hospitality experience, hotel designers could integrate eclectic accents such as lamps, cabinets, consoles which are story driven and handcrafted much like the souvenirs travellers collect as keepsakes for their personal collections from around the world. Unique furniture accents could be a value addition for hotel rooms, where the guests are likely to spend a considerable amount of time. 

Carbon floor lamp by Rizo by Studio Cast Glass


Easy Luxury, Downtime

Emphasise on theme based bars, restaurants, lounge areas which provide the ease of slipping into the mood of the hour while rendering opulence through a fluid interplay of décor. Just as the baroque inspired Imperial Crystal Screen & Column or the experiential island bar could say a lot about a space and its mood allegiances. 

RIZO Baroque inspired imperial crystal screen


Bring The Outdoors, Indoors

Focus on design in a way where the imminent aspect of nature is reminiscent. Encourage a biophilic affiliation to a space where use of natural materials for features, partition screens or even waterbodies may render tranquillity in sound. Structure bespoke glass atriums that allows light to pass or use natural hues and patterns on surfaces. Make nature complimentary and not transient. 

Unique table design


Colour Play

Add fun sculptures in complimentary hues, for example, a central feature like a staircase of coloured glass, 3 dimensional movable screens that allow larger spaces to become intimate and vice – versa and even dynamic lift carts. Design is when intelligence meets art and form follows function. Adding a dash of colour in doing so can go a long way.


The force behind India’s first luxury architectural glass brand, Mr. Kayur Patel draws upon his bank of experience in the field of luxury interiors of over three decades to create and transform spaces. A self-taught design aficionado, he has undertaken and supervised over 1000 successful projects in India and overseas. His understanding of scale, speed, consistency and excellence has resulted in versatile use of precious materials such as glass and crystal for bespoke works. An automobile engineer by education, Mr. Patel is the Founder & Creative Director of RIZO: EXPERIENCE THE LIVING, the flagship brand of Studio Cast Glass that was launched in 2017. At the helm of RIZO, Mr. Patel encapsulates his vision by creating fluid interplay of luxury finishes for private residences, hotels, luxurious recreational and commercial spaces, thereby rendering an artistic edge to produce surfaces, architectural features, lighting, furniture and site specific art installations. 

Women Leaders in the Luxury Industry: The Future is Female By: Nikita Vivek Pawar

Posted on: January 22, 2019

Women leaders in fashion luxuryWhen I was ten, I remember I wanted to dress as a princess for my uncle’s wedding. I could not find any dress that I loved, so my mother took me to the tailor. To my surprise, the person taking our measurements and creating our garments was a man. When I wanted a piece of jewellery, the salesperson was a man. At a young age, the role of a man and a woman were ingrained in my mind to a level that I would get disturbed when the roles were reversed. Years later, I understood it is the job that matters, not the gender of the person. When I started delving into the fashion and luxury industry, the men outnumbered the women. The surge of women empowerment gaining momentum triggered the questions the ten-year-old me had, the only difference is I have some answers today.

What women want

Long gone are the times when you needed a pretty dress, a sparkling ring, and some pretty flowers to impress a woman. The woman of this day and age aspires for something more realistic and less materialistic. They want to create an identity for themselves and achieve goals and dreams. They want their name on the front door and a dignified reputation. As a consumer also, women are coming to the fore. From getting jewelry as gift to being active purchasers themselves, to buying luxury SUV’s for personal use, and booking hotel rooms for a trip with girlfriends, women know what they want. 

Anita Dongre Fashion Designer   Anita Lal Good Earth

In the fashion world, in the 1920s, came a young woman who decided to change the world because she did not the like the perception of women then. Coco Chanel, one of the first women leaders in the fashion industry, is responsible for bringing the LBD in trend as well as introducing pants for women. She was driven and resilient. She started a revolution that isn’t going to stop anytime soon. 

A good sense of the market, recognising a good opportunity, taking the right course of action and believing in yourself is what is expected from a good leader. The luxury sector has been in the reins for men for a long time, and the times are definitely changing. Ace jewellery designer, and one of the most successful women leaders in Indian luxury industry, Farah Khan said, “Women are being given their due credit and have been rising to higher positions. But to change this in broader spectrum, women need to be more aware of their rights and shouldn't be ashamed of asking what is their due.” 

Caroline Scheufele Chopard   Claudia Cividino Bally CEO North America

With increasing relevance of women empowerment or the #MeToo movements, no one can deny the role played by the social media. The rage has helped women realise their rights and gain courage to act upon it to get what they truly deserve. Mrs. Khan said, “ Women are more forth coming with regards to everything - their demands, needs, wants, discrimination, stereotypes, etc. With the advent of social media, women have gained more support, broken stereotypes and taken on roles once considered taboo for women. Additionally, education has played a big role in creating awareness about gender equality and now women are also more open to experimenting with their careers and trying unconventional options in the luxury space.” 

W for women, W for wealth

There is a different sense of freedom in financial independence. As more women generate their own wealth, they are increasingly controlling the investment of their assets. As per the Julius Baer Wealth Report Asia 2018, the vast majority of women surveyed across China (87%), India (80%), Hong Kong (71%) and Singapore (59%) are financial decision makers in their households, exceeding the US (44%).

Darcy Penick Bergdorf Goodman President   Deepika Gehani Genesis Luxury

According to the same report, luxury spending by Chinese women has increased dramatically. Harvard Business Review surveyed women across the US, UK, China, India, Hong Kong and Singapore with personal income of at least USD 100,000 per annum and investable assets of USD 500,000. Results showed that women in Asia were remarkably confident about their financial knowledge, as compared to their counterparts in the West. Asia’s economic boom over the past decade has accelerated the exponential growth of the female market – a burgeoning number of business and tech-savvy women making corporate decisions involving billions of dollars of assets.

EQ over IQ

Besides being anatomically different, there are certain abilities that differentiate these by-parts of the same species. Barack Obama agrees to it when he once talked about “the importance of more focus on putting women in power, because men seem to be having some problems these days.”

Diane von Frustenberg   Donatella Versace

The high Emotional Quotient (EQ) of women does get them brownie points in almost all discussions. Women leaders are innately nurturing and affectionate, increasing their tendency to empathise and relate with the third person. “With technology and AI coming into play, humanitarian aspect of business and professional life is losing its importance,” Mrs Khan said, thus highlighting the importance of EQ.

Women are great at multi-tasking as well. Remember handling the personal and professional life? Deepika Gehani, the Creative and Marketing Director of Genesis Luxury, a company widely responsible for bringing luxury brands to India, added, “It is also scientifically proven that women have better tactile acuity and they also tend to taste, smell, hear, see colors, and feel textures more accurately than men which makes women better suited for the job.” 

Diane von Frustenberg maybe known for her wrap dress, Darcy Penick for digital and international retail techniques, Stella McCartney for focusing on environment-conscious fashion, Caroline Scheufele for jewelry designs, Vera Wang for bridal dresses, Claudia Cividino for her knowledge of luxury fashion brands, Miuccia Prada for her handbags, Donatella Versace for changing the fashion world, and Nathalie Diamantis for retail skills. All of them are different and unique, but have one thing in common. They are the current leaders, creators, designers, managers, and marketers in the luxury industry. They hold the power to change the industry. With the rapidly changing consumer, their brands are still thriving. Reason? Adaptability. Women have a natural and adaptive reaction to everything around them.

Farah Khan Ali Jewelry Designer   Mira Kulkarni Forest Essentials

India has been a patriarchal society for a long time now, but the Indian woman is not far behind, neither in creation nor spend. Think Ritu Kumar, Anita Dongre, Farah Khan, Deepika Gehani, Mira Kulkarni and Anita Lal. 

Ms. Gehani said, “I feel more women are helming luxury, especially in India. I feel that it is women in India that have always been directly or indirectly buyers of luxury and therefore they are more discerning in their taste and knowledge of what works and does not work for a luxury customer. In my capacity of a creative director, I always ensure that I put myself in the place of the customer.” 

According to a 2017 study by Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen, head of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at the BI Norwegian Business School, he concluded that women were better leaders than their male counterparts. As per the study, which assessed 3,000 managers, women outperformed men in four of the five categories studied: initiative and clear communication; openness and ability to innovate; sociability and supportiveness; and methodical management and goal-setting. This study quite efficiently sums up the importance of women leaders in the corporate structure.

Miuccia PradaDesigner Ritu Kumar   

A seat at the front table

For an industry where more than 50% of the consumer is female, they sure aren’t represented as they should. “Any great/successful organisation is about its people and today most places prefer and work hard to retain a qualified and suitable candidate, any attrition (which may be truer for senior management) represents a considerable loss to organisations, which miss out on the unique capabilities that women bring to the leadership role,” said Ms. Gehani. 

It is a long-standing fact that even though women do make up a large composition of a workspace, luxury or not, they rarely are able to climb up the ladder to higher positions.

As the diversity issue increasingly gains more importance, luxury conglomerates have designed independent solutions to ensure their cooperation. LVMH created a major internal effort in 2009 by named “EllesVMH”, which was designed to encourage skills development and network-building among female employees with a continuous goal to increase women employment in the group.

Stella McCartney   Vera Wang

Floriane de Saint-Pierre, a luxury headhunter in France, founded a digital platform, Ethics & Boards, to assess the board composition of publicly traded companies on multiple criteria. As per the European Gender Diversity Index published in 2018 by Ethics & Boards and European Women on Boards, the average female representation in the boards of 200 European companies was 33.6%. The companies, however, were led by Kering (60%), Sodexo (53.8%) and Accor Hotels (50%).

Pitfalls make you stronger and wiser

It is easy to get daunted and sceptical about your future towards the top of the company. According to Mrs. Khan, “A woman leader should definitely be fearless, assertive. A woman leader must possess grit and tenacity.” It echoes what the fabulous Coco Chanel once said: “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Sometimes you might feel you have taken a wrong decision, but don’t give up so easily, because pitfalls make you stronger and wiser. 

10 Trends for the Indian Luxury Market in 2019 By: Abhay Gupta, Luxury Expert, Author, Speaker, Professor of Luxury Management

Posted on: January 15, 2019

India has seen much activity this past year. Not just in the luxury sector, but in the general political and economic scenario as well. 2019 promises to be even more challenging, and should we say rewarding, provided you read the signs carefully and create strategies accordingly.  

Rambagh Palace India luxury hotel

Assocham figures continue to be optimistic. As per last projection, not only is the industry expected to be of a size of USD 30 billion by the end of 2018, but is also to continue its growth trajectory unhindered. But owing to the sudden instability in the political applecart, the floundering rupee and the eminent global slowdown of 2020 looming large, owing in no small measure to the American president, ground reality for luxury could be different. 

We put down some global trends that could guide the Indian luxury industry in tackling what is about to come in their widely volatile path:

1. Mergers and acquisitions: Reliance Brands (Indian retailers of Ermenegildo Zegna, Kate Spade, Thomas Pink and more) have taken over Genesis Retail (Indian retailers of Bottega Veneta, Canali, Paul Smith and more) in 2018. And with that, the largest fashion and accessory conglomerate of Indian Luxury and premium space has taken shape. Similarly, Michael Kors, after acquiring Jimmy Choo in the past, acquired Versace in 2018, and gave birth to a new parent company – Capri Holdings Limited. We are seeing the creation of an American luxury conglomerate, which may give European counterparts a run for their money.

With little competition, the all-powerful Reliance Brands group may become the only point of entry into India. Independent brands and smaller groups continue to offer their wares, but the sheer strength, negotiation powers and might of Reliance will perhaps prove to be the single driver of the fashion and luxury space in India.

Michael Kors photo

Consolidation, therefore, may be the way forward to minimise losses and amplify profits while combining expenses.

2. The rise of new markets: Luxury has slowly spread its wings to the hitherto sleepy Tier I & Tier II towns. The fast emerging Indian market is not only witnessing demand for luxury products from the usual suspects but also Tier I and Tier II cities such as Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Ahmedabad and others which have a sizable number of HNIs (High Net-worth Individuals). Alongside, an increase in wealth for the middle class coupled with internet penetration has resulted in newer segments of first-time luxury buyers. This has given ample space for a whole lot of brands to set up shop in India and retail their brands through distribution networks. This will be the next growth driver for luxury companies in India.

3. India’s luxury travel offerings: With increased e-visa processing, faster on the ground arrival support, eye catchy Incredible India campaigns, the tourist inflow from within and outside is likely to further increase. Allahabad’s Kumbh Mela in 2019 is going to pull in quite a bit of crowd with TUTC’s glamping options helping with luxurious stays. Kapil Chopra, an ex-President of Oberoi Hotels, has started his own hotel brand in India, giving a fine boost to the Indian hospitality sector.

The Postcard Moira hotel by Kapil Chopra

A new report of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reveals that India’s travel and tourism sector ranks 7th in the world in terms of its total contribution to the country’s GDP. Foreign Tourist Arrivals increased to 8.36 million in January-October 2018, achieving a growth rate of 6.20 per cent year-on-year according to IBEF (Indian Brand Equity Foundation). Be prepared to give that famous Indian welcome.

4. The big fat Indian wedding: There’s never been a better time to be a part of the wedding industry in India. With India’s largely young population standing at the altar, millenials and the next generations are getting married every year with even more options in hand to make it special. According to a 2017 KPMG report titled ‘Market Study of Online Matrimony and Marriage Services in India’, the marriage services industry is estimated to be worth approximately US$53.77 billion (Rs 3,68,100 cr). 

This is one sector which boosts sales in all sectors of the industry – from beauty, fashion, accessories, photography, jewellery, travel, hospitality, gifting to also the cuisine segment. With high standards being set by star weddings such as those of Priyanka Chopra-Nick Jonas, Deepika Padulone-Ranveer Singh and Isha Ambani-Anand Piramal in 2018, the aspiration of the average Indian to splurge on weddings is reaching a new peak. With Rolex watches as gifts to the entire wedding procession to bespoke clothing from super luxury brands to not only the entire family but the whole procession adds further fillip to the trade. 

Deepika Padukone Ranveer Singh reception luxury wedding

5. Luxury homes that speak & think: From high end home appliances such as Sub Zero Wolf to tech controlled homes like Home Automat, luxury and technology seem to marry and create an inseparable union. What was earlier restricted to high-end laptops and mobiles, demand has now invaded the home entertainment and kitchen space. Luxury phones brand Hanmac, which has operations in China, is entering India. Smart ovens that calculate and cook for you, chromotherapy showers and smart mirrors which track your health are soon going to become usual in Indian homes.

Luxury smart homes

6. Luxury retail & technology: Omni-presence now means beyond just available everywhere to also be ‘Phygital’. A merger of the physical and digital retail is quietly invading the global retail. Amazon Go has already launched eight cashier-less stores in Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco & plans to ramp up to 3,000 by 2021.

In Bangalore, Decathlon launched a similar store by introducing a 'phygital experience' - an innovative mix of physical retail and digital touch points. From virtual reality to digital payments the intent is to create a fun and immersive user experience designed to engage and add value to the consumer at every step of the way while choosing their favourite sports gear. Another concept store called 'Watasale' also created a cashier-less store, its first one being in Kochi, and has plans to expand to other cities including Bengaluru and New Delhi in the near future. 

Virtual reality, artificial intelligence and augmented reality are changing how consumers interact with products and services. Luxury brands have already being introducing features in their stores internationally. Examples are Dior’s virtual reality headsets and Kate Spade’s ‘Make it Mine’ service. Indian stores, though, have not come into their radar yet. 

Augmented Reality Goggles by MINI

In India, brands like Arvind have introduced Magic Mirrors through its brand Creyate Custom Clothing. Shoppers Stop has launched an innovative augmented reality-based dressing room: 'The Magic Mirror'. It is an intelligent photo booth that gives customers the option to select and view apparel and accessories on themselves without having to physically ‘try on’ the desired products. Ecommerce players such as Lenskart and Caratlane are already into virtual trial of products by customers.

Can the Indian luxury industry ignore this anymore?

7. Predictive analysis to predictive selling: The Indian fashion industry proudly receives its first futuristic analysis software, ‘Stylumia’. Created by ex-Myntra founder Ganesh Subramanium, the software will assist in better buying to be able to improve efficiencies and sell through ratios. Most luxury brands dependent on the human predictions of the buyer can now resort to technology and manage their budgets better. This coupled with predictive selling, could bring in the much needed correction in stocks over-load with luxury brands. Here’s to more profitable times!

8. Reusable/rentable luxury: As per an Allied Market Research, the global online clothing rental market was valued at $1,013 million in 2017, and is estimated to reach $1,856 million by 2023, registering a CAGR of 10.6% from 2017 to 2023. North America leads the online clothing rental market, followed by the Asia-Pacific region. Asia-Pacific is expected to grow at highest CAGR of 11.4% mainly led by India and China.

But what started as a trickle two years back, is now a stream, with many ventures offering specialised product categories. Websites such as Confidential Couture offer reusable luxury goods while Ziniosa and Rent A Closet offer fashion on rent. And now, even affluent women are renting high-end jewellery for their wedding. The fashion rental market is becoming the biggest trend. A wedding suit or gown worth Rs. One lakh could be rented for as low as Rs. 2000 to Rs. 2500!

9. Ethical, authentic luxury: Luxury brands are increasingly giving sustainability a larger portion of their production and marketing agenda and budget. From farm-to-fork restaurants to conservation of oceans and heritage sites to creation of garments with used fabrics, the luxury industry is bending rules to create a happier, healthier environment

In India, GrassRoot by Anita Dongre and Nicobar by Good Earth are few names that are setting standards for their sustainable offerings. Slowly but surely, the well exposed Indian consumer seeks value over mere brand name. Value definitions are shifting rapidly in line with global shifts. ‘Carbon footprint’ and ‘sustainability’ are gaining deep meaning for the young generation today. A brand who pays heed to such demands will perhaps go a long way.

Rolls Royce Cullinan

10. SUV’s take over the roads: The typical Indian, fond of big cars, is rapidly switching to SUVs. Various variants have been introduced by automakers of all categories. From Lamborghini Urus to Rolls Royce Cullinan, almost all luxury brands have come up with their SUV variant. Porsche’s Cayenne takes things forward by making it electric.

Sale of SUVs grew seven times faster than that of passenger sedans. While small cars and sedans managed a growth of 3% in the last financial year, the sales of SUV grew by 21%. The share of SUVs in overall passenger vehicle sales rose to nearly 30% in 2017-18, compared to 14% recorded at the end of March 2017-18. According to numbers released by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam), 9.2 lakh SUVs were sold in 2017-18 against 7.6 lakh units in the previous year.

As the Indian luxury industry and consumer changes its character and personality, international luxury brands will need to keep stepping up their efforts to lure the Asian jewel.

Abhay Gupta Luxury ExpertAbhay Gupta is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’ for the past 6 years. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. Fondazione Altagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India. 

Luxury Real Estate: 2019 Global Outlook By: Stephanie Anton, President, Luxury Portfolio International

Posted on: January 7, 2019

Luxury Home in Cape Town Winelands South AfricaAs the population of affluent consumers continues to grow around the world, so does their interest in real estate. In 2018, the global market for luxury real estate has seen vast differences from market to market, because after all, real estate — even at the high end — is most susceptible to local market forces and we expect that to continue in 2019. 

In 2018, record-setting sales for luxury homes were achieved around the world. While prices may be stabilizing, we can still expect to see some records set in 2019. Recent data compiled by Knight Frank for ultra-luxury properties showed that for the last 12 months, transactions above $25 million each achieved a combined value of $6.6 billion. The world’s elite are highly engaged in seeking out top-tier properties. 

Predictions for the overall housing market have been mostly flat for 2019, partly due to interest rate increases. While interest rates are less of a factor in the luxury market, where cash offers are more prevalent, rising rates still may influence sales in 2019. Luxury consumers are highly focused on making good investments and want to maximize the value of their properties. For these consumers, real estate is both an emotional and a business decision. As with property tax changes in the U.S, anything that impacts the overall affordability of a home affects the market.

Luxury Home in Hayesville North Carolina

Although luxury did slow in the second half of 2018, the overall fundamentals of real estate remain strong. The 2018 luxury market has been healthier than most realize. While median prices have been slowing, the top 5% of many major metro markets have been growing, with sales over $1 million up over 5% year over year, prices breaking records, in some cases by double digits, and in the majority of markets, inventory selling faster. This is happening simply because of the health of the affluent. The most recent Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report showed that aggregate global wealth grew by $14 trillion, up to  $317 trillion over the 12 months through the end of October. The overall number of individuals whose wealth exceeds $50 million rose by 4 percent to 149,890 people. Luxury real estate is a vital part of the overall holdings of the world’s elite. 

At Luxury Portfolio International, our 2018 Global Luxury Real Estate Report showed that interest in purchasing residential real estate remains high, with 38% of the global high-net-worth considering a purchase in the next three years. At the same time, interest in selling remains significantly lower, at 23%. This should bode well for luxury sellers globally, however, in individual markets, we are seeing pockets where things are slower and inventory is high. For example, New York City has seen luxury growth to be slow in Manhattan while areas such as the Astoria neighborhood in Queens has seen a rapid increase in sales. That trend should continue with the news that Amazon is planning a headquarters in Long Island City. 

Luxury Home in Montecito California

Around the world, investors in luxury real estate are taking a strategic approach. Real estate is viewed by high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) everywhere as a “wealth creator” and recognized globally as the preeminent status symbol of wealth and success. Buyers are very interested in urban areas and are expanding their interest beyond the typical marquee cities. This trend can be seen in China where purchases in smaller cities have grown dramatically over the past several years. When prices are high, such as they have been over the last several years, investors may seek opportunities in smaller cities where prices are lower. 

Like we said, wealth doesn’t disappear, it just changes location. We expect to see significant cross-market shifting as more and more of the global elite invest “abroad” and across country lines. This is going to be particularly interesting as we watch wealth throughout Asia, in China and Hong Kong of course, but also in India, South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia, especially in the top 5 and top 1%. There is a tremendous opportunity for luxury real estate in South Asian markets. where development is on the rise. 

Luxury Home in Whistler British Columbia Canada

While Brexit still has the potential to disrupt markets in Europe, it's looking more likely that the change won’t be very dramatic. London is still a very desirable market for global luxury purchasers. Spain has seen a resurgence of interest in recent months and Germany continues to show strength. 

While the 2019 luxury market will likely experience more of the softening we are seeing at the middle of the market, this is an opportunity for the investor and those willing to move when others aren’t.

Stephanie Anton President Luxury Portfolio InternationalStephanie Anton, President of Luxury Portfolio International, has been with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World since 2005 and today oversees the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of Luxury Portfolio International, the company’s high-end marketing division. She frequently speaks to audiences around the world about the luxury industry at large, real estate marketing, and research and insights into the affluent consumer. She has been named to the Inman 101 list of innovative leaders driving industry change, the Swanepoel Power 200 list of most influential real estate professionals and Luxury Daily's prestigious ranking of Luxury Women to Watch 2017, a select list of 25 accomplished executives set to make a difference in luxury. Luxury Portfolio International has a distinct point of view: as the luxury division of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, they work with independently branded, local leaders around the world and distill the reporting and insights they hear from local leaders everywhere to paint a picture of the global luxury real estate market.

8 Luxury Products to Coral-ize Yourself By: Kennedy Orrell

Posted on: December 23, 2018

If you haven’t heard, it’s time to invest in the color everyone’s gushing about. Pantone’s color of the year for 2019 has been announced as Living Coral. An effervescent color hotter than pink but a tone down from red, this color will have your home and appearance as radiant as a living coral reef. This tone could be just the thing to spark some creativity as it emerges in both - natural settings and social media presence. With all the controversy surrounding the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs, I personally think this is a great color to demand the attention of society to this issue.

Here are eight products with this elusive, yet vivid color that should be added to your repertoires. As Pantone said, this color “energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.”

1. Tom Ford lipstick in Naked Coral shade: This dramatic accessory includes exotic ingredients of soja seed extract, Brazilian murumuru butter, and chamomilla flower oil for an “ultra-creamy texture” and “smooth application.”

Price: $55 | Available at:

Tom Ford lipstick in Naked Coral shade

2. BOVET Amadeo Fleurier 39 Grand Feu: This 2018 ladies’ timepiece by Swiss watchmaking Maison BOVET features a delicate hand-painted fan motif in an exquisite coral color. A coordinated alligator strap with 18 karat red gold clasp will complement any woman’s wrist. It is also adorned with 1.71 carats of pave set diamonds through its’ bow and bezel.

Price: $89,300 | Available by request at Bovet retailers

Bovet Amadeo Fleurier coral watch with diamonds


3. Yummy LV Bracelet: Updated for the new season in fresh colors, like coral, this bracelet is embellished with a trio of metal studs etched with the LV signature. The clasp is finished with an engraving of the iconic monogram pattern. This is sure to pop on any wrist.

Price: $310 | Available at:

Yummy LV Bracelet in Coral color

4. Cocoon by Fernando & Humberto Campana: From Louis Vuitton’s Objets Nomades Travel Collection released in Spring 2018, this eye-catching cocoon chair has a delicately perforated fiberglass shell lined with calfskin to be smooth on the outside and quilted on the inside. The specially-shaped cushions offer an enveloping retreat from every-day life. It definitely looks like something out of a luxurious resort from vacation. Laze the day away in style.

Price: $88,500 | Available at:

Luxury Cocoon by Louis Vuitton Fernando and Humberto Campana

5. Giorgio Armani dress: This sophisticated and timeless garment accentuates feminine beauty with understated style. Made from Milano stitched jersey, it’s designed with a distinctive draped bodice stitched at the hip. This dress could fit any occasion.

Price: $1,025 | Available at:

Giorgio Armani Coral luxury dress for women

6. Philanthropy Cheek Color by ChanteCaille: With a portion of proceeds going to the Marine Conservation Biology Institute, you can give back while wearing this stunning coral blush with finely milled pigments that blend together seamlessly.

Price: $40 | Available at:

Chantecaille Corak Cheek Color

7. Padparadscha Sapphire and Diamond Ring: A lusciously intricate ring with creative essences seemingly like the Great Barrier Reef, this platinum and 18k rose gold ring features a 5.01 carat cushion cut padparadscha sapphire. It is accented by 2.51 carat of pear-shaped diamonds and 0.18 of round brilliant diamonds.

Price: $250,000 | Available at:

Padparadscha Sapphire and diamond ring by Omi Prive

8. Dolce & Gabbana Sunglasses: These sunglasses pop with large faceted lenses, almost like precious gems. They are hooked together by golden thin griffes. The frame is completed by terminals in the same shade and adjustable nose pads for extra comfort.

Price: $570 | Available at: or Sunglass Hut stores world over

Dolce & Gabbana Coral Octagonal sunglasses

*Some products may deviate slightly from the exact Pantone Living Coral shade.

Luxury Skincare that is Conscious, Sustainable By: Jessica Bond 

Posted on: October 18, 2018

Kiehl's Calendula mask with aloe veraPresident Donald Trump might think that climate change is a hoax, it certainly doesn’t seem so. The increased frequency of life threatening hurricanes and earthquakes shattering the Earth are just one example of the effect of climate change. The world is scrambling to do their bit in decelerating the effects. Children are being taught how to sow and nurture a plant. Adults are studying how recycling and reducing garbage can be achieved at home. And brands are changing their production formulas and operation methods to reverse the skeletonising of Earth. 

The luxury beauty industry is doing its bit as well. Long being infamous for its ingredients, chemical-rich formulations and adverse long-term impact on skins and the environment, the luxury beauty industry has buckled itself up. And within the plethora of examples available, Kiehl’s and Osmia are two skincare brands that are working to change the stigma around the skincare industry, whether it is by being completely transparent about the ingredients in their products or by being involved in social initiatives to contribute to the community. 

Commitment to community

Dating back to 1851, American skincare brand Kiehl’s has been committed to offering the best products to its consumers while showing commitment to making the community that they serve better. Mr. Santosh Kumar, Brand Head at Kiehl’s India believes that showing loyalty to the consumers is a key way to help a brand survive. “Kiehl’s products are formulated and tested to do what we say they will show results for,” Mr. Kumar said. “By doing so we have gained customer loyalty over the years which is very important for a brand to survive.” 

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective serumOver the years, Kiehl’s has also been involved in three causes, including being environmentally conscious and caring for the wellbeing of its consumers. “A worthwhile firm must have a purpose for its existence. Not only the everyday work-a-day purpose to earn a just profit, but beyond that, to improve in some way the quality of the community to which we are committed,” Mr. Kumar said.

By being involved with causes that help with issues such as AIDS, the environment and children, the brand is able to make difference in their consumers' lives and strengthen the brand’s image. Tackling some of the most challenging issues that are affecting the world today, Kiehl’s is setting an example for future skincare brands to take initiative to be more environmentally conscious. At LuxuryFacts, we have always been impressed with their grassroot initiatives and have written much about them in the past

Respecting the land

While Kiehl’s may be one of the oldest skincare brands making a difference for the environment, newcomer Osmia Organics is looking to make a name for itself in the next generation of all-natural skincare. Dr. Sarah Villafranco, the founder of Osmia, believes that the brand tries to be as environmentally conscious as possible. “From raw ingredients to packaging to our packing materials, we consider the environmental impact and how we can minimize it,” she said. “We also plant a tree for every order, in an effort to give back actively to the earth, rather than simply doing less harm.” 

Osmia Organics Natural Skincare products

When creating the Osmia brand, Dr. Villafranco, believed that taking the initiative to be environmentally conscious was the only thing to do. “We really didn’t consider any other option - being environmentally conscious is the foundation on which we have based our entire mission, to inspire people to live in health and joy, with a softer impact on the planet.” 

Osmia Organics Natural SoapsAll Osmia boxes are made with recyclable, FSC certified paper, and their ink is non-toxic, soy-based. Osmia’s bath containers are 100% recycled cardboard tubes with recyclable metal tops, while their soap wrapping paper is partially-recycled and chlorine-free. Osmia also switched to printed glass wherever possible in 2016, which is, of course, fully recyclable. Their airless pumps are Ecocert-approved and 100% recyclable (there’s no metal spring in them to prevent them from entering the recycling stream).

Using completely organic ingredients, their products are known for their effectiveness. Current range on the website shows Pumpkin facial soap (of course!), Rose Clay facial soap and Himalayan Body Buff (made from pink salt from the Himalayas combined with organic essential oils of Bulgarian lavender and Canadian fir).

Having a lasting impression on the skincare industry is essential for these skincare brands. Osmia and Kiehl’s are hoping that their products affect their consumers more than skin deep. Regardless of how long the brand has been in the industry, it is never too late or soon for the brand to have a lasting impression on their consumers’ lives in more ways than one. 

Gucci Reinvention - How Alessandro Michele Revamped the Brand By: Jessica Bond

Posted on: August 13, 2018

It is no secret that the millenial generation is rewriting the rules of consumerism and style. These new rules have, of course, affected many a brand’s old strategies. Gucci was one of them. 

According to Euromonitor International, in 2014, 50% of Kering Group’s sales were generated by Gucci. Despite that, Gucci’s weak performance undercut very strong growth from other parts of the business, notably YSL and Bottega Veneta. Kering Group, along with these three labels, also owns Balenciaga, Brioni, Alexander McQueen, Boucheron and Pomellato among others.

The digital consumer was demanding more understated brands and logos, a trend which was also gaining acquiesce among the fashion cognoscenti and press, directly threatening Kering’s key label, Gucci.

Alessandro Michele for Gucci

But tables turned once Alessandro Michele gained his position as Creative Director of Gucci. He bought over many ingenious changes and fueled retail expansion, leading to Gucci’s regeneration. Indeed, we did analyze the creative u-turn Mr. Michele did in his very first collection itself. By 2016, Gucci was back at the top of the sales list for Kering Group, leading us to wonder exactly what magic spell did he use? Therefore, according to our research and observation, here are the 5 ways in which Mr. Michele reinvented this famous luxury brand.

Harry Styles X Gucci1. COLLABORATIONS

Under the razor-eye approval of Alessandro Michele, Gucci collaborated with many celebrities and artists such as artist Coco Capitan and singer Harry Styles. From creating special t-shirts to photographic campaigns, collaborating with artists and using celebrities to star in latest ads helps show the versatility of the brand and appeal to a younger demographic. Not to mention the barrage of ideas and designs that the brand gets, making it pretty much a luxury artist-aided brand. 


Going vintage is one of the latest trends in Gucci and has become its signature look. For Gucci’s Cruise 2018 and 2019 shows, ancient Rome and Greece served as inspiration for the collection and decor, showing how vintage can also be modern and fashionable. Mr. Michele recreated vintages ideas, that would normally been seen as ‘dated’, to reach a more diverse clientele. The brand’s Pre-Fall 2018 collection, for example, mixes geeky checks with glamourous ruffles and shine to put together a vintage-style collection. 


There is no doubt that streetwear trend has taken the fashion industry by storm. With sneakers and backpacks taking over the ramp, many luxury brands’ collections incorporate streetwear elements, and Gucci is no exception. Alessandro Michele collaborated with artists Trevor Andrew and designer Dapper Dan to recreate the traditional Gucci attire to fit an urban streetwear aesthetic. So welcome puffed jackets, washed out (almost faded) denims, track suits and baseball caps.


In today’s social media-driven world, having a strong social media presence is essential to luxury fashion brands. Gucci’s digital presence has soared since Mr. Michele became the Creative Director. With an Instagram following of almost 30 million, Gucci now has the ability to showcase the brand’s identity through social media to be able to compete with the growing number of millennial shoppers. Not to forget digital projects such as Gucci Places, #TFWGucci and Gucci 4 Rooms.


In 2017, Gucci announced its line of home decor which featured a wide range of items, allowing shoppers to decorate their homes in the latest Gucci trends. Few luxury brands, have made the move into home decor. Making this move gives the Gucci brand a lead in the constantly evolving fashion market. The brand’s décor collection borrows motifs from Gucci’s fashion styles, therefore creating a seamless connection between the wearing and the living.

Gucci Decor Collection

Trends come and go, but what sticks in the luxury fashion industry is being innovative when it seems like everything has been done before. Alessandro Michele has brought a new life to the once traditional Gucci brand, and it’s only the beginning. He’s here to completely Guccify our life.

How Luxury Brands are Combining Aesthetics with Technology By: Jessica Bond

Posted on: July 26, 2018

In today’s digital world, everything has become accessible through either cellular phones or the internet. A task such as shopping was used to be done only by going into the store and browsing through rows and rails of merchandise, but not anymore. Due to the rise of online shopping and a tech-savvy next generation, luxury brands have begun to implement augmented realities and digital marketing strategies to appeal to both older and younger demographic. Luxury brands are bringing the luxury retail industry into the new millenium. 

Ralph Lauren in-store screen technology augmented reality

In the ever changing fashion industry, the words “one day you’re in, the next you’re out”, drive designers to constantly create novel designs and a new shopping experience. According to Deloitte, “over half of in-store sales are influenced by digital.” In response, luxury brands such as Gucci and Burberry have implemented digital marketing strategies and augmented realities to revamp their in-store shopping experience and appeal to the millennial demographic. 

What does that mean?

Augmented and virtual realities are creating a massive difference in how consumers shop today. The difference between virtual and augmented realities is the experience that the consumer will have. Virtual Reality or VR creates a whole new world for consumers to explore. Luxury Brands such as Jaguar and Yves Saint Laurent have experimented with virtual realities to show a side of the brand that has never been seen before. Using virtual reality headsets gives the consumer a glimpse into the luxury driven world the brand has created. 

Watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, for example, released an interactive Virtual Reality movie, available on Google Spotlight Stories, where viewers can embark on a motorbike ride to the Mojave Desert in California, with actor Bradley Cooper no less, having the decisions they make along the way influence the outcome of the story! But it’s all inside a headset – in a completely computer generated world.

On the other hand, Augmented Reality or AR offers a more practical use of digital marketing. Augmented Reality gives shoppers the chance to familiarize themselves with a brand’s new product or services. It is closer to the real world, and the technology simply adds graphics, sounds and smells to the natural world as it exists. It enhances the world around you. Kate Spade New York and Dior are just a few luxury brands that have implemented augmented realities to launch new products or help shoppers pick their latest purchase. 

Gucci X Ignasi Monreal Illustration Augmented Reality

Gucci is the most recent luxury brand to implement an augmented reality campaign for its SS 2018 collection. Made by artist Ignasi Monreal, 15 out of the 20 campaign illustrations appeared in print magazine and newspapers, which were also scannable via the Gucci app, revealing augmented reality effects. 

Through the use of augmented realities and digital marketing campaigns, luxury brands are creating a stronger brand. Madelyn Postman, Managing Director of Leidar UK, believes that introducing new digital strategies keeps luxury brands from being dated. 

The forerunner

“Up until 2008-2009, Burberry sales were disappointing,” Ms. Postman said. “The brand is well known for its sophisticated image, Britishness and being traditional. Christopher Bailey completely transformed its image to tap into a younger market.”

Burberry was the first luxury brand to implement a digital marketing strategy. Launched in 2009, The Art of Trench campaign was the first of its kind to engage consumers with technology. The website showed everyday people wearing their Burberry trench coat, asking for photographers, models and everyone to submit their best photo in hope they will be featured on the site. The website also offered history on the Burberry trench coat, showing how it has evolved since the 1900s. Burberry’s digital marketing shows how a brand can still stay true its traditions, but reach wider audience as well. 

Luxury brands that have been at the forefront of fashion pride themselves on tradition and exquisite craftsmanship. Although as the demand of ‘fast fashion’ rises, it is difficult for traditional luxury brands to strike a balance between two different audiences. Digital marketing gives luxury brands the opportunity to show their versatility. 

How it’s done

When it comes to choosing the most effective digital marketing platform, Ms. Postman believes the best choice is social media to engage with the brand’s target audience.

Social media marketing has allowed brands that normally appeal to an older demographic, to be able to show their ‘lighter and funner’ side to their audience. Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are the main social media outlets used for engaging with the younger demographic, while also presenting brand versatility. Getting a sneak peek of the brand’s latest collection or behind the scenes footage is as easy as opening up the Instagram app and following these luxury brands. 

“The best platforms right now are Instagram and Snapchat,” Ms. Postman said. “But aggressive advertising won't work. Instead, a sponsored content/story is the right way to engage with your target customers.” 

Luxury brands have a lot to benefit from implementing digital marketing strategies. Trevor Sumner, CEO of Perch Interactive, believes that luxury brands are benefiting most by evoking emotion from their audience. 

“Luxury brands benefit most from telling a story, commanding a premium by evoking an emotion, a sense of desire or a sense of exclusivity,” Mr. Sumner said. “To plug into that trilogy, it's no surprise that visual media like videos work well as a content type, distributing to influencer marketers who set trends is increasingly critical, and limited-run collaborations and product sets are increasingly popular.”


Luxury brands can also expect to a rise in sales from implementing augmented realities and other digital marketing strategies. Kate Spade New York enlisted Perch Interactive to create a more effective shopping experience. The ‘Make It Mine’ service allowed customers to customize the perfect handbag with any outfit.

“In addition to picking a convertible bag, the customer has infinite possibilities for customization, where she can mix and match with straps and tassels, charms and more,” Mr. Sumner said. “But demonstrating all the combinations is a lot of work for a salesperson and not all the inventory may be readily available. Kate Spade New York uses Perch to help clients pick the right bag, and drives additional sales and accessories per bag.”

Dior has also enlisted the use of augmented and virtual reality to give a behind-the-scenes look on the brand. The luxury brand released ‘Dior Eyes’, a virtual reality headset by the brand, which offers exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the brand’s ready-to-wear runway shows that would normally not be seen by a Dior consumer. Dior Eyes was introduced at selected Dior stores helping drive sales upward. 

Dior Eyes Virtual Reality Headset

There is no denying that society is constantly moving into the digital era. Combining digital marketing and fashion is bringing brands, which often appealed to the older demographic, to a young spotlight. Social media and other digital marketing campaigns are making sure luxury brands stay at the top of the market for generations to come. 

A Colossal Feat - Chicago's Hotel on Water By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: July 20, 2018

Opened in 1916 as a facility for freight and passenger docking, Municipal Pier in Chicago was soon riddled with soldiers, Red Cross and Home Defense units once United States entered World War I. Over the next century, however, ‘Municipal Pier’ transitioned to ‘Navy Pier’, as wars got over, armies moved out, and the Lake Michigan outpost saw a proliferation of restaurants, theatres, boat tour operators, museums and the very lovable Ferris wheel.

Navy Pier’s most recent renovation comes with its centennial celebration, which led the Pier into a futuristic era through broader walkways, glass dividers, children’s’ rides and activities, and an inner walkway luring with more accessible food options than the previous food court offered.

Not that it ever seemed that the Navy Pier was lacking anything, but installing a hotel here makes ample sense. And that’s a part of the Pier’s second phase of renovation.

Navy Pier Hotel Groundbreaking Ceremony

And so, we found ourselves gathered under the hot July sun, to witness the ground-breaking ceremony of this new hotel. With the joyous voices and screams of visitors and Chicagoans in the backdrop, the organisers and stakeholders presented their thoughts on this historic event. 

The seven-story hotel, whose name is yet to be announced, will be operated by Curio Collection by Hilton. Deputy Mayor of Chicago, Robert Rivkin, hailed the project for being an economic boost to the city, considering that Navy Pier offers ground to 9 million visitors every year. “The hotel project is going to be instrumental in creating 600 construction jobs and 300 permanent positions,” he said.

Marilynn Gardner, President & CEO of Navy Pier sees the upcoming hotel as a way of connecting people to the Pier in a new way, while ushering the venue into an advanced position. Invested in by ACRON, the hotel will be managed and developed by Maverick Hotels & Restaurants.

Navy Pier Hotel View Rendering

In my opinion, however, we got the most insightful inputs from Jackie Koo of KOO LLC, a full-service architecture, interior design and planning firm, which is designing the project and building it from ground to top with James McHugh Construction Co. and Powers & Sons. 

Her passion for the project could be clearly discerned as she talked about the upcoming hotel. “There are lots of hotels in the city, that are part of the urban environment and even one or two that have a view of Lake Michigan, but this is the only one that is ON the lake and on the Pier, looking at the skyline for which Chicago is famous,” says Ms Koo. 

It is exactly these attributes which make it a tough project: being located on a 100 year old pier over a lake which is more like an ocean. Ms Koo concurs that the biggest challenge has been adding five stories of the hotel, and a year-round 30,000 sq ft rooftop restaurant and bar enclosure, while keeping the building structure as light as possible. “In order to accommodate the multiple grids of the old foundation below, panelized light gauge metal frame is used at the hotel, with micropile foundations due to their ability to be installed in small areas, and an air-filled ETFE roof as the enclosure of the rooftop venue,” Ms Koo informs us. 

Navy Pier Hotel View Rendering

While the structural solutions are intriguing, I was equally interested about the interiors of the hotel. How do you make it more beautiful than the outside, expansive views of Lake Michigan? But my question was actually wrong. Instead of trying to make it more gorgeous than the external environment, KOO LLC will be integrating the outside and inside to provide a completely mesmerizing experience. “We felt that we needed to design something that was relaxed enough for the Pier, but still sophisticated and urban enough to reflect this unique location, which is on the edge of the water and city,” says Ms Koo. 

Therefore, as a part of the interior design philosophy, the firm is designing custom casegoods – items of furniture built with interior compartments for storage such as chests, dressers and bookshelves – that have details that shipwrights (a carpenter skilled in ship construction and repair) might use. And in every room, there will be an upholstered window seat to enjoy the dazzling view.

I can only end the article by imagining a traveller settled into that window seat with a cup of coffee and a good book in hand, watching the sunrise, as the kids sleep soundly after last night’s adventure in the city. Incredible.

Chef Joe Thottungal - A Slice of Kerala in Canada By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: July 11, 2018

Yes, it’s an Indian cuisine restaurant. No, it doesn’t serve chicken tikka masala or butter chicken. Instead there’s beef fry-porotta, thoran, avial and payasam. At his restaurant Coconut Lagoon in the balmy Canadian capital Ottawa, Chef Joe Thottungal is most often at pains explaining to diners that the cuisine served is from Kerala. The state might be positioned as ‘God’s own country’, but explaining its food has taken a while. Even then, the chef seems to have cracked the taste buds. “Friday night reservations now need to be done well in advance,” he beams.

Chef Joe Thottungal Ottawa

Chef Thottungal was in Delhi recently to present a taste of his cuisine to the food lovers of the Indian capital at Crowne Plaza Today Okhla, New Delhi. Conducting a masterclass, he not only demonstrated three of his recipes, but also discussed the central tenets of Kerala cuisine. “I always stress on authentic fare. At Coconut Lagoon, we do not compromise on the spice levels as the food has to be authentic.”

An owner-chef, he is a Gold & Silver medal winner of Gold Medal Plates, Canada’s highest culinary honour (2016 and 2017). For Canada’s 150th year celebrations, he was the only Indian chef to be selected to cook for 1,000 guests in front of the Parliament hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Lamb Pollichathu at Coconut Lagoon Ottawa

It wasn’t an easy journey though. Thrissur-born, Chef Thottungal acquired a hotel management degree from Chennai, and started his career with the Leela Kempinski in Mumbai. However, he soon looked for greener pastures. “India, before 2000, was not the best place for chefs,” he recollects. He then moved to Saudi Arabia to take a Chef de Partie position at the exclusive Oasis resort.

In 1998, he immigrated to Canada. “One of my cousins was there. He promised to hook me up with some connections. To go alone, it was very adventurous back then. My road was not easy. Even after I opened the restaurant, people were walking out of the restaurant saying you don’t have the traditional dishes.”

His culinary journey began in Canada at Centro Bar and Grill in Toronto, from where he moved to the Royal York Hotel for two years. He then joined the newly opened Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto and helped to open the new Annona restaurant as a Sous Chef. A stint at Casino Windsor and Crowne Plaza Hotel, Ottawa followed. A rather consistent flow of culinary awards also helped put him on the map. He won a Bronze medal in Lindt 3rd Annual Chocolate Competition, placed second in USA Rice Competition held in Toronto, while recent awards include a silver at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna, British Columbia in 2017.

Chef Joe Thottungal dishes salmon curry cabbage thoranAUTHENTIC FARE

After opening its doors in May 2004, the Coconut Lagoon has gained a lot of positive feedback, though there were challenges, says the chef. “I picked Ottawa as it was a beautiful capital with a lot of diplomats and foreign people there, and they supported me. Some, however, were very unfamiliar with my menu. Thoran – who knew? I never had salmon curry, they said. We did not offer naan, instead there was Malabar paratha.” The 75-cover restaurant offers lunch and dinner

A major challenge in the initial period was money. “Restaurant business overall is a risky business, in North America especially. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. I worked hard with the support of my staff. It was a long, tough journey, but it was rewarded. We developed a reputation for offering flavourful food.” Imitation is the best reflection of success perhaps, and the springing up of three or four other Kerala cuisine restaurants in the city is something he points out. “People are now asking for Kerala cuisine.”

Labour is another challenge. “Canada is not gifted with people like here. Labour is expensive, and hard to replace. I get cooks from Kerala.” Sourcing has become easier, he says, though challenges remain. “Kaima rice or biryani rice is hard to get. Certain spices are hard to get sometimes. Peppercorn sometimes comes from Vietnam or cardamom from Guatemala – the tastes are similar, but as a Keralite, we know!

To those unfamiliar with the cuisine, he explains that it is lighter than the usual north Indian fare as it does not have too much cream or butter. “There is a lot of use of coconut milk and spices such as ginger, green chilies, curry leaves, etc. Also, we do not make one gravy and call it different dishes. Our fish curry is different from the chicken curry, our vegetarian dishes such as thoran or avial taste different.” He also points out that the cuisine is suitable for those following a vegan diet – there are a lot of options as a lot of preparations are made with coconut milk – no cream or yogurt to marinate.  

The chef points out several top selling dishes at Coconut Lagoon - Nadan Kozhi Curry, salmon curry, sambaram, king fish curry, pepper lamb and mushroom curry with coconut milk.

Halibut with Curry Crumbs and Mushroom Avial at Coconut Lagoon Ottawa


Chef Thottungal also offers food tours to his native Kerala. His regulars soon began realising just how authentic the fare offered at the restaurant was, and joined in the food tours he was offering. This means a transcontinental journey to the spice farms of Kerala, where he guides visitors through the amazing diversity of spices available, pointing out how clove or cardamom, pepper and cinnamon grow.

He stresses that there is variation in the traditional cuisine within Kerala itself.  “There is Syrian Christian, Latin Christian, Hindu, Muslim… and each district is different. We offer all kinds of Kerala – biryani from the Muslim region, fish curry from the Thrissur area, beef preparations from the south. If you come to our restaurant, as a Keralite, you will feel like home.”

The success of it all has inspired Chef Thottungal to open another restaurant in Ottawa, which he says will offer pan Indian food, thalis, in a simple way.

Of course, food connects people, he points out. “We are the best ambassadors, connecting people through food. I am the owner and a chef. I was not in the IT business, got laid off and opened this. You have to know what you are doing.” Given that note of authenticity, the future looks bright indeed for this enterprising chef.

The Latest Trends in Fine Watchmaking for 2018 By: Jessica Bond

Posted on: June 12, 2018

Chanel J12 Untitled 2018

Watchmaking is a highly complex industry. Not many innovations are generated every year. But then it’s not easy, especially when the industry has already advanced by leaps and bounds in terms of mechanisms and design crafts in the last few decades. Even then, we never fail to wonder what each year will bring.

With the new year starting with Salon de la Haute Horlogerie, and Baselworld usually being hosted in March, technologists and watch enthusiasts begin their research and thought accumulation on what was new, what was old, and what was simply beautiful.

Fondation Haute Horlogerie (FHH), a not-for-profit foundation promoting fine watchmaking, has made the job simpler for all by releasing a report on the trends in watchmaking in 2018. We have summarised the full, extensive report, to give a snapshot of what are the most important, five trends which are defining the timepiece industry this year. 


1. Connecting to millennials

Appealing to the social media generation, along with the mature, established customers is a challenge that the watch industry will be tackling this year to expand their market.

Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of the fine watch and jewelry brand Bvlgari, discussed expanding the branding, but also still staying loyal to their mature customers. “We look to balance activity between millennials and more established mature customer,” Mr. Babin said.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Military 2018

Watches such as Ulysse Nardin’s ‘Marine Torpilleur Military’ and Vacheron Constantin’s ‘Fifty Six Day-Date’ use materials such as steel that appeals strongly to millennials. While for mature and established consumers, gold will continue to be the set trend along with platinum and titanium.


2. Versatility

In the late 1990s, versatility in the watch industry was seen by including interchangeable straps in packaging. Unfortunately, this was not well received due to the difficulty of changing the straps.

Piaget Possession 2018

In 2018, customization is making a comeback. The Piaget Possession and the Hermes Carre H are just a few examples of watches offering new interchangeable straps. But this time, becoming smarter due to experience, the new straps can be hitched with just a few simple moves. In the case of metal straps, watchmakers have made it simpler to remove or add links as per fit. 

Many of this year’s models are coming with more than one strap, adding convenience, and a touch of personality.


3. Color

Vacheron Constantin Les Aerostiers 2018 collection

Bovet 1822 Chateau de Motiers 40 2018Vibrant colors are hitting the watch market this year. Cases, dials and straps in a variety of fun shades are being devised, particularly for a woman, who wants a watch that demands attention.

For those who want a change in the predictable combination of a white or black dial inside an inevitably gold or steel case now have a wide range of choices. The new Les Aerostiers collection by Vacheron Constantin and the Bovet 1822 Château de Motiers 40 are just a few examples of how brands are using color. Although the color blue has become almost a staple for cases and dials, green is gaining momentum alongside other vibrant shades.


4. Affordability and Classics

When it comes to trends some things never change, a classic. Watches such as the Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece and the Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic 38mm are simple timepieces that can be paired with almost anything. Their  styles emphasize elegance or put chic into sportswear.

Some watches or collections have been able to secure their place in the market. In order to maintain their place at the top of the market, starting prices for some of the most prestigious brands are more affordable than ever. Watches have gone from being a symbol of high status to being an extension of the wearer’s own personality, which represents a millennial's ideology.

Laurent Ferrier Galet Minute Repeater School Piece 2018

Affordability and vintage designs are concepts the watch industry is focusing on. Models such as the Chanel J12 Untitled and the Chopard Happy Sports Manufacture are making watch icons affordable for younger consumers. Reinventing older styles completely or making subtle changes to popular concepts allows for a new generation to enjoy fine watchmaking.


5. Slim and Precise Movements

With a new generation of watch wearers entering the market, and a plethora of watchmakers vying for their attention, the mechanism and movement of a watch is one way to differentiate yourself from the rest. Slim movements, such as that in Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin, are gaining traction among buyers, for their simplicity and lightness.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin 2018

Regarding precision, Contrôle O ciel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC), is toughening its standards, leading to increasing popularity of silicon as a material which does away with the need for lubrication and adjustment 


With the rapid ascent of the world towards digitalization and a consumer market that is all about ‘we want it now’, prestigious watchmakers are trying to create a fine balance between traditional crafts and novel creations, amid an uncertain economic environment. Not all is bleak though, as these luxury watch brands move with the times to offer a piece of heritage with the vibrancy that the next generation demands.

13 Questions with Pierre Favresse By: Soumya Jain and Kennedy Orrell

Posted on: June 8, 2018

Inspired by the connection of technology with artistic value, Pierre Favresse has cultivated relations with brands all over the world using his creative mind and foundation in tradition. Mr Favresse has recently been appointed as Creative Director of the unique brand, Lladró. If you haven’t heard yet, Lladró is a luxury brand of porcelain originating from and undertaken in Spain. Other companies he has collaborated with includes: Habitat, China, Petite Friture, Specimen Edition, Super-ette, and La Chance.

Pierre Favresse Creative Director Lladro

Lladró has brought in Ms Favresse to work on their sculptures, lighting and other objects for home, due to his eye for simplicity, warmth and functionality in his pieces. By turning engineering principles into art, Ms Favresse has been able to channel his art work into a career.

A major influence on Mr Favresse’s artistic models and inspirations are his family. They balance his life with love and laughter. The creativity within his children never ceases to amaze him and enhance his own work.

Mr Favresse talks with us about his initial dreams as a child and how his life has been molded by his consistent ambition towards these dreams. 

LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child?

Pierre Favresse: If I remember the first thing, I was always playing with LEGO and I wanted to become a LEGO “engineer”, to create new models. I didn’t know what was design and either engineering, but everybody told me that was a kind of engineering thing.

What kind of kid were you?

I would say I was a quiet kid. People used to say that I was a dreamer because I was always a little with my head in the cloud. I was thinking and dreaming about doing my own stuff during the evenings. 

What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why?

Four things have impacted my life. The first thing I think is that my parents were separated. During the vacations I was in my dad’s home, in the middle of nowhere in the south of France. I was really free, I went to fish, made houses in the trees and that gave me love for nature and building things. Also, it provided me a kind of independency that I couldn’t have in Paris. 

The second thing is my first art school in Paris, L’Ecole Boulle. I discovered that I could turn my passion of making and creating things into a real job, and I have found the same atmosphere in Lladró. The third is my wife - she gave me confidence to believe in my projects. The fourth thing, is my kids of course, they changed my way of living and my way of interacting with my space. 

Pierre Favresse Creative Director Lladro

What advice would you give to your 18-year old self?

I’m really enjoying my life and the present, so I don’t ask myself this question. But if I could come back, maybe I would say: go surfing more often because later you won't be able to enjoy so often; so my own advice could be: Go and Enjoy. 

What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh?

Last time with my kids at home, one of them was doing something funny. Young kids are always making strange things.

What is the most exciting part of your work day? The most tedious?

The most exciting are mornings when I’m really creative. I begin by organizing the day, seeing what things we should do. And the hardest part is when I think I should be back home but I haven’t finished, so it is always a little frustrating. It is a good moment to come to work, but always difficult to separate myself from the creative part.

How do you decompress?

During the weekend, I like to go to a place near my home, which is very peaceful, where you can take a nice drink and enjoy the weather. It is a good moment to think about something else and decompress. If not, I enjoy fly-fishing in river. I think it is my most decompressing moment, being alone in the stream of the river, enjoying the view and the sound.

What was the first thing you thought about this morning?

This morning my second son, Arlo, woke me up at 6:30am, and directly wanted to build a house with Kapla [blocks]. It was a really nice moment, so my first real thought was that I was proud of him. 

What is the last thing you do before going to bed?

Often, I draw some sketch that I have in my head that I couldn’t put down during the day. I look at Pinterest, I like to be lost in the pages… it is a good moment to relax and switch off, just to check pictures, inspiration, colors…

What is the meaning of life?

That’s a good question, a real personal one I think. The meaning of my life is doing what I like and do it for the people I love, in a creative way.  

What’s love?

Each of us have a personal view of what is Love. For me love is maybe the way you respect people. Love is in my family, but also in my projects. Love is a part of my life, without love you don’t have creation, you don’t have life. 

What are you most afraid of?

To die maybe, die too young. There’s a moment in life you think you don’t want to die now, you have so much to do. Kids, projects… Well I think I have a romantic view of life and death…

What is one existential, difficult-to-answer question you wished you knew the right response to?

The most existential question in my life is maybe: who I am exactly as a creative, who I want to be also. I think it is a life question… it impacts my professional and my personal life.

Kate Spade - A Fashion Icon Who Understood Pop and Women By: Jessica Bond

Posted on: June 7, 2018

Kate Spade (1962-2018), the founder of the iconic and beloved Kate Spade New York brand, passed away on June 5, 2018.

Kate Spade Profile

Kate Spade created a brand that combined ‘high-end fashion with Main street’. Kate Spade New York was founded in 1993 and debuted with just six handbag silhouettes, combining sleek, utilitarian shapes and color palettes in an entirely new way.

Her death has bought forth immense mourning and memories from the many people who’s lives she had touched directly and indirectly.

Kate Spade New York released a statement stating:

“We at kate spade new york just learned of the incredibly sad news that Kate Spade has passed away. Although Kate has not been affiliated with the brand for more than a decade, she and her husband and creative partner, Andy, were the founders of our beloved brand. Kate will be dearly missed. Our thoughts are with Andy and the entire Spade family at this time.”

For many women, Kate Spade handbags and accessories were a symbol of professional achievement and made going into adulthood fashionable.

From a journalist at a fashion magazine to a designer with no formal training, she started the brand with the thought of giving women bags which were functional, yet had a pop to them. Her color palette made America brighter and happier.

"Everyone remembers their first Kate Spade," CNN White House reporter and former fashion editor Kate Bennett said. "The brand became one of that accessible but quirky fun, timeless labels that everyone had to have, and her rise was synonymous with her name."

Kate Spade Profile

Notable people such as Chelsea Clinton and Mindy Kaling expressed their condolences for Kate Spade and how her creations inspired their daily lives.

“My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college, Ms Clinton said. I still have it. Holding Kate’s family, friends and loved ones in my heart.”

“I am heartbroken about the news of Kate Spade, Ms Kaling said. I have worn her clothes many, many times. They were colorful, bold, cheerful, and encouraged women to find the twinkly person inside them. You couldn’t walk into her boutiques and not smile. Rest In Peace, Kate.”

Kate Spade was a visionary who inspired a generation of young women that they can be professional and fashionable and always bring a little bit of fun into their wardrobe. She is survived by her daughter Frances and her husband Andy Spade.

13 Questions with Palak Shah By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: May 25, 2018

Palak Shah, CEO EkayaVibrant, vivacious and beautiful, that’s how I interpreted Palak Shah when I saw her photographs from the recently held Cousu d'or – Magical Weaving event, where her brand Ekaya collaborated with La Fédération Française de la Création Couture, to promote traditional Indian fabrics. 

Working alongside her father, Ms Shah is on a mission to preserve Banarasi textiles for generations. She is involved in broadening the scope of the textile retail experience by presenting these textiles in uniquely modern ways, bypassing the stereotypical methods used for production and retail of Banarasi fabrics.

Honing her sharp business acumen at King’s College London and Babson College in Boston, it is Ms Shah’s deep curiosity for the world and a fierce pride in Indian textiles that has been a driving force behind Ekaya’s success and growth. She embraces heritage by using it as a springboard for inspiration, helping Ekaya bring a younger and bolder life to the story of textiles in India.

Between all the preservation and strategizing, Ms Shah talks about her life, her inspiration and her daily quests with us.

LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child?

Palak Shah: A computer engineer or a detective. Depended on my mood!

Palak Shah, CEO Ekaya as a childWhat kind of a kid were you?

Very inquisitive and always up to something 

What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why?

My 10 year stint at boarding school. I was admitted into one when I was 8 years old. It truly made me who I am today: independent, strong and fierce. 

What advice would you give to your 18-year old self?

Nothing. I am glad I enjoyed my youth back then and did what I did. Life is already moving at a breakneck speed and I’m glad I got a bit of a breather back then! 

What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh?

A really intense and funny roast session with my best friend. 

What is the most exciting part of your workday? The most tedious?

- Exciting part of my day is working on new strategies. I love ideating.

- The most tedious is checking the daily expenses and various reports. Really tires me! 

How do you decompress?

By spending some alone time with myself. Over the years I’ve really started enjoying spending time with myself and doing things I like. It could be just listening to music or reading or just watching some silly show on the TV. After a long stressful day, I honestly just want to lie in bed and do things I like. 

Palak Shah, CEO Ekaya in a Banarasi fabric sari

What was the first thing you thought about this morning?

My workout! I am obsessed with working out. 

What is the last thing you do before going to bed?

My bedtime face cleaning ritual. 

What is the meaning of life?

Meaning of life is perhaps to enjoy every second of it and live life king size because quite honestly, life is too uncertain to be thinking so much and over-analyzing everything. 

What’s love?

Isn’t that something, we’ve all been trying to figure out for most of our lives? Wish I knew! 

What are you most afraid of?

Having regrets! 

What is one existential, difficult-to- answer question you wished you knew the right response to?

Question number 13!

Tres RARE 2018 - Travelling Boutique By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: April 9, 2018

It’s a by-invite show that caters to select travellers. It is exactly the kind of catnip luxury tourism players can rarely resist. The maiden edition of Très RARE - a showcase of some of the most select boutique hotels, lodges, hideaways, camps and retreats in India, Nepal and Bhutan - proved to be exactly that.

Tres RARE 2018 event

The two-day event was envisaged and instituted by RARE India, a platform for small, private hotels. “This is a platform for boutique hotels to speak about their properties, their experiences,” said Sowmya R Vijaymohan, Partner at RARE India, who says these hotels get lost in a larger fair, where big chain hotels, with larger budgets, tend to get more attention. “They need a voice, they need to be standing together and saying this is why we are different. Do not mistake us for a bed & breakfast or a chain hotel.”

The ‘by invite only’ event, held outdoors at The Roseate, Delhi, engaged with bespoke tour operators from India and overseas, alongside an eclectic mix of world travellers. “Not everybody understands the concept of boutique hotels. We are looking at the niche, discerning traveller,” said Ms Vijaymohan.

She mentions that most of these hotels do not have advertising spends, nor are they active online. “Most of them are offbeat, for example, Shahpura Haveli in Bhilwara. No one is going to search for a Bhilwara, they will search for a Jaipur or Udaipur. So, there is no way for them to market themselves, so the domestic agent or the DMC is a good dissemination point for these boutique hotels.

Tres RARE 2018 event

Kannan Sridhar, General Manager, Swatma, in Thanjavur was pleased to be at the fair. “We can meet many people at one time. Here, within two days, we were able to cover a minimum of hundred agents. Also, people exactly know what they want here. Those who come to me know about the property, it is easy to meet one to one. That gives us more confidence to participate.”

“It has helped us engage with people who sell luxury,” Deepak Jenna, Corporate General Manager, The Machan, Lonavala, said. For us, Bombay is the main market, this is an exposure, we get to know people from Delhi.”

“The fair is helpful to meet people, even if we are in touch with them,” said Urvashi Kanojia, Assistant Manager – Travel Trade Relations, CGH Earth, which has 19 hotels spread largely across south India. “We even met some direct customers.”

The hoteliers were eager to talk about their hotels. Gokul Bakshi, who runs Champakali, an exquisite collection of two three-bedroom structures in old Goa, said, “We provide a very different approach to Goa, with angles that are more private, and give a lot of peace, even to us. It gives you access to the other side of Goa, which is quite forgotten these days.”

Woodpecker Room at Pepper Trail, Wayanad

Anand Jeyan of Pepper Trail, Wayanad says his four-room inventory is so off the grid that a platform like this helps to connect with people. A colonial plantation, surrounded by the tropical rainforests, lakes and acres of plantations, it transports visitors to another era. Yes, he is looking to expand both his inventory and invite more guests, hence this long trip to faraway Delhi.

With the participation of select 100 Indian Destination Management Companies (DMCs) and 30 foreign operators from the UK, US, France, Germany, and Italy, this event focused on intensive one-on-one engagement, knowledge building and innovations. Close interactions with the hotel owners and hosts was followed by eleven hosted familiarisation trip across India. The event also hosted talks on hospitality and related topics to add value to the concept of experiential travel in the sub-continent.

50 participants set up stalls at the event. Some of the hotels which participated at Tres RARE were RAAS Jodhpur in Rajasthan, Bhainsrorgarh Fort, Rajasthan, Hotel Druk, Bhutan, Pepper Trail, Kerala, Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, Nepal, Deccan Odyssey and many more.

"The event was a tribute to all the bespoke boutique hotels,” said Ms Vijaymohan. “The demand for boutique hotels is reflective of the realigned desires of a global traveller who is wary of the standard-fare hotels that though comfortable are unimaginatively identical around various destinations. These boutique hotels inspired us at RARE to break away from the traditional and create an intimate showcase that focuses on the niche rather than the mass and mainstream.” 

RARE India has hosted similar events earlier, but they have been only for their members. This event saw the participation of ten hotels which are not RARE members. The show – held outdoors in tents due to the activity and experience-oriented nature of the wares on offer – was a success, which is evident from the fact the dates for next year’s event are already decided - March 29 and 30.

Ritu Kumar - A Journey in Textiles By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: March 29, 2018

The contributions of the first lady of Indian fashion, Ritu Kumar, and Indian textile traditions have a few parallels. Over the decades, her work has focused on traditional printing and weaving techniques. She has extensively travelled through Europe and Asia, studying historical Indian textile collections and contemporary traditions of hand-making.

Five decades of this unique amalgam of travel, often in pursuit of design and technology, have led her to chronicle them in a book. As the first chapter of this book is released, the journey is also exhibited as Crossroads: Textile Journeys with Ritu Kumar, at Delhi’s Visual Arts Gallery till April 5, 2018.

Crossroads exhibition by Ritu Kumar 2018 Benaras brocades

It isn’t your usual exhibition though. It consists largely of wall displays – paintings, photos, collages, prints – even jackets, saris and vintage textiles adorn the walls, while a number of block prints and memorabilia, and impressionist mixed media collages and design books also find space on table displays. Yes, diaries and hand-written notes form part of the collection too. For an enthusiast of Indian textiles, it is like walking into a dream destination. Meandering from commentaries on natural landscapes, to cuisine and architecture, they also relate stories of encounters with individuals whom she has met along the way. These excerpts are illustrated with a variety of visual material, and include vintage textiles, that she has created to express the syncretic moods of the various places visited. They are placed against a backdrop of digitally-printed inspirational fabrics, which pick up on the motifs, textures and colours of textiles from related regions.

The exhibits are split into parts by region. The exhibition starts with Ajanta, and weaves through different textile regions of the country. “India’s legacy of textiles is too big to tell all these stories in one go, so I am doing it region-wise,” says Mrs Kumar. “It will be in many sections, informative, and hopefully instructive to the new generation of designers.”

Designer and textile historian, Mayank Mansingh Kaul, who has curated the exhibition, points to the connections between traditions during a conducted tour of the exhibition. “The block makers in Uzbekistan had a similar practice to those in Farrukhabad in present day Uttar Pradesh, who trace their lineage to Uzbekistan,” he says. He imagines young Babur, the first ruler of the Mughal dynasty in India, in his early years. “This is my imagination of a young Babar, recreating Andijan, the city where he was born.  I am trying to place him in the kind of interiors he may have lived in, in the Fergana Valley with rich mosaics, carved pillars, portraits of nobles on the walls… an elegant Babar making his way to India, long before he became known as the great Mughal emperor…”

Crossroads exhibition by Ritu Kumar 2018 fabrics from kutch region india

There are a number of collages, where scenes from the period have inspired or been imagined by Mrs Kumar. For example, a collage, inspired from Ajanta’s cave paintings, includes stitched and unstitched garments. An impressionist collage highlights the sophistication in attire and coiffure, which shows use of ikat, and possibly bandhini. Bordered fabrics with motifs of geese indicate a presence of handlooms.

Despite massive westernisation across the country, Indian apparel continues to favour sensuous, theatrical, colourful and amorous adornment, especially for women. Here, the layering of drapes and innovations in unstitched garments expresses a fondness of traditional rituals, unaffected to a large extent by the dictates of international fashion. Its origin can be seen as far back as two thousand years, and is evident across millennia in the art of different historical periods – from the cave paintings in Ajanta to Jain manuscripts and miniature paintings from various schools. The impulses seen here – of India’s distinct sartorial ethos – continue to resonate in contemporary times.

The book is split into parts to make it more easily understandable in today’s ‘instant’ times. It guides you on how to go, where to stay, who to meet. 

Crossroads exhibition by Ritu Kumar 2018 ikat jackets from uzbekistanThe first chapter in the book is on textile ties between Uzbekistan and India. Other regions - Kashmir, Varanasi, Bengal, Bhutan and Burma, Tamil Nadu, Masulipatnam, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan, will be released in the coming months. The complete book, which will be released in 2019, could well be a holy grail for future designers, who will be able make the connections far more easily, relying on the painstaking work Mrs Kumar has done. 

Do not miss a painting of her first workshop in Calcutta’s Beliaghat Road, in an old fisheries godown (warehouse). “We converted the vast interiors with high ceilings into an ideal place for hand block, and later screen printing. It housed thousands of blocks carved in Farrukhabad, Sanganer, Bagru and Serampore. The repertoire of Farrukhabad block printers archives is the distinguishing feature of the unit and we recreated a vast number of forgotten designs at this workshop. India’s classics in both aesthetics and colour palattes… these came from a much older, famed tradition retaining an inherent understanding of proportion and scale,” says Mrs Kumar. 

The 1944-born Mrs Kumar, who studied in Delhi before training in New York and later studying museology in Kolkata, started with bridal wear and evening clothes in the 1960s and 70s, and moved into the international market in the subsequent two decades. Today, the label has three lines.

Part professional memoirs, part musings of an art enthusiast, this exhibition is sure to inspire viewers to delve deeper into the rich history of India’s deep textile traditions. And maybe inspire another strain of travel category? For India’s legacy of textiles is too vast to capture in a single exhibition, as Mrs Kumar herself points out.

13 Questions with Krsnaa Mehta By: Jada Franklin

Posted on: June 5, 2017

Krsnaa Mehta India CircusIf you are familiar with brands like Good Earth, Godrej or other lifestyle brands, chances are, you have heard about Krsnaa Mehta. He has been featured in several international lifestyle magazines, praised for his innate talent in the art and textile industry.

A student at Fashion Institute of Technology from 1996 to 2002, Mr. Mehta went after his dream five years ago in January 2012, by creating design label India Circus. Since then, his label has become a sensation all over the country, offering chic, sophisticated and affordable style from accessories to home décor. Once his brand gained momentum and higher demand, he merged with Godrej, one of India’s leading business corporations. 

Together they opened the first ever brick & mortar “India Circus” store cum gallery in Kalaghoda, Mumbai, spread over 1,300sq feet divided into retail space, a private consulting room and a coffee table to encourage both creativity of stylish pairings and combinations, as well as simplicity. 

His vision didn’t stop there. Mr. Mehta launched his latest adored accessories collection, along with intricately designed bed cushions and neck pillows. He desired to capture the many Indian elements with every stitch. The new location also offers luxury wall art, wallpapers and furniture. From designer steel tumblers to geometric-printed rugs and carpets, Mr. Mehta’s label represents a fresh and extravagant take on fashion and home décor alike. 

As part of our “13 Questions” series, LuxuryFacts talks to Mr. Mehta, the mastermind who brings a touch of India into our homes with his nuanced heritage of designs. 

LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child?

Krssna Mehta: I remember from a young age I had definite opinions about art and culture, and when I look back on it, I find it amusing that at such a young age I was so opinionated. My father is a very cultured person and runs the family business ‘Zeba’ which was mainly into fabrics. So from a very young age I picked up his likings, and since then I have only further explored my desire to know more about the art & design world.  

India Circus Kalaghoda Mumbai store

LF: What kind of kid were you?

KM: Curious, intrigued and focused in my interests.

LF: What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why?

KM: My parent’s separation.

LF: What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

KM: It’s better to trust yourself than other people’s opinions, you are the master of your thoughts.

LF: What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh?

KM: Reading “My Family and the Other Animals” by Gerald Durrell recently. 

India Circus Kalaghoda Mumbai store

LF: What is the most exciting part of your work day? The most tedious?

KM: Designing and planning. The never-ending paper work does really frustrate you at times.

LF: How do you decompress?

KM: A quiet evening with my cats Google and Bailey, TV and a glass of wine. 

LF: What was the first thing you thought about this morning?

KM: This amazing experimental movie I watched last night, Caravaggio by Derek Jarmon, and of course a piping hot cup of coffee. 

LF: What is the last thing you do before going to bed?

KM: Check Google Analytics.

LF: What is the meaning of life?

KM: A little bit of insanity.

LF: What’s love?

KM: I am no therapist but I suppose love is the bridge between you and everything.

LF: What are you most afraid of?

KM: Color blindness and lizards. 

LF: What is one existential, difficult-to-answer question you wished you knew the right response to?

KM: What next?

Demonetization Not to Stall India's Luxury Sector, Report Says By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: May 4, 2017

A recent report by Indian advisor Luxury Connect shows that although the country’s luxury market suffered an initial jolt from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonization policy, it is steadily recovering. 

Indian luxury industry goods shopping

Based on desk research and interviews with top store executives, the study indicates that a little less than a half of its respondents registered sale slumps as large as 40 per cent in the wake of demonetization. Meanwhile, over 70 per cent of the surveyed professionals assessed the government’s move as negative in the short term. 

This steep decrease stems from the sudden withdrawal of 86 per cent of the circulated cash (Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes amounting to Rs 12.44 lakh crore), which the luxury industry has historically relied on. With their wallets pared down, high-end consumers cut their purchases rather than immediately switch to digital and mobile transaction that the prime minister favors. 

The worst impacted sector is high-end real estate, which felt the repercussions of the crackdown on “black money” across the gamut – from land transactions to construction. Home sales have spiraled down by as much as 25 per cent. Jewelry and watches, as well as automobiles fared bad too, seeing a drastic reduction in demand. 

Indian luxury industry goods watches

While Luxury Connect acknowledges that the industry requires time to bounce back and that many business owners view the Cabinet as anti-luxury, it is not all gloom. Only 25 per cent of its interviewees anticipate a long-term drop in business. The rest seem to accept the shift to “plastic” money, be it credit and debit cards or e-wallets, and reorient accordingly. 

The adjustment to India’s new monetary reality commenced in the heat of demonetization, when luxury retailers sought lower lease deals, offered discounts and boosted their service standards to offset the drop in profits. To plow through the change, brands are relying on skilled representatives to strengthen their emotional connection with loyal customers. 

Currently a $18.6-billion industry, luxury is largely forecast to retain its steady, long-term growth trajectory. Experts, however, caution that counterfeit items may boom in a time of increased digitalization and argue for the creation of an association to steer the luxury sector into clear waters. 

India on my Mind: The Latest Indian-Inspired Design Collaborations By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: April 5, 2017

A vast land of inspiration for both local and foreign designers, India has formed the core of many a collection – from couture garments to home décor. For Westerners, the country is a treasure of ethereal motifs and impressive mastery. For homegrown talents, it is a land of ancient customs to bring to modern days. 

From its delicate embroidery to its plush fabrics to its radiant gems to its empirical legacy, the subcontinent has given rise to some iconic lines. In the last decade alone, a scrum of coveted Maisons have turned their gazes to India for creative sparkles. Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and Etro are among the few renowned labels that have rolled out India-focused creations. In doing so, many have teamed with Indian designers, who have landed their innate expertise of India’s crafts to elevating the nation’s global image.  

Sabyasachi Mukherjee X Pottery Barn 2016

LuxuryFacts explores three high-profile partnerships that celebrated India in the last half year by painting its history, presence and relation with the West. 

C for Carpets, Contemporary and Classic 

OBEETEE X Tarun TahilianiLavish canvases of various motifs – from abstract geometry to blooming gardens, Indian rugs weave together the artistic history of the country, stretching all the way back to the Persian empire. Seeking to roll out this legacy of opulence and craftsmanship to the world, OBEETEE, one of India’s largest handmade rug maker, has partnered with one of the country’s top designers, Tarun Tahiliani, for an exquisite carpet collection. 

Titled “From India, With Pride,” the assortment marks the inaugural Indian-inspired line for OBEETEE. Sinch March, it is gracing the luxury ABC Carpet & Home store in New York. “This is the first time a serious collection of rugs is coming out that is designed and conceived entirely in India by Indians,” said Mr Tahiliani to Live Mint. “The collection is quintessentially Indian and very contemporary from the design point of view.”

The line intertwines traditional Indian elements with Mr Tahiliani’s modern sensitivities. Split into three categories (The Antique Frames, the Chikankari and the Abstract Art), the designs incorporate details from Mughal miniature paintings, delicate chikankari embroideries from Lucknow as well as Mr Tahiliani’s abstract art. Spread over India’s past and present, heritage and innovation, they all follow the designer’s credo “All that we were and more” with a minimalist and refined edge. 

The Antique Frames rugs burst with sliver-lined Persian scripts, floral figures and prancing birds that sprawl against a gold-dappled backdrop of royal blue, intense burgundy and dusky green. These nine carpets capture the painstaking symmetry that reigned during the almost three-century Mughal period. Yet, they reflect it through the bare styling of Mr Tahiliani’s austere frames.  

Also cuing to the creative might of the Mughals, The Chikankari line draws inspiration from the legendary eponymous embroidery technique (from Persian, “chikan” denotes embroidery and “kari” work). Widely considered to be a cultural import from Persia, the chikankari carpets boast a distinct antique look, busy with age-revered paisley and floral motifs. Under Mr Tahiliani’s contemporary aesthetics, the century-old appeal of the rugs breaks between thick borders that make for modern patina.

While the Antique Frames and the Chikankari rugs tout potent historic references, the Abstract Art creations exemplify Mr Tahiliani’s hanker for layers and textures. Here, the ornaments evoke complex  paintings with strokes of flowing colors and floating lines. The designer’s visions warranted a special dip technique, where oils dissipated the pigments to depict masterpieces of rich detailing. 

OBEETEE X Tarun Tahiliani 2017

With his proven talent in jewelry and couture, Mr Tahiliani has constructed a premium collection of rugs that launches OBEETEE’s initiative to celebrate the vibrancy of India. Designers in the likes of Raghavendra Rathore and Abraham & Thakore are tapped to carry on the work. 

Between Paris and Kolkata

Sabyasachi Mukherjee X Christian Louboutin 2016The connection between Christian Louboutin, the coveted shoemaker, and Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the renowned Indian bridal wear designer, might jump out as peculiar. But it is not at all unusual. Given Mr Louboutin’s appreciation for India and its craftsmanship and Mr Mukherjee’s knack for intricacy and tradition, the two designers make a winning duo. “His Indian work is exceptional in my eyes,” said Mr Louboutin to Live Mint. “And our shoes and handbags are an Indian version of French work.”

Last year, the two brands released a collection of men’s and women’s shoes as well as bags that straddle the artistic sensitivities of France and India that come alive through a slew of materials like cork, leather and raffia. 

Featuring both flats and stilettoes, the women’s line merges Sabyasachi’s signature embroidery together with Louboutin’s mainstays like spikes and red soles. Gold, black and burgundy splash over the shoes, cuing to the lavishness of both French and Indian artistry. The men’s creations do not much differ when it comes to marrying the two designers’ most coveted features. 

A novelty for the two maisons’ partnership in 2016 are the bags of nappa leather, suede and pony (in 2015, they debuted their maiden shoes-only collaboration). Lined up with Louboutin’s popcorn spikes, the clutches flaunt rich floral and bird embroideries form Sabyasachi. “Our last collection was gothic and mostly comprised of black, gold and metallic,” said Sabyasachi for Vogue India. “The spirit of this collection is hipster meets steam punk meets whimsical baroque.” 

Sabyasachi Mukherjee X Christian Louboutin 2016

It is also much more Indian and much more French. 

Indian Frontiers at Home 

Sabyasachi Mukherjee X Pottery Barn 2016Around the same time in late 2016, when Sabyasachi premiered his second collection with Louboutin, the Indian brand presented another collaboration – its inaugural team-up with San Francisco-based Pottery Barn.

The capsule collection is a first for both labels. For the bridal design house, it is its first décor collection. For the upscale furniture store, it is its first global line. 

Monica Bhargava, vice president for product development at Pottery Barn, explained to Vogue India how she discovered Sabyasachi on a design scouting trip to India, “We stumbled on Sabyasachi (the store) and spent the next two hours being completely blown away by the creativity and vision behind this brand. We unanimously agreed that we had never seen anything like it before! And none of us even knew who Sabya was—all I knew is that I had to meet the person behind this brand, and get to know them better.”

Sabyasachi Mukherjee X Pottery Barn 2016

After Ms Bhargava and Mr Mukherjee met and he flew out to USA to join the creative team for several days and parse the brand’s creative DNA, he kept the American brand’s key customer demographic in mind when  pushing his own design frontiers. The result is an expansive collection – from plates to Christmas tree decorations to jewelry boxes to pillows – that exudes Sabyasachi’s charming aesthetics of vintage floral and bird patterns. Rich in hues and posh in materials, the items evoke treasured heirlooms, passed down by centuries of Indian artistry.   

Building Green in India - Transition Amid Trouble By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: February 8, 2017

Amoravida huddles in the Western Ghats, a mountain range in western India that is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s eight “hottest hotspots” of biodiversity. It is an apt setting for this resort-style residential complex of 15 treehouse-like bungalows, a prime example of India’s sustainable architecture movement. 

Amoravida villas in India

Sprawling over 1.26 acres along the Chapora River, Amoravida - exclusively represented by North India Sotheby's International Realty - is a luxurious modern interpretation of the ethnic dwellings of the state of Goa. It is intimate, and open and mindful of the abundance of life around. 

“The key feature of treehouses is that they sit lightly on the land, if at all,” says Uttam Dave, managing partner at Atmanya Projects that stands behind Amoravida. “So no or few buildings rest on the ground, and the earth is free to contain endemic species of flora. In our case, rather than wood, we used concrete, as that is more sustainable, and also is long-lasting and seismic-proof.”

Other eco-friendly features include an on-site chemical-free biological water treatment facility and transitional environs that smartly utilize the elements of nature. 

Fresh on the Indian real estate scene, Amoravida is one of many sustainable-building projects that have placed the subcontinent among the countries with the most vibrant green architecture. According to the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), the country boasts a green-construction footprint of over 760 million sq. feet, the largest behind this of the US. A 2016 survey of architects from 13 counties, conducted by Dodge Data and Analytics and the US Green Building Council, in India, showed that respondents dedicated 40 per cent of their workload on sustainable building. This number is expected to rise to a little under 60 percent by 2018. 

Main triggers for green buildings in IndiaThis trend progresses despite – and to an extent, in response to – a slate of socioeconomic and environmental troubles that have plagued India for years. With a burgeoning population, which is to soon to supersede that of China, India is facing high rates of deforestation, water degradation (on top of poor to no access to sanitation for millions of Indians), and air pollution (more rampant than that of China) among other issues. A possible salve, some contend, resides in the thriving green architecture, which is also boosting the country’s economic objectives. 

“Ecological architecture is a desperate need therefore, maybe that is why there are so many [eco buildings],” says Chitra Vishwanath of Biome architecture firm, which specializes in traditional ecological buildings. “Real estate is a booming business and is also one of the main drivers of the GDP. In it making  "Green Buildings" becomes a marketable item. It is a good thing even though many of it isthem are exploited only for commercial reasons.”

Green-Built Power 

Some 244 million of the world’s 1.2 billion people who have no access to electricity are Indians, according to the 2016 Energy Outlook report of the International Energy Agency. Translating into 20 per cent of the total population of India, most of them live in rural regions. At the same time, the electricity sector – following the world’s trend – spews 71 per cent of India’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the country’s Biennial Update Report to the UN states. 

The statistics begs a question – how to reduce India’s carbon track, while supplying electricity to all its citizens? Green architecture forms part of the answer.  

Energy efficiency charged the very beginning of India’s sustainable architecture, which was heralded by the country’s first prime minister and champion of science and technology, Jawaharlal Nehru, writes Deepika Mathur, a PhD-holding architect and professor practicing in Australia. Since then, natural lighting and ventilation (enhanced by details like louvers) and materials with low embodied energy (think glass and aluminum, whose production requires less energy than, say, concrete and steel; as well as the soil dug out for a building’s foundations) have become staples in power-paring buildings. 

“Using passive architecture techniques to save energy is a lot more prevalent among architects nowadays,” says Mr Turab, referring to designs and amenities that collect and disperse solar energy to keep a space warm in winter and cool in summer. Green power is also making a mark. The Rambagh Palace, a TAJ hotel in Jaipur, for instance, switched from the thermally propelled electricity grid of the state of Rajasthan to a 2.1 megawatt wind turbine, which now accounts for 70 per cent of the Palace’ electricity consumption.  

Rambagh Palace by Taj, Jaipur

As the segment grew, so did the need for its regulation. The inaugural attempt at this came in 2007 with the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), which sets up minimum design postulates for lighting, cooling and heating systems. Calculations have revealed than an ECBC-compliant structure, per year, consumes some 40 per cent less energy than a conventional counterpart. So far, India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency has identified some 184 such buildings – from hospitals and hotels to residential and office properties. The number is puny, but the UN Development Program anticipates that by 2017 the ECBC will see 64 per cent conformation rate, which, nonetheless, largely depends on states’ enforcement of the code. 

Green-Built Water 

The use of energy efficiency as the prime gauge for the sustainability potency of buildings – a practice of Western countries – risks the dismissal of several matters that are more throbbing to India than to the developed world, Mr Turab says. Water is a huge one. This year, 330 million Indians – a quarter of the country’s population – grappled with acute water shortages prompted by severe droughts. With changing monsoon patterns, a sinking underground water table, poor municipal water management and a rising populace, India is at the brink of a country-wide water crisis, which, according to some studies, could unfurl in less than a decade. On top of the grim predictions piles the fact that currently only 40 per cent of Indians have access to sanitation, according to the World Bank.  

The architects at Biome know how important ecological architecture can be in tackling India’s water conundrum. The firm is headquartered in Bangalore, India’s third most populous city. It receives most of its water through pipes that journey some 100 kilometers before reaching consumers. Half of the water supply is wasted, leaving the 8.5 million residents with only 65 liters per day (the amount of water used in a 10-minute shower). 

Vivanta by Taj Bangalore

“Water for us is a scarcer resource than energy,” says Ms Vishwanath of Biome, which, she estimates, has executed some 750 homes and 15 schools, among other projects. Integrated water management has been an integral part of the company’s work that emphasizes natural water reservoirs. Biome is hardly alone, though. Having partnered with WOW Architects and Warner Wong Design of Singapore, Taj Hotels has also designed to surmount Bengaluru’s water hurdles. The chain’s Vivanta Hotel in the city captures rainwater to irrigate its  landscape, including the undulating green-roofed promenade. More than a stylish spot for relaxation, the elevated green alley acts as a heat insulator, pushing electricity demand down. 

Back to Biome’s buildings, rainwater harvesting may often provide two-thirds of the total fresh water requirement. “[W]hile we design [rain water] harvesting features, we also insist on waste water treatment at the source,” she says. “The waste generated is treated and reused within the [building].”

Speaking of the latest conceptions in this regard, Mr Turab points to the decentralized wastewater treatment systems (DEWATS), which rest on natural cycles (like anaerobic decomposition) and local materials (like gravel and plants) to recycle water. “These in my opinion are innovative systems and techniques that are defining the green buildings in India.” 

Green-Built Troubles

Water and energy efficiency account for two of the four major criteria of the revised Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a rating system for sustainable buildings developed by the US Green Building Council. Since 2014, the US-based Green Building Certification Inc. (GBCI), a third-party credentials reviewer, took over the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) in awarding LEED status in the country. 

The Park Hyderabad hotel

According to GBCI’s recent LEED in Motion: India report, there are 2,230 LEED projects in India (third largest tally outside the US). A jewel among them – and this is quite literally, given its glistening perforated-metal exterior – is The Park Hyderabad. In 2011, the grand abode received the coveted recognition for its water and energy savings, low carbon emissions and use of recycled materials. The contraption of New York-based Skidmore, Owings and Merrill architects, the 270-room hotel, which launched in 2010, utilizes its massive metal shell to protect from blustery winds as well as to provide natural lighting and, thus, curb the use of electricity. With immaculate splendor and intimidating dimensions, The Park is “a modern Indian palace, something refreshing and different that speaks to the aspirations of India today,” said Priya Paul, head of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, which owns The Park brand, upon the hotel’s unveil. 

This same assertion relates to the majority of LEED buildings, which are clustered in the top cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai and peopled by the country’s well-educated rich. The same geographic and demographic paradigms pertain to other sustainable-certificate holders, who have pared with thousands of dollars in certificate registration fees, such as the ones recognized by the dozen IGBC ratings or the 825 projects registered with the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA). 

While green developers might respond to purely building constraints with a mixture of sustainable and locally sourced materials, high technology and inspiration from nature and time-revered construction practices, the resolution of social and ideological aspects of the industry proves complicated. “Sustainable homes are built in every nook and corner of the country,” says Mr Turab. “A small hut in a village built using stone and thatch is far more sustainable than any of the buildings built in urban areas. But if one were to ask about sustainable homes that meet the rising aspirations of the people, then I am afraid these are just a few in a million, largely concentrated in the metro cities, catering to [a] niche requirement.”

Top 3 sectors for growth in green buildings in IndiaThis demand creates a peculiar friction. Although green homes may cost as much as or even less than an average house, owners recoil at going cheap, as the move, Mr Turab says, does not live up to their ambitions. “No one wants [to go] expensive [either,] because there is something less efficient available at a lower cost. Finding the right balance is the biggest challenge,” he says. 

Construction in India might be cheap, compared to most countries, but the land it transforms is not. For green architecture to grow in numbers – more and better eco edifices should become affordable for more Indians, Mr Turab identifies a puzzle of costs and incentives that must fall in place. Land expenses need to tumble down, possibly through state subsidization for residential lots. The costs of electricity and water and garbage collection ought to substantially spring up – now they are too low to prompt a widespread adoption of green designs. 

And still, the convergence of market prices, riche-nouveau dreams and sustainable architecture is hard to achieve. It tears into such loaded subjects as human rights and the preservation of nature, Ms Vishwanath says. “Land and access to resources to build a healthy shelter should irrefutably be [a] human right – a concept, which is unacceptable to the present economic system where both land and resources are monetized,” she says. “Continuing in the "business as usual" model, the habitat loss will be given as an excuse to ignoring the need towards providing the shelter.”

Further complicating the matter – and calling for a localized approach to green building – is India’s vast territory that is subject to disparate weather. “The challenges are extreme temperatures, in some cases, extreme variation of temperatures as well, and the monsoon. Indian architecture must respond to these conditions,” says Mr Dave of Atmanya Projects.

For Amoravida, which is pursuing an IGBC platinum rating (a laurel for global leadership), he says, “we have adopted the guidelines of “monsoon architecture” to [reap] the benefits of monsoon breezes but to negate any water ingress and water damage.”

Amoravida and the rest of its kin exemplifies the crest of sustainable architecture, where sustainability and luxury – paradoxically, for some – pair together. As India strives to steer clear of looming climatic, demographic and environmental downturns, however, green buildings – new and retrofitted – are poised to sprawl out of urbanity and opulence. 

Benefits of green building in India

The expansion, which will take years, poses a single potent question. How green are sustainable buildings, anyway? “Construction is polluting no matter how sensitive we are while doing it,” says Mr Turab. “One has to accept this. Only way to minimize [this] impact is to build to last. Ensure that buildings are designed and built to last at least a 100 years so that we do not have to do it over and over again.”

13 Questions with Marta Santambrogio By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: January 24, 2017

From Italy to Belgium to England to India, Marta Santambrogio, creative director of India-based scarf brand Shingora, leads a life steeped in design, textile and fashion. Not the hyped, ostensive type of fashion, though. Ms Santambrogio has fostered an extensive career away from the blinding spotlight, where creativity and chaos and true talent reside.  

Marta Santambrogio Shingora Designer

Born and bred in the mecca of ageless vogue, Milan, Ms Santambrogio nurtured her crafty nature at the Politecnico di Milano, where she pursued fashion design. Her craft took her to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium for a year as an exchange student and later, in 2008, to Etro. At the famed Italian brand, Ms Santambrogio served as a senior textile designer, conceiving and developing some 300 fabrics a season, and remained there for six years. 

Next, she moved to London, launched her own textile design consultancy Issimum Design Studio and obtained a master’s degree from the coveted Central Saint Martins in material futures, a novel program that examines the juncture of science, innovation, technology and craftsmanship. It might sound like an already busy schedule, but Ms Santambrogio made time to lead intensive workshops on “how to design a textile collection [for] luxury brands” at her alma mater in Milan. 

It was in Paris in January 2014, when the Indian thread of Ms Santambrogio’s story weaved in. She met with Amit Jain, CEO of family-owned Shingora, a legacy scarf label seeking to transition into the luxury segment. “I took my first ever trip to India [in] March the same year,” she says, “and we've been rolling since! I have been loving every minute of it and learnt so much already. It is a wonderful company and a great opportunity for a designer! Also, on a personal ethos I feel close to the family-run business and the passion that runs in them. I tend to favor those when picking collaborations and like to build long-term relationships, so that together we raise the bar with the ambition of our goals.”

Marta Santambrogio Shingora Designer

Since then, Ms Santambrogio, creative director of Shingora for three years now, has become the chief curator of The Crossing, the progressive publication of Central Saint Martins’ Design Lab, and traveled to India at least a dozen times to supervise Shingora’s design and production process, attend India Fashion Weeks and research the country’s vibrant culture.

As part of our “13 Questions” series, LuxuryFacts talks to Ms Santambrogio, a creative behind-the-scenes force in high-end textile design and a leader in heralding the industry into the future.

LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child?

Marta Santambrogio: I always wanted to be a deejay!

Marta Santambrogio Shingora DesignerLF: What kind of a kid were you?

MS: Curious, curious, curious. And very responsive to visual arts and music.

LF: What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why? 

MS: I am to become a mother this year so I am going to save this space! But if I look back, for me it was around 21 years of age, when I realized that one could have a career in fashion different from the spotlight frenzy and glamour of the first row. I realized that a whole world existed of behind-the-scenes crafts and creativity, and knew that, that was where I belong.

LF: What advice would you give to your 18-year old self?

MS: Keep going, you'll be surprised what life brings you.

LF: What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh?

MS: My partner was straining some spaghetti and the vapor blurred his glasses completely!

LF: What is the most exciting part of your work day? 

MS: I love my work. Because it requires to solve creative challenges. I love that it is only as much about my personal inspiration and taste. Majority is teamwork, where efforts and expertise are joined to create the best thing for the company and brand all the time. Yes - my favorite part is seeing where teamwork takes you and I am so lucky to collaborate with top professionals across all the areas in this field.

Marta Santambrogio Shingora Designer

LF: The most tedious?

MS: None really. Surely the worst is the frustration when we try to create a new product, we push the boundaries to innovate and at times, tend to go wrong as well. That’s the part of the process of innovation, however, the end customers don't get to see how much effort and failure goes into each new product that is released!

LF: How do you decompress? 

MS: I am in my element when I am in my studio, in silence, flicking through one of my many books. Inspiration starts flowing and I love that dopamine feeling and of course I sit at my piano and just improvise for a while.

LF: What is the meaning of life? 

MS: Does anyone know really? I suppose I agree with what I read once -The meaning of life is to find your potential, the purpose of life is to give it all to others.

LF: What’s love? 

MS: Love is the energy that makes you alive!

LF: What are you most afraid of?

MS: To face bad health conditions for me or my family.

LF: What is one existential, difficult-to-answer question you wished you knew the right response to? 

MS: Will I ever be able to smoothen up my sharp corners and correct my defects?

Marta Santambrogio Shingora Designer

LF: Why scarves? 

MS: Scarves because I was originally trained as an Industrial Designer and I have a passion for art. Scarves are that one fashion product that is textile but has the least to do with patternmaking and body wearability. So it is like designing a painting made of textiles. What is better than that?

LF: Which is your favorite scarf and what is your favorite way to wear it?

MS: I have a few that I equally favor, each gives me a good mood when I wear it and enhances my outfit. I would wear an outfit as background to a stunning scarf. As opposed to a scarf to top up a busy outfit. I choose the scarf first, rest follows. I like oblongs and I wear them just hanging half on each side of my neck, no rolling. They float more and elongate my figure, I am tall and always wearing quite masculine shoes, so that's my way of softening the overall outfit.

Walter Lange (1924-2017): A Man You Can't Forget By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: January 18, 2017

Walter Lange Founder A Lange & Soehne

I still remember Mr. Walter Lange striding coolly towards our van, and asking our driver if he could drop him as well to his home.

This is 2012, nearly 4.5 years back, at the A. Lange & Soehne manufactory in Dresden. And I still haven’t disremembered that chance meeting. 

He was something of a legend at the factory. And despite our repeated requests for meeting Mr Lange, we were told that would not be possible. So imagine our surprise when it just so happened that we were leaving the manufactory at the right time, at the right place. 

After our initial surprise, we timidly petitioned him to answer a few queries for us nosy journalists if possible. And he readily agreed! Inviting us into his home, we huddled around him for a few, quick, very important questions. But it was not his answers that left a dent on me. It was his twinkling eyes, easy demeanour, and unabashed modesty that baffled me.

He was a man who, instead of getting into an easy retirement, re-started A. Lange & Soehne at the age of 66. He revived the German watchmaking company of his forefathers and bought it back to the helm of the watchmaking industry.

Starting with just 4 watches, the brand now has five families of models. Re-starting in 1990 with a very small team, the company now hosts 770 employees in its fold. A trained watchmaker himself, Walter Lange remained involved with the company he founded as a brand ambassador and consultant even long after he withdrew from company management.

He made the craft of German watchmaking a force to reckon with, opposing the unabated practice of Swiss watchmaking, and giving it stiff competition.

His death almost feels personal, because his story has inspired generations of people. At LuxuryFacts, we are immensely sorry to hear of his passing, and convey our condolences to his family and the entire Lange team.

While people saw him as almighty, he remained unerringly human. And that’s why, he is unforgettable.


You can read his exclusive interview here.

13 Questions with Arun Dhaddha By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: January 18, 2017

Arun Dhaddha Gem Plaza JaipurArun Dhaddha has business running through his veins. 

Entrepreneurial from an early age, Mr Dhaddha entered his family’s company – Indian jewelry house Gem Plaza – when he was still at school. Today, some 30 years, a gemology certification and a management degree later, he heads the brand that his late father Gyan Chand Dhaddha entrusted him with in 2003.  

A man who naturally wears many hats, Mr Dhaddha also oversees the Sitapura Factory, Gem Plaza’s jewelry design venture he launched and grew from 60 to 200 talented artisans, and serves as vice-president at the Sitapura Gems and Jewellery Industry Association. He is to join the board of directors of the soon-to-open Gems and Jewellery Museum in Jaipur, as well. 

Among the many roles Mr Dhaddha occupies, the closest to his heart is, perhaps, of gallery director at the Gyan Museum. Mr Dhaddha opened the museum together with his brother Suresh to celebrate the legacy of the Dhaddha family patriarch. It is home to Gyan Chand Dhaddha’s treasure trove of antique jewelry, exquisite silverware, rare textiles, ancient manuscripts, miniatures and the world’s largest collection of Hookah mouthpieces. 

This unique repository informs and inspires the special Gyan Jewels line that lends time-tested techniques to the conceptualization and execution of modern, highly detailed designs. More than a gleaming, heart-felt display of a man’s life and interests, the museum gushes Mr Dhaddha’s love, nostalgia and gratitude to his late father. 

As part of our “13 Questions” series, LuxuryFacts talks with Mr Dhaddha to glean the small, the significant and the sentimental stuff that make up life. 

Gyan Museum India

LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child?

Arun Dhaddha: Childhood is the time when you have ‘n’ number of ambitions. I too had a lot of them but the two serious ones were that of becoming a cricketer as I had deep interest in sports or to open up a resort as it was in vogue that time.

LF: What kind of a kid were you?

AD: I was a notorious child and was quiet, shy and introvert. Since the very beginning I had a creative bent of mind and I loved to do my work with perfection, keeping the minute details in mind. 

LF: What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why?

AD: The demise of my father left a great impact on me. He loved me a lot and I was deeply attached to him. Being the youngest of all, I found myself completely out of track and lost. I felt that in a fraction of seconds, a boy became a man that day!

Textiles at Gyan Museum India

LF: What advice would you give to your 18-year old self?

AD: To spend more time with my childhood friends, which I actually started when I turned 40. Also, to start planning about the museum a little earlier so that my father could see it.

LF: What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh?

AD: My ecstasy is on another level whenever I am with my extended family and friends, which happens almost twice in a week. We crack insane jokes and laugh our heart out.

Hookah mouthpieces at Gyan Museum India

LF: What is the most exciting part of your work day? The most tedious?

AD: I am always excited to go to my work place. After all, that’s where I spend most of my time. Giving a tour of the museum to others also interests me a lot. The most tedious part for me would definitely be handling the HR of the company and using the computer! 

LF: How do you decompress?

AD: I think that the biggest stress buster is travelling. So I take six holidays yearly – short or long; near or far – with my family and one vacation alone to another country. Others would be to go for a walk, play cards with my friends and watch comedy movies with my wife.

LF: What was the first thing you thought about this morning?

AD: What all are the new pieces coming out of production today, my To-do-list and my meeting schedule.

LF: What is the last thing you do before going to bed?

AD: Most of the times I watch comedy TV series or an entertaining movie.

LF: What is the meaning of life?

AD: To me, life is all about staying active, happy, healthy and to keep working ahead. It is a beautiful cycle of innate enjoyment and happiness.

Carpets at Gyan Museum IndiaLF: What’s love?

AD: Love is a blissful feeling of security and comfort with the other person or place. It’s the synergy between two people or objects. For me, it’s talking to someone or going to some place I love.

LF: What are you most afraid of?

AD: Losing my loyalty towards my work, family and friends scares me a lot.

LF: What is one existential, difficult-to-answer question you wished you knew the right response to?

AD: Probably the questions put up by my wife and children are the ones which I can’t answer but wish that I could.

The Lure and Allure of Synthetic Diamonds By: Dr Paurav Shukla, Professor of Marketing, Essex Business School

Posted on: December 13, 2016

The idea of growing synthetic diamonds – in labs – is not new. Scientists have been experimenting since mid-19th century. But creating conditions of  immense heat and pressure in a lab environment remained elusive for almost a century, until mid 1950s when synthetic diamonds started appearing in the market. Since then, three different techniques have been developed to produce synthetic diamonds. 

While previously synthetic diamonds were limited to only yellow and other coloured diamonds, recent technological advancements allow production of colourless synthetic diamonds that can easily deceive the eye and pass off as natural diamonds. 

Present day synthetic diamonds possess properties such as thermal conductivity, electron mobility and hardness that are at times superior to natural diamonds. They are increasingly used in the high-tech cutting and polishing tools, heat sinks, and electronic applications are being developed which include their usage in gyrotrons, high-frequency field-effect transistors and high-power switches at power stations. Analysts estimate that more than 95% of the industrial grade diamond demand is supplied with synthetic diamonds. 

Synthetic diamonds vs natural diamonds

According to Transparency Market Research, the global synthetic diamond market was valued at US$ 1.57 billion in 2014 and is anticipated to grow up to US$ 28.8 billion by 2023. Technological advancements, coupled with the steady growth of synthetic diamonds across industrial markets, is making the traditional diamond retail industry nervous. 

A threat to the traditional diamond retail industry?

A particular threat emanates from undisclosed synthetic diamonds that are marketed as natural diamonds. The diamond retail industry is getting squeezed due to increasing labour costs of cutting and polishing, and slowing global consumer demands. There is a growing concern regarding synthetic diamonds being passed off to final consumers as a natural diamond to save costs as these diamonds are approximately 15-25% cheaper. Industry is actively engaged in preventive measures such as development of devices that allow quick and automated detection, and the creation of Natural Diamond Quality Assurance (NDQA) to fight the battle. Governments are also engaging in this debate wherein there are discussions regarding laws that require all jewellery retailers to explicitly mark synthetic diamonds. 

Furthermore, the natural diamond retail industry is still suffering from trust issues because of the ‘blood diamond’ saga. The synthetic diamond industry has exploited this trust further by calling their diamonds ‘conflict-free’ and ‘ethical’. Thus, with the slow and steady rise of synthetic diamonds, there is a concern that the overall value of the natural diamond market will be lost. 

So, what makes diamond valuable?

Amid the number of critical issues highlighted above, why has the synthetic diamond not replaced the natural diamond in the consumer marketplace already, remains an interesting issue. This I believe can be explained through the lens of value perceptions. 

Synthetic diamonds vs natural diamonds

Perceived value is inherent to every product and it represents the subjective worth on all relevant evaluative criteria. This means that the perceived value will be different for each consumer. Research carried out by my team over the years, continuously demonstrates that value is multi-dimensional in nature. We have identified three specific dimensions namely social, personal and functional value. Social value represents the perceived utility of an alternative resulting from its image and symbolism in association, or disassociation, with demographic, socio-economic and cultural-ethnic reference groups. Personal value, on the other hand, reflects consumption directed toward satisfying the self. Functional value represents the perceived utility of an alternative resulting from its inherent attributes or characteristic-based ability to perform its functional, utilitarian or physical purposes. For every purchase, consumers will assign different levels of importance to each value perception dimension. 

And when examining diamond purchase among consumers through the value perceptions lens, the difference between the natural and synthetic diamonds becomes apparent. The greater acceptance of synthetic diamonds within the business marketplace for high-end precision tools and other usages is predominantly driven by the functional nature of their purchase. Business buyers are purchasing diamonds for their perceived utility (functional value) and at comparatively lower prices. 

However, in consumer markets, diamonds have a far more significant emotional attachment. Diamonds are associated with taglines such as ‘forever’ and “a girl’s best friend”. Such strong emotional reflections cannot be captured through only functional value or utility. Diamonds offer substantial socio-psychological benefits to the owner and that is reflected in the social and personal value associations. 

Consumers show social value perceptions for luxury goods such as diamonds in two ways. The first is the acquisition related value perceptions that are echoed through ‘status value’ and the other being the display aspects namely ‘conspicuous value’. Diamonds to most consumers are not just an item of acquisition but also an item to show-off. Hence, the societal display of possession plays a major role. This is a real barrier for the synthetic diamond industry as the term ‘synthetic’ almost undervalues the regal association with diamonds. In this regards, the synthetic diamond industry needs substantial strategic actions. The positioning based on calling the diamond ‘conflict free’ is helpful, but it’s not sizeable enough as the natural diamond industry is increasingly scrutinizing and avoiding conflict zone diamonds. Examples are Tiffany & Co. and Cartier among others. 

Synthetic diamonds vs natural diamonds

The other aspect that synthetic diamond industry has still not focused on is the personal value perceptions that are connected with the gratification of the internal (hedonism) and external (materialism) facets of the self. The natural diamonds industry has exploited these emotive connections extensively. 

How will the market evolve?

There will continue to be a market for synthetic diamonds in consumers markets. It will mostly be made up of price conscious consumers who are particularly interested in the functional values associated with diamonds. However, consumers who are buying diamonds with societal and personal value perceptions in mind will tend to veer towards natural diamonds till the synthetic diamond industry develops a strong and emotionally relevant campaign arguing their case. 

Overall, in parts the natural and synthetic diamonds industry complement each other and will continue to co-exist based on consumer preferences. The diamond retail industry therefore should take advantage of the differing value perceptions associated with both categories of diamonds. This will help them connect with a much wider demographic and a greater market penetration. However, the synthetic diamond industry has a much longer road to travel in this regard. 

Paurav Shukla is Professor of Marketing at Essex Business School, UK. Paurav's career began in the industry, and he continues to work hand-in-hand with industry as a consultant, researcher, practitioner and advisor. He has published many articles in top-tier academic journals, chapters to edited books, and popular accounts of his work have appeared in the Sunday Times, the Guardian, Woman's Wear Daily, Inc., LuxuryFacts, Luxury Society, Retail Wire, Business Week, National Post of Canada and LiveMint, among others. He has also delivered corporate training, teaching and consulting assignments for organisations in Europe, Asia and North Africa, and has been actively involved in funded research projects.

Concepts of Concept Stores By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: November 17, 2016

SVMOSCOW store in Russia

From cavernous, hanger-like arrangements to neat, boutique-style aesthetics, concept stores exude individuality and exclusivity. They might offer thousands of items or just a few unique pieces; double up as creative agencies or cafes; draw in a loyal, regular clientele or touristy gaggle of shoppers. From New York to London to Tokyo, concept stores are shaping up a hip experience, a jaunt into a stylized universe much more stimulating than a traditional shopping-mall rendezvous.  

Modern concept stores are a rather recent development – Italian fashion journalist Carla Sozzani is largely billed to have opened the very first concept store, 10 Corso Como, only 26 years ago in Milan. Relative “newcomers,” concept stores are not insulated from the shifts and insecurities of today’s market. 

Concept SUD in Geneva, SwitzerlandTo find out how concept stores fare in the global context of slumping physical retail sales, growing e-commerce and rising millennial consumers, LuxuryFacts talked to three such shops. SVMOSCOW, LNFA and Concept SUD, all boasting disparate sensitivities that have put them on several lists of the world’s best concept stores.  

The Concepts Behind the Stores  

With a background in architecture and design, Tatyana Strekalovskaya chose a central, non-commercial part of Moscow to open SVMOSCOW. Launched in 2001, the store is a mainstay and an anchor for the city’s avant-garde culture. Boasting no front-window signage and a range of exclusive SV merchandise – from capsule collections to perfumes to books, SVMOSCOW lures in like-minded fashion buffs – its select visitors.

Its appeal is not hard to grasp, given that the store houses a rare repository of celebrated brands – Comme des Garcons, Balenciaga, Yohji Yamamoto, Haider Ackermann and Ann Demeulmeester to name but a few. Having brought Vetements to Russia, SVMOSCOW is now among only 20 stores worldwide to offers the French collective’s men’s line. This year, the store introduced Vetements’ much talked-about hoodie that pays bold red-letter tribute to Russia’s rock star Zemfira. 

While SVMOSCOW exults forward-thinking maisons, Concept SUD – weary that too much attention on labels might smother genuine creativity – focuses on artists. For spouses Bertram and Maha Daoudi Seitz, Concept SUD was their answer to the uniformed – even boring – shopping scene in Geneva, Switzerland. The store brought in a jolting alternative – a snippet of Africa’s bright creations. Just as its name suggests (“sud” means south in French), Concept SUD raves in southern flair. A “slow retail” hub for contemporary, young designers, the store displays, at any time, no more than 50 pieces – from paintings to sculptures to jewelry to couture to shoes. Still a budding venture, it sells around 350 items a year (with plans to soon spike this number to 500). 

LNFA store in Berlin, Germany

“All items in the store are chosen by ourselves, in the ateliers of our artists, sometimes they are not even finished when we take the decision,” says Mr Seitz. “We are always looking for the extraordinary.”

Exceptionality, for LNFA, Berlin’s biggest concept store, lies in its clever marriage of a retail shop with a communication agency. When Sevil Uguz launched LNFA mere two years ago, the shop featured around 10 aspiring local fashion designers. Since then, she has been approached by a legion of creatives, growing LNFA’s roster to more than 50 brands, including Abury, Celeni and LA Saints. Promoting fashion and art, the store creates a relaxed ambiance to host events and network. The store also shuffles its exquisite goods quickly but quietly, several times a year, to chart a novel journey for its buyers, whenever they step inside its factory-like edifice. 

“LNFA corporate identity is very urban, industrial and raw [just like] Berlin,” says Gintare Adomaityte, the store’s PR manager. “Little bit messy and loud to transmit the local values and lifestyle.”

SVMOSCOW store in RussiaThe Shoppers: As Diverse as the Stores 

Concept stores – the common perception goes – pull in a uniform shopper base. The type of sophisticated, indulged customers that splurge their riches on showy, limited finds. This notion, however, does not always hold true. 

In the case of LNFA, many clients come from abroad, keen to taste the Berliner fad. “[T]he majority of the end customers are tourists who are curious about local fashion, have an interest in art, design, [the] creative industries and search for original, exclusive, not standard outfit[s],” says Ms Adomaityte. “We do fulfill any taste and bring different styles together, which results into diversity among the clients.”

Indeed, concept stores’ original aesthetics – often fine-tuned to a singular theme – attract customers that do not necessarily fully align with the shops’ vision but seek an “item with soul,” as Mr Seitz says. This results in patrons that chart the gamut of occupations and preferences. 

“There are different kinds of customers: young fashionistas, yuppies, celebrities, professionals from different spheres,” says Katerina Zakharevich, PR manager for SVMOSCOW. 

This ability to tempt – and retain – a motley clientele allows concept stores to escape the doldrums of today’s high-end retail segment. In a time when shopping malls and department stores are plunging into a bout of dwindling profits and closures, most of their concept counterparts – and the three featured here – are going strong. 

On and Off Stores 

Another clue to concept stores’ winning evolution lies in their approach to e-commerce. For many such shops, online shopping is not merely another means to sell. It is a customer-friendly option to weave with brick-and-mortar spoils in order to create a united experience. 

SVMOSCOW store in Russia

Having launched an e-retail section in 2012, SVMOSCOW has struck such a subtle balance between the online and the offline that one feels a seamless extension of the other. Offering worldwide delivery, the store takes its selection of “avant-garde genius [and] new, young designers and experimenters” to keen customers that might not be otherwise able to physically browse through it.  

“Shopping is more than purchasing and getting the products,” says Ms Adomaityte. “It is communication, memories, feelings, interaction, storytelling. We do believe in [the] proper combination of the online and offline business, though real time shopping will never be replaced by clicking buttons in our target group. People want to touch, smell, try it out, hear the advice of LNFA retailers and breathe in [the] special spirit.”

Concept SUD in Geneva, SwitzerlandAnd yet, LNFA has gone a step further than old-fashioned, catalog-style e-commerce. It has recently joined YEAY, a novel mobile video platform that lets the store market and sell its stock in short, sleek clips. LNFA is also to soon retail through Showroom, a German-language e-commerce portal that connects shops with shoppers. 

Meawhile, despite the growing forte of digital commerce, Concept SUD is for now staying offline. “We believe that the past is the future in this business,” says Mr Seitz. “[I]n a world that is more and more global and where there is no space to express [one’s] own identit[y], we strongly believe people will more and more look for handmade unique genuine creations, which is exactly what we offer at Concept SUD.” With a Switzerland-wide expansion on the make, this may change, or not. 

E-selling or not, concept stores might be easily compared to boutiques or even upscale mom-and-pop shops. Still, they constitute so much more – an amalgam of rare commodities that entice all sorts of purchasers, both in-store and online. Perhaps, they might even hold the key to overcoming the downward turns of today’s retail industry. Certainly, they present an inviting – viable – alternative to the traditional, troubled shopping spaces of the digital age. 

13 Questions with Amy Burton By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: November 3, 2016

If you know Hancocks, London’s high-end antique jewelry store, chances are, you have heard about Amy Burton. 

Amy Burton Jewelry DesignerDaughter of Hancocks’ current owners, Stephen and Janie Burton, Ms Burton’s aptitude for fine jewelry is as innate as nurtured by the family business. Since 2009, when she began purchasing vintage and signed ornaments for Hancocks, Ms Burton has grown into one of the most graceful and insightful young experts in the industry. She earned the valued gemologist certifications of D.G.A. and F.G.A. from London’s Gemmological Association; took up a jewelry art and design course at the Gemological Institute of America; and recently launched her own label – Amy Burton Fine Jewelry

 Yet, little of her professional achievements is braggingly apparent on her Instagram and Twitter accounts. Instead, Ms Burton seems to stock her social media profiles with motley snippets of her personal life. From her puggle Grumphrey and husband Mo Taguri to her intense gym workouts and blog articles on healthy living to jaunts in nature and favorite protein shakes, Ms Burton posts and snaps present an all-smiles woman who has stuck the enviable balance between work and leisure.

To meet the person behind the name, LuxuryFacts asked Ms Burton 13 questions. No business, sole individuality. 

LuxuryFacts: What did you want to become as a child? 

Amy Burton: Anything involving looking after animals. I was obsessed when I was little and was even organizing fundraisers for the World Wildlife Fund when I was about 7.

LF: What kind of a kid were you? 

AB: Creative and a little bit naughty and rebellious but also worked hard when I loved a subject. When I wanted to [school] I would strive really hard and wanted to excel at what I did. When I didn't like a subject I was... less cooperative. Absolutely lived for PE and Art classes....

Amy Burton Fine JewelryLF: What was the life experience that impacted you the most? How and why?

AB: My father taking me to the JAR exhibition at Somerset House in 2002. It was a time when I was feeling pretty lost in my life. It literally re-awoke my imagination and the happiness within me and I fell head over heels with the magical jewels. Although it then took me a while to get to where I was happy in my career – that was the 'hallelujah' moment when I knew jewelry was much more to me than a passing interest in my family business. 

LF: What advice would you give to your 18-year old self? 

AB: Don't walk away from the creative side of your personality, embrace it, study it and never stop learning. If you are creative then you need to pursue it otherwise your inner glow will dim. 

LF: What was the last thing that made you genuinely laugh? 

AB: My husband and my dog make me laugh hard almost every day. There's also a few very funny podcasts that I listen to regularly that can literally make me laugh out loud as I walk down the street. It definitely improves the London commute.   

LF: What is the most exciting part of your work day? The most tedious?

AB: Designing and drawing is without doubt the most exciting. I can be lost in a design for hours and am the happiest person in the world when I am. I find [administration] and emails are tedious. 

LF: How do you decompress? 

AB: A hardcore gym class, bath, scented candles, food and watch a movie with my husband.  

Amy Burton Fine JewelryLF: What was the first thing you thought about this morning?

AB: My to-do list. 2nd thought – how I wish I could finish my to-do list. 3rd thought – how do other people ever finish their to-do lists.

LF: What is the last thing you do before going to bed? 

AB: I usually put on a meditation app and play it out loud to stop my mind from flying about.

LF: What is the meaning of life? 

AB: To me it is to love and enjoy it while we have it. Life is too short and being truly unhappy in any aspect is just not an option for me. 

LF: What’s love? 

AB: Family/partner/pet/friends..... doesn't matter where you find love but experiencing it is what makes life worth living.

LF: What are you most afraid of? 

AB: I am a pretty anxious person so I don't think you have enough space in this column to list them all.

LF: What is one existential, difficult-to-answer question you wished you knew the right response to?

AB: I think there's enough stress in life without pondering questions that are impossible to answer. However, maybe the one about the monkey and typewriters, though.

The American Luxury Market - A Phoenix Rising By: Sarah Holbert

Posted on: August 23, 2016

The recession in 2008 was a global one. Hitting all countries and all facets of the economy. With the recession, many areas that had seen growth began to see trouble. For the American luxury market, the years of the recession and just after are some of the most interesting. With each year presenting new challenges and new results. 

American Luxury Market

2008: In 2008, the first year of the recession, the American luxury market, as well as the global market stayed relatively stable. Though price tags in the luxury market increased, the overall price did not increase however. The year saw growth in retail more than in wholesale, as well as an uptick in online shopping, especially from Americans. In 2008, America saw the first year of stagnation after post-Sept 11, along with a reduction in local consumption. The effects of the Recession did not diminish 2008 with the rate that one could expect, as it was just the beginning (Bain & Company Global Luxury Goods Study 2008).

2009: With the recession already lasting a year, the luxury market saw a significant downturn. In 2008, the luxury market fell 8%, with 4% of luxury brands in a huge financial crisis or defaulted. Even with the stability in 2008, there was a strong consumption decline, especially in the U.S. market. Despite this drop however, US Department stores were recovering and re-stocking, as retail continued to outperform wholesale. While the stores stayed optimistic, 2009 was the worst year yet for the American luxury market, dropping 18% - the worst performance was by far hard luxury (generally considered as watches and jewelry) with its market dropping 23%. Menswear was hit hardest during the crisis as well as Women’s shoes with a slight decrease (3%). Leather goods also suffered in the US, shrinking 7%, as well as jewelry in the American market. The hardest hit sector in America was Fragrance, with a 10% decline. Overall, the American market saw a sharp decline from its stability in 2008, a byproduct of the recession with consumers opting out of luxury purchases due to lack of income, and when shopping, turning to the emerging online market. (Bain & Company - Global Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study - 9thEdition)

American Luxury Market

2010-2011: The recovery period of the global and American market, 2010 was the rebound, with the first signs of the luxury market recovery becoming clear. The global market from 2009 to 2010 grew at double digits rates, a trend that continued from 2010 to 2011. In the years following the recession, online shopping grew to account for up to 3% of total sales. The growth of the American market, its recovery was driven by women’s categories and full recovery of jewelry and watches. A true sign that the recession was ending included new openings in 2nd and 3rd tier cities. For the U.S., the growth of the personal luxury market from 2009-2010 was 15%, a jump from the decline during the deepest points of the recession. Even though hard luxury was hit the hardest during the recession, its growth contributed to the luxury market rebound, as it gained 2% in 2010 and 3% in 2011. In 2011, 80% of brands grew, a drastic change from the brands in trouble in 2010. (Bain & Company Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, 2011 10th Edition, October 2011)

2013-2014: A couple years after the recession, the luxury goods market - and American market-were much different. America made a strong recovery from the crisis, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% from 2009 through 2014. The overall luxury market grew 7% overall, driven by luxury cars (10%) and luxury hospitality (9%). The American luxury market saw a new trend emerge, with tourists their luxury market. America had 6% growth in 2013. America also remained the largest market in 2013, and entering 2014 as well. A key indicator of growth and recovery post-recession is the fact that since 2009, the US has contributed three times as much absolute-value growth as China, a country that performed exceptionally well during recession. Though America showed growth, the cause was not domestic spending - i.e. by Americans - rather tourists. In 2013, online shopping grew 5%, with America providing most of that growth. In terms of categories, accessories became the largest category within luxury goods (at 29% of total sales in 2014), followed by apparel at 25%, hard luxury at 22% and beauty at 20%. Accessories grew the fastest with a CAGR of 12% from 2009 through 2014. In 2013 and 2014, America proved it was recovered from the recession, and ready to take back its spot as one of the biggest players in the luxury market. (Bain & Company Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study Fall-Winter 2014)

American Luxury Market

2015: Growth in the worldwide luxury car market was 8% up from 2014, driven in part by the US. Boosted by a strong dollar, the Americas emerged as the biggest global region for personal luxury goods purchases. The US alone accounted for more than 90% of the regional market, and remains the largest global market, with New York City remaining the biggest market. Since 2009, the US market has contributed 1.7 times as much growth in absolute value as the largest contributors in Asia. The tourism trend continued. Though consumers in the US purchased locally, growth was driven by tourism. Americans made up 24% of luxury purchases worldwide. Online shopping grew by 7%, with Americans leading the growth through their tastes in accessories and fashion. Accessories should come as no surprise as they remained the fastest growing sector of the luxury market. (Bain & Company Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study Fall−Winter 2015)

In the years following the recession, America has recovered, growing tremendously from the dip in 2009, and even leading the way in new channels for luxury goods such as online shopping. American domestic preference has helped their market recover, while tourism has helped the market to grow. Though the market may be fickle, American luxury managed to ride out the storm, and come back stronger and a key player in the worldwide luxury market.

Why (Not): Western High Fashion Brands with a 'Made in India' tag By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: July 29, 2016

Vaunting fabrics and garb-making techniques with geographical indication status – the World Trade Organization’s certificate of indigenous quality and endemic essence – India’s traditional garment industry is a rare marvel, decked out in fine silks, cashmeres and leathers. As the global clothing sector swells with the tides of globalization, the tally of international labels tapping into India’s crafts and artisanal expertise surges. The country is slowly positing itself as an affordable manufacturer of haute apparel, vying against neighboring China, which now produces for Prada, Armani and Coach among others. 

India manufacturing for luxury brands

Still a long shot from the upper echelons of international high fashion, India’s bid is already raising all sort of queries – from the state of the subcontinent’s textile and clothes segment and the importance of brands’ coveted image to economic considerations and political incentives. The responses are often complex and nuanced, if not contradicting, as LuxuryFacts finds out in its conversations with Glyn Atwal, associate professor at the Burgundy School of Business, who specializes in luxury enterprises, and Shefalee Vasudev, fashion editor at Mint Lounge paper in India. 

Welcome to India

Despite its economic outlook of an emerging power, India, as a manufacturing hub, attracts Western high-end fashion brands not as much with its low labor costs (even if those do play a role in the wider economy) as with its superb craftsmanship and raw supplies, over which India boasts a competitive advantage. Although much has been veiled due to the typical secrecy around the industry’s inner codes, Louis Vuitton, Armani, Fendi and Bottega Veneta among others have been purportedly outsourcing to India. 

Mr Atwal says: “[I]f luxury brands are wishing to shift production to India, I think, one of the reasons may be, and this has often been underplayed, the scarcity or shortage of skilled labor in their home markets. So, they are seeing a lot of craftsmanship available in India. Looking for skilled labor, India may offer many opportunities.”

However, international brands’ search for creative ingenuity in far-off states is not novel. Ms Vasudev stresses on the longevity of that dynamic: “…India has always been a great sourcing center for materials and a great sourcing center for certain skills. From [what] I documented, I don't see that's changed. What has happened is [that] more brands are now sourcing these skills in India – that is all there is. … But are we talking about a massive influence of these brands on Indian skilled workers – no, not at all. In fact, more and more embroiders and more and more weavers do not want to do this work anymore.”

India manufacturing for luxury brands

India is country of artisans – with their numbers varying anywhere between 7 million to 200 million, according to philanthropy organization Dasra. Nonetheless, despite the current revival of garment-related handicrafts that Ms Vasudev has observed, the paltry local demand – partially due to the rise of fast fashion – has pushed craftsmen away from what are often family legacies.  

Where the West meets the East 

International high-end labels, albeit keen on wielding Indian artisanal heft, might not be able to reverse that trend. Ms Vasudev says: “I don't think international brands can do too much, but they can do a bit…because the kind of crafts that we are proud of or the kind of textiles this country produces do not really have any use or place in international garments. I do not see Alessandro Michele from Gucci making garments from Kanchipuram silk, or Raf Simons, wherever he works, making garments from cashmere embroidery, or making so many garments that it changes the fate of cashmere artisans. I do not see Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton to start relying on India for entire collections.” 

An Indian line – no matter how refined and worldly – would inevitably reap the carefully stitched narratives of Western luxury labels. When maisons have spent decades to muster the designs, styles and qualities that have turned them into multi-million ventures, a “Made in India” tag would feel undeniably uncharacteristic to garments swept in European – or American – luxury sensibilities. 

Too long to read? Listen to it then!


Mr Atwal explains: “[H]eritage is key to any luxury brand. The brands' stories is where European brands have an advantage versus non-European brands. So, “Made in France” or “Made in Italy” is key.”  

So what can international high-end brands, producing in India, do?

Ms Vasudev: “[T]hey can have piecemeal capsules inside their larger collections, let's say, inspired from India [and] made in India. But can [Indian] skills and textiles become the core, the spine of an international collection – I do not see this happening, because the whole evolution, change, experimentation, revival, sustainability – all these words that we apply – have a different narrative and a different story in an international brand. That story cannot be just replicated or picked from India and placed there, because it doesn't have a use. So they can use embellishments, they can use embroidery, they can use our designers, they can use our craftspeople, but they can use them just so much.”    

Taking Care

The employment of Indian aesthetics should not, however, equate exploitation – a common plight in yet developing markets. Venturing in India, a country of vast social contrasts, foreign brands ought to guarantee much more than the bare minimum of fair working conditions and livable pay in order to avoid the stereotypical trappings of third-world fashion manufacturers. The reward, nevertheless, Ms Vasudev says, offsets the throes: “Essentially, brands that are coming in India to make in India for India will have to work from the ground up [and ask], ‘Has the artisan slept at night or has he come to work without sleeping at night because there was no electricity in his household? Has his child gone to school? Can he get the benefit of clean washrooms inside the [factory]?’ You see, there are so many issues in manufacturing in India that you need to really start from that level to then say, ‘Now, yes, there is temperature control; the artisan has eaten; he or she has slept; has been assured of certain wages per week, per month; there is stability in the job environment.’ I think from the point of view of socially, culturally and object-wise, physically making them comfortable, to then work with them. If companies are able to that, the skill and the ability in India [are] unparalleled, perhaps, compared to anywhere else in the world. And I do not see us becoming another China because we are culturally not China. I do not think we are going that way. I do not think our craftspeople, our artisans will go into the China way.”

India manufacturing for luxury brands

Mr Atwal, nonetheless, points at another facet of China – away from its infamous work practices – that could possibly reveal the direction India is only now heading toward. 

 “I think what is going to change over time [in India] is what we see in China [nowadays] – we no longer see cheap manufacturing. We are seeing Chinese influences in technology and in other areas, where from Western point of view, we are changing the perception of “Made in China.” Now, India is a different story - India is able to compete in terms of a country of origin for fashion brands. … But if we look at China, [a]nd if we had this conversation 20 years ago, or 10 years ago, that luxury brands were shifting productions to China, we would say, ‘No way. It's impossible. Never.’ Now, we are accepting the fact that luxury brands are or have shifted production to China and therefore, why can't we ask about shifting production to India. And, in fact, [if] we have this conversation today, or in 10 or 20 years’ time, we may again be looking at India as we are looking at China today.”  

Fashion through politics and economics

To follow the lead of its neighbor, nevertheless, India needs reforms – not only of its apparel manufacturing sector, but of its wider economy. This is a task, which requires political initiative. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already rolled out several highly publicized campaigns to that end – from “Made in India” to the controversial 30% decree, which compels foreign brands selling in India to derive 30% of their materials locally (a policy, which Louis Vuitton has protested, according to India’s The Economic Times). No action would, however, spur long-term betterment without first addressing a single core proposition – the ease of doing business. 

Mr Atwal: “If you look at the World Bank's ease of doing business rankings, it demonstrates that India is not a very easy place to do business in in terms of bureaucracy, red tape, legislation, corruption and so on and so forth. Modi is attempting to change that in terms of making it an easy place to do business and get rid of bureaucracy, red tape and improve the overall conditions…If it [India] is an easy place to do business in, then, I think, that would be an important step forward in terms of attracting foreign investment.”

India manufacturing for luxury brands

To stream up the trickle of foreign money into the country’s manufacturing sector, the government could consider an all-inclusive marketing strategy. Think of it as a peculiar Amazon-meets-Lonely Planet guide to India’s vast textile and clothes industry, a one-stop shop to pique and quench foreign demand for domestic specialties. 

Ms Vasudev expounds: “The country can make that demand with the help of the government organizing a market place, both online as well as physically, in brick-and-mortar environment. For instance, if you come to India, you should have 20 or 30 offices, which tell you what is available in India that you can pick up. So, it is really like shopping for a skill. These skills should be bought online in a special site made by the Indian government [that says], ‘You want leather soles made in India, this is where you go; these are the retailers, the manufacturers, the sourcing centers that you have to go to.’ It needs a large source and reference list to be put online as well as to be available in various places in India, so that when international brands come to India they know where to go and for what. If that happens, I think, the ease of trade, the ease of manufacturing collaborations between various countries, designers and Indian craftspeople will become highly enhanced.”

When it comes to silhouettes and cuts, techniques and expertise, work conditions and economic gains, the cleave between the West and India, yawns large. Even if a slew of concerns still throb for sustainable solutions, the county is already slowly staking a spot on the global high-fashion radar. Lured by India’s know-how, foreign brands are increasingly looking to the subcontinent as their potential manufacturing grounds. If the country’s and the industry’s interests align to beat the hurdles of today, India might well turn into haute fashion’s big story of tomorrow.

Push and Pull - Luxury Fashion on the Move  By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: May 10, 2016

“And yet it moves,” said Galileo Galilei about the Earth’s rotation around the sun more than three centuries ago. Today, the phrase chimes unwittingly in tune with haute couture, which in 2015 slipped into what bears the potential to be tectonic shifts. 

High fashion has for decades observed values, traditions and heritage, largely insolent to the speedy modernization, globalization and digitalization of the wider industry. Luxury flaunts inherent exclusivity and refinement that only true connoisseurs could appreciate and afford.  

Not any longer. With the boom of once cut-off markets like China, with the appetite for statement-making opulence gripping an ever-larger segment of the society, including millennials and the expanding middle class, haute couture is now adjusting to a novel, connected and dynamic reality. Although intensions to revamp have buzzed for years, only now major moves are commencing, with yet hazy repercussions.   


Rebecca MinkoffMoving Closer 

Amid a growing disenchantment with the traditional fashion calendar – exhibiting spring/summer collections in fall and fall/winter creations in spring, which yawns a six-month gap between garments’ catwalk debut and their arrival at stores – a bevy of high-end brands have moved their show and retail schedules closer. 

During this year’s New York Fashion Week, designer Rebecca Minkoff showed her 2016 spring/summer creations; and not the fall/winter 2016 collection, as custom dictates. Michael Kors offered fresh-off-the-runway garments, straight after his fall/winter 2016 show, while Tom Ford called his off in order to premiere it in-season, in September. 

Meanwhile, Tommy Hilfiger, will open its fashion shows for the public, which will be able to immediately purchase looks. Other brands are also cutting and sewing comparable actions, all measured against Mochino’s and Versace’s early experiments with instant availability of several capsule lines.    

Call it whatever you wish – “runway democratization,” “instant gratification,” “see-now/buy-now/wear-now.” Luxury brands are increasingly tearing up a fashion calendar that has run out of its time. In an age when collections migrate from the catwalk to Instagram in seconds, but trek to retailers in half a year, digital-savvy, over-indulged customers get tired with the garments rather quickly. Labels are now scrambling to beat that fatigue. And faster than their high-street counterparts, which have mastered the art of ripping off high-end styles, cost and time effectively. 

Tommy Hilfiger Models Backstage

Moving Together

Luxury fashion houses are not merely shifting the release of their men’s and women’s collections closer to selling times. They are moving them together, uniting them under a single show. It is not solely about instantaneity. It is about inclusivity, as well.     

This September, for example, Burberry will mesh its menswear and womenswear in one of two annual “seasonless” presentations – instead of the customary four, separate shows per year – that will simultaneously sweep runways and stores. As of next January, Vetements will similarly mix its gendered collections in a single Paris spectacle, a couple of months prior to the fall/winter Fashion Weeks of New York, Milan, Paris and London. Gucci and Tom Ford will follow suit. 

Burberry Fashion Show

While the runway-rack divide may now be infeasible, the men-women split, ironically, still makes quite of sense, even if some have advanced to efface it. “The two markets for men and women have demanded separate shows so far,” says Roasie Virq Ahluwalia, marketing director at Canali India. “Not every designer has collections for both men and women and hence traditionally they have been different showings for buyers in each category.”

For those Maisons that do boast both men’s and women’s sections, the idea of uniting them is not entirely revolutionary. It is a practicality some have sought for years. However, in a world still predominantly designated as men’s, fashion’s smudge of the masculine-feminine binary does feel pioneering and resounding; a sturdy undertone in the social crescendo on female corporate leadership, the gender pay gap and LGBT rights. 

Moving to and with You

Even if majority of luxury brands are for now preserving the orthodox fashion-show almanacs and keep their men’s and women’s presentations apart, one change they all seem to converge around is social media. Fealty to their conservative leeriness of any novelty – fads come and go, while brands’ carefully chiseled personality needs to endure – haute couture labels took ample time to join the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And even on them, many still remain rather passive in fully engaging customers online. 

Heidi Klum at Michael Kors show

According to a recent report by Brandwatch, “[Luxury fashion brands’] reluctance may have a lot to do with the culture of these brands — there's a heavy focus on quality, heritage, and in some ways, a certain level of exclusivity.”  

Those are yester news. If labels are only now crafting their digital presence, alongside their global e-commerce and m-commerce platforms – and many are still locked in that stage – they are rather late. What is up-to-the-minute is how maisons like Tiffany and Christian Louboutin seem to have realized that to honor their past, they need to look into the future. And the future is social.  

More than sleek snaps of products, hashtag campaigns and videos streamed directly from the catwalk, social-media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat host the potential of parlaying into profitable, instantaneous and spontaneous sale conduits. The so-called “conversational commerce” – still in its nascence – promises to wed the pamper and intimacy of in-store luxury shopping to the speed and convenience of online purchasing. 

In a period when a slew of brands have shuttered boutiques due to slumping global sales, social media may be the balm to soothe wounds. The move from physical to virtual, nevertheless, poses a daunting task for many fashion houses. Ultimately, though, if done right, it would bring them closer to their greatest asset: customers. Labels are waking up to that peculiarity. 

Vetements models


All the recent changes – eschewing the conventional fashion calendar, uniting the men’s and women’s collection and embracing social media and its retail possibilities – spell a drastic alteration in brands’ long-churning but now-sputtering business models.  From when and how a garment is produced to where it is retailed, labels will need to leap over some hurdles before truly switching gears. 

The chains of change 

The five to six months that stretch between runways, showing the latest trends, and stores, actually carrying them, might be uneventful for customers. For brands, however, they teem with activity – from seeking the finest fabrics, which can account for up to 2/3 of the “collections’ retail lag,” to tweaking the final cuts. In an instant purchasing dynamic, however, the supply and production chains would need to drastically shrink in time. 

“I think labels that are more ready-to-wear and less couture are going to be able to adapt faster to this new trend,” says Ms Ahluwalia. 

How to do so, nevertheless, remains a throbbing issue even for smaller, quicker brands. Morand Pascal, executive president of the Fédération Française de la Couture, outlines a possible – albeit, imperfect – solution: use the same fabrics all the time, so the sourcing period is practically excised. “[You can] buy some basic cotton fabrics, like fast fashion brands [do],” he says, “[but] then the quality of the product is damaged.

“Then the question is: if you use the [see-now]/buy-now system, the product needs to be available through digital marketing. [And you] push the consumers to buy products that are available.” 

This is an assertion that reverberates with the trunk-show approach, elevated to the heights of luxury fashion by the likes of Moda Operandi. An online platform, it allows clients to purchase looks straight off the catwalk, but only delivers them when collections land at stores. It is a buy-now/wear-later model that may permit labels some initial headway to scale their production capabilities to the see-now/buy-now/wear-now proposition.    

Moda Operandi website screen shot

Go digital or go home

Regardless of when and how this proposition will solidify into a paradigm, digital is to play an integral part in the process. “Digital is a marvelous thing, that is ignored by many people,” says Mr Morand. “It is great; we do not have to be blind to it, but to appropriate it.” Its inclusion into brands’ business strategies has, for now, proven easier said than done. 

How online retail would impact labels’ physical venues has, for years, comprised a query that is still sprouting a bevy of conflicting responses. Digital has spelled the death of the boutique, has revived it through clever online-physical combinations and has turned it into a warehouse for items bought exclusively on the Net, time and again.  

With the ascend and proliferation of social media, however, this question has assumed new dimensions. It is no longer solely about e-commerce. Mobile retail and social engagement contour new frontiers. “Social media is the key factor that has changed the face of fashion,” Ms Ahluwalia says. 

“Everything is now instantly posted for millions of followers to watch across the globe. When this happens, it creates an instant desire to own the product. Designers cannot now afford to ignore this instant consuming population on social media.” 

But they also must not overlook what that ever-expanding, interaction-hungry horde of denizens would bode for brands’ exclusivity and creativity. 

Would the old-world values that have defined labels’ for generations crumble under millennials’ demand for a swift yet stuttered engagement? It is too early to say, but Ms Ahluwalia reminds, “In the end no one is king except the consumer. Retailers and designers will have to accept this and evolve to a system that satisfies the consumer's need for speed.”

Would fashion maisons unwittingly yet inevitably bury their identity under hundreds of Instagram snaps, parading their creations – once reserved for the select few – to the lay masses? “There is always a risk of losing exclusivity,” says Mr Morand. “But it is better to have a painting that [people] can see, rather than one [they] cannot.”

It appears 2015 posited more inquiries than it provided clear-cut blueprints for action. With luxury fashion continuing to nudge into an uncharted terrain, with every move revealing both possibilities and obstructions, one thing is certain, Mr Morand says. “We are just at the end of the beginning. It is just starting."

Luxury and Corporate Responsibility are not Antonyms By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: May 6, 2016

Corporate social responsibility and voluminous fur coats, round sparkly diamonds, coquettish crocodile leather purses and skincare elixirs from rare Amazon plants have not belonged to one another for a long time.  

Outlandish opulence has for decades pervaded luxury brands. More than a modus operandi for them, lavishness has often inadvertently amounted to a carte blanche to exploit, drain, dig and taint – from hazardous pesticides used to produce raw materials to animal cruelty and appalling working conditions to water-polluting fabric dyes to gemstones mined in oppressive states. And these practices wedge beyond the conspicuous, so deep that many Maisons today find it excruciatingly hard to reform.  

Luxury labels are not sole culprits. Nevertheless, as far back as 2007, a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report on the 10 largest, publicly traded, high-end brands, including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton, proclaimed their environmental, social and governance policies inferior to those of their non-luxury counterparts. A beam of hope did shine though, through L’Oreal, French cosmetics conglomerate, which is also the world’s biggest. 

Almost a decade later, the beauty label remains a leader in environmental and social responsibility – a consideration that a legion of high-end brands are slowly but steadily waking up to. In 2013, L’Oreal cinched its sustainable 2020 targets in its Sharing Beauty With All program. Fashion designer, Eileen Fisher, has followed a similar path with her Vision 2020, which spells a staunch commitment to phase out viscose, a semi-synthetic fiber manufactured with unsafe chemicals that, however, makes some of the label’s most sought-after garments. A vocal sustainability pioneer and activist, Eileen Fisher could be seen as the notched-up kindred of fast fashion house, H&M. The Swedish, high-street brand boasts an extensive H&M Conscious clothing line and campaign of recycling old fabric, using organic materials and securing animal and human welfare.

It appears labels are in a hasty race with themselves to clean their filthy footprint. The laudable contest is also run by what is often decried as one of the dirtiest luxury segments – automobile. While many are just starting to chug, BMW roars. In its 2015 report, the German vehicle  manufacturer has singled itself out as “the world’s most successful and sustainable premium provider of individual mobility.” It is not a statement without merit. Not only has the carmaker cut greenhouse gas emissions across its production chain as well as in its models, it is also building a fleet of electric vehicles and is rapidly expanding its green car share service across the US.

Today, for an ever-growing band of high-end labels, including those under Kering and LVMH, corporate conscience is much more than a vague website section, mushed at the bottom and largely regarded as a sleek PR trick. As more and more brands are beginning to consider – and care for – the individuals, materials and practices that shape their products, LuxuryFacts reached out to two pioneers of sustainable luxury – Kiehl’s, which has turned it into a wont from its very inception, and Gemfields, which is bringing it to precious stone mining, a field known for its longstanding social and environmental impunity.  


Indian Actress Neha Dhupia for Kiehl's campaign

Kiehl’s dedication to philanthropy and sustainability stems from its peculiar history. For almost a century, American skincare company Kiehl’s offered its exquisite concoctions at its sole, old-world apothecary in East Village, New York. As a neighborhood venue, the label embraced the concerns and needs of the community. Kiehl’s innate social emphasis, coupled with a clear charity outlook, has posited it among the most forward-thinking brands on L’Oreal’s portfolio, which it joined in 2000 and has since stretched to around 1,000 locations in some 50 countries. 

“In 2013, the L’Oreal Group committed to completely transforming our business model into a more sustainable one, factoring in developments such as climate change, biodiversity loss, water shortage, poverty, and many more,” said a spokesperson for the skincare label. 

Nevertheless, even prior to that, Kiehl’s was already spreading its ethical corporate roots through its Kiehl’s Gives initiative, which rests on three pillars – HIV/AIDS research, environmental issues and children’s wellbeing. Although it has donated some $3.5 million over the years, the company still admits that “the challenge for us is to identify a cause that is sustainable and one that can make a true impact in the community.”

1997: when everything started 

Two decades ago, Morse–family run Kiehl’s, set off on a quest that may have appeared rather quixotic for the then relatively small label. It launched its Hand Care for a Cure line, with all the proceedings directed to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR). As of 2014, Kiehl’s has contributed more than $1 million to six cure-related research endeavors – not a small feat for the “corner pharmacy,” whose annual revenue hovered around the lower tens of millions at the time of its acquisition by powerhouse L’Oreal. 

Indian Actress Neha Dhupia for Kiehl's

2009: then came the environment  

Seven years ago, Kiehl’s took the leap from at-large philanthropy to local sustainability with its Recycle & Be Rewarded program that currently covers over 100 stores worldwide. It gifts patrons with complimentary balms for every 10 returned clean containers, which it recycles for future packaging. 

“Through the Recycle & Be Rewarded program, Kiehl’s collects empty bottles every month. Since 2009, the brand has collected 2 million empty bottles around the world, thereby diverting over 95,000 pounds of waste from landfills and incinerators.” a company representative cites the statistics. 

Currently, a range of skin and hair collections come in post-consumer reused vials, the simple, unassuming design of which aligns with Kiehl’s quiet yet assertive environmentalism. “Kiehl’s has always believed in no-frills packaging, instead putting resources towards the ingredients,” a spokesperson says. 

This minimalistic approach has propelled Kiehl’s to foster a green production that goes beyond the contents of its formulas. In the span of a decade, according to the label’s data, its New Jersey manufacturing plant has seen a 69% decrease in carbon emissions and 35% reduction of water usage per product. 

Despite the brand’s far-reaching advancement of sustainability and responsibility, it does tread under fire. Pundits have clobbered it for greenwashing, or meshing natural with synthetic components. 

To an extent, those allegations stand their ground and the label is not reticent to acknowledge them, but  “sustainably-sourced and fairly traded ingredients are used in Kiehl’s formulations wherever possible.” Turning green opens a treacherous, meandering path, the navigation of which requires a business overhaul that is often slow and painful. For now, Kiehl’s seems to more than compensate for its still-not-fully-organic creams with its communal engagement. 

Kiehl's products for children's education

2016: the old brand looking toward the future  

In March this year, the brand rolled out its Kiehl’s Gives project in India, where it bestowed about $105,000 – all of the month’s profits from a special edition of its coveted Ultra Facial Cream – to a local NGO that teaches technology to unprivileged kids across the country. The campaign follows past initiatives centered on children and young women, such as the label’s 2010 cooperation with the Koons Family Institute to fight child exploitation, its collaboration with New York artists to create safe spaces for the little as well as its initial support for the historic The Lower East Side Girls Club.    

It is the brand’s devotion to society – celebrating its diversity and tackling its predicaments – that has dictated Kiehl’s business model for generations and that, nowadays, truly sets it apart from its kin. The brand’s future appears to loop back to it – to the rationale that Kiehl’s could only grow through assisting the development of others. 


Gemfields Farming InitiativesTales of rampant corruption, escalating conflicts, inhumane treatment of miners and unimaginable environmental degradation in the gemstone industry are as old and bleak as its mines. Extracting and trading colored stones dates back to centuries ago, observing long-entrenched practices that counter the sustainability mores of the last several decades. Largely ensconced in Africa, mining is often artisanal, fragmented and elicit, bent by local profiteers. Cut-and-polish processes, on the other hand, regularly take place as far away as Thailand and India. 

“Lack of formalization makes [the mining and processing of colored stones] hard to fit into [the] conventional business strategies and traditional business improvements such as sustainability,” says Jack Cunningham, group sustainability manager at Gemfields. 

Yet, Gemfields – the world’s largest supplier of responsibly sourced Zambian emeralds and amethysts and Mozambican rubies – has proven it is doable. As luxury jewelry makers have spiked their demand for gemstones, Gemfields has responded, constructing its operations around the integral principles of legitimacy, transparency and integrity. 

Social license to operate

When impoverished societies see mining as a stable trickle of income, it is inconsiderate – let alone, almost impossible – for international companies to dig head-strong in their gemstone-rich tracts. Gemfields is finely attuned to this reality. Its success and growth stem from a social license to operate. It runs Zambia’s Kagem emerald mine – the world’s biggest – and the Montepuez ruby deposit of Mozambique. But what may be more worthy to marvel at, is its hefty communal engagement and investment that legitimize its business undertakings. At each of its mining locations, Gemfields deploys teams of social workers who help local civic and public organizations to establish and manage farms, schools, medical centers and more.  

Gemfields' Anti-Rhino Poaching Aircraft

“In Zambia we have invested close to $2 million over the last five years in local community projects and in Mozambique we are working on a long term strategy that will be a balance of infrastructure, health, education and agriculture livelihood projects,” says Mr Cunningham. “We are particularly proud that in a few short years in Mozambique, even when the operation was still very small, we have been able to provide access to clean water to the local community, provide basic health and education infrastructure and recently started a farming cooperative which now has over 90 members that grow vegetables to sell to our operation.”

Opaque transparency 

While the responsible gem supplier exerts stringent control over its own enterprises – from providing just and safe working conditions in mines to developing local communities to auditing its customers for sustainability – it cannot possibly do so over the industry at large. Transparency is – paradoxically – an opaque concept, difficult to secure, once Gemfield’s stones leave its custody. 

Gemfields Schools in Zambia“The wider mining sector has been building sustainability practices for many years, but even the closest sector to ours – diamonds – does not have a very long history of sustainable practices,” says Mr Cunningham. “There are some that are unconvinced by what Gemfields is trying to achieve and this requires [repeating] our [brand’s message], being clear about our objectives on sustainability and finding willing partners who can work with us.

“Often the first conversation [with prospective partners] is about sustainability; either what we are doing at the mine, or how we are influencing the wider supply chain. Our jewelry partners recognize that while Gemfields doesn’t have all the answers, we are making real progress against the grain. We work very closely with luxury brands on developing new standards, including for sustainability, and we talk regularly with jewelers of all sizes because this is of vast interest and import to them.”

That intense interaction does appear to be shifting the tides. High-end mavericks such as Tiffany & Co and Cartier are now sparkling up their ornate creations solely with sustainably sourced diamonds and precious stones. A bevy of international organizations such as the Responsible Jewelry Council, the International Council for Metals and Mining, and the Alliance for Responsible Mining, to list but a few, have sprung up to nudge and guard an industry-wide corporate conscience. Still fledgling, those initiatives hold a sincere promise and a strong commitment. 

So the next time you apply your favorite facial cream or slip into that flattering gown or clasp your beloved gem locket around your neck, you know that corporate sustainability and opulence do belong to each other. 

Swaying and Swayed: China's Luxury Consumers By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: April 19, 2016

Following a dip in China’s economy last year, are the country’s consumers splurging less on luxury?

Yes. The Asian economic powerhouse slowed down to 6.9% growth in 2015. While this figure still surpasses the tepid expansion in the West, which hardly breaks the 2% mark, it is a considerable slam compared to the country’s double-digit records of previous years. China’s luxury market also took a blow, shrinking by 2% to around RMB 113 billion (around $17.5 billion), according to a January 2016 report by global management consulting firm Bain & Company.

China Luxury Market

Chinese overseas luxury spending, however, ballooned by 10% last year, to RMB 116.8 billion as the Shanghai-based luxury research consultancy Fortune Character reported. Chinese shoppers – among them 120 million tourists – lodged half of the global luxury sales in 2015. 

Driving all those numbers are the shifting realities of China’s relationship to opulence, which reflects the peculiar makeup and evolving preferences of the world’s most populous nationality in a time when its government scrambles to rekindle the economy. 

Young and rich

It is also a populace that is fast acquiring riches. Although only 41,000 ultra-high net-worth individuals (those with $30 million or above in net assets) resided in China last year – less than a half of those in the US – residential and commercial property consultancy Knight Frank estimates their ranks have stretched by a staggering 134% in a decade. By 2025, they are to expand by further 66% – a growth rate beaten only by the affluent of Russia, who, nevertheless, totaled mere 6,000 in 2015. 

Mirroring the boom of the super wealthy, China’s upper-middle class is also advancing, binging on high-end soft leather accessories, cosmetics, watches, jewelry and garments, with Givenchy and Valentino being the most sought after labels last year, according to Bain.     

China's Luxury Consumption 2014 to 2015

What truly sets well-off Chinese consumers apart from the rest, however, is their youth. According to consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, more than 70% of them are under the age of 45, compared to just over a half in the US. The majority of China’s adults have never lived through an economic recession and bustle with optimism about the near future.

Who are they?

In its 2011 Understanding China’s Growing Love for Luxury report, McKinsey splits the Chinese rich into four categories:

“Core luxury buyers” account for half of China’s well-to-do consumers, who regularly spoil themselves, setting aside a total of RMB 20,000 – 60,000 for luxury a year.    

“Luxury role models” mostly live in Beijing or Shanghai, occupy high-level executive positions and dish out 10% or more than RMB 150, 000 of their annual income on luxury, often spontaneously.  

“Fashion fanatics” frequently spend more than they make, which is not much (RMB 100, 000 – 200,000 per year), purchase on credit and dedicate every spare moment on parsing the latest trends. Safe-styled mavens, fashion fanatics extensively engage on social media, banging out advice to others.

“Middle-class aspirants” hold mid-level office jobs and dwell in tier two and three cities, the lower living standards of which allow them the occasional lavish bash.  

Chen Kun in Giorgio Armani Made to Measure 2015 ad“Unlike any other luxury market, the Chinese luxury market, by the sheer size of its demographics across the country cannot be treated as a whole,” says Sudeep Chhabra, general manager at Armani Junior India, who also teaches luxury innovation and customer value management at Skema Business School in China. “So there will always be certain groups which are aspirational customers, followed by the new money and then of course the connoisseurs. Because of this there will always be a demand across the range of luxury goods and services.”

Neither of China’s well-heeled clusters functions in a void, of course. To grasp their behavior, one needs to be conscious of how leading brands as well as the country’s government are wrestling with the economic deceleration, impacting as much as responding to consumer demand. 

Mainland fret     

When the world grappled with the adverse economic consequences of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, China boomed. Buoyed by the country’s head-spinning performance, in 2010, McKinsey projected an annual increase of 18% in Chinese luxury consumption by 2015, when it would have savored 20% of the global high-end market. A slew of other watchers echoed the predictions. 

Nevertheless, the harsh currents of the beleaguered world economy caught up with the soaring dragon. 

"The pace of change in today's marketplace in China is taking retailers and brands by surprise," Egidio Zarrella, clients and innovation partner for China at global professional service KPMG, said for South China Morning Post late last year.

Shopping malls, the domiciles of high-end labels and the symbols of the country’s urbanity and prosperity, quieted down. Last August, Dalian Wanda, China’s leading mall developer, shut down 40 of its 600 venues. Almost simultaneously, British haute couture giant Burberry as well as French conglomerate LVMH, whose portfolio flaunts Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Bulgari and more, announced such slashes in their luxury sales in China that revenue from their boutiques in US and Europe would not be able to stitch. 

Gifting & prices to go down to fight the same malice 

A widely cited reason for the Chinese exodus from high-end stores is the government’s stringent anti-graft policy, which has greatly undermined the culture of gifting. According to Hurun Research Institute, the social custom, popular among China’s richest echelon and its political elite, slumped by 5% in 2014. And Swiss luxury timepieces, once deluxe tokens of largesse, suffered most severely. The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported a 3.1% downslide in total exports to the Asian country in 2014. 

More potent than the slap on gifting the exorbitant costs of luxury items in China are pushing shoppers out of foreign brands’ boutiques. Due to substantial import taxes, labels retail at prices that are around 50% higher than in Europe and North America. In 2015, unable to entice mainland customers and balance their books at the same time, fashion houses pulled back – Gucci closed five stores, Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna and Louis Vuitton sealed the doors of four stores, each.  

Others adjusted. In late spring last year, Chanel introduced a single, worldwide price tag for three of its signature purses, 2.55, 11.12 and the Boy bag. Cartier also announced price cuts in China in an attempt to attract patrons back. Burberry and Gucci, on the other hand, launched luxury outlets to cater to the increasingly discount oriented Chinese customers, compensating for their sluggish full-price record. Although the majority of high-end houses remain leery of such steps, Bain envisions more price adjustments in 2016. 

Online connection to remedy offline disconnection

Those, however, may hardly be enough. As Chinese millennials and urban middle class discover their purchasing power, the Internet becomes their prime guide. Even if cross-border e-commerce is still a speckle on the luxury market due to lofty international tariffs and a justified fear of counterfeits, online social platforms are blooming to fill a felt disconnect. 

Vacheron Constantin for Chinese New Year 2016 - Monkey watch

“The Chinese customer is increasingly aware and information hungry, however language is still an impediment,” says Mr Chhabra. “So digital is critical in increasing awareness especially in the aspirational customer base.”

In pursuit of luxury insight, 78% of the close to 1,500 Chinese shoppers Bain surveyed last year, turned to web sources. The majority flocks to labels’ official webpages as well as microblogging platform Weibo and chat app WeChat. 

However, “[d]igital is experimental for luxury brands,” Benoit Garbe, senior partner at Millward Brown Vermeer, said in an interview for China-focused leadership and business analysis portal, CKGSB Knowledge. “But the reality is you have to be where the consumers are, and the reality is Chinese consumers are online.”

And business-savvy brands follow suit. American luxury accessory label, Coach, for instance, lures more than 2.1 million followers on Weibo with interactive, hot-topic campaigns around its seasonal launches. While Burberry streams exclusive content on its official site and leverages WeChat to host virtual events for its shows, Chanel partners with acclaimed Chinese actress and singer Zhou Xun to share candid beauty counsel with its 1.6 million Weibo aficionados. 

Yunnan blossoms from China used in Bvlgari perfume

The pull of the Foreign  

Would all those strategies – from price reductions to social media engagement – encourage Chinese to shop at home? Maybe. But as an ever increasing segment of the populace acquires a taste for travel and foreign luxury spoils, including private charters and spa splashes, the mainland fret may spiral into a cul-de-sac.

“It’s not just about consumption but it’s about contextual consumption where they want to be part of the authentic experience by buying in Milano, Paris and London,” says Mr Chhabra.

Europe – mainly France, the UK, Germany and Spain – is pushing aside one-time preferred lavish hubs such as Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. It is Japan, however, that crowns Bain’s list of Chinese travelers’ top luxury destinations for 2015. The island country is close, has a relaxed visa policy and a stable currency, delicious cuisine and picturesque sceneries. More than that, it straddles the-West-meets-the-East junction – a true high-end haven for both China’s aspirant luxury consumers and its connoisseurs.

“The Chinese customer is becoming a lot more global,” said Andrew Keith, president of Lane Crawford, for the New York Times. “There’s a real thirst for newness.” 

And that lust for novelty smothers the old praxis of daigou, or personal shoppers who purchase overseas on behalf of their mainland clients, is frizzling out. Government efforts to regulate the rather gray custom and e-retail have also contributed to its downscale from around RMB 60-70 billion in 2014 to approximately RMB 40-50 billion in 2015, according to Bain. 

“The practice of Daigou is on the decrease because customers want trust and authenticity which is not easy to maintain, says Mr Chhabra. “I don’t think it will fade away but there is a clear shift in experiencing luxury as being a BIG part of buying luxury, rather than by getting it by Proxy. In many cases because of stringent new rules of customs tax, there is no option left for the real luxury customer to rely on Daigou.”    

With a shrinking domestic luxury market, Chinese wealthy customers turn the world into a store that best matches their fancy. For a second year in a row, an ever-surging number of them plans to travel and experience luxury in Japan, Europe and North America. It is sensible to say, overseas jaunts are shaping the latest craze in the Asian country. But if there is anything certain about China and its consumers that has stuck in the past two years, it is that what seems rational today may reverse tomorrow.

The Small Industry with Huge Potential - India's Luxury E-Commerce Market By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: March 14, 2016

The numbers: 402 million, 306 million and 50 million. 

The explanation: India – boasting the second largest population in the world of a little over 1 billion, is home to 402 million internet users. Additional 60 million – roughly matching the whole populace of the UK – are expected to join the web in less than a year. Some 306 million log on to the net on their mobile devices – a number, estimated to grow by a fourth by 2017. Last year, 50 million Indians shopped online. In a year’s time, more than 100 million of their compatriots will join them. 

The implication: The ever-swelling figures, coming from a recent report by A.T. Kearney, a leading global management consulting firm, cue to the tech-savviness and connectivity of the South Asian country. “E-commerce has offered a very convenient and attractively priced alternative to traditional trade and hence appeals to large part of the population,” says Neelesh Hundekari, with A.T. Kearney India. 

A tiny stream of that exhilarating growth trickles from luxury e-retail, which Euromonitor International currently places at a mere 1% of total sales in the country. It is still a sliver compared to the global high-end digital commerce, which topped $25 billion in 2015. 

Estimated to reach 2% by 2020, however, India’s luxury online shopping will spike at $80 million, according to the Euromonitor International Luxury Outlook for 2016 report. While the US still boasts, by far, the largest luxury market and China sustains its high-end sector despite an overall slowing economy, India, the report states, experiences the most rapid growth in percentage terms.   

Contributing to that rapid advance, the country’s luxury e-commerce holds a great potential for development and diversification. It invites innovative businesses to carve a niche for themselves. It presents a chance to quickly reach India’s sophisticated, loyal, middle-class Indian customers as well as its high net worth individuals.  

Benefitting from a broad variety of payment options – from credit cards to cash on delivery to equated monthly installments, online luxury retail constitutes a premium market, in which apparel and accessories – predominantly watches – lodge the most sales, according to Euromonitor International. It is an industry that a few forward-thinking, ingenious players are already charting, wrangling alongside the big labels, whose Indian website feature the miniscule cart button. 

Many of the non-designer-exclusive e-retailers face similar predicaments. Seeking to differentiate themselves, they all resort to disparate approaches to tackle the challenges inherent to luxury e-commerce. LuxuryFacts talked to three of them to find out how they navigate the alluring yet treacherous terrain of online high-end shopping.       

Is that Christian Dior purse authentic? 

A scroll through India’s luxury online stores giddies. The array of options – catering to a variety of tastes and preferences – covers anything from jewelry and apparel to automobiles and yachts to skin care and perfumes. Some of the brand names include Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Michael Kors, Dior, Maserati, Victoria Beckham, Saint Laurent, Diane Von Furstenberg and Dolce & Gabbana among regional giants such as Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, Shift by Nimish and Urvashi Joneja. 

All that diversity, suddenly, raises a single pressing question – is it all truly authentic? 

Counterfeits plague the global luxury online retail. India provides no reprieve – a fact that gnaws at customers’ trust and loyalty. Fake items lurking among otherwise genuine products might shrivel to a modest concern, compared to the myriad bogus websites – replete with faux luxury offerings and employing sophisticated digital marketing models. screenshot March 2016

Rigorous authentication techniques draw the line between reputable e-retailers and their cheating counterparts. Luxepolis, a website that offers both new and pre-loved luxury goods, often turns to the brands themselves to assist in weeding out the fakes. Still a fledgling in the industry, it also boasts a cohort of authenticators, including local gemologists and horologists. 

“Luxepolis’s global authentication team inspects all goods for appropriate product material, hardware, zipper quality and make, leather trimming, seam line stitch consistencies, brand markings and logo printing and embossing, date codes or serial tags and hologram stickers,” says Vijay KG, founder of the online retailer. 

To forgo authenticators but still uphold credibility may sound paradoxical. RockNShop, one of the pioneers in the luxury e-commerce segment, however, proves the opposite. Both a luxury e-zine and a digital shopping platform, it gathers an online community of fashion boutiques that collectively retail over 100 high-end labels to ensure the authenticity of its exclusive offerings. 

“When you order through RockNShop your order is delivered from the boutique, brand or designer straight to your door,” says Priya Sachdev, CEO of RockNShop and its physical archetype, the multi-brand concept store Kitsch. 

The most secure way to shun counterfeits, nevertheless, is to simply refrain from direct online luxury retail. Zokudo, an e-gifting platform, has found a way to do just that by proffering vouchers that cover a wide range of choices – from garments to experiences to charity donation to home décor. It’s a business model that also heeds India’s time-honored custom of comity.

“I want [Zokudo] to be synonymous with luxury gifting in India,” says founder and CEO, Yash Mehta. “I want people to come to my website and say, ‘OK, I can get almost anything here.’” And surely all the offers are fake-proof.   

If it is original, then, may I have it at half the price?   

Internet commerce thrives on discounts, lulling shoppers to seek lucrative sales while still demanding quality. Its luxury segment, however, approaches markdowns with caution. Although price slashes inherently cleave from haute couture, they might be hard to avoid in a market so accustomed to them, Mr Mehta says. Hence, luxury e-retailers seem to have settled on a middle ground between labels’ aversion to price-cuts and customer’s expectation of them.

It appears that pre-loved items best accommodate that peculiarity. Only recently, a jet black Christian Dior purse – whose condition indicated “gently used’ – basked among its high-end kin on Luxepolis, flaunting a tag of INR 170,000 ($2,524) – a cut of 38% from its regular INR 286,000. Envoged, another shopping portal specializing in pre-loved women couture, also offers most of its stock at whopping price reductions. 

E-retailers of new products, however, would rarely allow for sweeping sales that go beyond the occasional holiday and end-of-season promotions. “We are not a discount site and don't believe in large discounts or offers,” says Ms Sachdev, echoing the industry-wide sentiment. “We see many players offering large discounts - this is not luxury. In fact, this makes the customer weary of the authenticity of the merchandise.” 

While clients seek the best value for their money, high-end online retailers clamber to offset the dearth of price reductions. A potent consolation is the distinctiveness of online shopping, which even if not an exact match to the in-store indulgences, retains its own allure. screenshot March 2016

May I add some pampering to the order, please?

High-end boutiques coddle their customers the moment they stride over the doorstep. From the undivided attention of experienced sales associates to personalized fitting rooms to lavish lounges that rival chic cafes – shopping offline focuses on the ritual just as much as on the purchase. Luxury e-retailers could not possibly beat the exquisiteness of brick-and-mortar stores, but they have found ways to compensate – even supplement – it. 

Targeting about 100 million Indians whose monthly earning amount to INR 100,000, Luxepolis treats its clients to several pampering courtesies – from luxurious packaging to express delivery to home-shopping, where customers select items for private viewing. RockNShop also features an array of personalized options, including the exclusive white glove service, which sends a personal stylist directly to the homes of its loyal customers – the majority of whom regularly spend around INR 50,000 on the website.

While many digital luxury retailers solely emphasize the ease and exclusivity of online shopping, Zokudo couples the distinct traits of e-commerce with the opulence of sight and touch offline stores foster. Gift cards, Mr Mehta says, constitute “the best of both worlds.” Add the opportunity to swap vouchers to cover for the unfortunate instances when the presented purchase does not match the recipient’s preferences, and Zokudo thrives on an inventive business model that customers appear to embrace. 

So, what do e-retailers have over physical luxury stores? 

While e-commerce portals hustle to atone for what might be a half-hearted, on-the-click splurge on luxury, they do hold a number of unique advantages over physical stores. From affordability to outreach, digital commerce appears to be attuned to the demographic and technological changes of the 21st century.  

Luxury e-retailers bypass the exorbitant real estate expenses that characterize India’s major hubs like New Delhi and Mumbai. In those megalopolises, brick-and-mortar boutiques maintain venues that accrue lofty costs. True, India’s tier-one cities see the highest per capita income and are yet to reach wealth saturation, which still offsets luxury brands’ property expenditure, Mr Hundekeri of AT Kearney India observes.         

Nevertheless, those financial strains may impede labels’ expansion into tier two and three towns, where the country’s growing middle class of aspirational luxury shoppers clusters. Here enter digital retailers, scraping premise and infrastructure considerations to cater to the evolving tastes of those 50 million Indians. The middle class – projected by Ernst & Young, a professional service firm, to grow to 200 million in five years and to more than double that figure by 2030 – is just beginning to steer the high-end retail segment; and online shopping platforms are the first to tap into that emerging shift.    

To further that leverage, many e-commerce portals expediently seek to transform themselves into m-commerce applications. “M” denotes mobile, where both businesses and clients are rapidly flocking to. According to AT Kearney, Indians spend an average of 169 minutes – over three hours – on their smartphones a day, communicating, browsing and shopping. It is the next frontier couture e-retailers hasten to conquer alongside optimizing their online presence with more intuitive and interactive websites that load in a single blink across a slew of devices. screenshot March 2016

“People are surfing on their phones and tablets and less and less on their PCs through an established internet connection,” says Mr Mehta of Zokudo. “So, when you are using a mobile internet connection, your speed is lost. You need to make sure that your website still performs at its optimum even on a mobile connection.” 

In an age when technology shrinks the world, providing customers with fast, easy and comfortable access to global premium brands, digital seems bound to turn into the new norm. It is a prospect online luxury retailers – as well as a slew of global consultancies – bet on. The early champions of India’s burgeoning high-end e-commerce are already staking their leading positions, hastening to resolve the segment’s innate challenges and differentiate themselves through innovate business propositions. They are, indeed, redefining couture shopping in a country, where an ever-expanding portion of the population pursues opulence.  

Valentine's Day 2016 - Diamonds, Dining and Spas By: Laura Philhower

Posted on: February 8, 2016

That special little day is approaching – and quickly. Whether you’re spending this day full of love with someone who recently came into your life, or with your lifetime partner, it is essential to have that special touch of romance the holiday promises to deliver. With just a few days remaining, the pressure is on to find something that truly symbolizes the love you have for one another. 

Blow your significant other away with these five enchanting, yet unique, ways to celebrate this meaningful day.

III Forks Main dining room, Chicago

Filet Mignon at 3 Forks, Chicago, IL

A night of dining in Chicago

Because nothing quite says romance like a little bubbly and delicious cuisine with your Valentine. Ongoing until Valentine’s Day, Executive Chef Billy Caruso at III Forks Prime Steakhouse has specially handcrafted the ‘Sweetheart Menu,’ complete with a three-course menu and specially chosen champagne to celebrate the occasion. 

The menu, personally designed for two, includes a choice of a soup or salad, two six ounce Filets Mignon, two six ounce Cold Water Lobster Tails, and finally, the III Forks Chocolate Lover’s Dessert. In addition to the far-reaching wine list and cocktail menu, III Forks Prime Steakhouse is making three sparkling wine selections available for this limited time only.

Chef Caruso’s impressive a la carte menu is also available, adding dishes such as seared scallops, salads and soups, and roasted chicken to the list of delicious options for your special someone.

Priced at $170 per couple, call +1-312-938-4303 or visit for reservations.

LV Damier Karakoram collection for menLV&ME for VDay

Louis Vuitton has introduced Valentine’s Day gift options for both men and women with the LV&ME Collection. The collection features 26 letters of the alphabet, recreated and shaped into bracelets, necklaces, and single stud earrings. The LV&ME collection welcomes three new symbols; #, @ and &, designed to perfectly customize the gift for your Valentine.

Also available is the Louis Vuitton Damier Karakoram collection - one of the very first patterns created by Louis Vuitton in the 1920s. Artistic Director of Men’s collection resurfaced this established pattern for the 2012-2013 Fall Winter Men show, and it has been frequently reworked ever since. 

The Karakoram collection hosts an array of sleek yet masculine wallets and key chains in the classic Louis Vuitton Karakoram design. Add a personal touch with custom jewelry and avoid the gift-finding hassle with Louis Vuitton’s accessories for all. 

New York City traveling

Traveling with your significant other is a beautiful way to celebrate the day! New York City is welcoming visitors and locals to spend this magnificent holiday with the breath-taking skylines of New York City. Throughout the weekend the city will be offering an extensive list of one-of-a-kind activities invented to create special moments with your loved ones.

New York city romance

Get a chance to view the beautiful Heart of Hearts public art installation at the real “heart” of New York City - Times Square. With a combination of the installation’s 12 golden-mirrored hearts and the reflections of the high-paced atmosphere of Times Square, this brilliant presentation creates a luminous kaleidoscope effect. Experience a truly special moment together after the sun goes down with this shimmering exhibition. 

Forevermark Commitment collectionWhen Forevermark diamonds say it properly

Forevermark makes gift shopping (or engagement ring shopping!) easy this Valentine’s season with a brand new ring collection created to “embody the uniqueness of a woman.” 

This year give her a gift that symbolizes just how much you love her with the Forevermark Cornerstone Collection. Forevermark has designed four delicate corners surrounding the diamond to symbolize honesty, trust, respect and appreciation – the key to any relationship.

Also available is the everlasting Forevermark Commitment Collection. The design consists of three Forevermark diamonds in an imaginative design meant to represent a perfect unison of the heart, the mind and the soul. 

Forevermark Cornerstone collection

Spa-ing at St. Regis Mumbai 

What relaxes you both, while sharing a special, intimate time, better than spas? And Iridium Spa at St Regis Mumbai knows how to throw in some exotic ingredients in it. The spa is offering a ‘Day of Diamonds & Crystals Package’, which includes Diamond facials as well as a Rose-Quartz Crystal Massage using a blend of rose flower and healing flower immortelle. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – couples finish the treatment with an array of chocolate truffles paired with a glass of crisp sparkling wine. (INR 40,000 + taxes)

Also available is ‘An Aurous Odyssey package’ where you both unwind with a luxurious 180-minute Omorovicza’s Gold Facial and a Gold Body Exfoliating Massage! (INR 35,000 + taxes)

Iridium Spa, St Regis Mumbai

To make reservations, please call +91-22-6162 8299

Luxury brands like Hugo Boss shuffle partners in quest for best By: Rasul Bailay & Anumeha Chaturvedi 

Posted on: December 23, 2015

The musical chairs of global luxury brands in India continue as a host of international companies are switching partners in the country in a bid to find the elusive winning combination. Italian label Billionaire, which was expected to sign an agreement with Infinite Luxury Brands, has instead decided to partner Dubai-based BinHendi Enterprises while German brand Hugo Boss is ending a 29-year partnership with BinHendi to tie up with Genesis Luxury. Some others, like French brands ST Dupont and Brioni, are on the lookout for new partners, industry insiders said.

DLF Emporio, New Delhi, India, luxury mall

A person familiar with Billionaire said the Italian company's deal with Infinite Luxury did not get through due to some issues that he declined to elaborate on. Designer Manav Gangwani, cofounder of Infinite Luxury, said: "We were in talks with them one and a half years ago, and we did not sign any agreements with Billionaire."

Mohi-Din BinHendi, president of BinHendi Enterprises, told ET that another luxury brand is breaking away with its India partners and is moving to his firm. "It is in the process and legally I can't name them at the moment," he said. BinHendi is, however, losing Hugo Boss to Genesis Luxury with effect from January 31 next year. "They want to expand extensively and we are not prepared for that at the moment," BinHendi said.

Sanjay Kapoor, managing director at Genesis Luxury, said: "A few brands have moved to our group from their initial partners over the past few years. Some of these are via marketing and distribution arrangements with Genesis or as joint ventures."

Italian luxury house Versace, which partners Infinite in the country, however, is teaming up with OSL Luxury for Versace Collection, sources said.

Salesh Grover, business head of OSL Luxury that sells Italian chic label Corneliani in the country, declined to confirm partnership for Versace Collection. He said the firm is in talks with many global brands but has not finalised anything as yet.

Saloni Nangia, president at retail consultancy firm Technopak Advisors, said luxury brands usually sign contracts with Indian partners for 3-5 years and want to evaluate whether the Indian partner is able to grow and expand the brand as required during the period. "The Indian partner may want to opt out of the arrangement as well after the contract gets over as they may not see growth," she said.

The India partner of a global luxury brand echoed her sentiments. "When a brand chooses to enter India there are potential suitors, but overtime they realise that the arrangement is not as good as on paper and that may lead them to scale back expansion and close down stores," said the person.

ST Dupont is reportedly unhappy with its Indian partner Jot Impex and is in talks with another retailer. Sources said the French luxury brand has reportedly shut down its store in Delhi and another one in Palladium Mumbai. Brioni is looking for a new Indian partner, sources said. "They had opened their store about three months after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and business didn't really pick up," according to a source.

(Article originally appeared in ET Retail)

Kering to sell Italian shoe brand Sergio Rossi to private equity firm By: New York Times

Posted on: December 9, 2015

Sergio Rossi sold by Kering Group to private equity firmFrench luxury goods group Kering said on Wednesday that it had reached an agreement to sell the Italian shoemaker Sergio Rossi to the private equity firm Investindustrial, concluding months of negotiations.

The terms of the agreement were not announced.

The deal includes Sergio Rossi’s factories, the rights to the brand name, and the shoemaker’s distribution network, according to Kering, the group formerly known as PPR. The transaction was expected to close in the coming weeks, Kering said.

Andrea C. Bonomi, senior partner of Investindustrial, said, “Currently, we are partners of leading brands such as Aston Martin, Flos and B&B Italia that are growing internationally — the same growth path that we are looking to achieve for Sergio Rossi.”

Sergio Rossi, which is based in Milan and has grown to more than 80 directly operated or franchised stores worldwide since opening its first boutique in the 1980s, made a name for itself with its elegant stilettos, leather and metal work. The Gucci Group, now owned by Kering, bought the business in 1999.

Kering, which is in an acquisitions race with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton for smaller luxury brands, made it clear in February that it was looking for a buyer for Sergio Rossi, after continuing losses and the departure of Mr. Rossi, the founder, and of the chief executive, Christophe Mélard. Negotiations with Investindustrial began in July.

“The deal is good news,’’ Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, wrote in a note to clients. He said Sergio Rossi had been the exception to the rule in Kering’s mostly positive track record of adding value to small luxury goods acquisitions.

“Larger luxury groups increasingly need to produce more growth with smaller brands,” Mr. Solca added. “As their megabrands progressively shift from ‘stars’ into ‘cash cows,’ there need to be other success stories.”

The sale also points to a continuing resurgence of interest from private equity investors in takeovers of smaller Italian luxury groups that are taking stock of their long-term growth prospects. The past 18 months have seen a wave of high-profile deals, including the acquisition of a 90 percent stake in Roberto Cavalli by Clessidra for an estimated 390 million euros, or about $424 million, in April. That deal followed Blackstone’s taking a 20 percent stake in Versace last year, Carlyle’s investment in the ski jacket maker Moncler, and the Qatari fund Mayhoola for Investment’s buyout of Valentino.

Written by Elizabeth Paton, edited by LuxuryFacts

Truefitt & Hill - What Men Want By: Soumya Jain 

Posted on: October 22, 2015

If you ask my husband what is shaving, pat will come the reply, “You apply the shaving cream and shave it off with a razor after a while. Five minutes and done!”

You pose the same question to Joanna Broughton, and she says, “It is an art. The pores need to be opened first. The cream needs to get in into the pores. And the razor has to be at a certain angle to shave properly.”

And she is, ladies and gentlemen, the Managing Director of world’s oldest barbershop, Truefitt & Hill, as recognized by Guinness Book of World Records. Started in 1805 by William Francis Truefitt in the busy streets of London, this luxury men’s grooming brand recently celebrated 210 years of existence in October. 

Truefitt & Hill London store interior

As incredible as that is, their past client list is even more unbelievable. Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Alfred Hitchcock, Oscar Wilde, Frank Sinatra, have all walked across Truefitt’s corridors to have their grooming needs met. Mr Dickens has immortalized the brand by mentioning it in ‘The Uncommercial Traveller’. Truefitt & Hill products were found on the Titanic. It has held many Royal Warrants throughout its life. In fact, now as well, Truefitt’s barbers visit either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle to cater to H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, while other members of the Royal Family and the Royal Household visit Truefitt & Hill’s premises in St. James’s.

Truefitt & Hill London Store frontSitting down at Allium at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, I endeavored to dive into the two-century-old British brand as much as I could. The elegant Mrs Broughton, with her daughter Katie Broughton, patiently answered all my persistent queries, as we sipped some Moonlight Jasmine Blooming tea.

Over the years

Mrs Broughton has been at the helm of the brand for almost 20 years now. Whether 20 or 200 years, however, the brand has retained its quality service. “What has changed is fashion. The way men look have changed, and so what we offer has changed,” she says. From wigs to clean shaven look to long beards with creative moustaches, men also have to sustain fashion in their mien. But then, it’s a double-edged sword which Mrs Broughton has to be careful about. “It boils down to the fact that [when making decisions] we have to maintain traditions, remain true to our identity, and at the same time, make it relevant to the new modern man,” she said.

According to the Broughtons, men are increasingly becoming conscious about being well groomed. While till a few years back it was about being metrosexual, immaculately groomed, with well-manicured nails, now it’s about being ‘manly’ but well presentable at the same time. “Today men are also aware that even though they might not be ‘good looking’, they can be presentable by using good moisturisers and other specially formulated products that help their skin. He is very cognizant of the fact that he needs to look after his skin and himself, not use his girlfriend’s moisturizer but buy his own which is made for his kind of skin,” she explained. 

Truefitt & Hill Trafalgar line of products

And therefore, the brand now offer facials, various treatments, pedicures-manicures and a selection of more services that are needed to groom a man. The stores, or barbershops, are reminiscent of the aristocratic British décor with plush chairs, gold gilded mirrors and barbers standing in immaculate clothing. A minimalist wooden retail area exhibits their many shaving, hair care, skin care products and colognes. Their shaving accessories like the fine brushes and razors in the old style throw you back in time. But be aware, technologically, all these products and accessories are high-tech and contemporary.

Quality talks

Being a luxury brand, successful for the past so many years, Truefitt takes special note of its processes. The brand has, over the years, launched multiple lines of products, ranging from the 1805 line (with top notes of bergamot, mandarin and cardamon; heart of lavender, geranium and clary sage; and base of sandalwood, cedar wood and musk) to the most recent Sandalwood line (soft base notes of sandalwood, tonka and cedarwood; delicate middle accords of lavender, thyme and jasmine blend easily with fruity twists of pineapple and melon; and top notes of lemon and bergamot). The ingredients for these products, and the manufacturing, are all England based. 

Truefitt & Hill 1805 line of products

“We are very careful to ensure that our ingredients are sustainably sourced. We are in a long-term relationship with our suppliers. We are very loyal to them and they to us. All our products are completely made in England with local suppliers,” said Mrs Broughton.

Old time perfumes had a very distinct, warm and strong fragrance. A sign of freshness, there was a certain glamour when a woman, or a man, had a haunting fragrance wafting from them. Today’s perfumes, in contrast, are more delicate. Truefitt & Hill products conform to the former category still. It was a delight to whiff those powerful notes again, which reminded me of scents which my grandmother used to gift us from London in a bygone era.

And not just the products, the barbers at the shop are meticulously trained too. To be a Truefitt employee, they have to have many years of experience. And even after that, the brand’s master barbers train them. “Our history helps here because our master barbers have been with us for 50 years, and they train the next generation of master barbers. So it’s an organically developed skill. For example, we had a master barber, he started working at Truefitt as an apprentice at 14 years of age, and he retired when he was 94.” Mrs Broughton smiled as I gasped at the calculation. Eighty years of working in the same company means something. “He had a deep understanding of the grooming industry,” she continued, “and that’s why he was so important because he passed it on. Any new barber who joins is going to be very privileged to be able to benefit from his experience. So it’s a craft which is passed on from generation to generation.”

The barbers are also taught to listen to their clients – what they liked, what they didn’t, what lacked according to them. And this feedback is passed on to the head office. Mrs Broughton considers this also as their strength, because eventually, this leads them to do continuous R&D, thereby creating better products and services. 

Business wise

With such a wealth of knowledge, you would expect the brand to be dotting the world everywhere with its stores, much like Louis Vuitton or Bentley. But it does not. Mrs Broughton respects the classic definition of luxury, and likes to stick to it. “I think we must remember that we are a very exclusive brand. And we open in those markets and countries that are more suitable for the brand. Men’s grooming is an expanding market. I think it’s also about being at the right place at the right time,” she said.

Truefitt & Hill store in Canada

Linda Mountford (another unpretentious and intelligent woman I had the chance to interact with) and master barber Rick Ricci manage the brand in North America and Canada. With shops flourishing in Chicago and Toronto, Washington DC is in the pipeline. New York and San Francisco will follow. Lloyds Luxuries Ltd. holds the Master Franchise License for Truefitt for India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. In India, six stores have been opened in Mumbai, with two each coming up in Delhi and Bangalore, and one each in Hyderabad and Pune. According to Mrs Broughton, the brand plans to open 100 stores in 10 years in India. South Korea and Dubai are also in the works.

Truefitt & Hill, Palladium Mall, Mumbai

Considering the multiple markets they are in and catering to the several kind of consumers, Truefitt customizes its services and products for them all. “For example, in Malaysia, we do a lot of men’s waxing – ear waxing, nose waxing – which is very popular. While in London we don’t offer that service,” said Katie Broughton of Truefitt & Hill. In Dubai, the brand offers massages because men over there like being pampered. While a customer in London does not require that service since they are much more reserved. 

Even the barbers employed at the stores are a combination of locals and those from England. “The master barber will interview and check the skill level of the local barbers, and then they will be trained by the master barber. And he will stay at the location till he is satisfied with the work of the local barbers,” explained Mrs Broughton.

By the way, my husband was completely satisfied with his barber at their Chicago location. Barber Edwin Cruz used his deft hands and quick judgment to give a wonderful, hour-long hot towel shave. 

Truefitt & Hill’s history is intertwined with that of the world. From the day it opened first, when British forces fought and gained victory over Napoleon Bonaparte in the Battle of Trafalgar, to today when they service presidents and prime ministers of the world, Truefitt has gained reputation as more than just a luxury brand. It’s a lifestyle for the many important men of this world. 

Soumya Jain,, online luxury magazine editorSoumya Jain is the Chief Editor & CEO of LuxuryFacts. She is also the Co-Editor of ‘The Luxury Market in India: Maharajas to Masses’, along with Glyn Atwal, published by Palgrave Macmillan and launched in September 2012. The book is a window into the highly complex Indian luxury market. Soumya is also a visiting lecturer for luxury marketing and online journalism at leading educational institutes in India. She has been invited to speak at conferences and address industry colleagues about the Indian luxury market. Recognising her knowledge of the market, she has been quoted in the media several times, while also contributing articles on luxury in various publications.

Luxury Brands & Philanthropy: Knight in Shining Chanel Suit By: Salman Z. Bukhari, Co-Founder & Marketing Director, Shiseido India Pvt. Ltd

Posted on: October 15, 2015

Men and women of virtue are revered and even worshipped across cultures for their acts of selflessness - cases in point - Buddha, Jesus, Prophet Muhammad, Joan de Arc, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Dr. King. Each generation has its own crusaders who grab the attention of our human consciousness. Many more who do good deeds are never noticed and vanish into thin air. What was considered a personal or community’s responsibility of taking care of the less fortunate now had better coverage through the modern governing systems. Businesses, which were for long considered non- human entities, generating employment and profits, were added to the responsibility muster. Business houses had to be pressurized to get in line and be responsible for their actions, first by acknowledging employees, then being accountable for whatever it supplied to the consumers. With higher awareness of consumers and increased pressure, companies were compelled to give back to the very societies they benefit from, thus giving birth to Corporate Social Responsibility.

New Gucci Packaging

Fashion and luxury, for a very long time, functioned as a family owned, closely knit model with immense respect and support to employees. In ‘The Gucci Story’, a book chronicling the empire’s rise and fall and then rise again, employees testify on being treated like family by the legendary Guccio Gucci and his sons. Soon the big bad boys of investment bankers took shine to the profitability of these businesses and went on a shopping spree, buying out families and turning the slower, handmade art form into global businesses. Soon, the accountability seekers, started demanding more than just beautiful couture.

Attaching itself to causes relevant to the times, either through outright donations or by making changes to their current practices, and many a times developing special range of products, sales proceeds of which generate funds for the selected cause, luxury opened its heart. Quite recently, Gucci changed its beautiful glossy laminated packaging in deep brown-gold paper to partly recycled and deeper brown materials, thereby cutting down the pressure on the environment for paper.

Hermes & Sidaction 'Life in a Pocket'French institution Hermès had created a special edition tie in support of AIDS charity Sidaction called ‘Life in a pocket’, which sports a small concealed pocket to hold a condom. LVMH, on the other hand, has multiple energy conserving processes. Its buildings are created to use lesser energy, thus reducing the carbon footprint. Many luxury brands’ websites draw our attention towards their solidarity to arts, heritage, culture, medical research, child related programs and support of new talent.

The critically acclaimed movie, Blood Diamond, portrayed the ugly truth behind the clear, flawless and sparkling world of gems by certain luxury fine jewellery brands. The red carpet at the Oscars that year saw actresses leaving behind their sponsored baubles in protest. Since then (though it still goes on very much) brands using gems and metal list their ethical standards on their corporate sites. Tiffany & Co. recognizes protection of the environment as a moral and a business imperative assuring the gushing brides-to-be and their grooms that the gems are sourced in a socially and environmentally responsible fashion.

MAC Viva Glam has been at the forefront in fighting AIDS, while Estee Lauder is now known as much for its Pink ribbon raising awareness on Breast Cancer as their stunning cosmetics and fragrances. L’Oreal undertakes many socially responsible initiatives, supporting girl child education, promoting newer talents in the field of sciences for women and also runs a fully-fledged academy.

Mumbai Sea Link lit up in pink lights for breast cancer awareness

“Its yellow, its ugly, it doesn’t go with anything, but it could save your life” - Karl Lagerfeld, the iconic designer of Chanel and his own namesake label generously offered his name to promote a road safety campaign in France which made it mandatory for drivers to sport a reflective, yellow vest. The world applauded the self-depreciating Lagerfeld for his important message. 

Karl Lagerfeld Yellow Safety Vest

When America experienced the biggest attack on her soil and New York City lost its greatest landmark and many innocent lives in the twin tower tragedy, luxury came together under the banner ‘Fashion for America’, an initiative by Council of Fashion Designers of America Inc. (CFDA) and Vogue. The sale of the mended heart t-shirt generated $2 million to help the victims and the bruised city get back on its feet. CFDA’s president, Diane von Furstenberg, a staunch supporter of social causes, believes fashion has a responsibility to come together and make a difference whenever the world is in need.

In a study by an Asian market research company, Albatross Global Solutions & Ruder Finn Asia, which surveyed 1,100 luxury consumers in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to produce their China Luxury Forecast 2010, found that CSR was found to be particularly important among the more educated shoppers with higher incomes. More than two-thirds of Chinese consumers said a luxury brand’s CSR would affect their decision to purchase. Jean-Michel Dumont, chairman of Ruder Finn Asia, says the earthquake in Sichuan “was a turning point for CSR in China, whichever sector you are in.” The newly rich, luxury loving Chinese realized the importance of humanitarian acts when faced with devastation.

It can be argued that brands use CSR as a marketing tool leveraged to capitalize on some new fashionable cause as long as it makes business sense, but one cannot deny the fact that no other industry is as proactive or generous about social and environmental issues which face the planet. As we inch closer towards more difficult times, consumers and societies are becoming more and more aware of genuine ‘intent’ and ‘efforts’. Be it restoration of heritage sites or iconic movies which would otherwise be lost to time or even education for children – luxury brands are swiftly moving to more pressing matters which will make an impactful difference to the quality of human life… after all people who make such beautiful things would like their planet to be as beautiful!

Salman Z. Bukhari, Shiseido India Pvt LtdAn intelligent, hands-on marketer and brand manager, Mr Salman Bukhari joined luxury beauty brand Shiseido in 2010 to develop the entry plans for the Japanese company in the Indian market. The following year, Shiseido’s Liaison office was established where he assumed the role of Sr Representative Marketing Strategy & Brand Development. In 2013 he co-founded Shiseido India Pvt. Ltd. and was appointed the Marketing Director for Brand Development & Brand Building initiatives in the country in addition to operational tasks to get the company off ground zero. He was instrumental in launching Shiseido’s flagship premium skincare brand Za in 2014. In the past, Mr Bukhari has worked for and revived mass brands such as Lifebuoy and Fair & Lovely. He has been a lecturer for over 8 years on marketing at Mumbai’s H.R. College of Commerce & Economics. He has been a features contributor in, a leading luxury e-mag. Salman is an MBA Graduate from ESSEC Business School in Paris, France where he majored in Luxury Brand Management. He was the first Valedictorian (Major de Promotion) from Asia in the MBA program’s history. In his free time Salman tries to master Japanese cooking skills.

Belmond: Celebrity Weddings & Luxe Experiences By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: September 30, 2015

For those whose life consists of flitting from one luxury to another in the most singular destinations across the globe, the name Belmond is no stranger. Just in case you missed, here is a crucial recent global event to connect the dots. Belmond Hotel Cipriani, incidentally the first hotel of the group, was hired by George Clooney for his marriage to Amal Alamuddin.


Belmond, which is a global collection of hotels, resorts, trains and river cruises, about 46 in total spread over 23 countries, is hoping to entice the well heeled Indian traveller as well.


In the world of luxury hospitality, Belmond – literally ‘beautiful world’ – albeit a made up word, is a fairly new name. Especially as the company was earlier known as Orient-Express Hotels Ltd and only changed its name to Belmond in 2014. Yes, the legendary Orient Express is part of the portfolio, but most people did not understand that there was lot more on offer, stressed Andrea Filippi - Executive Director - Worldwide Sales, Belmond during a recent visit to India.


Mr Filippi led a six member global Belmond team on its first India road show in Mumbai and Delhi. Belmond is hopeful of trebling Indian revenue share to their properties over the next three years. It currently gets about two per cent revenue share from India, and is aiming to triple it by 2018. 

Jimbaran Puri hotel, Bali

Belmond is a byword for luxury hospitality, stressed Mr Filippi. The experiences are tailor made and customised for individuals, or couples or families. However, given the fast spreading reputation of BFIW – big fat Indian weddings, that’s also a market he wants to cater to. Though he is quick to point out that most of the Belmond hotels are not equipped to handle a thousand guests! Instead he wants to look at more selective, high-end weddings. Asni Muharam, representing Belmond Asia-Pacific Hotels, says the Belmond Jimbaran Puri in Bali is already popular with Indians coming for honeymoon or even weddings.

Belmond is present in the vicinity – it has six hotels in Asia, besides the Eastern & Oriental Express that runs through Southeast Asia, and in what may come as a surprise, two luxury riverboats in Myanmar, a market they entered almost two decades ago! However, there are no plans to come to India yet, though Mr Filippi admits Mumbai and Delhi would be good locations for Belmond addresses.


In what is also a fairly unusual model, Belmond owns and operates most of its properties. However, as part of a new strategy, Belmond recently has started getting into the managed hotel space. Belmond Cadogan Hotel in London’s tony Knightsbridge will be the first managed hotel for the group.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express


Mr Filippi said the name change had helped and guests are better able to connect with the brand now. A lot of Belmond’s offerings are in Italy. This includes hotels such as the Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Belmond Villa San Michele in Florence, Belmond Hotel Caruso in Amalfi Coast and Belmond Splendido Mare in Portofino, besides the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. “We have been trendsetters in bringing luxury to new countries,” says Mr Filippi, pointing to long-standing presence in countries such as Peru, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Botswana, St Martin and others.


Its other famous European outposts include Belmond La Residencia, Mallorca, Spain; Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg, Russia; and Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Oxfordshire, England. The group has many famous hotels, such as the Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa; and Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa, Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Hotel Monasterio, Cusco, Peru


In Peru, its enviable collection includes the Belmond Hotel Monasterio in Cusco, a former Inca era monastery, and Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel within the Machu Picchu, points out Maritza Montero from Belmond hotels in Peru. “More and more Indians are coming to our hotels in Peru,” she says.

Sjefke Jansen, General Manager, Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, agrees, saying his St Petersburg hotel welcomes a few Indian groups annually. With a view to get more Indians, the hotel has just opened Azia, a pan Asian restaurant, which serves Indian food, and has an Indian chef on hand.

Azia restaurant, Belmond Grand Hotel Europe


Elena Lamanna, representing Belmond hotels in Italy & Mallorca, admits the company is exploring the Indian market. “We are seeing individual bookings and are getting wedding queries,” she says.


Belmond is known for creating bespoke, authentic experiences, says Mr Filippi. Belmond’s bespoke experiences include floating diving platform 300 metres above sea level in Amalfi, or water lagoons in Venice. Its forthcoming highlight - Cape Town’s Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel has teamed up with Alexander McCall Smith to stage No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, The Musical, premiering on October 6, 2015 in the landmark hotel. McCall Smith fans, the Belmond experience could well increase your appreciation of Precious Ramotswe.

Suman Tarafdar, Luxury lifestyle and triver writerSuman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on TV. Yes, current politics bothers him.

The Democratization of Luxury By: Roasie Virq Ahluwalia

Posted on: September 11, 2015

India is a unique market for brands in more ways than the obvious. Heritage, quality and cultural consciousness is something all international brands, especially in the premium and luxury segments, have had to imbibe. Though one country geographically, cultures and mindsets are vastly different from North to South and East to West. Some brands came in with the right partners and learnt these crucial lessons early while others are now re-strategizing their second, or at times even third, India entry plans. One way or the other, no one can take away the potential of this largest consuming population after China.


However, this piece is not about the obvious market understanding and differentiation. I’m amused about another phenomenon that has been bubbling under while India makes its mark as the next big global luxury brand destination.

DLF Emporio, New Delhi, India luxury mall


Intrinsically, all of us luxury professionals know that when marketing luxury, the key philosophy is ‘Less is More’. By its very definition, luxury has to be slightly unattainable, discreet and elusive. Agree? If everyone has access to it, how, pray, is it a luxury good or experience!


Now see how brands market luxury in India. It is totally and diametrically opposite to the traditional, time-tested concept of ‘less is more’.  We’ve seen luxury brands splashed across hoardings at busy intersections, city supplements of dailies and large events; pinged into our phones via SMSes; and God! The many e-mails on a daily basis! 

It is pretty much the same channels of communication as any other brand in the mass consumption category. So what makes luxury brands in India more valuable? I keep thinking about this every so often. But then this is also how we need to educate and inform the rich who are yet unexposed in many regions of the vast land, that these objects of desire are available at a store or city near them. The numbers will come from there. Brands are hence eyeing markets such as India to tap into the vast multitudes of the rich. How to get to this consuming population is the challenge.


Now lets see how some successful luxury brands market themselves globally. Hermes’ believes in a waiting-line approach to its iconic Birkin bags. You could have the money but that does not mean you can walk into a Hermes boutique and get a Birkin. You have to place your intent to buy and wait your turn, which could take months. That, in my mind, is exclusive. Or take the example of a Canali Made to Measure suit. The master tailor visits boutiques across the globe on appointment with key clients of the brand. Eight weeks post this personal appointment the Made to Measure suit arrives, 100% made in Canali’s exclusive factories in Italy. That is another form of waiting list to me and hence a slightly exclusive experience. 

Hermes Ostrich Birkin Bag


Also trends have happened in the annals of history when higher classes started them and later they trickled down to the masses. Once the masses embraced that ‘trend’, the classes stopped. Higher-status people abandon the trend because it has become popular among the lower status, and the next cycle of imitation and abandonment begins.

So on one hand, we are the land of the Maharajas where every thing was custom made for the classes, on the other, the so called new-Maharajas are standing in line with every Tom and Harry inside a mixed mall buying luxury! With the exception of DLF Emporio in New Delhi every other mall housing luxury brands is mixed use, where you’ll have a Zara store close to Burberry. Odd as it may sound, but this is the great Indian luxury paradox.  


While there is no conclusion to this argument, each brand has to tailor make their own strategy for this diverse nation. I think we present to the world a most interesting case study on the massization, nay, should I say, the democratization of luxury?

They Are Not All Same: How Asian Luxury Consumers Engage with Luxury Brands By: Madhumita Banerjee, Jaywant Singh and Paurav Shukla 

Posted on: August 28, 2015

While luxury in Asia is booming with the rise of new money and an affluent consumption class, the picture is not all rosy for luxury brands within or outside of Asia. Some remarkable examples of this struggle involve Prada and Mulberry in China, Aigner and de Grisogono in India and Ermenegildo Zegna entering, leaving, and re-entering the markets. Moreover, with Chinese gift-giving on sudden decline due to subtle messages from its political leadership, many luxury brands have their work cut out for present and future regarding how to succeed in these rapidly growing, but ever so competitive and fickle markets. 

Chinese luxury shoppers outside Gucci

Therefore, we attempt to decipher the underlying value perceptions driving luxury consumption in three of the largest emerging Asian economies, namely China, India and Indonesia. We also discuss the underlying problems and possible ways of engaging luxury customers in each of these markets and show how these consumers differ significantly from each other. 

So, why are luxury brand firms struggling in Asia?

Analysts ascribe the underperformance of some luxury brands in Asia to over-expectations from the market and, crucially, to treating many Asian markets as homogenous. Asia cannot be approached as a laggard market anymore, wherein, consumers will buy anything foreign and especially with European heritage. While business analysts and research scholars emphasize the diversity and uniqueness of individual country markets in terms of geography, demography, culture and consumption patterns, market realities suggest that many Western luxury businesses might have erred in considering Asia as a homogenous market. Many a times, in our own travels across Asia, we have seen the same advertisements, the same messages and the same communication means employed by luxury brands across Asia to serve these vastly different markets. 

We wondered why top luxury brands did not see the significant differences within these markets? Or were they blinded by their own grand self-impressions, which did not resonate with the Asian consumers? This homogenous treatment of Asian consumers baffled us, and hence we asked the questions: 

•    What are the underlying values that consumers in Asia associate with luxury brands?

•    How can a luxury brand profit from these rapidly growing, competitive and diverse markets?

The framework 

We all buy and consume what we believe offers value. Hence, value is one of the fundamental drivers of consumption. For regularly consumed products, value can be largely derived as a trade-off between costs (mostly price) and benefits (utility). However, in the case of luxury goods, this equation becomes significantly more complex as costs are considerably high and at the same time the benefits are not just utility oriented, but significantly more hedonic at personal, as well as social level. 

Using the philosophical framework developed by Berthon et al. (2009) who employed Karl Popper’s  “three worlds” hypothesis – we examined the constituent value perceptions among Chinese, Indian and Indonesian consumers. Extending earlier debate, we conceptualised luxury brands with three distinct value-based dimensions: 

•    Symbolic

•    Experiential, and 

•    Functional 

The symbolic dimension gets reflected in social signals, which are constructed through the narrative associated with the brand’s meaning, myth, stories, and consumer’s own wealth, prestige, and social status. The functional dimension relates to the material embodiment, which reflects in physical manifestations, such as quality of material and craftsmanship. The experiential dimension is associated with subjectivity and is idiosyncratic, as it differs from person to person. It gets reflected through sensations, feelings, thoughts, and behavioural intentions aroused by brand-related stimuli such as logo, packaging, advertisements and in-store environment.

Incorporating the instrumental and expressive aspects of the well-known theory of impression management, we extended Berthon et al.’s (2009) three-component model by including two specific sub-dimensions for symbolic value: other-directed symbolism and self-directed symbolism. We argue that symbolic value is reflected not only through social signals (i.e., instrumental aspect—other-directed symbolism) but also through possessions that help build a unique image for the desired personality (i.e., expressive aspect—self-directed symbolism). Our model is presented below.

Symbolism and gratification chart

We asked more than 600 luxury consumers in India, China and Indonesia about their luxury value perceptions and employed structural equation modelling to analyse the results. 

So, what Asian consumers value the most?

Indian consumers 

In India, we found the construct of other-directed symbolism to be significantly related to luxury value perceptions, conforming to the crucial role of the instrumental aspect of impression management. Thus, Indian luxury brand consumers seem to be influenced by what others think of them and therefore consume in a way to influence others, in order to achieve societal acceptance, reflecting the hierarchical nature of the society (vertical collectivist). They use luxury brands to indicate social status. More importantly, luxury brands are used in India as a means to symbolise achievement, wealth and prestige. 

Luxury shopping india

Indonesian consumers 

While Indian consumers are predominantly influenced by other-directed symbolic value, in contrast, the luxury value perception of Indonesian consumers is influenced by self-directed symbolism of luxury brands. Self-directed symbolism resonates with expressive self-presentation, wherein the individual seeks to enhance the self through consumption. This result, while counterintuitive to the general perception of Indonesia as a collectivistic society, can be explained through the lens of equality perspective (horizontal collectivist). Indonesian consumers in general would see themselves as similar to others, however, they will not submit to in-group authority if the consumption choice is distasteful to them. This behaviour is dissimilar to the Indian consumer for whom luxury goods shopping is not an individual experience, rather it seems rooted in the societal process and the decision is as a group as against individual and hence, stronger other-directed rather than self-directed symbolism is observed. 

Indonesian consumers also show significant impact of experiential value on their luxury value perceptions, which is consistent with the result relating to self-directed symbolism. Experiential value perceptions represent store-level and personal pleasure derived from consumption of luxury brands. In this regard, Indonesian consumers may use luxury shopping as a way to overlook their problems. The differences in the symbolic value perceptions of Indian and Indonesian customers are also consistent with what is observed in prior research, which shows that social and self-directed behaviour vary as per cultural differences.

Chinese consumers

Functional value perception has a significant impact on luxury value perceptions amongst Chinese consumers. However, as a value perception this was significant across all three countries in the study. This result shows that consumers evaluate the functional value of a luxury brand in terms of the status it brings and therefore, are willing to pay a premium price. The three countries have witnessed rapid economic growth over the last two decades and a consequential increase in aspirational consumers. These consumers associate prestige with the price and product quality perceptions and therefore buy luxury brands, which are perceived to accord higher status in the eyes of the society. 

How to customise your luxury strategy in Asia?

Marketers can benefit from knowledge about the differences (and similarities) in constituent luxury value perceptions and customise or standardise their marketing strategy accordingly. For instance, a luxury brand positioning strategy in Indonesia should emphasise how the brand could enhance a consumer’s self-image and could make them feel good about themselves, as well as focus on the experiential aspects of buying and using the brand. Moreover, a brand should offer a unique store-level experience to the Indonesians. 

On the other hand, a luxury brand in India should focus more on how the brand could add to the buyers’ social status. Marketing a luxury brand to Indian consumers by stating the European heritage and highlighting foreign origins may not work, as these consumers are well-travelled and are aware of global trends. Moreover, they have a strong Indian luxury heritage connection. So, a luxury brand planning to establish itself in the Indian market should work on social acceptability and symbolism of achievement, prestige and wealth. This wealth connection will also get integrated with the functional value, wherein, Indian consumers associate higher price with high quality and desire that which is hard to get. 

Asian consumer shopping luxury

The higher price and social symbolism offers a significant meaning to a luxury brand for Chinese consumers as well. Thus, the luxury brand marketer should customise their positioning and communication strategies for symbolic and experiential value perceptions across the three countries. Given that functional value has a significant impact on luxury value perceptions in all three countries, marketers could achieve scale economies by standardising their strategy for this dimension of luxury value perception.

Overall, the key implication of our study indicates that the luxury brands in Asia should adopt a flexible strategy consistent with characteristics of the consumers in each market, and be ready to adapt, or customize, where necessary.  Developing insights from country-level research and responding accordingly will be crucial for their success.


Shukla, Paurav, Jaywant Singh, Madhumita Banerjee (2015), “They are Not All Same: Variations in Asian Consumers’ Value Perceptions of Luxury Brands,” Marketing Letters, 26 (3), 265-278. 

Madhumita Banerjee, American University of SharjahMadhumita Banerjee is Assistant Professor of Marketing at the American University of Sharjah, UAE and Fellow of Institute on Asian Consumer Insight, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Prior to the academic career, Madhumita had a corporate career in professional services including design, international business and strategic marketing research. She has worked across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Her research is about understanding consumption experiences. Her work has been published in top-tier international journals such as Journal of Service Research, Marketing Letters, Journal of Business Research, Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing and other scholarly publications.

Jaywant Singh, Kingston UniversityJaywant Singh is Associate Professor of Marketing in the Department of Strategy, Marketing and Innovation at Kingston University, UK. Jaywant studied and worked in India, Australia (MBA), Denmark, Singapore and UK (PhD) for several years. His research is focused on consumer behaviour and branding. His research has been published in several top-tier international journals such as the Marketing Letters, European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Business Research, International Journal of Market Research, Industrial Marketing Management, and Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, amongst others. Jaywant regularly delivers corporate training and consulting to organizations on issues of branding and consumer behaviour. 

Paurav Shukla, Glasgow Caledonian UniversityPaurav Shukla is Professor of Luxury Brand Marketing at the Glasgow Caledonian University, UK. Paurav's career began in the industry, and he continues to work hand-in-hand with industry as a researcher, practitioner and advisor. He has published many articles in top-tier academic journals, chapters to edited books, and popular accounts of his work have appeared in the Sunday Times, Woman's Wear Daily, Inc., LuxuryFacts, Luxury Society, Retail Wire, Business Week, National Post of Canada and LiveMint Wall Street Journal, among others. He has also delivered corporate training, teaching and consulting assignments for organisations in Europe, Asia and North Africa, and has been actively involved in funded research projects.

The Marriage of Technology and Luxury By: Sukriti Singh Rao, PR Head, Luxury Quotient

Posted on: July 1, 2015

With the advent of m-commerce (mobile commerce), it’s shopping with an ease of your fingertips, literally. Kevin Duffey, a technology guru, originally coined the phrase mobile commerce in 1997 at the launch of the Global Mobile Commerce Forum. To give a simplified definition, Mobile Commerce means "a retail outlet in your customer’s pocket."

Luxury M-Commerce photo examples

Luxury in its very definition is, to be able to do things at your own pace, and with the advancement in technology, it is now easier for a luxury consumer to weigh all his or her options and make an informed decision on the move.

In 2013, mobile applications were used by luxury brands as learning tools with elements of entertainment that both increased consumer knowledge and awareness of products and services. As consumer trends shift towards mobile shopping, it gets more competitive and lucrative for luxury brands to vie for the shopping pie.

Hard facts

If you need evidence for the trend, here it goes. Startups across India's $15 billion ecommerce sector, in a desperate battle for customers, have decisively turned their attention to people who have long commuting hours from office to home and vice versa, and have ditched their laptops and desktops to use their smartphones to go deal-hunting. 

E-commerce brands like Flipkart owned Myntra have closed their website and are focused on accumulating sales via their mobile app since May 2015. According to a recently released report by Goldman Sachs, the e-commerce market will account for 2.5% of India's GDP by 2030, growing 15 times and reaching $300 billion (about INR 19,200 crore) from $20 billion (about INR 1,280 crore) at present. The report also stated that India would have the second-largest digital population in the world with one billion users by 2030, powered by online mobile penetration.

Jabong's transactions through smartphones have increased to up to 50 per cent from 5 per cent about two years ago. As smartphone sales grow about 51 per cent every three months, the m-commerce market is likely to grow 55 per cent to $19 billion by 2019, from $2 billion now, according to a study by Zinnov.

Mobile commerce is worth US$230 billion, with Asia representing almost half of the market, and has been forecasted to reach US$700 billion in 2017.

Chopard My Happy Sport Watch app for customisation

Luxury Angle

Four Seasons AppAlthough there are not many to count, few big names in luxury have launched their m-commerce platform. In 2013, Swiss jeweler Chopard celebrated the anniversary of its Happy Sport watch through a mobile app that let consumers personalize their timepiece and explore other custom creations. The “My Happy Sport” app gives users complete control of every piece of their watch. By providing the personalization technology, the app aims to inspire consumers to purchase their own custom watch from the watchmaker, but does not include commerce.

Resembling a diary, The Netbook is free for download from the iTunes store and Google Play, allowing users to follow friends and fashion trendsetters, and share their favorite looks and pieces curated by Net-A-Porter. Creating a sense of community among brand enthusiasts will likely benefit the retailer as it continues to grow. The app has a ‘What’s New’ and Designers search from a-z and contains all the various segments that one would find on their website: Clothing, Bags, Shoes, Lingerie, accessories, dresses, tops, knitwear and Beauty. It also has the option to ship to various countries via its app.

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts has also recently launched a new, multi-functional, content-rich global app. The main m-commerce function that this app allows is the ability to make and manage reservations in multiple locations at once. Apart from that, the app helps in wait-free check-in and check-out, including the opportunity to book luggage pickup and airport transfers. Guests can customise their stay with special requests such as extra pillows, forgot-to-pack toiletries or baby gear. Room service orders, restaurant and spa reservations can be done through the app. Concierge help is available with just a tap.

Louis Vuitton Pass App

The Louis Vuitton Pass app makes it easy to do mobile shopping in America. By scanning any of Louis Vuitton’s advertisement images, you can enter the world of the campaign, be able to discover and easily purchase the featured products.

Not just existing brands, many new, unique apps are making an entry into the luxury world, to cater to luxury consumers, collectors and foodies across the world. They may or may not directly involve commerce, but are certainly paving the way for mobile involvement for luxury brands and services. 

Take the example of Chicago-based Parche, that provides a cashless, on-demand valet parking experience on mobile devices. Parche’s mobile app allows consumers to pay and tip for valet parking, and request their cars when they are ready to leave, without leaving the comfort of the restaurant or office, from any smartphone. This app is quite significant (and welcomed) in Chicago, specifically because of its harsh snow season, when many are seen waiting in long lines for their cars in the extreme cold!

Opulent Jewelers App SnapOpulent Jewelers, based in America and selling watches and jewelry from brands such as Bvlgari, Cartier, Chanel, de Grisogono, Hermes, Hublot, Louis Vuitton, Piaget, Pomellato, Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels and Versace, has launched AppSnap which can help you sell your authentic luxury jewelry pieces directly to them. Just upload the photo of your jewelry on their app, they’ll provide you with a quote, and if you like the price, you can mail the piece to them to sell online. 

Prime Art Capital, a Singapore based art advisory and investment management firm, has launched Prime Collector, an iOS compatible app, that enables art, jewelry, wine and sports memorabilia collectors, to manage their treasure trove. It encourages the collectors to organize their precious compendium. Users, through this app, can track and manage their collectibles by taking photographs and uploading these images along with details such as the value, provenance of the object, its location, restoration history, etc. There are customized database fields that are unique for each collection category. Apart from cataloguing, collectors, via the app’s estate planning feature, can also nominate a trust or a beneficiary for each item in their collection. The application also tracks insurance deadlines, valuation and taxation schedules on an easy to use grid calendar, thus making the life of a collector easier and manageable. After five collectibles, the app starts charging for new entries.

Though not purely conventional m-commerce, these apps are redefining the way consumers function and plan their lives. Shopping is an integral part of lifestyle, and retail brands, therefore, need to shift gears.

Media consumption pattern of consumers have changed completely and will continue to change rapidly in the coming future. We are moving towards the era of wireless communications. 

Sukriti Singh Rao is a PR Professional with eight years of experience. From having done PR for mass brands like Red Tape and Saregama to luxury brands like Chopard, Piaget and Moet Hennessy, she has been there, done that and had a blast doing it. Talking and making friends come naturally to her, so the decision to get into PR was a no-brainer. She is currently heading PR for two start ups – Luxury Quotient and NYC.PIE (her own brand).

Gucci and UNICEF - The Luxury of Education By: LF Correspondent

Posted on: June 29, 2015

Why is it that videos of runway shows and ad campaigns get millions of views, and films on actual improvement and CSR done by brands go wasted?

We found one short film, Growing Tall, made in celebration of Gucci and UNICEF’s 10 year partnership, which touched our heart. 

More than 7.5 million children in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia have gained improved access to quality education through this partnership. To mark this milestone, Gucci released Growing Tall, directed by Brooklyn-based filmmaker and cinematographer Christina Voros that highlights the power of education to transform lives, especially for girls and women.


The movie interviews and reiterates the experiences of children, teachers and parents in a rural community in Mozambique as they reflect on the progress made in education over the past decade. Gucci has donated more than US$20 million over the past 10 years, benefiting more than 7.5 million children to date. 


During the past decade Gucci’s contribution to UNICEF’s work has focused on Schools for Africa, an initiative that expands access to quality education to girls, orphaned children and those living in extreme poverty. Through the partnership, Gucci has supported UNICEF’s efforts to increase primary school enrolment and influence national education policy by working with governments and partners in several countries including in Mozambique and Malawi.


Incredibly, this partnership has led to training of more than 8,700 teachers and educators, construction of nearly 300 school classrooms, supply of 14,600 school desks, and more such milestones have been reached.


Watch this beautiful movie on how, contribution, of any kind, can lead to a better future of a city, of a country.

India's Luxury E-commerce Space Expands By: Sukriti Singh Rao, PR Head, Luxury Quotient

Posted on: June 3, 2015

Online luxury shopping

Luxury e-commerce space in India is at a nascant stage with a lot of potential. But not many new players are entering the field. E-commerce space in India is disorganized, to say the least, with many existing online players taking full advantage of non-existent structured cyber laws, and selling international brands at an exhorbitantly discounted rate, without the brands’ permission, thus diluting their image. 

Then there’s the question of counterfeit products, which is considered an implied risk with online purchases, with the consumer bearing the cost. 

To circumvent the problem, and still capture the market, many luxury brands and international retailers are now shipping directly to Indian consumers through their own websites, but that approach is often termed illegal by legal experts due to India's unique company law, foreign exchange laws, consumer protection laws and related tax regimes. These key compliances envisaged under Indian laws make it very difficult for brands to do business legally in India, unless they are really shipping big numbers to justify incorporating a local entity in the country.

Luxury products and services is a $14 billion market in India and is growing 30 per cent annually, according to a recent report from consultancy KPMG and India's Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry. More than 70 per cent of Indian consumers want to shop for luxury products in India rather than abroad, according to the report. This leads to another question: why can’t India open a Macy’s or a Neiman Marcus or something in between? Why is the concept of a multi brand department store not a success in India? Why did Debenhams fail to succeed?

Existing multi-brand stores such as The Collective and Kitsch are defining the Indian luxury industry in their own way. But adding to the repertoire is Luxury Quotient, a new player in the Indian e-commerce space, representing close to 30 international luxury brands catering to discerning Indians consumers in all possible segments.

Many online portals started with the promise of selling luxury in a way which highlights their heritage and exclusivity, but they all failed  Considering the fact that the Indian local market lacks direct access to most global luxury brands and their latest collections. Luxury Quotient seems to be a welcome addition to the Indian luxury scene with its only full price online portal offering no discounts, and pure, unadulterated luxury. Luxury Quotient also has multi-brand brick and mortar boutiques.

It remains to be seen how Luxury Quotient will play out its cards, and make an impact in the lives of luxury consumers. At the moment, however, let’s celebrate the silver lining in an otherwise obstacle-ridden Indian luxury industry.

Sukriti Singh Rao is a PR Professional with eight years of experience. From having done PR for mass brands like Red Tape and Saregama to luxury brands like Chopard, Piaget and Moet Hennessy, she has been there, done that and had a blast doing it. Talking and making friends come naturally to her, so the decision to get into PR was a no-brainer. She is currently heading PR for two start ups – Luxury Quotient and NYC.PIE (her own brand).

5 Growth Strategies used by Luxury Brands to Survive the Crisis By: Ashok Som, Professor of Global Strategy, Management Department, ESSEC Business School

Posted on: May 13, 2015

Although many believed the luxury industry would be immune to the crisis, the 2008-2009 recession eventually produced a change in the behavior of luxury consumers. First and foremost, these consumers became choosier: where before the crisis they would have bought ten products, after the crisis they would choose just one or two, after careful deliberation. Second, they showed a renewed interest in inconspicuous consumption: many avoided purchasing products that were too obviously expensive or flashy.  With the changes in the consumption behavior, luxury brands had to reposition themselves during this period of transition. 

Chinese luxury shopping shopper

But the different response to the crisis witnessed new difficulties. Changes in the external environment, such as exchange rate fluctuation, created a distinctive phenomenon. The dollar became stronger and American consumers started consuming. On the other hand, Chinese consumers preferred shopping in France rather than in China as the price differential is almost 51% higher in China compared to that in USA, and 72% higher in China compared to that in France. With this arbitrage there rose a group of middle-men called “Daigou” who were successfully buying the brands in bulk overseas, more so in France, and selling it at a discount in China. This phenomenon involuntary creates a market where the goods cannibalize their own sales in the Chinese market, as the goods in the luxury stores find themselves trying to compete price-wise with the grey markets. As a knee jerk response, Chanel cut its price in China by 22% and increased prices in Europe by 20%.  The interesting question to understand is two-fold. First, will the whole industry follow the example of Chanel? And, will it facilitate growth back in China and restrict cannibalization? The response has been varied once again. Prada decided to cut prices in China, but stopped short of increasing prices in Europe, thereby protecting the local European market. On the other hand, LVMH and Hermes did not unify price points across markets. Surprisingly, however, as seen from the above observation, many of the strongest brands chose starkly opposing strategies, revealing that the luxury industry was heterogeneous and constantly evolving.  

1. Cost-rationalization

Some luxury brands had the same knee-jerk reaction: reduce expenses, reign in spending, and reduce expansion. Strategies included hiring freezes, reducing the number and the size of the collections, rationalizing media spending, and reducing head-counts. Dolce & Gabbana slashed prices. Stella McCartney closed its boutique in Moscow just 18 months after opening. Burberry ended its Thomas Burberry collection. Prada shifted its manufacturing base to China for certain products. 

2. Globalizing 

Other brands, however, saw the crisis as opportunity to expand geographically and touch new potential customer bases. Prada, for example, undertook the most aggressive investment plan it had ever undertaken in 2008-2009 in an effort to expand its distribution network. Similarly, Hermes opened stores in Manchester, Las Vegas and Wuxi in China – and resisted the crisis quite gracefully.  

Luxury Brands Global Market

3. Diversifying  

Expansions were also undertaken horizontally into different traditional luxury categories. For example, Louis Vuitton expanded into high fashion, high jewelry and watches. Coach explored lower price options for the consumer, providing them with a larger range of accessible products. Other luxury brands explored new ways of reaching customers: through mobile advertising, or online sales, for example.  

4. Holding true  

But what’s most striking about the luxury industry is the capacity of some brands to resist the crisis by simply not changing at all, and staying true to their luxury heritage. Bottega Veneta, for example, continued to manufacture its products in Italy and invested in its artisans to ensure that they gave traditional quality output. This cool-headed reaction ensured that the brand was two steps ahead of its panic-struck competitors. 

Louis Vuitton Store Facade

5. Up-scaling

Some of the biggest post-crisis success stories come from those brands that chose to reinforce their luxury status. As Bernard Arnault pointed out in the 2015 shareholder meeting that “capacity to bring newness remained the group’s most vital fuel, trumpeting the importance of creativity that’s pragmatic.” Both Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, for example, exited its logo and accessory product business as it pursued an up-scaling drive, in the hope that the cream among the super rich would not be affected by the crisis. François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering, was of the opinion, “There’s a new perception of luxury, a more discrete sophisticated luxury where notions of heritage and craft play a big role.”

What does the diversity of reactions say about the luxury industry as a whole? Growth depends on each brand’s ability to understand the scope of potential customers, fixing a strategy based on a specific language. There was no universal response, nor any universal language. Chanel speaks Chanel, Hermes speaks Hermes - each brand faces an individual challenge on how to keep the dream alive for their consumers. 


Ashok Som is Professor of Management Department at ESSEC Business School. Professor Som's expertise is in global strategy and re-designing organizations within diverse contexts. He is author of the books The Road to Luxury: The Evolution, Markets and Strategies of Luxury Brand Management (Wiley, 2015), International Management: Managing the Global Corporation (McGrawHill, 2009) and Organization Re-design and Innovative HRM (Oxford University Press, 2008). His current research is on creative industries focusing on luxury, movie and art industry. He is a regular speaker in international conferences and consults with European and Indian multi-nationals. Follow him at @AshokSom

5 Most Copied Luxury Brands & How to Recognise the Genuineness By: Abhay Gupta, CEO, Luxury Connect

Posted on: April 23, 2015

Consumers are brand conscious but are faking it. According to Anil Rajput, chairman of FICCI Cascade, an industry body created to generate awareness regarding counterfeit, contraband and smuggled products, there are people who buy fake brands knowingly because they desire to own these products but can't afford them

Then, there is another section that is hoodwinked by the traders.

Research shows that 5 popular brands that are replicated the most are:

Louis Vuitton




Michael Kors

Numbers to awe

ASSOCHAM recently reported the size of the fake luxury products market in India at Rs 2,500-3,000 crore. That is 5-6 per cent of the overall luxury products market in the country, which is worth Rs 49,000 crore. Further, fake products account for 7 per cent of the global luxury products industry worth Rs 19,69,920 crore.

The market for fake goods is driven largely by web shopping portals that account for over 25 per cent of the overall market for fake luxury products in India, says the report. While e-commerce websites are hailed for the range and discounts they offer, the medium has come under scrutiny for encouraging sales of counterfeit products.

If you are seeing 70 per cent off online on your favourite Louis Vuitton or Gucci bag, trust your instincts and understand that it’s too good to be true. Chances are it is a remarkable achievement by a small Chinese vendor and is a perfect fake. “Over 80% of the entire imitation luxury products in India come from China,” D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM, said in a statement.

Online counterfeit sellers have an obvious advantage that the customer is unable to touch and see the product and only receives his or her purchase after the full payment has been received. Therefore, it’s easy to fool the customer making an online purchase. 

That's not all - one can find luxury brands even in product categories not manufactured by the original brands. One such example is Harley Davidson deodorants. 

This unprecedented demand for high-end branded items has actually resulted in a simultaneous increase in the fake luxury segment in astounding numbers. The market of fake luxury goods in India is likely to touch INR 6,000 crore in 2016.

This is definitely bad news for the Indian luxury market as well as the online retail space. Even before there is a robust and sizable luxury market in this country, its parallel and fake counterpart has shown its face. 

Thus, there is an urgent need to educate customers on brand heritage and create awareness about original products. According to the ASSOCHAM report, certification of authenticity and quality of products by luxury goods makers, digital serialisation/authentication, multi-channel protection and inclusion of appropriate technologies in product labeling are steps that can be followed by luxury goods manufacturers to combat counterfeits.

The downside of this trend is that people who aspire to own brands, and even those who can afford the real deal, are opting for fake options. This coupled with the latest e-commerce boom is a sheer recipe for disaster. Each day there is yet another new online fashion destination that claims to stock top brands in fashion and accessories. 

Under the magnifying glass

According to Economic Times, the most popular counterfeited products sold widely in India are:

1.    Louis Vuitton (bags) 

2.    Gucci (bags and belts)

3.    Bvlgari diamonds

4.    Rolex

5.    Prada (dresses) 

Although it might not appear so, but it’s quite easy to catch fakes if you know what you are looking for. Here’s a ‘cheat sheet’ on how to spot the differences for some brands.



1.    Authentic Gucci belts will have: 

→ “GUCCI” printed in all capital letters. 

→ Serial number stamped on the leather of the belt

→ Two symmetrical “Gs” facing each other

2.    If the belt buckle is lightweight, it may indicate a knockoff

3.    Examine the tags and belt for misspellings

4.    Type the serial number onto the Gucci website to determine its authenticity.



1. Burberry rat-tail letter R

2. The tag BURBERRY should be all in capital letters

3. Also make sure the tag spells out LONDON below the BURBERRY imprint

4. Classic Burberry Nova check lines are lined up in perfect horizontals



1. Wider strap vs. narrow strap

2. Big stitching vs. fine stitching

3. Rounded rings vs. LV signature 'D' rings

4. 'V' stitches vs. LV signature 5 stitches

5. Right over left vs. left over right fold-over






In order to identify a fake watch you need to know what it feels like, looks like, how much it weighs and what it sounds like. Identify the following factors:

1.    Material, finishing and color of counterfeit watch will be slightly off

2.    Counterfeit watches are usually lighter than original.

3.    Counterfeit watches have spelling errors, type faces can differ in size and shape too

4.    Fine watches have smooth mechanisms. If the watch ticks loudly, don’t buy it.

5.    Locate a certificate of authenticity



1.    The distinct MK letters are very close together and any engraving will be neat and clean. 

2.    Hardware will be made of solid metal. Some pieces will be engraved with a high quality finish

3.    A Micheal Kors logo will appear inside on the lining. Check the font, spacing and positioning of the logo 


Abhay Gupta is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recently recognized him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential 2013 & 2014’. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. Fondazione Altagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India. Follow him on Twitter at @abhaygupta36

5 Luxury Brands - 5 Digital Geniuses By: Veronique Poles, Fashion & Luxury Consultant

Posted on: April 17, 2015

The digital culture took years to be part of the luxury world. But now, there are luxury brands that are teaching the world how digital can be employed to bring consumers closer. And in the process, luxury brands are becoming ‘fun’, as they come out from their stiff ambience and interact in a more meaningful way with a wide audience!

burberry art of the trench webshot screenshot

The digital is playing a growing role in the journey of luxury brands, while brands have tamed the digital space, embracing it as a vast field where technical innovations and inventiveness go hand to hand. The challenge was to synergise between the luxury and digital worlds, finding the right combination of digital levers to reach various categories of audiences whose behaviors are increasingly complex, to appeal to them, and at the same time, to fulfill their need of personalisation.

In the last few years, most of the luxury brands have dedicated time, efforts and budget on social media, where they continue to increase their presence. And it’s not just limited to one solitary profile. Different accounts cater to different audiences and geographies. Social media has become a tool to deliver exclusive content, develop a privileged dialogue with internet users, offer brand experiences and new services… Digital makes everything possible today!

In particular, Instagram has become an important platform for fashion brands. Some brands have revamped their website design. The ascendancy of smartphones and tablets has been transforming our life, our vision of the world, our relationship with others. Paying attention to the importance of mobile, many luxury brands have started offering a mobile site.

Incredibly, half of total sales are influenced by a consumer’s digital interaction. Some brands have successfully invested in both offline and online channels, while some are still working their way through it.  


How have and how much have luxury brands invested in digital, what were their choices? We have studied 5 luxury brands, which made digital a priority, putting more investment in exploring the potential of digital, and reaching a strong digital positioning through an impeccable strategy and creative solutions.


The brand is universally acknowledged, and  applauded, for being the largest digital power among luxury brands. Its strategic positioning, pioneering vision, and full digital ecosystem, confirms its innovative and inspiring image. Burberry, step by step, has mastered its digital strategy.

In 2010, Burberry became a pioneer in the fashion industry by live-streaming its London Fashion Week show live on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, allowing internet users to follow the brand from closer angles. Going a step further, in 2011, Burberry made it possible to order clothes directly from the show, allowing customers to get the order delivered four months earlier than usual. Many brands since then have been following this ‘click to buy’ strategy.


Burberry, sensing the power of social media, boosted its number of Facebook fans in December 2011 by proposing a free sample of its new perfume ‘Burberry Body’, and hence celebrated12millions fans in January 2012! It was in 2011 also that Burberry became the first one to open a Google+ account.

With its ultimate goal to focus on the customer experience, Burberry created the ‘Art of the Trench’ project, a digital platform focused on UGC (User General Content), where internet users all around the world clicked themselves wearing the iconic Burberry trench, and posted them on the special Art of the Trench site. 

Burberry, like some other brands, has made the choice to advertise on large publishers’ websites, promoting their own website which combines e-commerce and an immersive atmosphere, creating a real community. Burberry has also setup a 24X7 after-sales service  through a Twitter account, where customers are encouraged to ask any question!

Burberry has never been short of inspiration or ideas. Its offline strategies also combine with digital innovations to give it that edge. Burberry stores offer consumers a unique shopping experience with new technologies. In its flagship Regent Street store, interactive screens help customers get information on products by scanning the label on top. Understanding that personalization is essential in the luxury business, Burberry’s sales staff has customer records on their iPad, allowing them to deliver personalized recommendations.

Screens, Ipad, the internet relay the message that Burberry is everywhere.

burberry runway to reality


Hermès has always been very protective of its brand image and very selective in its distribution. Nevertheless, the brand has definitely found its niche in the digital, becoming one of the most prolific digital marketers among luxury brands.

The prestigious French luxury house was quite audacious and an innovator when starting its presence on internet with an e–commerce site in 2002, for the US market, and in 2005 for the French market, before even launching its institutional site in 2008 (

The brand made the choice of using social media, digital videos and mobile applications to communicate with its consumers. Its unique app, Tie Break, was among the top apps released in 2014! The new mobile app was an interactive way to browse Hermes’ tie collection, providing a respite from work or commutes. To optimize the experience, Tie Break included arcade games, GIFs, cartoons and animated tie designs, a beneficial tie tying tutorial and a gallery of autumn/winter 2014 tie patterns. 

The brand has showed imaginative and creative ways to display its products, bringing continuous surprises to their customers. All through 2014, Hermès offered a delicious and joyful digital culture, delighting its fans through various social videos, which employed humorous and light-hearted strategy to promote its novelties. From its iconic oranges boxes (personifying them to show us ‘what they do when the sun goes down’), to its range of bags (fairytale story of Prince and the frog as an inspiration to turn frogs into handbags), to its collection of scarves (comic book heroes Superman as an inspiration), the social videos were quite playful and funny, touching emotions with interactive content. The brand also extended its prints campaigns into the digital space to maintain brand cohesion.



A transitioning year for Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière succeeded Marc Jacobs as the new creative director for Louis Vuitton in 2014. Throughout the year, Louis Vuitton kept consistent visibility across various channels, keeping a strong presence through print campaigns placed in key fashion publications… and being quite active online.

Louis Vuitton is among the top brands in online interactions through Facebook, Youtube subscribers and YouTube channel video views. The brand, becoming very active in the digital space, has explored the potential of making internet users travel through beautiful videos, transporting them each time to new mythical places.

The brand speaks about its DNA, focusing on its iconic travel objects, combining beauty and utility, taking up with the legendary ‘Spirit of Travel’ philosophy of Louis Vuitton. After the safari in the African savanna, for its spring/summer 2015 collection, Louis Vuitton heads to another exotic destination - Saint Barth – sprinkling it with ingredients of luxury, beauty, pleasure, dream, quality.


Gucci has been working on a multi-channel strategy for quite a while now. Understanding the increasing influence of mobile, Gucci has developed an appealing mobile site. The brand also has an e-commerce site, which allows in-store availability search to products pages.

Gucci advertises in prominent magazines and websites, and involves all its social media networks, running extended social campaigns. As an example, on March 2, 2015, Gucci started a worldwide digital media roll-out with a week dedicated to The Lady Web bag.

The brand’s strategy included the launch of Gucci’s digital short film, celebrating the Lady Web Bag, which was shared on all digital outlets of Gucci such as Facebook, Instagram, as well as Youtube, while a shorter version and excerpts were appearing on banner ad units on various fashion publications’ sites. Gucci’s new campaign video features Swedish pop singer-songwriter Lykke Li, sitting down at the piano to play and compose a song, chronicling her creative journey, featuring moments that inspire her to write in her notebook.

We are back in the 1970s as Lykke Li croons her popular song ‘Just like a Dream’, while in a very bohemian ambiance, she is carrying the Gucci Lady Web handbag with her in all of the different scenes. The video emphasizes on the brand’s roots and signature looks such as the green and red luggage strap handle, the snakeskin details and the embroidered coats…


Michael Kors’ digital efforts are pretty much out in the open, encouraging its fans (and they are in humungous numbers!) to communicate with the brand easily. Its most recent initiative, however, surpassed all that has been done by other brands till now.  In February 2015, Michael Kors added Snapchat to its digital repertoire, and worked with the media-sharing application platform to cover their fashion show in New York in a more immediate way, providing fans with real-time, authentic content from the brand.

"We’re always looking to tell our brand story on platforms our fans are using and loving. Snapchat provided a unique opportunity to take our 'All Access Kors' strategy a step further – allowing us to share intimate, behind-the-scenes moments from our runway show with fans around the world," commented Lisa Pomerantz, senior vice-president of marketing at Michael Kors.

As part of the application’s ‘Our Stories’ feature, the New York Fashion week content was easily accessible to Snapchat users around the world for 24 hours, starting the morning of February 18, 2015. That day, Michael Kors provided exclusive snaps from the designer, the models, the backstage team, industry influencers and notable guests.

The ‘Our Stories ‘ feature allowed fans who were attending the event to contribute snaps to the larger public, creating a real-time stream for fans around the world. Previous ‘our stories’ include the Grammy Awards, the Golden Globes, New Years’s Eve around the world, Valentine’s day, Coachella, the Consumer Electronic show, and the Super Bowl.

The brand has also invested in mobile. Launched in 2014, one of Kors’ top remarked apps was ‘360’, which gave users an elaborate glimpse into the brand’s Jet Set Shanghai event. Concentrated on ‘services’, Michael Kors is also one of the few brands offering in-store returns for online purchases.

michael kors snapchat collaboration

Staying ahead of the curve means embracing digital technology. It is an exciting and challenging period for marketers in the luxury sector as they find a conjunction between the world of technology and the world of fashion…

Veronique Poles is a freelance fashion and luxury consultant based inMumbai, with more than 15 years of extensive experience with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Givenchy and Waterman/Gillete Pen Company just to mention a few. Bespoke creations, however, are her first love.

Luxury Brands in Emerging Markets - 5 Drivers of Change By: Glyn Atwal and Douglas Bryson

Posted on: April 9, 2015

Luxury brand executives world over recognize the potentially huge rewards of market success in primary emerging markets (BRICS), but are often challenged to deliver positive returns. To use a metaphor, many international luxury brands feel that they were swimming against the tide. Although we accept that each luxury brand and each emerging market context presents its own idiosyncrasies, we provide an overview of 5 drivers of change that is set to transform the luxury landscape in emerging markets. This sets a realistic context of growth opportunities in emerging markets, and also raises the question if current and future luxury brand strategies are able to deliver a competitive advantage in some of the world's most dynamic markets.

Democratic Luxury

Democratization of luxury is no longer a western phenomenon. The game changer that has given rise to a global consumer society has undoubtedly been the rapid expansion of the middle classes. The aspiring classes in emerging markets are no longer at a financial distance from luxury via affordable luxury brands, luxury branded accessories or the willingness to trade-up to acquire a 'must-have' luxury item. The desire for luxury brands has also extended its reach to bring into its fold new segments such as the female consumer in urban India and new geographies to include smaller cities and towns that were until recently conspicuously absent from the luxury map. Likewise, it has never been easier for consumers to access the lure of luxury brands, whether this is reflected in the growth of luxury retail, including e-commerce, or the live-streaming of international fashion shows. The democratization of luxury in emerging markets has strategic implications for luxury brand strategies - how to strike the balance between accessibility and exclusivity. 

Myriad Segments

Luxury can mean different things to different people. This theory holds true in emerging markets as well. The commonly held belief that social and economic status is a key driver of luxury consumption in emerging markets is too simplistic an approach to understand consumer behavior. The luxury consumer in emerging markets is not homogeneous, and myriad segments are more likely to be the norm. First-time luxury consumers may indeed be attracted by the aspirational status of the logo, but logo fatigue, as evident in China, suggests that discerning consumers are in fact driven less by extrinsic, and more by intrinsic values. Status still plays an important role, but is expressed less conspicuously. The growing popularity of Burgundy wines in China is testimony to a new generation of increasingly sophisticated luxury consumers whose status is characterised by refinement and knowledge. Brands that appeal to a target that is too broad are likely to fail. Luxury brands in emerging markets need to, therefore, design market strategies that are crafted for the defined target segment. 

louis vuitton logo fatigue wallpaper

Digital Luxury

Luxury brands generally accept that digital strategies need to be at the forefront of global marketing strategies. However, many international luxury brands are failing to capitalize on developing compelling content specifically for emerging markets. Evidence suggests that consumers in emerging markets research luxury products online before making a purchase, more than the consumers in developed markets. However, local social media platforms, such as in Russia, remain ignored by many international luxury brands. It is also social media engagement amongst these younger populations that is disrupting traditional communication channels. It is no coincidence that the Wall Street Journal headlined Brazil as 'The Social Media Capital of the Universe'. It is within this context that word of mouth (positive or negative) is an important predictor of attitudes and behavior. Moreover, e-commerce is set to revolutionise the digital landscape as an increasing share of luxury shoppers in emerging markets are making more purchases via their smartphones and tablets. International luxury brands need to question if their local online retail strategy is not only connecting, but immersing the luxury consumer.

russian social network

Cultural Meanings

International luxury brand managers are often determined to present a consistent global image across borders. However, consumers in emerging markets are also searching for local cultural meanings that they can relate to at a personal level. In India, this might be about associating with royal patronage that is embedded in how luxury is truly appreciated. Luxury brands in emerging markets need to, therefore, identify culturally relevant meanings that can be compellingly integrated in the brand offering. Innovation is at times key to achieving market success in local markets. For example, L’Oréal established a research and innovation centre in India (other locations include Europe, the U.S., China, Japan and Brazil) with the objective to develop beauty products that are coherent with Indian specificities. Local products that also celebrate the brand's heritage or story, such as the launch of two Indian made sparkling wines, Chandon Brut and Chandon Brut Rosé, is helping to reshape future luxury ecosystem models.

chandon brut made in india for india luxury wine

Local competition

Many international luxury brands entered emerging markets with a belief that their brand aura will prove too strong for local competitors. In many cases, these brands have indeed succeeded building a strong local following. It is, however, the continual rise of local luxury brands whether Brazilian, Russian, Chinese, Indian or African, which are transforming the competitive brand landscape. Although a growing sense of national identity and pride is helping to support these luxury brands, it is also the ability for local brands to compete on quality, craftsmanship and creativity that is firing up the market. A quick glance, for example, through Vogue India shows a gamut of Indian fashion designers and jewelers who specialize in bridal wear and jewellery. If international luxury brands are to compete versus local competitors, they must not only understand local buyer behavior, but also offer competitive attractive products and services. Competitive pressures should, however, be welcomed as a positive factor to foster creativity and innovation. 

There is certainly no blueprint for market success in emerging markets. However, luxury brands will need to accept that emerging markets represent a very different market environment compared to developed markets. As elsewhere, international luxury brands will need to be flexible to modify existing strategies for the changing and sometimes unpredictable local market conditions. Despite challenges such as economic instability in Russia and a shift in gift-giving practices in China, we remain optimistic that emerging markets will offer long-term growth opportunities. Are you ready to seize this prize?


glyn atwal luxury professorGlyn Atwal is Associate Professor of Marketing at the Burgundy School of Business, an international Graduate School of the French network of Grandes Ecoles. His teaching, research, and consultancy expertise focuses on marketing and strategy in emerging markets. He has presented at leading universities worldwide, including Harvard Business School, and is co-editor of Luxury Brands in Emerging Markets (Palgrave Macmillan). 


douglas brysonDouglas Bryson is Professor (Titulaire 1) at the ESC Rennes School of Business, France. His recent research is a mosaic of applied social psychology and consumer behaviour topics. Douglas is co-editor together with Glyn of Luxury Brands in Emerging Markets (Palgrave Macmillan)


Moet Hennessy - Towards the Sun By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: February 26, 2015

solar impulse 2 plane supported by moet hennessyIf luxury caters to excesses, it also works on preserving the limited. In an exciting announcement of luxury joining hands with the society and it's good, Moët Hennessy pledged its two-year support as an Official Partner to the airplane Solar Impulse 2, which will depart Abu Dhabi on March 3, 2015, which is setting out to achieve the first round-the-world flight, powered only by solar energy. 

Talk about conservation, Solar Impulse is the only airplane with unlimited autonomy capable of flying day and night with no fuel. The India leg of the Solar Impulse journey has stops planned in Ahmedabad and Varanasi, while in America, the plane will stop at Hawaii, Phoenix, Dallas and New York. Moët Hennessy will extend support to the initiative at all these locations, and raise awareness for renewable energy.

Luxury brands are increasingly acknowledging the importance of supporting initiatives which recognize and work on global challenges. Whether it’s Gucci’s Chime a Change project or Bvlgari’s philanthropic activities for Save the Children. 

What we love about Solar Impulse’s 11-stop tour is that it finds environment friendly alternatives to lifestyles that just can’t be avoided in today’s time! And by supporting this project, MoëtHennessy wants to raise awareness of the vast potential of renewable energy sources. Interesting to note, the brand also derives all its products from the earth, has a proactive environmental policy based on seven key elements: sustainable agriculture, energy, water and effluents, waste and recycling, ecological design, a green supply chain and choosing responsible providers.

Moët Hennessy Chairman and CEO, Christophe Navarre, said, " We love challenges, we have a spirit of conquest, and the success of our brands has always been inspired by noble human adventures. We know how to take risks and like to think nothing is impossible. We will spread this message throughout the aircraft’s voyage. For us, India, China and the United States are key markets in which we will be proud to help raise awareness of renewable energy."

Cheers to a bubbly mission! Follow the adventure live at

Follow the author at @KarishmaParkash

Existential Travel - A Luxury Journey Within By: Jesus Parrilla, Partner, Luxury Frontiers

Posted on: February 23, 2015

Markets have changed, consumers have changed and ways of traveling have changed. But what is that one core that will help define the many travel trends moving about?


snowcapped mountains luxury travel experiencesOver the past several years, there has been a noticeable shift in consumer behavior, particularly in market segments featuring luxury goods and services. In large part attributed to the aftermath of the 2008 global economic crisis, the wealthy can no longer be stereotyped by their superfluous buying patterns. Rather, as stated in the 2014 MasterCard Affluent Report, there has been “a shifting tendency among the affluent to seek and discover authentic experiences as opposed to purchasing and owning physical luxury items.”


All indications are that this is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior rather than simply a temporary trend. It is no surprise, then, that the travel press has written extensively about the different ways or forms in which affluent (sophisticated, savvy, well-travelled) travelers now consume travel. Similarly, many travel companies, both hotels and tour operators alike, have (rightly) rushed to capitalize on the opportunities created by this structural change in the market.


Many industry experts would argue that designing travel experiences is the key to attracting affluent consumers to their travel programs and/or hotels. Others would say that it is how the destination or itinerary is packaged. Finally, some others would argue that the exclusivity (perceived uniqueness rather than necessarily how much it costs) of the experience is the main driver for attracting affluent travelers.


The debate on what is the right approach to best capitalize on this market shift has been both intense and engaging. However, whatever argument one may support, the most potent underlining common element in high-end travel, even before the 2008 global crisis, has been the consumer’s indefatigable (yet often subconscious) desire to escape. In other words, they are particularly seeking travel experiences that allow them to reach beyond the boundaries of their every day world.


This has little to do with the “outbound” experience many companies seek to craft, but rather with the “inbound” journey travelers are willing to take as they get away from excess consumption of material things. As such, the traveler’s quest is for an existential journey, a primal pillar in travel evolution and a deeply rooted sentiment, which deals with a return to humanity, a distancing of self from all preconceptions, and an eagerness to embrace new places with all ones' senses. 


limestone slope unique luxury travel experiences

Existential travel is travel that occurs at the conjunction of emotions, sensations, relationships, understandings and awareness of time and space. It is traveling for the sake of feeling alive and traveling to be reborn. It is a life free of filters and misrepresentations. It is the type of travel that ultimately replenishes the soul and that is itself pure luxury: where value is not attributed to cost, but rather to an individualized and deeply personal (spiritual) experience.


The days of opulent excess may return, but the changes that have occurred to the travel industry are structural and long lasting. Experiential, active, adventure, nature-based, cultural/heritage travel, and their variations are all derivatives of existential travel. Companies that can grasp this will be able to create a conducive environment in which sophisticated travelers encounter life-defining moments, launching them into that much sought after journey of self-discovery that continues far beyond the time boundaries of the actual trip. 


jesus parrilla portrait luxury frontiersJesús Parrilla is a cross-functional executive with broad experience in management, operations, sales, marketing, communications, and business development. He was the CEO and Commercial VP of Explora Lodges in South America for several years. Under his leadership Explora enjoyed its most successful run in 20 years of operations, garnering multiples awards and recognitions. He has held Board of Directors positions at Metropolitan Touring in Argentina, Chile and Peru where he played a key role in the regional expansion and global distribution strategy. As a partner at Luxury Frontiers, he is responsible for helping land owners and hotel operators design travel programs that engage and inspire guests, based on the unique natural and cultural attributes that the destination has to offer. You can follow him at @parrilla_jesus
Valentine's Day 2015 - Red Day By: LuxuryFacts correspondent

Posted on: February 3, 2015

Making Valentine’s Day special, we recommend a few gifting options

One of the oldest traditions in the world, Valentine’s Day is still as revered, probably more! And as the popularity of the day increases world over, so does the demand for new gifting ideas! And hence, we list five gift ideas, which we adore…


Valentine-gifts-for-men-women 2015


1. Promesse by Baume & Mercier will charm your lady with its simplicity. The 30 mm dial in polished steel has a bezel set with 30 diamonds. The natural white mother of pearl dial has a refined drape decor detail and features Roman numerals and indexes. Having a polished steel bracelet, the watch is elegant and feminine!


2. Bohemian, free spirited, a traveller with a love for sports and sea. If that is your man, the cross-body bag by Gucci for men will stand out as a gift for him. A part of Gucci’s Spring Summer 2015 collection, inspired by the nautical seascapes, the bag has unexpected and precious detailing. 


3. Did you promise her the moon and stars? It’s time you fulfill that promise with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Rendez-Vous Celestial watch. The dial is adorned in bordeaux aventurine. When light plays across the watch, it fleetingly shimmers in vibrant red, mineral ochre and even orange shades. The warm-tinted pink gold case makes a stunning match with bordeaux aventurine. Diamonds adorn the sides of the case, all the way to the crowns and the bezel. The hour numerals follow the curve of an entirely guilloché crescent shape. The elliptical dial opening houses a disc bearing a sky chart. The signs of the zodiac, along with various constellations, have been painted on the rotating dial. The watch has a star, accessible through the second crown adorned with an inverted diamond, which shifts in tune with the wishes of its owner, who turns it to indicate the hour of her choice.  


4. Not for him, not for her, it’s for both. An experience to elevate in, the Moët Rosé Impérial Unfurl the Tie, is a stylish, rounded, limited edition case that pirouettes open to reveal a bottle of Moët Rosé Impérial and its new elegant ‘Toasting Tie’ stand with 2 flutes. Packaged in pink and black with elegant leather accents, Moët Rosé Impérial Unfurl the Tie is completed with a specially crafted Moët Rosé Impérial booklet that is tucked into the case.


5. If the man in your life means the world to you, Frederique Constant helps you express it – through their water resistant automatic watch from the Worldtimer collection. The dial face features all major capitals from around the globe. A choice of the map of the world inscribed in it, a masculine pattern on the face, from Alligator straps to a steel one, the watch is the perfect style accessory to add in to his look!
St. Regis Hotels & Resorts - Nodding to a Royal Sp By: Suman Tarafdar 

Posted on: January 27, 2015

Polo paves the way for St Regis to make a grand entry in India. And everyone, dressed in finest of fashion and etiquettes, is applauding


St. Regis Polo match in JaipurThe afternoon could hardly have been more propitious for St Regis as the global luxury hotel brand held its first ever public event in India.


Perfect weather with soft sunshine, packed audiences that included members of the erstwhile Jaipur royal family, celebrities from far and near, and of course, the presence of the ‘Beckham of polo’ – Nacho Figueras and the prancing horses – all made it an afternoon befitting some of the grandest events St Regis has been known for.


St. Regis, part of hospitality group Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and a top global luxury hotel chain, has had a long association with polo. The genesis lay at the turn of the 20th century when polo matches on Manhattan’s Governors Island were the highlight of the New York social calendar and St. Regis’ founding family, the Astors, were pre-eminent patrons of the sport.


St. Regis partnered with Rajasthan Polo Club (RPC), Jaipur to sponsor the Maharaja Bhawani Singh St. Regis Cup 2015. Paul James, global brand leader, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels Worldwide, said, “We are pleased to support polo for the first time in India. We look forward to offering St. Regis guests, spectators and their families the opportunity to experience this exhilarating sport here in India, as we have done around the world from Bangkok to Buenos Aires and from Abu Dhabi to Aspen.”


Commenting on the event, Maharaj Narendra Singh, son in law of the former ruler of Jaipur, said, “It is a matter of great pride and celebration that St. Regis Hotels & Resorts has partnered with the Rajasthan Polo Club, Jaipur to sponsor the Maharaja Bhawani Singh St. Regis Polo Cup 2015. This will have a long lasting effect in popularising the glamorous sport of polo. I am personally grateful to the St. Regis for their magnanimous sponsorship and hope that this is the beginning of a long and lasting partnership between them and the Rajasthan Polo Club, Jaipur.”


Nacho Figueras St Regis ConnoisseurThe Maharaj himself led the RPC team in an exhibition match against the St Regis team in a thrilling game. The St Regis team won eventually by 6-5, and the match remained very close right through, with the RPC team leading for the first three chukkars (a Hindi term originated in India interestingly and used throughout the world today in polo). Figueras cut a dashing figure, but the star of the match was his son Hilario, who scored a hat trick. Figueras incidentally is the first St. Regis Connoisseur, and has helped cement the brand’s historic involvement with polo and the sport's ubiquitous style around the world.


Incidentally Maharaj Narendra Singh’s son, Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur, also played in the other match of the day – the final of the Maharaja Bhawani Singh St. Regis Polo Cup 2015 between 61st Cavalry and Sahara Warriors. A number of top-level Indian players were also present including Syed Shamsheer Ali, India’s highest ranked player, Sameer Suhag and many others. Ali delighted in particular with his skillful mallet histrionics which had the audience rooting for him.


The Jaipur Polo grounds is one of the most picturesque with the erstwhile royal residence Moti Doongri in the backdrop. The grounds themselves were awash with colour and experience. The match was preceded by a parade of horses, with the players riding their steeds. Mr James was the chief guest and a dashing figure as he rode a vintage car. Guests were just as colourfully attired, with many who could have fit in perfectly at Ascot. An even more festive look was created with the multi-hued flags and pennants. 


The St. Regis heritage was on full display at the high tea that followed in beautiful white tents. Prepared by a special team of chefs from Delhi, the guests were greeted with the iconic St. Regis Bloody Mary cocktail, as well as the Polo Mary, a special concoction created for all St. Regis polo events around the world. The famed cocktail has been a part of the St. Regis brand history since 1934 when Fernand Petiot, bartender at the King Cole Bar at The St. Regis New York, first created the ‘Red Snapper,’ which would later be renamed the Bloody Mary. Sandwiches to meringues, cocktails to ‘champagne’ - the 300 odd guests tucked in as they caught up with old friends and made new ones.


Polo’s historic association with India is acknowledged the world over, and many of India's leading polo players have been courted and feted across the world. The erstwhile royals patronised it, and their descendants continue the tradition, especially in Rajasthan. Add to that Jaipur’s colour and exotica, and polo could hardly have a more ideal home.


Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on TV. Yes, current politics bothers him
India Art Fair 2015 - Art of the Mind By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: January 13, 2014

It’s time to gaze, hopefully buy works by some of India’s best masters, and pick up tips on contemporary art. India Art Fair 2015 is here.


Bruno Art GroupIt’s time for India Art Fair once again. The white designer tents at NSIC Complex in Okhla are gearing up once more to welcome art aficionados and, well, a lot of India’s jet set. The swish of Swarovskis, the vehement waving of LVs, the whiff of Chanel in various numbers – all that speaks for a city that is ready to patronize art.


Or does it? The seventh edition of the India Art Fair (IAF) in Delhi is to be held from January 29 to February 1. It should be one of the high points of the Indian art calendar. Well, it undoubtedly is. What is hampering it is the absolute resoluteness of the Indian art market to revive. In a nation where all mainstream media conversation is about the value of art, there is little to suggest that the art market has revived.


The three-day fair – with a VIP by invitation day preceding it - has big names and events lined up. The previous edition saw just under a lakh people, while the growth in footfall has been in excess of 10 per cent year on year. Private collections grew, and even those not bidding renewed their love for art in its myriad shapes. 


Spread over an enlarged 20,000 square metres, it will also be the biggest ever in area, with some reconfiguration of the covered area. “This year viewers will see a more domestic and regional focus with participation from galleries from Tier II cities, including Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Vadodara, as well as a number of artists of Pakistani origin,” informs Neha Kirpal, Founder Director, India Art Fair.


Checklist for India Art Fair 2015Various changes have been made. Girish Shahane joins as Artistic Director and will reflect the art on show, connecting a series of impressive installation projects with a talks programme, and bringing a more closely curated experience to this new edition.


Big name associations are lined up, headlined by museum associations such as Guggenheim Bilbao and the Gallery of New South Wales. There are 85 exhibiting galleries in 90 booths. Most of the regular features of the IAF are in place too – Speaker’s Forum, collateral events, curated walks, art projects, spotlight series, etc.


“There are certainly challenges for international galleries, particularly in terms of custom duties and processes,” admits Ms Kirpal. “The fact that so many international galleries exhibit at IAF is testament to its appeal. The longer term a gallery is prepared to commit to the Indian market and buyers, the stronger the relationship and returns become. When galleries exhibit year after year, the dealers get a better sense of the market. They build more meaningful relationships with prospective clients, who in turn increasingly identify with the gallery brand and artists, which significantly helps with sales.”


Confidence in the Indian art mart is gradually on the upswing, though it is still not close to the heights of the past decade. “After the low sentiment of the last few seasons, we are seeing not just a one off, but a sustained level of significant sales successes for Indian art at both domestic and international auction houses,” says Ms Kirpal. “All the indications in the recent auctions and the mood for the season ahead are very positive. The successful introduction of live art auctions has brought a new edge to the market and with the second Kochi Biennale bringing an international focus to contemporary Indian art in addition to India Art Fair, the cumulative impact is certainly reaching new levels.” Amen to that.


Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on tv. Yes, current politics bothers him.
Treehouses - Luxury Above our Heads By: Luca Franco, Managing Partner, Luxury Frontiers

Posted on: January 12, 2015

Be it an adult hideout or a children’s play area, luxury hotels are investing into the unique concept of tree rooms, ensuring a once in a lifetime experience!  


Treehouses, the magical word for all travel enthusiasts, one of the richest fantasies of a childhood well spent, are a unique experience, ideal for the adventurous who does not think twice before taking a little risk for fun.


The concept of treehouses has beautifully blossomed over the years. This new breed is beyond just planks of wood balanced on an old oak. Modern tree houses present a rare opportunity to break free of travel’s predicable stops and well-traveled routes. Up in the leaves, you’ll find something exceptional - a reward of any good journey. 


Treehouses are no longer just venues for romantic dining. They welcome you today to four poster beds, personalized yoga sessions for a healthy morning, shared spa services for you and your loved one, hot tub on the balcony sipping champagne while watching the sunset through trees, bath in a steamy sauna with a custom designed relax studio or small group parties, right in the middle of nature with birds whistling by your window. Some are located right above the blue waters of the ocean, with others are constructed deep inside the jungles for a more adventurous experience. Treehouses are quite a golden chance to run away from the boredom of five star luxury hotels, when you no longer want to sit by the pool and read a book. 


The trend, in fact, is so popular, that apart from treehouses offering a one off room or suite, there is a complete hotel based on the concept! ‘Treehotel’ has multiple contemporarily designed tree rooms with some exquisite concepts. The warm and sophisticated setting at their guesthouse creates a completely unique dimension for the guests. Not only the architecture, but the furniture, lighting and fabrics are all custom designed for each of the concepts. 


Today, treehouses are a sci-fi explosion of technology with finger print access for quiet time in a perfect den. From innovative futuristic domes, to giant spheres and magical mirrored nests, turns out there are flocks of inspiring creations hiding above our heads. The more extravagant ones offer private wine tastings with the hotel’s sommelier, cigar tasting and pre-dinner cocktails.


Treehouses are generally built ecologically, light on the tree, without disturbing the nature, ensuring that not a single tree is felled or its roots disturbed. Constructors try to blend treehouses into the natural habitat and create an absolute minimum carbon footprint in every conceivable way, ensuring an intimate and a tranquil environment alongside. 


The architecture, design and layout of treehouses have been much thought over. Ranging from the sleek, minimalist ones to those filled with jungle souvenirs, styles include The Blue cone, a simple and minimalistic one, to The Bird’s nest, based on the concept of providing a camouflage to quickly disappear into the lap of nature, resting inside a room replicating a bird’s nest from outside. The Cabin will enchant the corporate traveler who is fascinated by geometrical structures, rising high up on the hill overlooking the valley for a calming effect. Treehotel partners have also gone ahead to provide an option to stay inside a Mirror Cube, creatively constructed keeping birds’ safety in mind. The Mirror Cube, with mirror walls as the name suggests, reflects the outside surroundings to give it a forest effect, camouflaging the room once again. The UFO is another room dramatically envisioned to have something “out of place” in a forest dwelling. 


Most treehouses aim to provide an unforgettable experience filled with rich engagement, and Luxury Frontiers team had the privilege to build quite a few. At La Piantata, in Tuscany, Italy, amid a field of lavender in a century old oak, not far from an olive grove, stands a treetop guest room. Another luxurious treehouse can be found at the Soneva Kiri in Koh Kood, Thailand, perched amid a tropical, leafy canopy, taking fine dining to new heights in an ancient rainforest. Diners in this tree pod are able to gaze out at the ocean while food is being served via zipline acrobatics of a waiter. The third treetop is located at the Gran Hotel Son Net in Mallorca. Built around an ancient tree, this treetop multi purpose room provides guests with stunning views of the mountains and the countryside. 


One of Britain’s most luxurious hotels reached new heights by spending 7 million pounds to build treehouses. The Chewton Glen in Hampshire’s New Forest is the only place in Britain where guests can stay in such arboreal splendor. The five-star hotel managed to gain permission to branch out and build 12 huge suites upon stilts in a wooded valley, even though it is next to a National Park. The suites are set in six luxury pods that nestle in trees’ canopy surrounded by wildlife. Breakfast arrives almost magically as the staff quietly delivers a hamper each morning through a secret hatchway. In addition to the regular luxurious options provided by others, this treehouse has a facility of a Jacuzzi bath overlooking the beautiful surroundings.


As exciting and exotic as African bush safaris, the treehouse experience may be a tad bit expensive to buy, but absolutely worth it! Room rates for staying a night in a treehouse varies by resort, but starts at 250 US dollars, to anything under the sun. If you are a fan of the adventurous treehouses or you got carried away looking at those breathtaking pictures and planning one of your own, I would like to tell you what goes into the construction of them. I recommend that you keep aside a minimum of 80,000 US dollars before you begin planning for one of these. Depending upon what type of infrastructure you dream of, including lighting and plumbing of the building, a treetop living structure can be built in the range of somewhere around 80,000 USD to 500,000 USD. It is important to feel properly inspired to help fuel your design ideas. Aside from arranging for funds, scout some awesome treetops for real, for amazing ideas on treehouse engineering out there.


Luca Franco has worked with leaders like Strategic Hotels and Resorts, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Bulgari Resorts, Park Hyatt, The Stein Hotels, Icehotel, Marriott Vacation Club International and more; managed a diversified real estate portfolios for the Ferragamo Group and Fingen Group; and served with LLPI and contributed significantly to the successes of Exclusive Resorts, Private Escapes, DCP International. He has deep expertise in mixed-use developments and a track record of success in hospitality and residential projects around the globe with brands such as Four Seasons Hotels, Lungarno Hotels by Ferragamo Collection, Rio Quente Resort, Ritz Carlton Herzlija Hotel & Residences, Israel, Lake Como in Italy, Auberge Residences at Element 52, Colorado, US and more. With Luxury Frontiers, the team has developed luxury resorts and tented solutions for leading luxury hospitality brands, such as Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Abercrombie & Kent, Six Senses, Orient Express (now Belmond), Wilderness Safaris, Explora and Amanresorts.
Mezzacorona & Stemmari - Wines that are Green By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: December 18, 2014

Taking a sustainable approach to making wines, it is eye opening to understand the green practices that Italian wine brands – Mezzacorona and Stemmari – have adopted. 


Respect for your environment is a topic which is blazing many conferences at the moment. From politicians to young school children, everyone is pondering about how to become more sensitive towards the ecosystem. 


On the other hand, ‘sustainability’ is also becoming a fad, adopted by many companies, just to add something under the CSR pages of their website. So when we met Lucio Matricardi, Winemaker at Mezzacorona and Stemmari wines, I realized there are some genuine companies out there who have made sustainability a weapon, not only to rebuild what is lost, but also to expand business profitability. 


Founded in 1904 by a group of 20 vintners in Italy, Mezzacorona became a structured organization through the formation of Gruppo Mezzacorona in 1970s. In 1986, Gruppo Mezzacorona enhanced its presence in the United States by creating its own importing company, Prestige Wine Imports Corporation, headquartered in New York City. During the same period, in as early as 1980s, Mezzacorona created its own green initiative and sustainability project with “The Protocol for High-Quality Wine Production in Trentino”. In 2002, Mezzacorona expanded yet again, investing $150 million in replanting and rebuilding the Stemmari estates in Sicily. 


Bringing back basic theories, which we probably learnt in those science classes, the group not only makes wines, but ‘green’ wines which decreases my carbon footprint too as a consumer! “Mezzacorona strongly believes in respecting the land and the life of the farmers. And so, every choice and decision has been taken based on this belief. Being a village surrounded by vineyards, sustainable practices were a landmark of our farming since the very beginning. In the 80’s we experienced and tasted state of the art techniques to reduce the use of chemicals in the field, example, through the use of natural pherormones and positive insects and birds,” he said. He also cites the example of planting trees close to the vineyards as they can help avoiding erosion of the land 


Under the skin

Not to say that Mr Matricardi has moved away from traditional winemaking, but they do tweak things here and there to make a balanced vine, and increase its natural capacity to protect itself by:


a. Increasing the thickness of the skin and so the physical properties and structure of the berries for protection against rain, wind and sun burn


b. Increasing the quantity of natural preservative compounds such us tannins and pholypfenol into the skin


c. Preserving the acidity - another natural way plants use to protect themselves


d. Utilising different type of cover-crop based on the specific need of the variety and of the composition of the soil (legume for nitrogen) in vineyards


e. Hand pruning and controlling yields


f. Introducing new clones with less sensitivity to diseases


But does being sustainable make business sense, or is it just an expensive CSR project? It definitely seemed so after we found out the many advancements Mezzacorona did at the facilities of Stemmari.


The vineyards are treated following the concept of “sexual confusion,” a modern biological system used to fight harmful insects by limiting their reproduction through pheromone over-stimulation, avoiding extra treatments. Mezzacorona adopted innovative irrigation systems, which maximize the use of water resources – for example, drip irrigation system. The company created more than seven artificial rainwater reservoirs to guarantee the supply only if and when needed. Waste water is collected and treated with biological purifier (based on active mud technology) before going back to the rivers.


 Seventy percent of the Stemmari winery is underground, which helps reduce the need for air conditioning to keep the cellars cool. Photoelectric and solar panels produce over 2 million kilowatt hours per year – making Stemmari 100 per cent energy independent! Mezzacorona strives to reduce its carbon footprint by using dry materials that are lighter and/or produced locally, while also making effort to recycle and sort garbage responsibly.


Also, when the vineyards and winery were built, Mezzacorona carefully built around natural riches to preserve non-cultivated species of flowers (200 species of orchids exist on the property), orange groves, almond and olive trees.


For the nurturing hands

Taking the concept of sustainability from the product to the people, Mr Matricardi says a profound thought: “Sustainable also means to guarantee a fair income to its guardians/farmers. That said, sustainable farming must have in consideration the economical value of its production. We established a cycle of farming that is not only healthy for the people, but is even generating income in one of the wealthiest farming land in Italy.”


Can sustainability and luxury go hand-in-hand? Absolutely! Says Mr Matricardi, “If luxury means a state of great comfort and elegance and good life - that is exactly what we do in the vineyards! We guarantee “comfort” by receiving all of what the vines need from the environment itself, treating them in a balanced way and give motivation to the grape growers and guaranteeing them good income in order to make sure that the passion of grape growing is passed generation to generation.” 


Raise a glass of Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio to nature…
Sustainable Luxury & Social Entrepreneurship - Caring Luxury By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: September 26, 2014

Sustainable Luxury & Social EntrepreneurshipSustainable Luxury is probably a vague term in everyone’s mind. You know what sustainable means, but ‘sustainable luxury’? Miguel Angel Gardetti and Maria Eugenia Giron not only helped me to make a proper definition, but also showed its necessity and examples where it can be a viable business option for luxury brand owners and managers!

As I leafed through their book, ‘Sustainable Luxury and Social Entrepreneurship: Stories from the Pioneers’, each page inspired me. Citing instances of destruction and extinction, and the ways which companies and brands have adopted to reverse them, the book made for an informative morning read. 

Aptly, the book defines the sustainability of a brand by traceability. Can you trace back to where the product is made, by whom, and with what? That will help you in ensuring a sustainable brand according to the editors. Mr Gardetti, very profoundly, mentions that sustainable luxury is taking luxury back to its original meaning. 

Unputdownable, the book served as a reminder of how exclusive bags don’t have to necessarily be made of crocodile bags to make money, but have to be more respectful towards humanity and nature to be able to survive.

The book starts with a short and powerful foreword by Oskar Metsavaht, founder and CEO of Osklen, on entrepreneurship and how it has to go hand-in-hand with originality. A Brazilian brand which sells winter coats, Mr Metsavaht chose to promote the ideals of Brazil rather than dispelling them like many do today. 

Introductions by Mr Gardetti and Ms Giron are quite eye opening as they highlight examples, case studies and surveys.

“The most scarce and desirable commodity today is a healthy planet, one that brims with a diversity of life forms, clean air to breathe and clear water to enjoy. Essentially a planet just as we have known it or better, for our children and grandchildren and our grandchildren’s grandchildren.”

Saying this, Ms Giron strikes a note which communicates the importance of the planet more than anything. Class, exclusivity, riches - they all come later in the life cycle. Understanding this, brands like Ermenegildo Zegna and Loro Piana have stepped up to do their bit. The editors explain their work in detail as they tell about their efforts in increasing the population of vicunas, from a shocking 5,000 to 350,000. As a mead to their good work, LVMH recently acquired Loro Piana, raising their brand equity significantly! Similarly, Tiffany & Co. has made a conscious decision to stop producing coral jewelry to preserve the few coral reefs in the world.

The editors have, then, invited some entrepreneurs with sustainable luxury brands to tell their story. They have specifically chosen brands and companies which have crossed the first levels of uncertainty and are now financially successful ventures. Interestingly, they have also given a financial chart of all these companies, which highlight their turnover and profits to prove so.

These entrepreneur stories are educative, inspiring and so real, that you can almost imagine these people sitting in front of you and telling their incredible journeys. People like you and me, devoid of any glamour, you can absolutely relate to their tales, written in their own, non-academic language - a feature which I greatly appreciate. 

Belts, bags and accessories made of fire hose; a unique product which you can trace to its weaver and creator; cosmetics made of pure, natural ingredients; products made of the long lost Peruvian wool…these are just some examples of what sustainable luxury entrepreneurs have bought to the table - and successfully. I only wish their were some color photographs of these products which encouraged me to dream on for a better world.

Not choosing to give more details about these brands and companies, I would highly recommend purchasing this book, sitting in a corner wrapped in a shawl and keeping a freshly brewed coffee next to you. It can give those hot selling fiction thrillers a run for their money!

Sustainable Luxury and Social Entrepreneurship: Stories From the Pioneers

Miguel Angel Gardetti and María Eugenia Girón

May 2014 | £25.00 | Greenleaf Publishing

The Business of Travel By: Luca Franco, Managing Partner, Luxury Frontiers

Posted on: September 16, 2014

As travelers start having new whims and fancies, it becomes the responsibility of the industry to make them a reality. Here’s what you need to know. 


Travel is no more just about catching that flight and entering your hotel room. With travel being recognized as one of the best ways to unwind, learn and broaden your horizon at the same time, the least you can do is give an experience that a traveller will remember forever.


As per a 2014 report, ‘The Rise of Experiential Travel,’ the travel research company Skift concluded, “Arguably the most significant, systemic trend in worldwide tourism today is the demand for ‘experiential travel’, typically meant to convey the idea of more immersive, local, authentic, adventurous and/or active travel.” Going further, research has also shown that consumers are increasingly signaling social status through consumption of experiences rather than material goods. Over 72 per cent respondents in a 2013 American Express survey said they would rather spend money on experiences than material goods. Further, 88 per cent said traveling to new places ranked as the number one dream on their life’s bucket list, ranking above family or wealth.


Signaling a global phenomenon, the MasterCard Affluent Report 2014, which surveyed affluent consumers in select key markets in the Asia Pacific Middle East and Africa regions (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and UAE) found “a shifting tendency among the affluent to seek and discover authentic experiences as opposed to purchasing and owning physical luxury items.... Wealth is perceived to be a means to experience the world and to truly live life, with travel being the best medium to explore the world.”


With such a huge shift in preferences, it becomes imperative to understand the audience and factors determining travel trends today!


Meet the traveller  

Millennials [generally considered those under 35] want unique and special experiences which they can share online. According to HVS, when it comes to accommodation, millennials look for ‘something extra’ and the ‘cool factor,’ because these tech savvy consumers ‘do not wish to Instagram a photo of a boring room to share with their friends.’ It is quite understandable since social media is affecting our lives in a big way! While millennials like adventure, findings from a 2014 Bruan Research Study for Chase Card Services also showed that more than any other demographic group, millennials are willing to splurge on luxury services while traveling.


Quite surprisingly, boomers (falling under the age group of 55+), are also demanding newer experiences. Holding an astounding 76 per cent of disposable income in US by 2017, armed with newfound time, and harbouring an “inexorable desire for new sensory and life experiences,” boomers have become “the most potent and profitable travel consumers in history” according to the Resonance Report 2013: US Affluent Travel & Leisure.


Along with new experiences, luxury travelers are also demanding authentic travel ideas immersed in local culture, simplicity and environmental care. Exclusivity, privacy, personalized products and unique destinations are factors that everyone is looking for.


Age is just a number

And boomers are proving that too! According to The Resonance Report 2013: US Affluent Travel & Leisure report, 59 per cent wealthy boomers agree that retirement is “a time to travel and explore new places.” Adding to that, 42 percent wealthy boomers plan to take an international vacation within the next two years, with 33 per cent wealthy boomers wanting to visit a rare or remote landscape. At the moment, 32 per cent wealthy boomers said they enjoy “once in a lifetime” experiences on vacation, with another 18 per cent wanting to try them. 


Taking a broader consumer picture, 46 per cent wealthy travelers consider exotic vacations to be one of the most desirable luxuries with 47 per cent of affluent seeking natural or scenic features when choosing a destination. This percentage is even higher for boomers.


What do they want?

Seeking to escape the stress of everyday life by experiencing new cultures and adventures, luxury travellers are quite clear on the quality of service they want. Travellers can also be categorized to understand the kind of vacation they desire. LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability), explorers, experimenters, eco-tourists, family travel, socially conscious, technological, foodies, wellness, sports/fitness, multi-generational travel, trend setters, trend followers – the travel industry needs to accommodate to all these characteristics! .


Catering to this extremely demanding traveler, a handful of operators have become synonymous with luxury tent experiences, including Singita, Abercrombie & Kent, Wilderness Safaris, and &Beyond. Yet, there are limited examples outside Africa, and in the Americas, the concept is still in its infancy. 


International hotel brands have very sporadically entered into stand-alone tented camps. Take the example of Four Seasons in Thailand, Aman Resorts in India and Indonesia, Banyan Tree in UAE and Maldives, Six Senses in East Asia, and Taj/&Beyond in India. Most tent concepts are designed to be exclusive and low impact operations, and as such, tend to have 10 to 20 tents, and thus have high operating costs relative to revenues.


Having said that, the scope for tented camps and other such concepts is immense at the moment. It all depends on how creative you can be! 


Luca Franco has worked with leaders like Strategic Hotels and Resorts, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Bulgari Resorts, Park Hyatt, The Stein Hotels, Icehotel, Marriott Vacation Club International and more; managed a diversified real estate portfolios for the Ferragamo Group and Fingen Group; and served with LLPI and contributed significantly to the successes of Exclusive Resorts, Private Escapes, DCP International. He has deep expertise in mixed-use developments and a track record of success in hospitality and residential projects around the globe with brands such as Four Seasons Hotels, Lungarno Hotels by Ferragamo Collection, Rio Quente Resort, Ritz Carlton Herzlija Hotel & Residences, Israel, Lake Como in Italy, Auberge Residences at Element 52, Colorado, US and more. With Luxury Frontiers, the team has developed luxury resorts and tented solutions for leading luxury hospitality brands, such as Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Abercrombie & Kent, Six Senses, Orient Express (now Belmond), Wilderness Safaris, Explora and Amanresorts.
New City, New Luxury By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: July 1, 2014

Kolkata, the new kid on the block for growth and potential, is calling out luxury enthusiasts. Why? Read on.

While some may say ponder over Kolkata's late entry in to India’s retail revolution, the city is proving to be a brilliant market for many brands and luxury lovers alike. With a potential to become a retail hub and a major centre for the east in the near future, we hear the winds blowing in favour of Kolkata. Posting growth in many sectors, Kolkata is an emerging new destination for more fields than one.

Adding a luxe feather in its hat, however, the city has been attracting luxury vibes and for all the good reasons. With the new Quest Mall already hosting luxury brands like Canali, Paul Smith, Michael Kors, Rolex, Tag Heuer and Breitling, it is interesting to see how many brands have opened their stores in the city. Opening up a new luxury chapter in the city's book, trunk shows have also become popular, changing the way the city spells fashion. We can only hope the coming months will be an indicator of the fashionistas to be bred.

The city, and counting

Recently, Kolkata witnessed some of the biggest IT ventures, and its real estate and retail characteristics have begun to look and feel different. Apart from the 70 lakh resident population, this metropolis attracts another 70 lakh people visiting daily for services, business and entertainment. With whopping numbers and praises for this city, Kolkata, undoubtedly, is an ideal location for the growth of the retail industry. The city is expected to receive the highest share of malls in this region in the coming years and has come a long way in terms of retail maturity with a proliferation of brands and organised retail chains.

The disposable incomes of Kolkatans have been on an upward climb according to a report by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER). What does that spell for the luxury market if not success and growth?

Not only retail, but the luxury real estate market of Kolkata is set to shed the lull. One may not have expected that a segment like luxury would have many fans in the realty market of Kolkata, which is branded as slow moving, but steady. However, with several luxury projects coming up in Kolkata, developers venturing in the segment can be sure that they can see their business growing. Developer Heritage Realty has 10 new projects coming up in areas like Park Circus, Rajarhat, Narendrapur, Bantala, Ballygunge, Kankurganchi, Southern Avenue, Belghoria and Canal Street. These are categorised as premium, lifestyle apartments, condominiums, exclusive apartments and penthouses in high rise formats and luxurious apartments. The sizes of the apartment may vary from 1,800-3,300 sq ft.

The luxury realty market of Kolkata

Luxury real estate is estimated to have captured a three per cent of the total real estate market in Kolkata, with the major takers being locals (with inputs from As for amenities, these new luxury homes promise 100 per cent power back up, jogging tracks, landscaped gardens as well as interiors, audio communication facilities, fire alarms, gas pipe lines, proximity card access control, office space for residents’ welfare, boom barriers, tennis courts, digital recording surveillance for entry points, visitors car parking space and more. But it’s more than just materialistic amenities that Kolkata’s rich look for and invest in. Biplab Saha, owner, Travel and Realty, says, “When home buyers invest in affordable housing they are not very particular about who their neighbour is going to be, but when it comes to luxury segment, sometimes even the religion of the neighbour becomes an issue.” Even if the homes are grand in making, “the slums and unclean surroundings may keep the buyers at bay,” adds Mr Saha.

One of the recent problems reported by Kolkata’s luxury buyers is the developer’s failure to deliver what was shown in the plan. Now, isn’t that a problem faced by many more cities in India?  Mr Saha mentions a case where two tennis courts would have been in the initial map, but home buyers found only one after the completion. In other cases, the developers do not adhere to their promise of open space. These green spaces might have been given out as parking space or taken for the construction of a new tower. “With spontaneously developing lifestyles, the demand is going to increase,” says Mr Krishnendu Moitra, Corporate Communications at Heritage Realty Group.

Shop till you drop

With many luxury brands opening doors in Kolkata, we spoke to Mr Sanjay Kapoor, Managing Director, Genesis Luxury, and understood why his brands have expanded in the city. "Kolkata is the next destination for luxury brands as the consumer here is well educated and well traveled with high disposable incomes. They are brand aware and have been shopping for their favourite brands outside of Kolkata so far. Hence we wanted to bring the brands to them and saw an opportunity at the newly opened Quest Mall," he said. With a great potential to grow as a market, Mr Kapoor shared that they are seeing healthy sales upon opening of their portfolio of brands, and feel it will get better once Quest Mall is fully operational and as awareness about this destination spreads.

If the product offering is dripping luxury, it is essential that the team behind it has the essential know how. With due importance put on training, brands today ensure that their employees walk the walk and perfect it. "We have in-house robust training modules that begin at induction and then go onto regular refresher courses for our store personnel. These modules cover everything from luxury sales training to grooming and etiquette that match all international brand standards," Mr Kapoor said.

Kolkata is a slightly different market for brands as the consumer is slightly more conservative in spending and is more price conscious as compared to cities like Mumbai and New Delhi. Yet, brands wishing to step foot into this city must keep in mind that consumers in Kolkata are well traveled and have shopped for brands internationally. Brands today need to focus on changing this mindset of shopping overseas by communicating to audiences that luxury is no longer more expensive in India and is, in fact, lesser priced than in Hong Kong and Singapore.


On a positive note, there were no challenges while setting foot in Kolkata. The novelty of a new market, the finesse of good labour and the scent of sweet success, that's what this city is brimming with at the moment.

The Heart of British Luxury By: Simon Petherick, Managing Director, The House of Britannia

Posted on: June 20, 2014

British luxury brands have a unique identity and characteristics of their own. We discuss that and their future

It is no coincidence that majority British brands, which are accepted on the international stage as being “luxury”, have the honour of holding a Royal Warrant to the British Royal Family. For at the heart of British luxury is a set of cultural notions which distinguishes it from its French, Italian or American counterparts. We put them in three categories.

The first is a strong root in the countryside. British luxury draws deeply from the notions of the country house, the aristocratic estate. Less obviously urban than, say, Italian or American luxury, British brands often hark back to the accoutrements of rural upper class life.

Secondly, British luxury brands exhibit an unwavering commitment to excellence. While French luxury has always been based on the excellence of the couture maison, British luxury takes as its inspiration the insistence on perfect form, which can be witnessed every day outside Buckingham Palace in the Changing of the Guard.

Third, and probably the most important is a penchant for natural restraint. Members of the Royal Family continue to perform their duties often in a discrete and unheralded way across all areas of British society. There is a similar lack of “showiness” in British luxury brands which gives many of them that unfathomable allure.

The First Wave of global luxury industry was very much a Continental European phenomenon of the 1980s and 1990s, when primarily French and Italian family-owned firms underwent significant financial re-engineering through the aegis of groups such as LVMH, Prada and Richemont.

British luxury, with one or two notable exceptions, tended to remain outside that First Wave, with the result that the vast majority of luxury brands populating streets such as Bond Street, Rue St Honoré and Fifth Avenue are French or Italian.

But the global luxury industry, currently worth £175 billion and still growing twice as fast as global GDP, has by its very success created a demand amongst consumers of Shanghai, Seoul and Dubai for a new Second Wave of luxury which is not as widespread as the original. The Second Wave of international luxury is all about global consumers demanding a more personalised, experiential relationship with brands. They want to find out more about origins, history and raw materials. They want to feel as though they are part of a glorious secret, not merely the consumers of a label.

This is where the opportunity lies for British luxury brands. In many areas – from leather goods and apparel to jewellery and perfume – British luxury brands have retained a mystique which makes them wonderfully attractive to the newly dominant upper middle class consumers of the world.

Not only that, British luxury companies still on the whole tend to be family owned, in some cases by families who have owned them for generations. Using materials sourced in Britain and techniques developed over decades of application, British luxury brands are able to create an emotional relationship with consumers.

Take Cornelia James, Glovemakers to Her Majesty the Queen. The elegance, the romance of a pair of delicate lace gloves worn at Ascot or a country house dinner can capture the imagination of consumers worldwide. The House of Britannia intends to invest substantial funds into Cornelia James over the next few years, enabling it to reach out to those consumers, and at the same time, extend the range of perfect British accessories which they desire.

With a fascinating assortment of British brands waiting to be explored and indulged in, over the next five years, The House of Britannia will build its group of British luxury companies. We will invest in them and use proven international luxury marketing channels to enable them to reach out to global audiences who are searching for that quintessentially perfect object.

There has never been a better time to be British!

Simon Petherick studied Modern History at Merton College, Oxford. From working in the Government’s Central Office of Information on national and international campaigns, he formed his own marketing company in 1994, through which he managed all the pop concerts and revenue-generating activities in Hyde Park and other London Royal Parks. In 2001, he saw through the acquisition by his company of Her Majesty the Queen’s dressmaker, Hardy Amies Limited, taking over Sir Hardy’s role as Managing Director in the Savile Row house. Mr Petherick has extensive first-hand experience and knowledge of the British luxury goods sector, and a strong track record in negotiation of acquisitions.

Roping the Post-Recession Traveller By: David Mansfield, General Manager, Grand Hyatt Mumbai

Posted on: March 6, 2014

As with every other luxury category, the luxury traveller has changed too. As Grand Hyatt Mumbai celebrates 10 years, they tell you how to do it right.

The dream run of the hospitality industry, characterised by a boom in 2006-2007, was cut short in the following years in the wake of global recession. The industry, however, has started picking up pace in the last couple of years despite widespread economic uncertainty and political flux in Middle East, European debt crisis, stunted growth in emerging markets like India and China, among others. As the world’s economy steadies itself, and disposable incomes rise, the global lodging industry is making headway to achieve sustainable growth.

With the dominant sentiment in the industry being that of careful optimism, the industry needs to unlearn the earlier accepted norms of the game and redefine strategies to capture demand. While pre-recession times built up the demand for high-end and luxury properties, the characteristics of post-recession demand are different. Governments all over the world are engaging in innovative destination marketing, with hoteliers highlighting ‘value’ as a key attraction – whether through positioning MICE tourism or the promise of full-service essentials at lower price points. This has made the post-recession customer, not necessarily a budget traveller, but a discerning customer with a clear preference for value proposition. This scenario presents a compelling question of sustainability in front of luxury hotels.

The answer to this is – staying relevant to your target audience by constantly reinventing yourself. Easier said than done!

Brand as a driver

While the domestic traveller and the budget traveller will continue to feed the growing mid-market and budget hospitality product, what will drive the upper-end of this market is the Brand Experience. At the core of the luxury traveller’s preference is the brand and that alone will continue to capture his/her loyalty. Luxury hoteliers, thus, have their task cut out, to chalk strategies including, but not limited to, reenergising their brand, highlighting their consistent, best-in-class brand experience, as well as providing something totally compelling to their guests. This compelling or ‘wow’ factor will continue to bring back guests again and again.

For instance, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, a luxury business hotel, offers a world of possibilities to its guests such as - rewarding experiences to guests who choose extended stays with a gamut of compelling services such as spa credit points, complimentary breakfast and late checkouts. Giving us those extra brownie points are innovative, experiential programs such as the Nin Hao program, which provides authentic hospitality to our Chinese guests where they can enjoy the basic comforts of their home away from home with destination specific information for an enjoyable stay at Grand Hyatt Mumbai; the Woman’s Experience program that has been specially launched to cater to the customised needs of our single lady travellers where they can now look forward to a welcoming and unique experience with optimum safety and security, amongst a host of other offerings; and the Japanese traveller program which will offer extra touches to the needs of our Japanese travellers from April 2014, with the help of a Japanese city guide and compendium, a Japanese speaking Guest Relations associate to communicate with and Japanese chefs, who will oversee the Japanese section at the hotel’s multi-cuisine restaurant Fifty Five East.

Constant reinvention

For the delight of both the international and the domestic guest, global brands need to consistently deliver their global brand experience yet localise the context. Brand customisation and localisation by investing (culturally, socially, politically and economically) in the local scenario will help global luxury hotel brands reinvent themselves and stay relevant. At Grand Hyatt Mumbai, localisation has been implemented with services such as art tours of contemporary Indian art by established and upcoming artists, spreading the core elements of the city of Mumbai seamlessly in the hotel’s interiors,  and last but not the least, a thorough customisation of banquet spaces based upon guest requirements for auspicious and momentous occasions.

Brands that are seen to connect with local preferences yet meet uncompromised global standards have a brighter future. Reinvention is not just limited to localisation. Customising to meet a spectrum of desires of the upscale guest is another way to grow and retain business. World over luxury hoteliers are taking note of this and offering specialised services in response to demand. Be it customised wellness programs, better air quality in rooms or healthy meals aka ‘home cooked style’ for long stay guests, brands are constantly innovating to pre-empt the needs of their guests and make them feel special by offering them specialised services. At Hyatt we focus on human care, human spirit.

Invest in talent

In the end I believe that none of the above is possible if you don’t build the right talent. People are the one of most important assets in the business of hospitality, more so in the case of luxury brands, and we often tend to forget this. To create a great brand experience and advance it constantly, you need to have a great team of committed, passionate, skilled and trained people. Hiring the right people, up-skilling them, keeping them abreast on major trends that impact the industry, and building the passion to excel are critical factors for the luxury hotel segment.

Ultimately, success will come to those luxury hoteliers who can crack all of this – create an unmatched and compelling brand experience, deliver the brand promise consistently, and increase engagement with consumers in newer and innovative ways delivered by a team of best-in-class professionals who are able to exceed guest expectations.

A hotel community guided by clearly defined, culturally embraced ‘values’ is the key differentiating factor for Hyatt, and the way to go ahead in the near future I think.

David Mansfield is the General Manager of Grand Hyatt Mumbai and Area Director of Mumbai, Pune and Goa. He oversees the strategic and financial performance of Grand Hyatt Mumbai and leads a team of 1400 employees. As an Area Director, he provides support and strategic oversight to Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency and Hyatt brands in West India. David has been associated with multiple Hyatt properties globally, having being the General Manager at Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort, Malaysia and Grand Hyatt Melbourne, Australia, before moving to India. He has been honoured with the prestigious Datoship by the HRH Sultan of the State of Pahang, Malaysia in 2010. An avid reader with a penchant for languages and photography, David loves to indulge golf, swimming and surfing in his leisure time.

Franchising in the India Luxury Industry By: Abhay Gupta, CEO, Luxury Connect

Posted on: February 5, 2014

The business of becoming a franchisee in India for the many international, glamourous luxury brands is not easy. We study the problems and challenges that they have to face in 2014.

2013 draws to a eventful end. Not a great year for many businesses in India… Retail and luxury retail are no different. With every success story of a Zara, there is also the debacle of a Walmart! With a trail blazing success of Audi, there is also the failure story of a Nano. With the rise of ‘Infinity Fashions’ as the new kid on the luxury landscape, there is the dismal and alarming collapse of a ‘Blues Clothing Company’.

Yet, the Indian luxury industry has grown steadily at a consistent rate of 18-20 per cent per annum and is presumed to stand at almost 10 billion USD in 2014.

So what really is the best way to remain a part of the luxury industry and be safe? What product category to choose? Which city to target? Who is the consumer and how to target him? How to meet the varied challenges? Where do I source the talent? These are burning issues, which every potential franchisee wanting to enter the luxury ecosystem is worried about.

The Indian luxury market is currently undergoing drastic and rapid corrections. From focused luxury malls and foray of international luxury brands and products to India specific variants in luxury cars and getting a taste of luxury through bridge brands, the Indian luxury market is developing many facets. Luxury is no longer restricted to the rich and famous alone. The new age or ‘closet consumers’, who do not typically fit into the boardroom definition of luxury consumers, are staking claims on luxury products, brands and services as well, but on their own terms. It is with this backdrop that one needs to study the changing face of luxury in India.

Product categories driving growth

The last three years has witnessed luxury products segment growing faster than both services and assets with a CAGR of 21.8 per cent. Key reasons attributed to this growth is the increased footprint of luxury players geographically and increasing aspirations among consumers with little impact from the market slowdown. Luxury services grew at a CAGR of ~15 per cent while luxury assets are growing at a visibly slower pace with a CAGR of 9.4 percent, contributed primarily by stunted growth in the real estate segment.

Fashion, apparels, accessories, footwear, eyewear and jewellery are sectors which have continued to charm the urban as well as not so urban consumer. A new phenomenon of ‘ Urbanisation of the Mind’ has been reported from the smallest towns – thanks to the boom of digital media, television reach and socio-economic changes – because of which the youth desires products even before they are physically available to him. Services boomed by travel, tourism, health and wellness, beauty and skincare, etc., are fuelling growth.

Products and assets have seen a new demand in unheard sectors of branded residences; high end automobiles, yachts, private jets and helicopters, etc., while the traditional jewellery and watches has seen demands from new consumer sectors.

Key challenges

Value proposition: One of the key challenges for luxury industry is to establish a right value equation in the Indian consumer’s mind. Commensurate value with the craftsmanship of the product, the brand pedigree and heritage, and therefore its impact on their status professionally and in society. In a country obsessed with ‘quantity over quality’, the ‘kitna deti hai’ (‘how much mileage does it give’) syndrome cannot be ignored.

Targeting a first time buyer: India throws up surprises to one and all. Even the fast food giant McDonalds had to invent a McAaloo tikki (potato patty) burger priced at INR 25, especially for India! BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz have all realised the potential of this ‘first time luxury buyer’. He cannot be ignored and yet needs to be treated well like any other luxury consumer. The definition of luxury consumer is changing rapidly in India. Intimidation created by the aura of the brand, lack of brand knowledge and enthusiasm to obtain a social status symbol are key elements that a franchisee needs to cater to and balance.

Mental barrier to conspicuous consumption: While a set of customers want to flaunt their luxury purchase, there is another who is vary of conspicuous consumption. The ‘nazar lag jayegi’ syndrome drives away many a shy customer. This is a mindset issue which brands/franchisees need to tackle. Rewarding oneself for his success needs to be a celebrated moment.

Retail environment: More brands, more services, more customers – they all need the right retail environment. ‘Hybrid malls’ – the Select CityWalk in New Delhi and The Palladium in Mumbai – are the best examples of transitional customer behaviour when the customer moves up the value chain by seeing realistic value propositions from the next tier of brands.

Talent: With varied customers shopping luxury, a key challenge is talent! A luxury professional can’t be too sophisticated to scare away the new customer and not too ordinary to not make a aristocratic customer slink away! Driving this balance in line with the brand’s cultural customer experience is perhaps the biggest operational challenge for any franchisee or brand.

To conclude, while luxury will continue its foray via mainly the franchisee route, it’s the franchisee that needs to do a thorough study and analysis before venturing into the industry, and ensure success for its brand step-by-step.

** Inputs from IMRB-CII report on ‘Changing face of Luxury in India’.

Abhay Gupta is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recently recognized him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential 2013’. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. Fondazione Altagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

Luxury Hotels - Chennai on the Map By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: January 20, 2014

With a plethora of luxury hotels opening in Chennai, India, we directed our minds and pens towards the city to figure out the reason behind this sudden spurt…

Chennai, often called the cultural capital of India for its deep-rooted traditions and heritage, is a city that should be explored for its mystery, charm and persona. Chennai is a city younger than its image, or so they say. More than any other city in India, it is a true reflection of this country’s diversity. In a time span of just over 350 years, Chennai seems to have blossomed into a charming city that has a large, welcoming heart. And welcoming in a more luxurious way are the luxury properties establishing themselves in Chennai.

Tier 1 cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Chennai, Cochin and others have opened to the new phase of ‘glocalization’, where the FDI friendly government policies have attracted large MNC investment in these markets. Why?

A sudden popularity

"Chennai was a ‘sleeping monster’ in terms of luxury brand presence. This city has always had the potential to expand. The younger affluent population is ready to splurge. The spending power in the city is amazing. Around 80 per cent of the business here is cash and carry," said Mr Shrikant Wakharkar, General Manager, The Westin Chennai Velachery.

Today, seven of the top 20 global auto makers have their base set-up in Chennai to earn it the sobriquet of ‘Detroit of India’. Chennai accounts for 27 per cent of India’s automobile industry and 45 per cent of the auto components industry in India. In the last 15 years or so, Chennai has become an attractive destination for foreign direct investments (FDI). Industry-friendly government policies, proximity to the port and a traditional engineering base promise great growth and travel movement in the city, which benefactors hospitality supply and demand scenarios. Chennai has become home to many national and international businesses and factories. Software services companies contribute to 14 per cent of India’s total software exports. In fact, the Tidel Park in Chennai is the largest IT Park in Asia. Chennai is an important center for banking and finance, medical tourism, film and TV industries. So that's Chennai for you today…

Making a mark with its sophisticated style, instinctive service, and local and international cuisine, The Westin Chennai Velachery is a highly anticipated addition to the portfolio of five star hotels in the city of Chennai. "We believe that business travellers, meeting planners and individual travellers will be delighted with the Westin emphasis on well-being and the innovative signature services that have earned Westin worldwide recognition," said Mr Wakharkar.

Ask Mr Pascal Dupuis, General Manager, The Leela Palace Chennai, and he says, "Chennai has witnessed a paradigm shift in the luxury landscape. With brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Ducati, Canali, Harley Davidson, Jimmy Choo and major auto brands making a foray in the city, Chennai’s potential as a luxury destination is recognized the world over. In the hospitality segment alone, in the year 2010-2011, there were merely 496 rooms inventory, whereas, in 2013 the number has gone up to 2325. In a city that predominantly had Indian chain of hotels, we have witnessed an influx of many international brands such as Hilton, Hyatt and Westin. Additionally, at The Leela Palace Chennai, we have paid special emphasis on bringing F&B chains having culinary offers of international standard to provide a seamless blend. Further, with the new and revamped airport and addition of new air routes, the city is all set to attract international and high-end luxury brands in the hospitality segment."

Destination Chennai

Chennai’s hotels have witnessed an increasing business demand, which is expected to grow, mainly driven by corporate travel budgets leading to higher business travelers. In addition, the already well-established tourism industry continues to be promoted and facilities improved to increase tourist visitor numbers. The city has recently started segregating into distinctive micro areas, with the regions of Sriperumbudur (Chennai’s industrial hub) and OMR (Chennai’s IT corridor) attracting significant travel, mainly in the budget and mid-market segments. Given the number of existing and new companies setting up their offices in the city and its micro areas, there is a significant extended stay demand, which has resulted in a strong growth of hotel products. New upscale and luxury hotels with extensive meeting facilities have complimented the boost in the MICE demand.

Apart from international corporate honchos, domestic visitors come from Andhra Pradesh followed by Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal and Bihar. Visitors from Sri Lanka continue to be at the top in the list of foreigners coming to Chennai, followed by visitors from Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France and the United States.

"Chennai is seen as a market that is rapidly becoming one of the fastest growing luxury markets in the world with its potential as a luxury destination recognized the world over. The city, that has always been a favourite of the automobile companies, has seen major shift of spend in lifestyle products owing to the young generation and the influx of youngsters from other cities to Chennai," said Mr Dupuis.

Already established hotels like Taj Coromandel are bringing back the attention towards Chennai. The hotel, in association with Apparao Galleries, gives a chance to get intimate with the culturally dynamic city by creating an ensemble of captivating experiences that lure guests to discover more of this city. Explore the nooks and crannies of Chennai as a guest of Taj Coromandel. Venture through the city’s secrets – uncovering hidden treasures, rich textiles, timeless jewellery, a vivacious art scene and fine South Indian cuisine. Each of their six tours are unique and handcrafted to offer knowledge, and make your trip to the city truly worth it.


A problem or a language?

Besides language being a barrier, properties have had to establish themselves in more ways than one. Apart from the language training, the staff of Westin Chennai has been in a New Associate Training Program which introduces the new staff to the trained staff within the system. The Buddy System allows the new joiner to get a well-informed understanding on soft skills and technical skills. "The staff at the property is also sensitized with the Starwood’s brand pillar ‘Diversity’- the value that gives an associate an in-depth understanding about local ethics, socio-economic background and traditionalist triggers to operate better," said Mr Wakharkar.

On the other hand, at Leela, cultural orientation is regularly organized where dignitaries hailing from different countries and regions are invited to address the employees on culture-centric nuances.

With many hotels setting up base in the city, is Chennai ready for this hospitality boost? Or is there a demand-supply mismatch? Mr Dupuis explained that the demand and supply curve seems to be slightly skewed and supply has overdone the demand. However, with infrastructural developments taking place, it is seen to be attracting the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions) segment in a major way and the coming years look promising. 

Mr Warkharkar said, "Considering the good boost that the hotel has experienced in terms of business, the exceptional guest experience that we continue to offer, and recognition on travel forums like TripAdvisor with our number one position; we look forward to ramping up on our occupancy levels and driving the Average Room Rate. The endeavour would be to exceed our budgets and develop a competitive brand in the present market share."

The ramping up of Chennai as an industrial and financial city, yet maintaining its preserved culture and heritage, has made it a one-of-a-kind destination, which is quite different from other metropolitan cities in India. While a lot of sectors benefit from this development, the luxury hotel sector is seeing quite a lot of activity and growth, and with good reason. And we think it’s not going to stagnate any time soon…

India's Grape High By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: January 9, 2014

The sight of wines and sparklies been swished around in elegant flutes is not uncommon in India anymore. How and when did this change come? Where is India’s wine industry heading to? We analyse it all…

Welcome to India, a land where whiskey is the alcoholic drink of choice, and teetotalers exist by millions. A surprise to none, a wine culture has been almost non-existent here. The Indian countryside isn’t quite known for rolling vineyards and expansive wine estates, but the nation is now producing enough wine to export to 22 countries. Why and how is that happening? India’s wine consumption is changing, quite rapidly at that, and is forecasted to grow as the country emerges as one of the fastest growing markets for wine consumption on the global map. Santé to that!

A large number of Indians today have just the right consumer profile to embrace wine as a lifestyle beverage. Once the privilege of the educated elite, today the potential market lies in the growing middle-class, who enjoy an increase in their disposable income and tourism; and women consumers. The rise in consumption can also be attributed to factors including the health benefits produced by wine, the fact that wine is lower in alcohol than other spirits, and the ‘lifestyle’ image it offers. India is switching from whiskey to wine and beer. Also big retail chains in certain states are now allowed to sell wines. More and more people are drinking wine, every new restaurant that opens has a wine list, and awareness is growing fast. Women are drinking in much bigger numbers, and often their first choice is wine. Indian wines are also getting popular all over the world. As the world gets a taste for the Indian grape, the price of vineyard land in some places in the country is estimated to be as expensive as in parts of Bordeaux in France where grapes have been grown for centuries!

A quick chat with some of India's finest sommeliers and brands gave us an insight into this rapidly changing scenario.


One grape, or two

Why is India suddenly clinking wine glasses instead of swigging a pint of beer with their mates? "The market for wines in India has been nascent so far and presents vast potential. India is a vibrant market with one of the youngest populations in the world. There is an increasing curiosity in the market for wines, which we see as an opportunity that must be nurtured," said Mr Gaurav Bhatia, Marketing Director, Moët Hennessy India. The introduction of Chandon in India recently came at a time when the Indian consumer is increasingly embracing an international lifestyle while taking pride in all that is Indian.

Ask Mr. Sumedh Mandla, CEO, Grover Zampa Vineyards, and he will point out India's leaning towards wine. "Wine was not a preferred drink till about six or eight years ago. That many now prefer it over any other alcoholic beverage is a transition in itself, but India’s wine culture is still evolving. Wine consumption is expected to grow at a rate of over 25 per cent in the next five years. This growth is not only sustainable, but could even be conservative if duties were lowered. In the next 10 years, wine consumption could reach more than 10 million cases!" he said. Mr Magandeep Singh, India's first and finest sommelier, also agrees that the wine scenario in the country looks positive, fueled by curiosity and awareness, and also by social uppity-ness.

Ms Cecilia Oldne, Global Brand Ambassador, Sula Vineyards opines along the same lines and is quite positive about the Indian wine industry. "With respect to wines, the influx of imported brands also, such as Ruffino, Cono Sur and Hardys to name a few, has exposed Indians to world class wines. Over the past decade, the Indian wine consumer has matured and will continue to do so over the next decade. The industry has witnessed an approximate 15 per cent growth in the consumption of wine in India over the past years. Sula expects double digit growth for the next decade at least, making it one of the world's most exciting wine markets," she opined.

Sula also notices that its customer base is growing twice as fast among women as compared to men. It is becoming more acceptable among women to drink wine and their consumption throughout India has increased by 28.7 per cent in the last five years as compared to a 17.3 per cent surge in demand from males. In India, wine is consumed by less than one per cent of the total population. With the current average per capita wine consumption in India at just 10ml per annum, the opportunities in the country seem limitless.


India on the map

The quality of wine is growing in India and is slowly gaining more acceptability internationally. This can be credited to the area of Nashik, which is abuzz with a variety of grapes. Located some 2,000 feet above sea level, Nashik is situated approximately 200 km from Mumbai and Pune. It has become one of Maharashtra's important industrial and agricultural cities; is well on its way to becoming a leading IT centre; and has already achieved the status of 'wine capital' of the country. "Nashik is certainly the wine-making heartland of India and offers a terroir that is conducive to creating world-class sparkling wines. With the launch of Chandon India, we aim to bring wine making in India to new heights," said Mr Bhatia.

"Nashik Valley has always been the country's largest producer of grapes. Until recently over 95 per cent of the produce was of table varieties like Thompson Seedless and Sharad. Globally, however, the scene was exactly the opposite with 95 per cent of grapes produced in countries like France, Italy, Chile, Germany, USA, Australia and others. With the increase of wine production coupled with the government's new wine policy, the acreage under cultivation for wine grapes around Nashik increased dramatically and continues to grow," explained Mr Mandla. More and more farmers are switching over to growing wine varieties to meet the growing demand from wineries that have mushroomed in the district.

The district of Dindori is a prime grape growing area with the terroir being excellent for the cultivation of grapes. Terroir can differ from vineyard to vineyard, and even in different parts of an expansive vineyard. In other words, terroir imparts a certain sense of belonging, a unique character to the wine made from grapes grown in it.

Ms Oldne also pointed out that Indian wines are unique in every way possible. The terroir (soil and climate) of India, and Nashik in particular, gives Indian wines a distinct taste and feel. "We have not tried to copy the taste of foreign wines; rather, we have tried to create wines that would suit the Indian palate. Sula was the first to put Nashik Valley as a region on the bottle. While others try to claim a European linage or proximity, Sula is proudly Indian! We have always been clear that we want to stand out as a winery that takes pride in being Indian," she said proudly indeed!

Mr Singh sees Indian wines making their mark on the international scene, slowly but surely. "Earlier we were about quantity, but now with brands like Fratelli, Chandon, Grovers-Zampa, we are fast shifting focus to quality and that is a great sign," he said. Nashik in Maharashtra sees some major grape growth, but Mr Singh doesn’t think it is quite covered yet. "We are a few stages before that, battling for quality and consistency. Once we have that, we shall be able to understand what the innate nature of our soils and climes are, as also our own winemaking philosophy. Terroir isn’t something we develop or understand overnight, so there is no rush there," he said.

A fine comparison

There are a multitude international brands that have become a part of India's social circle, but Indian brands are now on the rise, and with good cause. Over the years, Moët Hennessy has devoted a great deal of time, effort and expertise in understanding the wine-growing regions of India. "Our team has conducted extensive R&D, which has now culminated in the creation of Chandon in India. Through extensive research we selected the Dindori region that lies 20-40 kilometers north of Nashik. This region is known to have lower temperatures than other sub-regions surrounding Nashik which is perfect for growing high quality fruit. The soil is fertile and conducive to grape growing," said Mr Bhatia. Interestingly, there are similarities to the soils in Australia, Argentina and California. However, no two soils are the same. So the wines from Chandon India will have their own signature.

Mr Mandla too is sure that Indian wines will definitely match up to international brands. "The aim of Grover Zampa is to ensure that we produce Indian wines that are of international standards. We currently export 20 per cent of our produce to over 12 wine countries," he said.

Mr Singh is a little wary of the prices and opined that while quality in Indian wines is a given, for that quality level, India may be a bit more expensive than foreign counterparts. "Blame our taxes and duties, not just on wines, but on all wine-related machinery equipment and accessories that make it so. Crazy as it may sound, a kilo of grapes in Nashik are often more expensive to buy than a kilo in the South of France, and the latter are much more strictly controlled for their quality than we can imagine or hope for locally!" he exclaimed.

Nashik, and beyond

Besides Nashik, there are other areas in India that are under the radar of wine manufacturers. According to Mr Mandla, the Bangalore region is one such area. "The Nandi Hills, located about around 45 km north of Bangalore, houses one of our vineyards, and was the location selected by Grover family in 1980s after several experiments with wine grapes across India," he said. The Himachal region in Northern India is also upcoming for wine production due to its unique climate. Even certain pockets in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are growing wine grapes.

Adding to this list is Ms Oldne who said that Krishna Valley is also an ideal grape growing region in the state. "In Karnataka, more than 12 varieties of grapes are used for making Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Pinotage, Shiraz, Zinfadel, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and others are being cultivated by farmers who have contracts with the wineries. These varieties are mostly grown in Bijapur, Belgaum, Koppal, Bagalkot, Bangalore Rural and Urban, Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts," she shared. Mr Singh added that the Hampi Valley in Karnataka features prominently. "But am sure that regions in Uttarakhand and Himachal, as also around Darjeeling, will show some serious potential once somebody decides to be adventurous. Of course it would doubly help to have a local government which understands and supports the movement, an initiative that largely helped in the case of Nashik," he opined.

Better it

For an industry that is less than two decades old, Indian wines have made some serious progress. But a lack of strict governing rules and a hurry to catch up with other new wine producing countries in terms of production volumes are leading India’s wine industry astray. So how can we better the wine production in India? "Wine should be declared as an industry and subsidies should be developed to improve the quality and generate platform to export to other countries," said Mr Mandla.

According to Ms Oldne, there are a number of challenges in the Indian wine industry that need to not only be identified as obstacles by the government, but also need to be addressed timely. Among her list, lowering taxes on wine vis-à-vis spirits; single national labeling law; simplified national tax structure; easier on-trade wine and beer licenses; need for special educational institutions and vocational courses for local man power; check on rising costs of land and grapes; and improved storage and transport infrastructure featured amongst others.

Mr Singh sees the coming of big brands as a positive sign. The Indian business biggies buying into the wine scene will also help corporatise the sector and bring order as the current farmer-run bodies are not able to understand the true nuances of running the industry as a long-lived business entity. What turn will this industry take now?

Indian Luxury Industry - Closet Capers By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: December 6, 2013


That’s where the new luxury consumer is, says a new report released at the recently held CII-ET Dialogue on Luxury

India's luxury sector says it is growing, but its representatives and stakeholders sound not so convinced of the figures. India may be experiencing its slowest growth in a decade though India’s well heeled are growing pretty fast. That’s according to the report, ‘The Changing Face of Luxury in India’, jointly published by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and IMRB International. The report estimates that the sector witnessed fairly robust growth of about 15 per cent over the last three years and is estimated to have reached $7.58 billion in 2012. Significantly, it also estimates that luxury products have grown much faster, at 22 per cent, compared to luxury services, at 15 per cent and luxury assets, at 9.4 per cent. The fastest growing sectors include apparel and accessories, perfumes, fine dining and auto.


This new report divides India’s wealthy consumers into ‘aristocratic’ (khandaani or old rich) and ‘closet’, and focuses on identifying and understanding what it terms as India’s closet consumers. These closet consumers can be further subdivided into four categories – ‘flaunters’, ‘connoisseurs’, ‘experientialists’, and ‘aesthetes’, elaborated Ms Priyadarshini Narendra, Vice President, IMRB International, at a CII-ET Dialogue on Luxury in New Delhi recently. Pointing out that the previous decade had seen considerable economic growth creating a substantial new class of wealthy, she said, however, that there remained barriers to their coming out. Mr Sanjay Kapoor, MD Genesis Luxury Fashion, and chairman of CII Task Force on Luxury and Lifestyle, said the Indian consumer was changing and the guilt associated with luxury purchases was going away.


These newly rich, which could be first generation entrepreneurs to senior corporate executives, from farmers who have sold their land off to developers to the BPO generation which lives at home with the parents and has money to splurge, nevertheless remain quite ‘middle class’ in their mindset. This mindset translates to the consumer being wary of getting addicted to luxury consumption, being ‘smart’ about what the consumer buys, as well as being restricted by availability, limited awareness and low levels of knowledge.


Different strokes

The sector’s confusion, perhaps not entirely unjustified, is reflective perhaps of its performance, which is trying to be exclusive and inclusive at the same time as it tries to reach out to new consumers! The government, which has to yet get general retail at the same level of higher placed GDP countries, also yet has to focus any attention on the sector. India's additional finance secretary Mr KP Krishnan, part of the conference, admitted there were various issues plaguing further growth of the sector in India. Citing a more than century old seminal work, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), by Thorstein Veblen, he agreed that conspicuous leisure gives way to conspicuous consumption. “Numbers indicate the emerging role of India in the global luxury market,” he said. He too pointed out that India has the potential to offer a mass market for luxury goods, saying that there is segmentation within the luxury market, and even if two per cent of Indians were to consume lower priced luxury goods and services, it would constitute a significant part of the global market.


Mr Krishnan said the government needs to look into issues like creating a conducive policy, having a sensible taxation environment, and look at fluctuating money, issues of sourcing domestically and lack of adequate infrastructure to put India firmly on the global luxury map.


Thoughts were disparate, but often heartfelt. Mr Marco Bizzarri, president and CEO, Bottega Veneta, said a major issue for luxury retailers India is unavailability of “quality space” to open stores. He said growth was still limited by the number of stores a brand could have at the ‘right’ locations. Mr Stefano Canali, general manager of Italian menswear brand Canali, was even more blunt when he said that India could miss the opportunity to grow a market for luxury brands if duties were not reduced, citing the example of China, which has a booming business in the sector. Canali alone has 70 stores there compared to its six in India. “Indians are buying somewhere else,” he said, suggesting India needed more tourist attractions to attract the luxury consumer.


Setting up business remains a challenge in India. Mr Dilip Doshi, former cricketer, whose firm has been the India distributor for Mont Blanc for the last 23 years, expressed satisfaction over the way the brand has been accepted as a premium product, though he admitted that early years had been challenging, right from getting a licence. For the then New York based designer Mr Raghavendra Rathore, the challenge had been to set up a brand, a concept Indians were unfamiliar with when he was setting up. Ms Priya Paul, Chairperson, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, said the first goal for any brand is the need to educate the consumer.


Mr Philipp von Sahr, President, BMW Group India, cautioned about dilution of a luxury brand. He said that brands such as Rolls Royce, the top end of the groups’ offerings, could not be up for discounts. He also stressed the race in the premium segment is not about being the number one in terms of sales, though a certain volume was needed, but being the “best in class”.


“The era of bling is over,” said Mr Amit Dutta, MD, Quintessentially India. “Now there is a renewed focus on craftsmanship,” he said, pointing out the penetration of luxury in India is low, with the consumers often questioning value. Mr Canali agreed, saying the new consumers are interested in knowing every little detail about the product and its heritage. “We have to develop relationships, offer made to measure and customised products and integrate Indianness,” said Mr Ankur Bhatia, ED, Bird Group, whose first luxury resort, Dusit Devarana, has recently opened in Delhi. In hospitality, he said, the touch points remained largely Indian. He, however, bemoaned the lack of adequate infrastructure.


Most agreed there was a latent market in India’s smaller cities. “We open 4 to 5 new dealerships every year and this adds to our numbers”, said Mr von Sahr. Something Mr Rajeev Wadhwa, Chairman and CEO, Baron Luxury and Lifestyle, which offers private jet rentals, agreed to saying many owners needed to go smaller cities and ended up wasting time as there was no air connectivity. He also pointed out Indians are still not valuing time, indicating that the time they spent waiting at airports was time lost for them.


The lack of adequate infrastructure, especially real estate, was especially addressed. While high rentals charged by successful malls were attacked, Mr Anuj Puri, chairman, JLL India, said Delhi and Mumbai alone contributed about 60 per cent of the country’s demand for luxury retail space, while Bengaluru contributed another 14 per cent. “The rest of the country is still not mature enough to have luxury malls,” he pointed out. Mr Darshan Mehta, CEO, Reliance Brands said India is still a small market for luxury. “There aren’t that many rich customers”, he said in the context of high rental for outlets in premium malls. He also said the Indian customer was paying an upcharge, saying “we need to address luxury retail price issue.”


Actress, Ms Sonakshi Sinha, pointed out that during her work shoots, she didn’t get to wear designer clothes, instead doing so at events! Mr Neelesh Hundekari, Partner, AT Kearney, said affordable luxury is important for India, even as he pointed out the luxury consumption was relatively resilient to economic swings. IMRB predicts a growth of 17 per cent this year for the sector. As Hundekari pointed out - Indian consumers are difficult and make the brands work hard. Most agreed, India’s luxury market may have great potential, but its realisation is still some way off. As Mr Rathore said, a rose with a thorny stem!

Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on tv. Yes, current politics bothers him.

When Luxury Turns Bad By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: December 02, 2013

Dining at a superior restaurant makes everyone get together for a happy feast, whatever the occasion, or even without one. But then, the key word is ‘superior’. And those who were are slipping down the standard…

A favourite always remains a favourite - until something goes wrong - or you find a new favourite. I am sure you know what I mean. Could be a new car, a dress, a cuisine or in my case - restaurants.

Taking stock

The food is the mainstay of any restaurant which actually attracts diners and makes them loyal to you. But if the food itself starts spiraling downwards, what saviour does a restaurant have?

Trattoria at Taj Vivanta is a restaurant that has been favoured and loved by many. When confused where to go, or for a late night snack, Trattoria was the simplest go to place that has managed to keep the crowds flowing in and the appetite churning for years.

Two recent visits, however, has caused me to change my perception about Trattoria and wonder what happens to good old brands when they age? Do they become lethargic, non-inventive and nonchalant? Maybe they do and I should warn my fellow fans of this place. Think before you leap as ‘Tratts’, as it is fondly called, is now ageing and is not the same as it used to be. A visit in October was my first disappointment with the place. A foreign particle or 'special ingredient' found its way in my ice tea with the team admitting and apologising that it was a 'mistake' and they had no idea how it got there. No replacement up to 20 minutes later led to a reminder from my side. The rest of the meal went smoothly with one Fiamma pizza and one Tratts special with herbed focaccia and alio olio dip. My opinion to the staff was simple, "How can a place like Taj afford to make these mistakes and yet take it so casually?" Maybe I thought aloud or maybe the fact that I left my visiting card to the staff and asked for the bill that the manager, Mr Issake came to the table along with Mr Rishi, the F&B manager and refused to charge me for the meal and 'wanted an opportunity to make it up to us'. A tête-à-tête later, I respected the action and left.

Few days later, on my sister’s birthday, I thought of giving my 'favourite' a chance again. Ten family members, two of which were epicure gold card members, were all set to celebrate a simple occasion. And still, every single thing that could go wrong at a dinner table did! The drinks are the only thing worth even writing this LONG explanation for. Everything else failed. The mushroom sautee was pathetic - dry, chewy, salt-less. The pizza for the birthday girl, supposed to be plain cheese margherita minus the basil (the staff will confirm the order) was sent back twice because it had basil in it. The other pizzas - Fiamma and Vegetarian mix (onions, peppers and mushrooms) - were chewy, sauce-less and salty to another extreme. The Mushroom risotto was an epitome of uneasy cheese and milk settled on the chest within seconds of the first bite. The cake for the birthday girl, kept on the ledge of the bar, came to the table after the birthday girl left. In the midst of all this chaos, we were handed over a bill, and after sheer dismay and shock discussed with Mr Rishi,  a few things were taken off the bill. My only question at the end of this all - what in God's name were we paying for?

Making it worthwhile

The service is another strength of a restaurant. A diner, at the end of the day, comes to a restaurant to feel like and be fed like a king. They are paying for it after all!

Having enjoyed the hospitality of Yauatcha many-a-times and even written about positively in LuxuryFacts, this restaurant by KA Hospitality has managed to upset me surprisingly. Aiding a perfect Sunday brunch - my companion's favourite - an espresso martini was requested. A few moments later, the waiter returned confirming they could whip up the cocktail but the bartender wondered "Which vodka would you prefer"? On asking which vodka was generally used in martinis, we were told that it was Ketel One, but Grey Goose was an option. Quite common, we asked them to go ahead with Ketel One. Keep in mind, the price is Rs. 750 for any martini.

Ending this lazy Sunday, we requested for a platter of macaroons - chocolate, raspberry and orange. Unfortunately, the platter that came in front of me consisted chocolate (absolutely delicious), raspberry and pista! The server took the liberty of ordering the pistachio flavour for me since the orange was over. I am not too fond of the flavour so I requested for another and unfortunately both the other flavours, beside the cocoa, were too sweet for words. And having had the macaroons before and often parcelling them, I was sure that there was something wrong. Upon asking the server, he was kind enough to ask if I wanted any other flavour (seeing I had not even bitten the macaroon more than a squirrel’s nib) and after I turned that down, he offered me another dessert. Already having my favourite raspberry delice on the table, I declined the offer and asked for the bill. My bill had a cocktail for Rs. 1750 and a macaroon platter for three. The unnecessarily inflated bill marred my mood and didn’t make the situation any better for Yauatcha.

Topping any of the above experiences was a visit to The Lalit Mumbai hotel, near the airport, which has caused me to rethink going anywhere near the brand again. An hour long for food to arrive, wrong orders, tasteless food and incompetent staff. What more can I say?

Ambience, food and service – these three pillars make a restaurant. The above mentioned fine dining restaurants managed to disappoint us with at least two of the pillars crumbling. Take a rain check, please?

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts - Bringing Luxury to NCR, India By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: November 7, 2013

Four Seasons luxury hotels logoGlobally, the name Four Seasons has, for nearly half a century, been a byword for luxury. Addresses bearing its name, whether hotels, and later private residences, have attracted the crème de la crème to stay. Come for a night and stay forever, is the promise held out for those with deep pockets.

Well, this Toronto, Canada headquartered luxury hospitality chain is finally making a much anticipated foray in north India. The chain will be part of a 12.5 acre mixed use development project which will see a Four Seasons hotel, besides Four Seasons branded residences, offices and luxury retail space in a nine tower complex that is under construction and expected to open in 2016.

The details

Setting up quite a humungous project, three towers will be residential and five commercial, while the hotel will have its own tower, all of which are to be connected by a skybridge. About 3.5 million square feet of area would be developed in this project, comprising 2 million square feet of office space and 3,00,000 square feet of luxury retail. The 3Cs Company, which is developing the mixed-use project 'Delhi One' at Noida, says it expects the total cost to be around Rs 3,500 crore once completed. The Delhi One project is also funded by Red Fort Capital. It is situated at the Delhi border, and expects easy access to central and south Delhi.

The five star hotel will have 300 keys and will occupy one of the towers in the complex. The hotel is expected to set benchmarks for a city hotel in the region. An 80 year contract has been signed between the partners. The project is also aiming for a LEED Gold certification.

Four Seasons will also offer 180 posh branded residences in this project which will be sold by invitation. Mr Vidur Bhardwaj, Director, 3Cs said the expected cost of the 7,500 square feet apartments would be between Rs 22,000 and Rs 26,000 per square feet. Back of the envelope calculations put the price between Rs 15 and 20 crore for an apartment. Buyers will have a choice between themed interiors like Manhattan, London and Hollywood!

Four Seasons hotels in indiaTaking it head on

Mr Chris Hart, President, Asia Pacific Hotel Operation, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, also announced that they will have four hotel properties by 2018 as they are optimistic about the long term growth prospects of the country.

The hospitality chain has only one operational hotel in India, in Mumbai, which opened in 2008. It is working on three more projects in Bangalore and Goa besides Delhi. The Bangalore project is slated to open in 2015, Delhi-NCR by 2016-end, and Goa by 2018. “We have been looking at India for a long time. Now we have one under construction property at Bangalore, one in Delhi-NCR and the third one is in planning and development stage in Goa. So, we now are looking at four tangible projects in India,” said Mr Hart.

He added that India is a long term market with huge growth potential, and Four Seasons was not influenced by the slowdown. “India has a growing middle class, its population is increasing,” he said. He also said there was ample scope for luxury residences. “There is enough room for us (luxury segment) at the top of the bracket.”

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has 92 properties in 38 countries, with 24 of them in Asia. It also has a pipeline of about 60 projects under various stages of development around the world, nearly three quarters of which are in emerging markets. Hart said that out of 92 Four Seasons hotels, 27 have a residential component.

While in most locations around the globe, the hotels and residences are together, there are locations where they are separate as well, a model the company is comfortable with as it looks ahead to consolidating its presence in emerging markets.

Four Seasons started rather humbly in 1961 as a motor hotel, and its turn towards luxury came in 1970 with the opening of the London hotel. While Mr Isadore Sharp, Founder & Chairman, continues to lead the company, the group suffered financially in the previous decade, till a buyout in 2007 changed the ownership structure. Today 47.5 per cent of the shares each are with Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment and Saudi Arabia’s leading company Kingdom Holding Company, while Sharp owns the rest.

Suman Tarafdar Writer and EditorSuman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on TV. Yes, current politics bothers him.

Le Cirque - A Lavish Summer By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: July 2, 2013

Food is not just something that keeps you alive. It is an experience. Le Cirque at The Leela Palace New Delhi knows that very well, as we find out from Marco Maccioni, who was in the city to launch the restaurant’s summer menu.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” said the famed writer Virginia Woolf in her extended essay ‘A Room of One's Own’. And we Indians quite swear by this, what with the affinity we have for good food. Not only do Indians know how to cook, but also how to enjoy it in the proper manner. Fine dining is not new to India, but varied world cuisines are. And that’s what Sirio Maccioni realized about India when he set out to expand his famed dining concept – Le Cirque.

So when his son, Marco E Maccioni made a visit to India, we couldn’t stop ourselves from interacting with this charming scion. Dividing his visit between New Delhi and Chennai, Mr Maccioni says, “India's ancient history, sense of family, tradition, unique and diverse cultures, and it's appeal for great food reminds me very much of Italy with its history, tradition and delicious food that is spread out through its many regions.”

City talk

The home of the Italian family’s dining concepts, however, is the bustling New York. And apparently, the city shares a lot more than just similar names with New Delhi. When asked to compare the fine dining scene between the two cities, Mr Maccioni said, “Because both cities are melting pots and cosmopolitan cities, I would say it is more or less the same, except that New York started doing things a little bit sooner. Customer understanding and expectations of fine dining are on par in both places and that is why a restaurant like ours can make a home in this dynamic city [New Delhi].” The fine diner in both the cities is very similar too – demanding with educated tastes, who will not settle for inferior facsimiles. It comes quite obviously since a fine diner is someone who has travelled and accumulated experience of great food and wine.

Le Cirque, today, is a French-Italian restaurant, combining two cuisines which are quite influenced by each other. However, it wasn’t how it had started, but developed into what it is today gradually. The history is quite intriguing to say the least. “My father, Sirio [Maccioni], opened the restaurant as a French restaurant back in 1974, because the diners of the United States had only been exposed to the gourmet cooking of France until then and therefore used that as their benchmark for fine dining. Italian food was also stereotyped as an ‘immigrant's food’, that it was cooked by Mafiosi and only comprised of spaghetti and meatballs. The ingredients to make high end, authentic and elegant Italian cuisine were not available in New York. As soon as ingredients were present, either because we smuggled them in our suitcase at first or eventually were readily available in the market, my father made sure that he brought the best of Italy to the table.  The rest is history,” recounts Mr Maccioni.

Le Cirque, as most of you know, is housed at the prestigious The Leela Palace New Delhi in India. Considering it hasn’t set foot in any other global city like Milan or London till now, a natural question that came to us was why New Delhi directly? Apart from that fact that the Maccioni and Nair [of The Leela Palace Hotel & Resorts] families share common values, Maccionis have a long term strategy too behind this decision. “We like to establish ourselves in a new market that hasn't been already flooded by other trends in order to become part of the local fabric and truly give a sense of ownership to the local guest that we are welcoming and that will be supporting us for the years to come,” said Mr Maccioni.

Battling the summer

Despite the success it has already achieved in the Indian market, Le Cirque doesn’t fall back on its laurels lazily. It strives to innovate to keep its loyal patrons guessing as to what’s next. Thus, their new summer menu, has us quite mesmerized with its novel offerings. Taking stock of the fact that summers are excruciating in India, and that cool, fresh dishes will delight us, Le Cirque has made the appropriate changes. “For example, we offer a chilled soup as well as a hot one while pastas and salads can see the incorporation of seasonal vegetables and fruits together with seafood, chicken and/or other meats. Main courses will feature simply grilled, tossed or roasted fish and meat, always combining that with the flavours of the season. We will not have braised or stewed preparations which are better for cooler temperatures and months,” explained Mr Maccioni.

To give a better understanding, the Honeydew Melon and Cucumber Cold Soup, which calms and entices with its name alone, is prepared with yoghurt sorbet, red pepper brunoise, port pearls, and with or without curry marinated shrimps. Follow this up with Mi-Cuit Tuna, which is prepared with mango tapenade, raddish and crispy ginger cracker. If you want something particularly lavish, then order the Osscetra Caviar (homemade blinis, crème fraiche, red onion, boiled egg white and yolk), recommended to be had with frozen Belluga Gold Line vodka.

If risottos appeal to you, try your fork at the unique Cauliflower Risotto or Lobster Risotto. Take the evening forward with Asparagus Flan (crumbed asparagus, roasted baby carrot, vanilla and red pepper coulis) or Black Cod Paupiette (with leek, crispy potato, beetroot, Sangiovese reduction). This is, however, just a tiny glimpse of the illustrious menu. Dig your sweet tooth into delectable desserts like Litchi and Coconut Granite (fresh coconut meat, litchi, dragon gum gel, coconut gelato) and Blueberry and Orange Cheesecake.

What strikes us as particularly wonderful is the way Chef Mickey Bhoite has combined ingredients, which maybe pretty usual standing alone, into innovative groups, which were hitherto unheard of.

Mr Maccioni, who is a wine connoisseur, gives some valuable inputs on wine pairings with the new menu too. Mentioning two particular wines, he recommends Attems Pinot Grigio, a versatile fresh and fruity white wine, with a bouquet of ripe tropical fruits, apple and pear on the nose and in the palate. This wine is perfect with their salads and charcuterie starters, more savoury seafood pasta and roasted fish, and white meat preparations. The red wine which Mr Maccioni recommends is Rocca di Frassinello, made of Sangioveto, Cabernet and Merlot. “The ripe red fruit and plum nuances of this elegant well bodied wine makes for wonderful pairings with our savoury pasta and roasted duck and meat main courses,” he said.

Le Cirque has spoilt New Delhi’s fine diners enough to make them wish for the Maccioni family’s other dining options. Ask Mr Maccioni if we will see their other restaurants in Delhi, and he replies very positively, “I certainly hope so because both Sirio as well as Circo have a wonderful Italian feel with different levels of formality than Le Cirque. Sirio reflects today’s flavours and happenings in the better establishments across all the regions of Italy. Circo has a hip, fun-loving and casual feel that brings a more traditional Tuscan cooking style. I am sure that both would be appreciated and welcomed here where the ever more educated restaurant goers are always looking for excellent, fun and authentic experiences. Buon Appetito!”

A. Lange & Soehne - Love Thy Neighbour By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: June 26, 2013

Dubai is almost like the Mecca of shopping for us Indians. Isn’t that so? A short three-four hour flight away, Dubai serves as the ultimate shopping destination with a plethora of brands available in an environment which interestingly blends eastern and western sensibilities.

Wilhelm Schmid A. Lange & Sohne CEOIt should actually be no surprise then that Dubai houses the largest A. Lange & Soehne store till now. That says quite a bit about the opulence and taste of the Dubai and Middle Eastern market.

Taking a closer look at this much developed market vis-à-vis the nascent Indian market, and pondering upon other watch trends, we grill Mr Wilhelm Schmid, CEO, A. Lange & Soehne. Sitting in the plush VIP Lounge of Lange’s Dubai store, responding to us with charming smiles, witticisms and knowledgeable facts, we recount our interesting tête-à-tête with him.

When Dubai calls

Soumya Jain: How come Dubai has the largest Lange store out of all the 11?

Wilhelm Schmid: Business around the world is very different. In some countries size matters, in some countries it doesn’t matter. And sometimes it also has to do with availability. Specifically in Asian region, quite often you have very small spaces available. You can’t implement a boutique like this there. On top of that, for us it’s a huge challenge - the bigger the space, the more watches you should have on display, which then causes an issue for us because we don’t have enough production. I must say the one in Dubai is exceptional. Dubai has always been at a point for us where we wanted to be. I think Dubai is a rare combination. It’s a combination of local and tourist business. And Dubai is a very important location for almost all luxury brands around the world.

SJ: Do you see a lot of Indian also shopping for Lange in Dubai

WS: Actually we have a long lasting tradition with Indians and we have good network in India as well. But yes, we do see Indians buying in Dubai too.

SJ: So is there a cost difference which makes Indians buy from Dubai?

[Matthieu Dupont, Regional Director, Middle East & India said because of import duties, watch prices are a little higher in India, but not very much.]

WS continued: Usually we try to deliberate a pricing policy in a way the watches have the same price around the world. We monitor it very tightly because of the currencies going up or down. But a lot of people come to Dubai either for holiday or for shopping, or as a stopover. I think Dubai has developed itself nicely into that sort of destination. And therefore all nationalities come and purchase all sorts of goods in Dubai.

SJ: What are the differences between the Indian and Dubai market in terms of doing business? India has a lot of infrastructural, bureaucratic problems. Is Dubai simpler?

WS: Dubai is simpler in a way it is smaller. India is huge, not only in the size of the country, but also in population. And on top of that, what makes me think it is so difficult to establish luxury retail business in India is that it doesn’t have typical centre points. If you go to Milano, you know where to go shopping. You go to London you know where to go. You go to New Delhi, do you know where to go? So that’s a big advantage in Dubai. You come here, you know where to go. And I believe that’s the biggest challenge for us in India. And if India wants to establish a retail luxury market, you have to identify the central points for luxury business. You have that in other cities. I think in India that is still a job to find these focal points to do luxury business.

SJ: How is an Indian customer different from a Dubai local customer?

WS: Generally, Indians are very familiar with all the artisans work. India has a rich history and culture of jewellery, working with gold, and art and craftsmanship. Therefore I believe appreciation for these aspects, which other people might not recognize, is rich in Indian customers. The Indian customers I know love us because they like that extra perfection and the beautification of the movement.

Wilhelm Schmid A Lange & Soehne interviewSJ: So does that mean that a Dubai customer is not as mature as an Indian customer?

WS: No, I don’t say that. I just think that generally speaking, we are on the top end of the market. We don’t produce millions of watches. We only produce a few thousand. I don’t think a Lange customer, regardless of his nationality, is different from other customers. If I travel the world, the discussions are not really different, whether I am in the US or India or Middle East or Germany for that matter. Why, because we only target the top-end of that market. And once you reach that level, you are familiar with watchmaking, and I don’t think that has to do with nationality. It has to do with what are your key interests. And for me it’s very difficult to distinguish between Indian or Dubai or African or American or European customers because at the top end, they behave very similar.

SJ: It is the Lange cult…

WS: In fact we had a very nice meeting at this time’s SIHH and there was a big Japanese customer of ours who made a very nice speech. He said, “Some 10 years ago, I was infected by a virus. And the virus is based in a little town about which I didn’t even know before I was infected.” It was Lange he was referring to as the virus. So at the top end, it doesn’t mean there is no specific purchasing behaviour, but it’s very, very similar. We are a very expensive brand. So if you cannot appreciate what we do, why would you buy a watch from us?

For the fairer gender

SJ: Lange is mainly a men’s brand, though you do have some women’s watches. What is the fraction of women customers you have?

WS: Let me answer this in three different ways. First of all, in a lot of countries around the world, women don’t buy women’s watches. Women buy watches they like. And more often these are watches which have been designed for men. The second thing is that because we have a strong belief in whatever we do must be in line with our DNA, we would not accept any shortcuts in producing a ladies’ watch. So it means the beautification, the details that go into making a women’s timepiece is same as that goes into assembling a men’s watch. Now if you cannot even supply the demand of men’s watches, and if you open the ladies watches as well, then every ladies’ watch produced would mean one less men’s watch. Therefore we are fairly restricted in the way we look at ladies watches. And thirdly, we do need some of the ladies watches and therefore we have one-two preferences that we think are clearly Lange, though with a female touch. So it’s a balance of. And then you know ladies don’t really know what they want. Which is true (he said with a sly smile)!

SJ: Do you see Indian women also buying Lange watches?

Mr Dupont: One of the most successful watches with women is Saxonia Automatic with the mother of pearl dial. They appreciate the dial, the bezel and the movement itself too. That does fantastically well. But then again, we are told, the Lange 1 with gold also does well with women.

SJ: So basically Indian women are also maturing in their preferences and going beyond just women’s watches.

Mr Dupont: This is not only a trend in India, but we have noticed this all over. In fact we are noticing that more and more. It’s not a new trend, its just increasing more.

What the future holds

SJ: And what are your future plans for Dubai and India?

WS: In Dubai I think we have reached a good level now. There is always work to do and I believe Matthieu and the team don’t run out of steam. There is lot to do in the Middle East generally speaking.

A. Lange & Soehne SIHH 2013 watchSJ: So in Middle East you are planning more stores?

WS: We are definitely looking to in other countries, and if the market is mature enough, and if we see a good opportunity, we will definitely go ahead.

SJ: How many pieces of the new novelties are coming to India and will all be available?

WS: The numbers is something I can’t disclose. We don’t distinguish between markets because we know customers travel to another country and buy it there, so that doesn’t make sense. We’ll allocate a good proportion of the novelties around the world. But they’ll all be available with one exception – the Grande Complication. And then again, it doesn’t make sense to make it available. It’s only for six customers, six collectors.

SJ: What is the application procedure for the Grande Complication? Has it started?

WS: Yes, yes, it has started. Generally speaking, what we want is that this watch is the crown of the collection and it should go to a known collector – a collector who is not famous for getting a watch as soon as there is a chance to make a quick buck (because that is very important for us) otherwise we will run into trouble.

We do have the first customers. We are still in the process of meeting people because we got a higher number of potential customers than what we had presumed. And it’s a delicate process. We don’t want to upset anyone, but our limitation means we can produce only six pieces.

Green Care By: Sanjana Chauhan, Founder, Luxury Next

Posted on: May 1, 2013

Taking their formulations to the next level by incorporating nature, luxury skincare and cosmetics brands are making environmental and business sense. No one’s complaining…

‘Sustainable luxury’ for many has been just an oxymoron term, but now we see leading luxury fashion brands and even skincare brands focusing on this aspect of doing business. Adding to the definition of luxury, brands have realized that true luxury is something that is good for the buyer, is natural and environmentally sustainable.

Incorporating sustainability has business benefits too. In January 2013, mineral makeup brand Mirabella Beauty, was invited to participate in New York Fashion Week. In its second year at the event; this gluten-free, talc-free, and paraben-free makeup brand was a hit with the models. The models loved the clean healthy formulas plus the flawless airbrush quality.

Mirabella is the only brand of mineral makeup chosen to participate in New York Fashion Week. As per the company, usually mineral makeup brands have too much shimmer for fashion photography. Mirabella looks great for brides, proms queens, and photo shoots. Mirabella looks beautiful under the bright lights and photographs perfectly. Most importantly, Mirabella Beauty is based on high-quality, mineral-based prestige ingredients.

As Indians, we all have grown up with natural and sustainable luxury skincare concepts and home remedies. Shikakai, coconut oil, henna and besan home-made face-packs were common. Then came Shahnaz Husain and Biotique with the goodness of nature. More recently there are brands like Kama Ayurveda and Forest Essentials that have made high end Ayurveda fashionable and luxurious.

Well, it’s not just India, but the whole world that it moving towards sustainable skincare. People are moving to not just sustainable products but also accessories along with them. Advanced beauty tools like cruelty-free brushes made with no animal hair are gaining popularity along with eco-friendly packaging. “Live Beautifully - Stay Kind to Yourself and the Earth” is the mantra followed by actress Alicia Silverstone when creating her products. Her train case for cosmetics is made with natural hemp and recycled PET (a byproduct of recycled plastic bottles). Even the hand tag is printed on tree-free stone paper and the design on the bag is non-toxic.

Women love to make an impact when they walk into a room, but they don't want to make an impact on the planet. Many are conscious of their buying decisions when it comes to skincare and brands are aware of that. Thus, many skincare brands are into CSR activities.

In honour of Earth Day in April 2013, Kiehl’s Since 1851, New York-based purveyor of fine quality skin and hair care brand, donated $50,000 to Recycle Across America (RAA), a charity supported by Kiehl’s since its inception. The brand has consistently been involved with activities related to conservation and protection of Earth. Josie Maran, luxury with a conscience, is involved with multiple charities like City of Hope and Ian Somerhalder Foundation.

In addition to these individual efforts by companies, the cosmetics and skincare industry itself is looking at sustainability on a larger level. Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, organized by Organic Monitor, will take place in New York City on May 16-18, 2013. The summit will once again bring together some of the leading organizations involved in sustainability in the cosmetics industry. Green ingredients in cosmetic formulations will be the focus. The move towards green formulations is gaining momentum because of high consumer demand for natural and organic cosmetics. A number of speakers will discuss the growing use of plant and marine raw materials.

Discussions will also cover the social dimension of cosmetic products. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps will state how its fair trade sourcing projects have improved the lives of marginalized producers in Palestine and Sri Lanka. A large cosmetics company will demonstrate how social value can be created by CSR initiatives, human resources procedures, and customer-supplier relationships. In another presentation, Johnson & Johnson will highlight the challenges when juggling a diverse range of environmental and social issues in sustainability programs.

As the skin care and beauty market develops, directions are being found to give that extra care to the planet and to the skins of consumers. Paraben-free and silicon-free are becoming the new buzz words. As beauty brands incorporate sustainability in their formulas, the patrons are the happiest in this deal…

Sanjana Chauhan is the Founder of LuxuryNext ( which provides innovative and customized solutions to luxury brands internationally, in the areas of luxury brand management consulting, CRM solutions, social media strategies and customer experience evaluation. She is the former Head of Marketing at DLF Emporio and a luxury branding and social media marketing expert. She has worked for numerous luxury brands in the US, Europe and India like Villeroy & Boch and Louis Vuitton. She can be contacted at

The Perfect Whiff By: Ratnamani MVK, Business Head of Fragrance Division, L’Oreal India

Posted on: April 29, 2013

A highly sought after shopping category, fragrances are more a need than luxury today. Surprisingly then, many still struggle to find their perfect scent. We give some guidelines…

Fragrance is personal. While a perfume may smell divine, it may not just be for you or your personality type! As a horde of brands bring their fragrances to India, most buy fragrances based on just the brand name and outward smell. Very few try to analyse and truly think which fragrance ‘defines’ them in the true sense.

Multiple researches have proved that fragrances can influence mood, memory, emotions, anxiety, stress, arousal, concentration, mate choice and the ability to communicate by smell without knowing it. Quite a humungous amount of work by something as subtle as a ‘smell’, right? Thus, it only makes sense to be careful about what you choose to represent yourself.

Though there is no formula to buying the apt fragrance, there are some basic checkpoints to keep in mind while selecting it. First is, understand what kind of scents you like. There are several fragrance families and all fragrances fall in one of these families, so it helps to know broadly which family of fragrances you want to go for. For example, if floral perfumes appeal to you in general, then have a look at brands which usually launch floral fragrances. You can then probably try Romance by Ralph Lauren.

Once you have selected a broad category, compare it against fragrances that you already like. In case you are already using some fragrances or know and like some fragrances that someone you know uses then you can try something similar. The best resource for this is to ask Fragrance Advisors in stores and get their recommendations on similar fragrances. Conversely, if you want something completely different, then you already know what kind of fragrances not to look for.

The purpose of using a fragrance is as important as the ingredients inside it. Select a perfume depending on the purpose of the fragrance, the day or time you want to use it and the frequency of use. In case you are looking for a light women’s fragrance for daily use during the day at work then something like a Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gioia will probably suit you, while men looking for a fragrance to wear out in the evening might want to try Armani Code.

Body chemistry is something which either most people don’t consider or don’t know that they should consider when buying a fragrance. Every fragrance reacts differently to different people’s skin. So even if you liked a fragrance on someone else or on some fragrance blotters, be sure to try it on your own skin first. There might be a slight, discernible change in the way the fragrance reacts with your skin, resulting in the wafting of a different aroma from you.

Especially true for a country with extreme conditions like India, the weather and time of the year should also be kept in mind while buying a fragrance. Pick a light, sublime, aquatic fragrance like Acqua Di Gio for the summer months and a heavy woody fragrance for the winters or cold weather places. Subtle floral fragrances work well for spring or pleasant season.

Almost every fragrance has a story behind it and appeals to a certain personality type. Identify yours, or consider what you want to portray yourself as, and then select your fragrance. If you want to express an edgy yet quirky kind of sensuality through your fragrance, then you might find that Diesel Loverdose really suits your intention.

Again, like I mentioned, there is no formula. Ultimately it’s down to you. Take time out, try a few different fragrances. As every fragrance reacts differently to everyone, it is best to properly understand and identify which one to make your own signature scent!

Ratnamani MVK is the Business Head for fragrances at L’Oréal India’s luxury division and has been a part of the conglomerate for the past 14 years. Handling all YSL products, and fragrances from Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Diesel, she understands fragrances and their ‘mechanics’.

The Sticky Maze By: Pallav P. Narang, Partner, Arkay & Arkay, Chartered Accountants

Posted on: April 18, 2013

International luxury brands have their eyes set on Indian shores, particularly as developed markets slowdown. Here is a lowdown on what you need to do to enter the market.

While quite a f