Lost at Horniman Circle? Look for the new and grand Hermes store which is the latest landmark there and you will find your way. At least your fashion way
By: Karishma Parkash
Posted on: August 10, 2011
Ever wondered why Hermès picked orange as their brand colour? During World War II, there was a shortage of paper, and the only paper bags available – closest to the colour they were searching for – were orange. With such a powerful colour known to inspire enthusiasm and creativity, can one expect any less from the brand when it opens its doors to the fashionable Mumbaikar?
A magician in the eyes of many and creator of beautiful objects for more than 170 years, Hermès has long witnessed in India a deep passion for the most beautiful materials and excellence of savoir-faire. According to Patrick Thomas, CEO, Hermès, “The warm welcome given to our New Delhi store has, for us, been a source of pride and confidence in the future of Hermès in India. Today, it is with great enthusiasm that we open our third store in the heart of the city of Mumbai, under the arches of the historic Horniman Circle. It will become the first European luxury brand to be directly located on the street.” The store offers a new perspective of Hermès roots, providing an opportunity to explore a world of emotions and pleasure.
A quick chat with Mr Bertrand Michaud, President of Hermès India, got us a few quick thoughts on this important day in fashion and luxury history. “The opening of the flagship store in Mumbai is the expression of Hermès’ ambition to take part in the pulsating and cosmopolitan life of a city, the past, present and future of which coexist in harmony,” he said.
The 281 sq mt store, with two levels, has been designed by RDAI, the Parisian architectural agency founded by Rena Dumas in 1972 and directed by Denis Montel. While arriving towards the Horniman Circle, majestic arches and the familiar warm orange colour with the logo inform you that you are on the right path, because the area with its by lanes can get you perplexed.
Enter the store and browse around the welcoming ambience with the first room devoted to silk, perfumes, jewellery and watches. Once you are satiated, take in the room at the back which houses ready-to-wear for men and women. The third and last room of the ground floor was my favourite and housed all the leather goods. Don’t miss the beautiful transparent glass elevator shaft situated in the store that seamlessly links the two levels.
Mr Michaud and his team had been on a hunt for an appropriate location in Mumbai ever since they opened in Delhi three years ago. Mr Michaud explained that it took two years to build this shop and was in works before the Pune store. “This is a heritage building and we took a lot of pains to refurbish and build this store. Everything has been made according to international specifications and standards. We tried to keep the spirit of the city alive, so you will see arches and subtle glimpses of the city here,” he said.
Exit the elevator and you will be impressed by the grand yet hospitable feel of the place. Art lovers have a treat in store for them as the second level also has a beautiful art gallery with works by Ms Karen Knorr, an international photographer. This is the first time that she is showcasing her work in India. “I hope to rope in international and local artists four times a year to showcase their talent to the right people at this very store,” said Michaud. With a small place to sit down and enjoy the ambience with drinks, a transparent office overlooking the gallery and warmth dripping from every word that Mr Michaud uttered, we are sure that this store has something in stock for everyone.
Hermès and India
Mr Michaud said, “We have Indian clients and friends who are well-travelled, be it London, New York, Paris or Milan, and I am assured that they are well acquainted with Hermès offerings. So my first thought when I came here? These people too deserve a nice and beautiful store as the likes all over the world.” The result is in front of one and all to see!
Realising well that life in India isn’t all about fancy hotels and malls, but more on the streets, Hermès brings to life the true Indian spirit and brushes shoulders with the streets of central Mumbai. “We do not design any specific lines for any specific market but we draw inspirations from specific cities. We have been drawing inspiration from India in the form of designs, themes and colours for many years and we will keep going,” said Mr Michaud. Come October, and the savvy Indians will see a special Hermès Sari collection - inspired by India, but sold all around the world.
The only pinch that an Indian consumer may feel here is that the products are priced higher here because of heavy import duty. Mr Michaud hopes that the government should understand that lower tariff duties would increase the trade and would benefit everyone. But besides this, he pointed out that today’s Indian is very well-travelled and has developed its own tastes and preferences. “I think the sari collection will greatly please our Indian consumers who are open and welcoming to international products, but are also sensitive to their own local craftsmanship. There is a perfect balance which I really respect and admire,” he said.
Luxury with a heart isn’t a myth because the brand supports the Asiatic Society of Mumbai and contributes to its renovation with an exclusive edition of the silk scarf “La Danse du Cheval Marwari”. It has sparkling colours and refined detail illustrating the special ties Hermès has woven with India. If you are feeling charitable, I suggest you go purchase one today!
Subtle but powerful
Ever noticed how the branding of Hermès isn’t in your face as compared to other luxury brands? The charm lies in the subtly coy yet powerful branding that gets everyone so ecstatic about possessing such a product. “More than a brand, Hermès is a signature. We pay attention to quality and design and we don’t need a name or a logo in front of everyone. It is called working with a discreet look,” explained Mr Michaud with a twinkle in his eye.
You’ll be surely impressed with the impeccably dressed staff at the store which has been trained to deal with international consumers by the Paris and Singapore teams and have also been given sufficient knowledge of products and computer related training.
If you are hoping to see a popular face smile down at you as an ideal Hermès ambassador, don’t. For Mr Michaud, a little girl who is 16 years old with an elegant and nice smile, who saves up to buy her mother a perfume for mother’s day and carries herself well would be the perfect ambassador. “There is no specific ambassador, we call all our clients our friends and there’s absolutely no reason why one person should be treated better than another. That is why we don’t have any specific VIP discounts. Everyone is an ambassador with his/her own style,” he continued.
For all those riders out there, Hermès is the brand for you. In all the shops you will find a Hermès saddle because Hermès started off with riding gear. Mr Michaud admits his penchant for the equestrian world as well - “The most prized Hermès product for me would be the Hermès saddle because I am a rider and it was the first thing I bought for myself,” he shared.