Multi-brand designer stores - A Basket of Choice

Multi-designer stores offer consumers everything under one roof and are the epitome of convenience and luxury for a typical Indian consumer. After all, we surely love to scour and search before making that final dazzling selection!

By: Karishma Parkash

Posted on: January 10, 2011

Multi designer houses offer consumers everything under one roof and are the epitome of convenience and luxury for a typical Indian consumer. After all, we surely love to scour and search before making that final dazzling selection!

Ask an Indian what is luxury for them and they will be quick to tell you that Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s ethnic compositions, combined with style infused creations of Manish Malhotra will bring life to any occasion. Team it up with a gorgeous uncut diamond choker and long diamond earrings and you will be the center of all eyes.

Multi designer stores housing top notch brands have been in India since a long time and have been a temple of worship for Indians and NRIs alike. Today’s Indian consumer is fully aware and brand conscious, not only of the various Indian brands but also the international ones. But ask a consumer in Amritsar whether she fancies an Armani more than a Tahiliani outfit and you will be met with a confused look. International brands like Vuitton, Hermes and Gucci have their own standing in an Indian consumer’s wardrobe. But when weddings come to town, Indian consumers prefer Indian designer outfits glammed up with gorgeous Indian jewellery.

Extremely loyal towards Indian designers and their mind blowing collections, today’s Indian consumer is willing to spend on designers born from the same soil as them rather than those seven seas apart. And when it is all under one roof with stylish interiors, impeccable and educated staff, and gorgeous window displays, I don’t see which shopaholic would groan or complain!

This and that
Why are multi designer stores popular in a country like India? Indians and their habit of choosing! According to Tina Tahiliani Parikh, Executive Director of Ensemble, “An inherent part of Indian nature is to be able to choose from a large variety. A multi brand designer store allows the customer to choose from a range of designers which is important in a country which has such a wide spectrum of cultural backgrounds, tastes, and spending power.” Indeed, a multi brand designer store has today become a one stop place for shopaholics. Ranging from contemporary evening and day-wear, to trousseaus and wedding wear and accessories, these stores have it all with a spectacular selection of prêt-wear lines from some of the leading names in the fashion world.

The big and easy does it
If you are a new and young designer, a multi designer store may be the perfect start for you. Many young Indian designers are not established enough and do not have the capital to be able to have stand-alone stores. Therefore, being housed in a multi brand store allows them a platform to showcase their collections. “Multi-brand retail stores enable the designer to focus on design and production as opposed to the functional aspect of the business,” shares Parikh. Reaching out to an already set base of consumers is another plus point of such retail stores as opposed to normal hassles of a solo store. Shaan Thadani, owner of multi-brand store White, explains, “The designers have a great advantage of stocking with a multi-brand retail store as it makes it easier for them to reach out to a larger target market.”

The world is tough out there, and to etch your name on the fashion stone, you either have to be really superior or you have to be simply unique! With an array of designers being showcased at the same store and each being better than the next, there may be a possibility that your collection may be overshadowed by your competitors. But then, is there a safe place in this competitive industry? “Ensemble ensures that any product housed is as different and unique from the next. However, there is competition in certain areas like pricing, but designers understand this,” says Parikh. She laid great emphasis on the fact that visual merchandising was a key factor in attracting potential consumers. “As a store, we place a lot of emphasis on the way our visual merchandising is executed as this impacts the consumer tremendously. Each designer at the store has their own rack. This enables a customer to focus on each designer individually,” she stated.

Thadani went a step further and laid emphasis on the uniqueness of each individual designer. “Every designer has a different aesthetic and appeals to a different clientele. So the question of competition does not really exist”.

The other side

Crossing over the fence, if you are a consumer wanting to make a useful purchase with a variety of choices under one roof, with convenience and service of utmost importance, these multi brand stores are you best bet. According to Parikh, the consumer really is the king and it is their need of the hour that will decide whether a multi brand or a solo store would suit them best. “It depends on what the consumer is looking for. A multi brand store is better for someone who does not know exactly what they are looking for as it allows them to explore more options. Ensemble houses over 100 designers, and having a choice like that enriches the shopping experience. A stand alone is probably better for someone who is a patron of a certain designer’s work and wants to get something bespoke,” she said.

“Yes, consumers prefer shopping at multi-brand stores over standalone stores as there are a greater number of options available to them and it makes it easier for them compare and choose. It saves them the hassle of running between different stand alone stores,” says Thadani.

The beginning or the end?

With a whiff of confidence in the air and the media playing an important role in making or breaking a designer and his collections, some may feel that a standalone boutique is a superior alternative. Does this mean that in the long run, the concept of multi designer houses will perish? Not really. Variety is the spice of life, at least for Indian shoppers.

According to Parikh, the lack of big department stores such as Harrods or Saks in India is filled in by multi brand retailer stores.Extending this thought was Thadani. “No, the concept of multi-brands will not die out anytime soon in India, as it is still in its nascent stage. There are very few players in the market offering multi-designers under one roof,” he said.

Unless you truly know what exactly you want and aren’t a fan of choice simply because you feel it confuses you, a multi designer house will do you good. So get set to fill those shopping bags!

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