When the country’s best known fashion designer, Rohit Bal, starts selling his clothes online (at Jabong), it makes news. His first prêt line hit the online market this week. Other big fashion designers like Tarun Tahiliani and Manish Malhotra have an online presence, but it is their normal lines, not a prêt line which is generally cheaper and mass-market. And the mass-market is no longer the metros, where most designers have their stores, but in B-towns. Statistics from retail websites show that Indian B-towns are consuming fashion faster than the cities. For Bal, the move is a shrewd marketing gambit. The 40-odd styles in his women’s ethnic-wear line, which are priced from R5,999-18,999, are not just easy to order, but also arrive in specially designed boxes with his name on them.
In fact, the high rentals in Indian metros are causing a strategy rethink for global designer brands as well. Luxury brands in India like Jean Paul Gaultier, Jimmy Choo, Canali, Ferragamo, Ermenegildo Zegna and Bottega Veneta are now willing to deliver their high-end products right to a clients doorstep. The trend of home delivery and online presence is also partly to cater to non-metro customers as well as service clients a recent report described as “Closet Customers. ” These shoppers are price-conscious and seek value even when buying luxury products. Typically, these are people for whom luxury is not a way of life but have now earned enough money to start experimenting with it. They also do not live in the metros. To cater to them, leading global luxury brands are regularly holding ‘trunk shows’, presenting their products at a venue like a hotel, in cities like Ludhiana and Chandigarh, where the money is. India is teaching luxury brands some new lessons in marketing.