Image via Hermes
Think Hermes, and you're most likely to associate the French luxury brand with either high-fashion clothing; or leather; or watches & jewellery. But porcelain dinner plates? Well, that's a hot seller - at Rs 10,000 a piece - at a New Delhi store of the Paris-headquartered fashion brand, which is housed in a luxury hotel.
Amongst the rash of luxury goods that have the Hermes stamp is tableware. And its classic designs - which are displayed alongside the iconic Hermes' clothing range - are finding plenty of well-heeled takers in the capital.
Hermes isn't the only company that is stocking luxury items that you wouldn't readily associate with such elite brands. Across town in a luxury mall in south Delhi, another French fashion label Louis Vuitton (LV) has a glittering store that attracts clients from other cities.
But the luxury brand, which is in its tenth year in the country, has been selling watches, accessories and fragrances - it has yet to launch its clothing line, for which handbags aside LV is better known.
More than Chic Clothing
Giorgio Armani apartment in Mumbai
Similarly, British luxury brand Burberry, synonymous with trench coats, menswear and womenswear, has chosen to launch fragrances in India, which are sold through mass market retailers like Westside. And Italian haute couture houses Armani and Versace are tying up with builders to brand expensive apartments and selling furniture, respectively.
Armani and Versace are lending their brand to homes for the rich. Armani Casa, designer Giorgio Armani's interior design studio, is working with Lodha Developers to launch luxury homes in Mumbai for those with deep pockets. And Versace recently opened an exclusive retail outlet in Delhi to sell furniture range.
A growing set of rich Indians is now setting the agenda for luxury companies, forcing many of them who sell 'soft' luxury like clothing and couture to diversify into 'hard' products like jewellery, crockery and even branded homes and home furnishing. The reason for this shift is simple: Indian consumers want more of such items than just chic clothing.
According to a recently released global report by Bain & Company, a management consultant firm, India's luxury market in India is estimated to be around 1.2 billion euros in 2012. "India is strategically poised to create one of the largest global market opportunities in the next decade," the report said.
Elizabeth Taylor's Bulgari necklace. Image courtesy: Reuters
Hermes' jewellery and Art of Living items (which include ashtrays, candles, serving trays and umbrellas) registered an increase of 46 per cent in the first quarter of this year globally. Sales of watches and tableware increased by 27 per cent, according to information on the Hermes official website.
Taking a cue the LVMH Group, which sells watch brands like Dior, Zenith and Tag Heuer at over 120 retail points in India, is also planning to offer Bulgari jewellery to the rich and famous here. LVMH was formed via a merger between Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessey in the late 80s.
A week ago, Versace launched its maiden premium jewellery collection. LV will be launching a jewellery boutique at Paris' Place Vendome this week. This is giving experts reasons to believe that companies, which have traditionally been selling soft luxury goods, are veering towards hard luxury.
Author: Vijaya Rathore
Source: The Economic Times
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