Sangeeta Assomull, the socialite and CEO of luxury purveyor Marigold Group, is getting ready to launch the first ever Judith Leiber diffusion line in India this week. She will be presenting a more accessible line of bags for a younger, more aspirational audience from the iconic American brand, which is known for its bejewelled minaudières.
Since Sangeeta brought Judith Leiber to India in late 2007, she has worked to establish the Judith Leiber brand in India. We talk to her about the journey so far and what we can expect from the new Overture Judith Leiber collection.
How has the way Indians consume luxury fashion changed in India in the years since you brought Judith Leiber to India?
When we took our first baby steps in the Indian market, there was no brand re-call here. The industry was at a sleepy stage; Judith Leiber was sleeping beauty and we were Prince Charming. Of course, since then there has been tremendous growth.
Everyone is savvier now; more aware. Buyers are up-to-date, especially when it comes to price points. That's why we're on par with the mother ship [Judith Leiber]. A bag that costs $5000 there will cost the same here… plus taxes levied by Her Majesty's government. But it's a positive situation; the Indian market is growing and impulse buying is going up.
Why did Judith Leiber decide to introduce the diffusion line? Whom is it aimed at?
All brands have different lines. They'll sell bags and belts or wallets or perfumes or scarves. We sell only one product - the evening bag. We're staying in the same stream, but reaching out to a different woman. Judith Leiber wanted to make something contemporary, but without changing the model.
The contemporary market is also expanding. With a new price point, we hope to engage the cutting edge, chic, urban girl. The new designs are more casual, and we feel that if they cannot buy the $5000 minaudières, they can start with the $500 clutches. When I started buying bags by luxury labels, I first bought the canvas bags, then leather and then the high luxe crocodile skin bags.
The Carrie bag
Which are your favourite pieces from the Overture line?
I love the Carrie bag; the snake skin embossed bag comes in shades of gold and orange with metallic leather studs. A woman in her 50s - a mother-in-law like me - can carry it as can the daughter-in-law.
I also like the Cylinder bag. It too has a jeweled element and has shades of lilac and green.
Delhi has one. When will Mumbai get its Judith Leiber store?
I'd tell you to watch this space. Mumbai will get a store next year, as Judith Leiber celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Will we see the store in a luxury hotel or a mall?
Always in a mall. As I told you, we only have evening bags and the walk-in client is important to us. She might walk by five or six times, but then she will come in. At a luxury hotel, we'll most be exposed to clients who come there for a specific purpose and might not be inclined to shop. That's unaffordable isolation.
The Overture Judith Leiber line debuts in Mumbai this week.
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