While ‘desi’ fashionistas continue to fawn over their Chanels and Bottega Venettas,Indian branded bags are finding a place in the hallowed shelves of high-end retail stores abroad and on the arms of Hollywood beauties.
The use of Indian craftsmen by luxury giants like Hermes and Chanel to create their coveted bags has been a well kept secret but A-listers like Julia Roberts and Sienna Miller are now proudly sporting totes with a ‘Made in India’ tag.
Designer Meera Mahadevia,who was the first ever Indian accessory designer to showcase at the Vendome Luxury Exhibition in Paris this year,says that the international clientele values Indian craftmanship.
“Handcrafted goods are a hit in the West and there is no beating Indian craftsmen when it comes to leather,metal and thread work,” said the designer whose couture collection retails in luxury stores like Neiman Marcus and Selfridges.
While Mahadevia’s bags are crafted in metal and embellished with stones,Radhika Gupta who designed a special range of ethnic bags for Hollywood superstar Julia Roberts,had a hit with her multi-coloured totes which retail in stores from Tokyo to Kuwait.
“I have stuck to traditional motifs while designing the bags and that has paid off. Minimalism has been done to death by Western brands,so the Indian sense of opulence and colour is a hit,” said Radhika.
The international trend for boho bags,a favourite of stars like Sienna Miller and Kate Hudson,too is driving the popularity of Indian bags.
“Sienna Miller has been often photographed with her Indian tote that she bought during a trip here and that is fantastic advertisement for Indian products,” said Nicole Rohe,a buyer from the US store Anthropologie who was at the recently concluded Wills India Fashion Week.
Proof of the pudding were the accessory stalls at the event which did brisk business.
So what is it about Indian accessories that attracts global buyers.
“India is famed for it’s colours and the vivid hues of Indian accessories really sets them apart. I was so surprised when I was told that a lot of the bags with intricate work was hand crafted by craftsmen. Such beautiful craft is rare,” said Rohe.
But while the global clientele is lapping up the Indian goods,foreign labels continue to rule the roost back home. “I have noticed that for Indian women a bag is a lot more about acquisition than aesthetics,therefore the clamouring for a Louis Vuitton or a Pucci. I would like to see a lot Indian women carry my bags,” said Mahadevia.