THERE was a time when the only way to lay your hands on a premium international fashion brand was to either shop for it overseas or mail relatives your wish-list and then patiently wait for months for their arrival. Today, this might seem like it was a long time ago, especially with an increasing number of high-end luxury labels having set up shop in the country.
But for fashion buffs in the non-metros and Tier II cities across the country, shopping for premium international labels had been an uphill task until now. All that has changed, courtesy the home-grown shopping portals that are fast bridging the gap between premium international brands and the Indian consumer, irrespective of the city they reside in.
A few clicks on the recently-launched shopping portal, RockNShop (www.rocknshop.com) and you can have that Dolce & Gabbana bag delivered right to your doorstep. Styled like an online e-magazine as well as a shopping portal, RockNShop is spearheaded by fashion-insider and entrepreneur Priya Sachdev, who is also the director of TSG International Marketing Pvt Ltd, a leading name in the luxury fashion retail business in India.
While Rock is an e-magazine, “Shop” is the e-commerce division that offers exclusive designer apparel and accessories for men and women from leading fashion houses such as Victoria Beckham, Stella McCartney, DVF, Chloe, Marchesa, Halston Heritage, Alice + Olivia, Dolce & Gabbana and Yves Saint Laurent — to list a few.
The idea to go online, admits Sachdev, came up after the success of their multi-brand store, Kitsch, in Delhi and Mumbai. “We saw that we had shoppers looking for international labels come in from various other cities to shop at our stores. Since it is not possible to have standalone stores in so many cities, we thought of e-commerce to bridge the gap,” explains Sachdev.
A recent news report valued the online luxury market in India at approximately Rs 17,000 crore and it is expected to grow at over 20 per cent. According to Amit Rawal, CEO of Elitify.com, it’s the high disposable incomes in the hands of young professionals, especially
in non-metros, that has lead to the rise in demand for premium and luxury international brands. Starting off as a premier online shopping lounge for men offering high-end brands such as Ralph Lauren, Armani and Prada, Elitify has now added dedicated sections for women, kids and home.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the response from cities like Jaipur, Indore, Cuttack, Visakhapatnam, Guwahati and Moradabad, and realised that we needed to focus on this section of aspirational shoppers,” explains Rawal, who is also opting for trunk shows in various cities to build an association with the eager shopper.
Pop-up stores on ground seem to be the preferred choice with another online portal SquareKey (www.squarekey.com) that offers collections by western designers and brands including BCBG, Nicole Miller and Milly to Indian shoppers. The website boasts of exclusive partnerships, which enable them to offer a range of premium products that do not have presence in India, at price parity (for the same price as retail in the US/Europe).
Looking to woo the Indian shopper, and at the same time, introduce them to international designers is Koovs.com — a popular online-fashion destination which also offers high street labels from the UK. Recently, the website launched collections in collaboration with international designers such as Patrick Cox and Melissa Odabash, with Henry Holland coming soon, specifically for the Indian consumer.
“We thought it would be interesting to collaborate with international fashion designers to create exclusive high-street collections especially for the Indian market. Our young customers might not necessarily have the resources to afford these designers’ own lines, but our collaborations ensure that they can access the designers’ aesthetic through our collaboration ranges at pocket-friendly prices, typically not exceeding over Rs 5,000,” explains Robert Bready, Creative Director and Retail Head, Koovs.com. Bangalore, Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Hyderabad, adds Bready, have been “good markets” for the portal.
The ease of making a payment — websites offer options of cash on delivery, credit card and some like RockNShop are also looking to introduce EMI facilities soon — and the variety of premium brands has only added to the popularity of online shopping. “I have been saving up to buy a Michael Kors watch and have studied the options online. I hope to order it for my birthday next week,” says Chandigarh-based dancer Niharika Singh. She’s among the many shoppers who are saving up to click away.