Hyderabad's fashion market is on a growth mode, but is there a sense of déjà vu?
The fashion industry is enjoying a breather after the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai that showcased summer/resort collections and the Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week that unveiled autumn/winter 2011 collections. The buyers, read fashion store owners, are back in the city after attending both the fashion weeks. And chirpy, summery collections from Lakme Fashion Week are already in stores.
For customers with deep pockets, it's time to splurge and there are more shopping destinations than before in the city. A decade ago, the city had a few players such as Elahe, Origins and Also stocking up designer garments. The last one year has seen new additions — Rewania, The Project, Krizia, Peach Tree and Anahita among others. More stores should translate to better choice. At a closer look, the stores do offer some unique collections, but there's also a hint of repetitiveness. Now, prêt or ready-to-wear is not supposed to be exclusive, unlike couture, which is custom-made and spells luxury. Agreed. But too many players in the same area?
Sample this: Ankur Modi and Priyanka Modi (AM:PM brand) unveiled their summer collection — Ilhama, inspired from Turkish pottery, at a store. Within weeks, their collections were also at other stores, all within a radius of 2 kms.
The high-end fashion stores, both established and new players, have a few designers in common — Gaurav Gupta, Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Arora, Manish Malhotra, Pankaj and Nidhi, Gauri and Nainika, Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna among others. With the collections being repetitive, the distinguishing factors remain store ambience, display and customer care.
“There is definitely room for growth and having more stores should bring in more choice to customers. But we are at the risk of losing exclusivity when the same designer wear is available in many stores, all of them concentrated in one locality. The Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week featured collections of 240 designers, so we need to look at bringing in fresh designers into the city,” says Smita Shroff of Elahe.
Cherry Pestonji of Anahita sees it differently. Talking about the cluster of stores in Banjara and Jubilee Hills areas, she says, “The US and UK have the concept of Fashion Street or hi-street. These areas are less congested, provide ample parking space and the fashion clientele heads to these localities for designer garments. The advantage of having more stores ensures customers are not taken for granted and there's no monopoly.”
Stiff competition has seen stores competing to get the best of fashion week collections and at times, get the designer to visit Hyderabad to interact with clients for both prêt and couture. Gaurav Gupta was at The Project last week with his summer line and Sabyasachi Mukherjee's bridal line will be unveiled this week at Elahe.
If collections of Raghavendra Rathore, Anupama Dayal, Anand Kabra, Anju Modi, Krishna Mehta and Rahul Misra and Bhu:Sattva (by Digvijay Singh) grace fashion stores, so do collections of emerging Hyderabad designers Ganesh Nallari, Anushree Reddy, labels Kavya Kriti and Diosa among others. Interestingly, while high-end boutiques slug it out, Road no. 4 Banjara Hills has emerged as a fashion street with stores set up by city designers, mostly former NIFTians.
A departure from the regular prêt is seen in Anonym, which specialises in parallel fashion, stocking organic cottons to trend-defying garments. Store owner Vinita Passary admits that parallel fashion has a small market. “The journey so far has also meant educating customers on the design philosophy of the collections. But it's also been good to tap young designers like Joyjit and Aneeth Arora, who are known more internationally than nationally, and designers like them take a new look at fashion,” she says.
The next few years will see the survival of the fittest in Hyderabad's fashion map. Buyers have reason to cheer. How about store hopping to check out digital print tees and leggings by Manish Arora or classy saris by Anand Kabra and Tarun Tahiliani?