With a fancy new store and new ready-to-wear price points, Tarun Tahiliani is giving retail a relook

The ongoing Kumbh Mela in Allahabad will have a faraway resonance at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in the National Capital. On March 14, Tarun Tahiliani makes sadhu drapes the template of his Fall/ Winter 2013-14 collection. (He doesn’t divulge much for now.) For now, the launch of a new store at D-25, Defence Colony, last week — he used to retail from another site close by — is keeping him excited.

Designed by Tahiliani with architect Shachi Atree, the store comprises dedicated rooms for ready-to-wear, evening wear and bespoke fittings. With thekri work on the ceiling, antique mirrors, pichwai panels on walls and framed old collectibles like jootis and potlis, the store, he says, is the model on which all his stores will henceforth be based. “Different moods and different rooms, like an old house. It’s got such a vibe! It almost looks like my house,” he nods approvingly. “I like to do experimental things. I don’t do things only because they’ll sell; I could just make this a bridal shop and I know it’ll sell, do very well.”

With the Spring/ Summer 2013 line on racks now, where prices start around Rs.4,000, the focus is also shifting to more accessible price points in the ready-to-wear segment. “We’re doing numbers… economies of scale, so we’re adopting a different strategy for ready-to-wear, which will be halved off into a separate label,” informs Tahiliani.

He, however, maintains that it’s still going to remain in the “diffusion-luxury” category. “I’m staying in luxury. I’m not interested in going mass, I can’t. We tried, and then we got so many orders that we couldn’t fulfil it. We really want to stay with what we understand most, which is luxury. But you can have a style, for instance, or prints, where you’re going to be producing in hundreds and thousands, and if we’re smart in how we manage the production, we don’t give up on quality and we can make it more affordable.” The crux, he says, is “better management”.

While the label retails from several multi-brand stores in the country and abroad, including Ensemble (which he started with sibling Tina 25 years ago), standalone stores, he says, occupy a different space. Last August, he opened one at Banjara Hills in Hyderabad, his first in South India.

“Customers have a much better experience in our stores than they do in multi-brand outlets; the staff is trained and they really know the product and they can fit them and they have access. If it’s much simpler stuff it’s okay if it’s in a multi-brand store. Otherwise, we want to put up our own stores across the country,” explains the designer.

The online model, though, will require more deliberation. “I know it’s got a lot of potential — we’ve done a line for Pernia’s Pop Up Shop — but it needs to be below a certain price point, or for the NRI clientele, which will need another model in itself.”