Dressing up men is a lucrative proposition than ever before and more stores are exclusively targeting men, finds Sangeetha Devi Dundoo

Just how much would you spend for a high-end business suit? Half the cost of a Nano? Or the cost of a Nano on road? Hyderabad’s upper crust is willing to splurge this much and more on a global brand. In the last three years, brands such as Hugo Boss, Canali and Armani have made their presence felt in Hyderabad. And a few more — Armani and Versace included — may open their stand-alone stores in the city. Talks are on, say those in the business, not wanting to divulge more. Dressing up men has always meant good business, despite the spot light having always been on women’s garments. When we talk of men’s clothes, we are going beyond formals and business casuals.

Dressed for the occasion

“There has been a significant growth in the menswear segment, which prompted us to open a designer store just for men,” says Rajiv Shroff, owner of Elahe Men, which opened last weekend. “There’s more than just the office formals that men shop for these days. Indian ethnic wear cannot be ignored considering the need for wedding and festival clothes. At the same time, there’s also the need to dress well for the evenings,” he says. The store stocks club wear designed by Rohit Bal, Rajesh Pratap, Priyadarshini Rao, brand H20, Ashish Soni and Narendra Kumar among others. Obviously, we are talking of prices that start from Rs. 2-3,000.

Canali, which has set shop in Taj Deccan a little over six months, has the high-end business clientele walking in to buy formal suits. “Hyderabad has a niche segment that looks for such brands. Those who usually shop abroad are picking up Canali. Being a global brand, the prices are higher. Formal suits begin at Rs. 50,000,” says Tania Vijay Kumar, PR manager for Taj Hotels.

Meanwhile, brands such as Arrow, Raymond, John Players, Louis Philippe, Peter England, Van Heusen and others have expanded their retail segment and the number of stand-alone stores in the city to tap into the ever-expanding boundaries of the city. Other entrants have been stores like Stori, Urbana and Sisley. Growing disposable income levels and the willingness to splurge works to the brands’ advantage.

A forerunner in the menswear segment, Sagar Jethwani, one of the directors of Meena Bazaar and Mebaz, says, “We saw a huge increase in demand for menswear from 1994 to 1998. And ever since, the demand has only grown manifold. Men are conscious of their clothes than ever before and are brand specific.”

Apart from New Meena Bazaar and Meena Bazaar Exclusive that cater to men, the group opened Mebaz Corporate, exclusively catering to high-end business segment. The store has fabrics from Armani, formal suits from Canali, Hugo Boss, Versace, Gucci and Dior and accessories such as shoes, belts and ties.

“There is potential for further growth and we plan to open stores in the GVK One and Inorbit Mall, which are under construction now. We are in talks with more international brands. While travelling abroad, people don’t have the time for alterations and to get tailor-made suits. Having these brands in the city comes as an advantage,” adds Sagar.

Fashion talk

* Global brands in the city: Hugo Boss, Armani, Canali, Gucci, Versace and Dior

* Designer club wear from: Anand Kabra, Rohit Bal, Rajesh Pratap, Priyadarshini Rao, brand H20, Ashish Soni and Narendra Kumar among others

* Money matters: Designer club wear can cost Rs. 2000 upwards while premium business formals come at Rs. 50,000 upwards

* New entrants: Sisley, Elahe Men and Canali.

* With more malls like GVK One and Inorbit set to open in the city, the menswear market is poised for further growth.