Indian billionaires stakes in high-end, homegrown designer brands to help them scale up and go global.
The trend, experts say, points to a luxury retail market on the cusp of maturity.
In October, Reliance Brands Limited (RBL), a subsidiary of the the oil-to-telecoms Reliance conglomerate, announced it was buying 40% equity in celebrity fashion designer Manish Malhotra’s eponymous label. A week later, the company bought more than 50% stake in Ritu Kumar, one of India’s oldest fashion houses.
Malhotra, who has been dressing Bollywood’s biggest stars for the last 30 years, launched his label about 15 years ago. He has annual revenues in the ballpark of $30m (£22m), according to Forbes.
The call to partner with a corporate house like Reliance was driven partly by his decision to focus on his upcoming Bollywood directorial debut, Malhotra said. But it was also the result of his ambition to expand internationally.
“I have the practical knowledge, but for someone who has not studied the business of fashion, my dreams and stories need that backing to go global,” he told the BBC at his design workshop in Mumbai city’s Santacruz suburb.
“The label needs to get more organised. It’s very family-led.”
It’s a logical move, and in line with international trends, says Ankur Bisen, senior partner at Technopak retail consultancy.
He points to several fashion powerhouses – Dior, Chanel, Hugo Boss, Saint Laurent (YSL) – who did the same: they “institutionalised” by moving beyond the founder who started the eponymous labels.
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