The hardest thing when selecting the 10 most expensive clothing brands in India is understanding how this country approaches luxury shopping, and the way this mixes in with their customs and traditions. If you got a million to spare and are planning a trip to New Delhi, then this is the definite guide on where to go waste your money.
Western luxury brands in this country are not as popular as one may think when it comes to clothing and jewelry, and since the higher class of Indian society is pretty conservative in their looks and traditions, local designers pose a strong competition, since their prices are not nearly as high. This is largely because import duties make items up to 10% more expensive than they would be in Europe or the US, so the offer is limited to some high-end shopping malls, five stars hotels, and online stores. The latter poses a good solution and is exponentially on the rise; however, India’s luxury market is more complex than that. Indians actually prefer to touch and feel the pieces, not only for the pleasure of the shopping experience, but also to avoid counterfeit objects produced in nearby China, which are abundant.
Another reason western brands haven’t been able to properly settle across India is that they seem not to understand how culturally diverse this country is. When the population is as large and assorted as it is here, one cannot expect one design –or one marketing technique- to satisfy all; it’s a recipe for financial loss. One of the few brands who picked up on this was Montblanc, which features regional adaptations of their products and is highly successful in India.
“Where do I go to buy my must-have Chanel crystal slippers and Dior bathrobe so I can walk from the bedroom to the toilet at the Taj Mahal Hotel?” you might ask -or not. Well, I’d say a good starting point is the DLF Emporio in Delhi. “If you want to buy a Harry Winston, or Armani couture in Delhi, you know you’ve to head straight to Emporio Mall.” Here you will find a tiny Parisian oasis to shop for your favorite high-end brands. The prices, however, are so outrageous that flying to Paris and shopping there seems like a better option. If you’re not a fashion junky, just a dude looking for the Top 10 Best Selling Men’s Shirt Brands in The World, don’t bother looking in India, just go bare chest, see what happens.
In any case, it was thanks to this mall that I finally arrived to an acceptable ranking methodology: cross-referencing. First, I had to make a list of the most expensive fashion brands in the world, which was not easy. There are a lot of articles on the matter, which usually share a general consensus on which are all in all the most expensive brands, but each site has its own opinion of the order they stand in. Since every single list was different, I made a chart of my own, averaging the places where each brand appeared in each list. Here are some of the sites I checked: Forbes, Business Insider, In Style Beads, and Success Story, to name a few. Then I cross referenced that to the stores available at Emporio and Palladium and ta-dah! We’ve got a list. Out of the 16 most expensive brands in the world, I discovered that neither Oscar de la renta, Prada, D&G, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Jimmy Choo, nor Marc Jacobs have any stores in India and are therefore excluded of this here ranking, leaving us with what follows. Are you curious? Click Next to see the list of most expensive clothing brands in India.
Fendi’s first store in India was opened in 2006, at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Francois Ganes (India and West Asia area manager for the brand) stated back then: “in the next five years we plan to open six boutiques in India, since we recognize the country’s high potential”. That was not the case.
Today, Fendi holds only one store of their own, at the DLF Emporio, with its sign and window showcased on the front of the building. This year, they opened a four stories flagship boutique pop-up store, Fendi Ginza, inspired in their city of birth, Rome.
Even though it is among the most expensive fashion brands in the world, in India, Guess?, the number 9 on our list of most expensive clothing brands in India is not exclusively luxurious, in that its success there comes from denim -which is what the brand is actually most famous for- and not high fashion. There is, however, a Guess store opening soon in DLF Mall of India, so I think it deserves to be included.
In 2005, when Guess?’ first shop was opened in the country, Giuliano Sartori, vice president of their international retail department, stated: “India is the 68th country in the world that we’ve entered. What’s surprised me is the pre-existing awareness of the brand here. We haven’t had to advertise or educate the Indian consumer about the brand.”
Of course there’s one at the DLF Emporio, and one at the Palladium, but there’s a total of 7 Burberry stores spread across India, which is a lot as far as luxury brands go, especially considering that they only physically re-entered the Indian market in 2013.
The brand has actually been doing pretty well; as stated on Country rep, Nalini Gupta’s LinkedIn, she “established highest Retail footprint for a Luxury Brand in India delivering double-digit revenue growth year on year”. You go, girl!
We are continuing our list of most expensive clothing brands in India with Versace that possesses only three stores in India. Two of them are in New Delhi (one at the Emporio), and another one in Mumbai. However, they have mastered online sales in the country, and are actually very popular. In association with Infinite Luxury Group, Versace has penetrated the Indian market.
There are two Hermès stores in this country, one in the DLF Emporio mall in New Delhi (a temporary shop until the one in DLF Chanakya is opened), and one at the Horniman Circle in Mumbai (which is actually the city’s point zero). For the inauguration, a special edition Sari (a traditional Indian piece of clothing) was introduced to promote the brand.
We are continuing our list of most expensive clothing brands in India with Armani, that accounting for all its several branches, owns a total of 18 stores across India: 1 Armani Casa, 11 Armani Jeans, 1 Armani Junior, 4 Emporio Armani, and 1 Giorgio Armani. The latter opened in 2008, along with the first Emporio Armani store in the country, at the DLF Emporio Mall.
Even though there are several authorized distributors, Dior, the number four on our list of most expensive clothing brands in India has only two stores of its own in India right now: one at the DLF Emporio, and one at the Taj Majal Hotel. Not too shabby, right?
There’s only one Chanel store that sells clothes in India, and it’s at the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi; they have three other shops, but they’re all dedicated to beauty, perfumes, and skin care products. In this category, they are highly ranked, and their DLF Emporio store is quite celebrated: ” The store is designed by the brand’s own artistic department, and it is but only the third retail outlet in the country; so to the Delhi fashionista: you’ve got access not many can stake claim to!” Now, let’s see the top two entries on our list of most expensive clothing brands in India.
At the second place on our list of most expensive clothing brands in India, we have Gucci that penetrated the retail Indian market directly in 2009, upon signing an agreement with Reena and Ashok Wadhwa’s holding company to share a retail business but has been present in the country before that. Nowadays, there are two Gucci stores in India that sell clothes, one at DLF Emporio, and one at the Mumbai Galleria, although there are several other retail shops that sell their jewelry, timepieces, and accessories.
1. Louis Vuitton
Aside from being one of the most expensive clothing brands in India, it holds the world record, too. The first Louis Vuitton store there was opened at the DLF Emporio Mall in Delhi in 2003, followed by the Mumbai store one year later, and another Delhi shop after that, becoming pioneers among the high-end western brands to settle in India. Today there are 4 LV stores in the country.
I hope this will help your next high-end shopping experience in India. Oh! And if you happen to visit the DLF, I’m really into shoes. Just Sayin’.