Hermes Targets India With Luxury Saris

You know there is a shift in economic balance when a high-end French couturier opens a store in a refurbished elegant colonial building in Mumbai. With annual sales growth of 20% and the numbers of Indians shopping abroad looking for high-end luxury brands it makes sense for a company like Hermes to open its doors in the city known to house some of the wealthiest people in the world. Directly targeting the Indian market with Hermes luxury Saris is really the next step. For me, the Hermes Sari is not much of a jump since many of the Hermes scarves have been inspired by India or Indian design.

The 6 m of cloth draped around the women's body ranges from $6,100 to 8,400- the prices are a “wink” to the Indian customer according to Patrick Thomas, the chief executive of Hermes International. Mr. Thomas told the Financial Times, “Designing these Saris for Indian customers is a way to pay light homage to India and say, ‘Hermes admires India and has a lot to learn from India.’”.

The highly profitable luxury brand Hermes is taking a deeper look at eastern markets, launching a Chinese brand just last year aimed at winning Chinese customers. It's obvious the next step would have been India. The most interesting thing about the new store in Mumbai is that that high-end luxury brand isn't focused on manipulating India's population to fit Western forms of dress. Instead they seem to be reaching out to India's luxury market with Indian product.

It seems that Hermes sees the Indian market as a beneficial partner and is not bothered by the incredible challenges and high import tariffs placed on foreign luxury goods. The goods are 30% to 40% more expensive, sending most Indians abroad to buy their luxury items. India also does not allow for hundred percent foreign ownership-foreign with direct investments capped at 51%. With all the challenges it's interesting to see how valuable high-end luxury brands think the Indian market is. In the last few years, I visited India and noticed companies like LVMH, Gucci and Jimmy Choo plant themselves in Mumbai. To be honest, I rather enjoy the local Indian designers like Tarun Tahiliani or JJ Vallaya and of course Gauri and Nanika rather than finding the same names and relatively same products on the other side of the world. Having said that, there is still room for a fancy French Designer to interpret Indian fashion.