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The beckoning brands

With the finest international brands available in the city, its boom time for shoppers, writes Priyadarshini Paitandy

PHOTO: M. Vedan

JOIN THE BRANDWAGON Yana Gupta at the Tommy Hilfiger store

I like my money right where I can see it: hanging in my closet — Carrie Bradshaw,

Sex and The City

If you think, like Carrie, investment means this season’s Gabbana or an outfit from Miu Miu, the recent Brands4Less sale in the city was probably just your thing. At least, you didn’t have to fly to Paris to stock your plush closet.

Until now, Chennaiites with wads of cash had to fly regularly to Dubai or Mumbai to shop. The less fortunate settled for ordering designer goodies through websites such as net-a-porter or eBay.

But by the time the eagerly anticipated stuff arrived, the colour inevitably didn’t match that in the glossy magazine advertisement or the outfit was five inches longer than you are. And there goes your savings!

But, fret not, brand conscious folks. Chennai, formerly understated and proudly down-to-earth, is gearing up to sashay down the ramp with glamorous Mumbai and high-powered Delhi.

Actually, the first ray of light shone a few years ago in the form of Evoluzione, which brought about a revolution, introducing big names such as Manish Arora, Tarun Tahiliani and Malini Ramani to the city. From demurely draping themselves in saris from traditional stores, people took to these popular labels. As the fondness for luxury brands soared, we had Wills Lifestyle, Marks and Spencers, Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Esprit… Phew, quite a list! Not to forget city-based designers Rehane, Chaitanya Rao, Erum Ali, Tina Vincent, Sidney Sladen and Vivek Karunakaran. The latest hub for the label savvy is Gabbana.life, a store that boasts of names such as D&G, Versace, Nemo, Giovanna Gugliemi and, most importantly, Akbar Shahpurwala’s line of sherwanis and suits (If you have been eyeing the suits that the Bachchans and the Ambanis wear, he is the man responsible).

The shop is now a year old, and according to Osman Abdul Razak, Director, Gabbana.life, people who walk into the store now are specific about what they want.

“People tend to get excited if you tell them it’s a Hugo Boss suit, so big names do help,” he says.

The recent Brands4Less exhibition at Taj Connemara is proof that the city’s brand awareness is growing. The exhibition saw an enviable collection of international brands such as Fendi, Louis Vuitton, DKNY, D&G, Chloe, Max Mara, and more.

Quite a number of Chennaiites, especially youngsters, flocked the place and went gaga over the mounds of bags, clothes, belts and shoes. This exhibition takes place all over India and first came to Chennai in 2007. Jeetu Pradhan of Brands4Less says that most youngsters these days are brand obsessed and swear by the big names. Reason why the footfalls this year were higher.

Karishma, a young dentist says, “I have always fancied myself in an international designer outfit but didn’t know where to get it in Chennai. But now, thanks to the boom in retail sector we have such brands trickling in.” For 24-year-old Varun who ties the knot in October, Gabbana.life has been of great help. “I wanted an Akbar Shapurwalla sherwani. Earlier, I would have had to travel to Mumbai to pick it up. Thankfully, we now get his line here,” he says.

Not just clothes, the cosmetics market too has seen global brands such as Nina Ricci, Clarins and Shiseido come in. Earlier limited to the grey markets, they are now being retailed from stores such as Lifestyle, Style One and other shopping malls.

Looks like soon there will be a day when we won’t turn green watching the Sex and the City girls splurging on their designer goodies!

* * *

Wishlist…

Mango

Jimmy Choo

Manolo Blahnik

Prada

Victoria’s Secret

Clinique

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