When we started Indulge nine issues ago, we drew a whole list of dos and don’ts. One of the most prominent one was that we’d never, ever, ever use the phrase “price on request”.
Now this might seem a little odd. How hard can it be to get these prices? And given the financial gumption required to buy some of these products, does it even matter? Or to use an old luxury retailing apophthegm: “If you have to ask how much it costs, it probably isn’t meant for you.” Which sounds snooty, but also makes some sense. Either you can easily afford a Koenigsegg, or you can’t afford one at all.
But sometimes these prices are very hard to get, indeed. Even brands that prominently display prices in their stores are often extremely wary of seeing the same in print. Perhaps, they are wary of losing the power to change prices frequently, give “exclusive” discounts, or of driving away tentative and first-time buyers. If you’re a luxury retailer, I’d love to know the reason for your reticence.
And at Indulge, we think these prices matter because we want to help people make genuine buying decisions. And while emotion aspiration and desire are all central to buying indulgent products, the matter of the price tag is unignorable. We want you to buy, but not blindly.
In this month’s issue, however, we’ve failed to meet our objective. Simply because most of the products and services we showcase don’t have a predetermined price. That is because this month, we focus on personalized products and services. From suits made to your exacting requirements, to one-of-a-kind motorcycles. And with great personalizing power, comes great variability in pricing.
Talk to any luxury retailer or brand manager, especially exasperated foreign ones, and they will tell you how India is truly the land of bespoke. That we love getting our luxuries—furniture, clothing, jewellery, Bengali sweets—handmade by craftsmen.
Partly, I suppose, this is because we still have craftsmen, and many still work at affordable rates. Some of them are masters at reverse engineering, effortlessly replicating items from IKEA catalogues and Bulgari advertisements. And some of them are quite extraordinarily original.
Good for us. Because there is something particularly luxurious about owning a product that has been made especially for you. After all, isn’t rarity one of the defining characteristics of authentic luxury?
In this issue, we went scouring around the world for prominent brands that offered bespoke products and services. We hope they inspire.
—Sidin Vadukut (Issue editor)