Last month, the official count of Louis Vuitton (LV) stores in India went from two to four in a span of two days. The LV team previewed the new outlet at the yet-to-be operational DLF Emporio Mall, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, and then moved to Bangalore the next day to launch a boutique at the UB City Mall, another space for luxury brands.
The Delhi store, which will be open for customers when Emporio launches, is located at the entry and flows across a single floor. On sale will be bags, soft luggage for men and women, sunglasses, women’s shoes, watches, accessories such as belts and ties, and men’s shoes. Philippe Schaus, directeur international, Louis Vuitton Malletier, spoke with Lounge and walked us through the store, while explaining the philosophy behind LV’s signature patterns. Edited excerpts:
From an exclusive location at a five-star hotel to a mall, why was LV looking for such a space to open new outlets in India?
Outside India, we have always had a presence in malls or are present as stand-alone stores. That option was not possible when we came here in 2003. So, we opted for a five-star space.
But having an outlet in a mall was a natural move for us and we have been actively looking for such spaces in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. We feel that a luxury space like the Emporio and UB City Mall is perfect because the environment, the service and the tenant mix in such areas are all geared towards understanding the meaning of luxury.
On a roll:Schaus has plans on India.
What brand association do you think Indians have with Vuitton?
We feel that here we are viewed as a brand that offers a sense of heritage. Once that association comes in, it brings with it an aspiration value, a “dream of owning it”. To many of our customers, LV represents a fashion statement, too, and because we have many products to choose from, it is easy to make your style statement with just a bag, or watch.
Has your customer base changed since you first launched?
We are now enjoying a wider diversity in our customer type. We find that the younger lot is much more aware of trends. They recognize and appreciate what LV stands for. Also, our range in India is wide (except for the ready-to-wear line, all other LV products are launched in India simultaneously) and for those who want to make a fashion statement, they have much to choose from, in accessories, bags, sunglasses, shoes and luggage. There is something that can work for everyone.
Does LV have an India design story in the offing?
No, we don’t have an India-inspired line at the moment, but we are looking at some art exhibitions in collaboration with Indian artists like we did at L’Espace Louis Vuitton gallery (in Paris), with India of the Senses exhibition two years back.
We believe the connection between art and fashion is strong and we may explore a collaborative project with an Indian artist as we have done with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and American artist and photographer Richard Prince, whose collection is on display in the store.
How does LV weave design patterns across products?
We firmly believe that good design is associated with the brand and that is an identifying factor for customers. Look at this brass stud (picks up a pair of red sunglasses). It is something that we have incorporated from our trunks and it recurs again, on even slip-ons for women or in the Emprise LV Black watch. Or, see this four-leaf flower pattern: the Fleur (points to it in a watch). This is a part of the LV monogram patterns and a recurring motif.