Signing up a Katrina Kaif or bagging Kareena Kapoor, being a fashion retailer or apparel manufacturer, is no more the only eye-grabbing strategy that you can adopt. Giants like Adidas and Puma have already set a trend of roping in established designers to create special collections. Fresh addition to this double edged marketing strategy was Sangam Suitings, when they announced the launch of their latest corporate and festive range designed by Karan Johar and Varun Bahl, and at the same time Virat Kohli will be seen as the face of this brand in TVCs. Justifying this aggressive step, Gaurav Chaudhary, head of planning, Sangam Suitings said,” Karan and Varun are for designing of the product and Virat is for the brand. Their presence will make our brand a complete kitty of style, design and authenticity.”
Marketers are increasingly leaning on homegrown designers for an association, ranging from limited edition special range to signature lines to attract India’s upcoming class of young and ambitious customers who will readily pay a premium to stand out in a crowd. Last year country’s largest makeup brand Lakme launched Absolute, premium long wear makeup line created by designer Manish Malhotra. Before this watchmaker Timex announced it will take its bridal line of jewelled watches designed by Tarun Tahiliani, and branded 'TT for Timex', to the US and Canada.
What started as an experiential campaign with Titan roping in designer Rohit Bal to create a range of luxury watches in 2003 and Bombay dyeing fixing Sabyasachi Mukherjee to create a signature line of bed sheets and towels in 2007,has now become a cutting edge marketing exercise.
While Timex took its ‘TT for Timex’ line abroad, Indian Tobacco Company [ITC] has been trying to reach to take its Wills Signature line, made with the help of top fashion designers, to smaller towns. Adidas was not to be left behind. This sportswear and apparel maker signed a five year contract with Delhi based designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil who launched the S&N Adidas line. Commenting on this Shantanu had to say, “We wanted a brand association which would give us scale and accessibility-which is what the Adidas association brought for us”. In the past Adidas had already signed stars like Zaheer Khan, Sania Mirza and David Beckham.
In an attempt to prove Mercedez-Benz as a brand is more than just cars, and about having a lifestyle they have associated themselves with designer Manish Arora. With this association Mercedes plans to bring in young, vibrant, colorful energy whilst retaining the sophistication and class of the brand 'MERCEDES-BENZ'. Manish Arora had also designed a collection titled ‘Fish Fry’ which had become a favourite with the youth because of its vibrancy. He developed a series of these collections.
Footwear retailer Bata, brand which is not endorsed by any public figure has tied up with a fashion designer to launch a special designer footwear collection at select stores in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. The company has tied up with Malini Ramani for the endeavour and plans to rope in more designers in future to offer exclusive designs.
Rich is the potential
The reasons driving this new found love for designer lines are increasing fashion awareness and better purchasing power on the part of consumers. In a situation like this, marketers need to differentiate themselves in an extremely competitive, crowded and commoditised market.
Designers feel that there is a lot more scope than what is being cashed out. There has been increasing number of tie- ups between brands and designers but unfortunately most of the time this is a short term commitment. The trend in developed states is a bit different. Most of such partnerships are for longer durations. Some of the successful associations that worked well for both the parties include UK’s Stella McCartney designing for Adidas’s range of sportswear, Puma's tie-up with late Alexander McQueen for a special line of trainers, and British retailer Debenhams' special ranges with a host of designers.
To build a stronghold in the market, brands keep exploring ways to connect better with the Indian audience. Celebrity endorsement alone was not giving a cutting edge to the brands which propelled them to come up with such partnerships. Indian designers are the best bet for the same, since they have a specific style and can fuse Indian and international designs brilliantly to develop an aspirational product.
It’s not very far when these designer-brand associations will be less fashion-week centered and will move towards the longer commitment periods.