The Couple Who Made Leather Accessories Even More Fashionable in Indian Market

Founders of Da Milano, Sahil Malik and his wife Shivani Malik share their incredible journey, the scope of leather market in India, expansion plans and more.
The couple who made leather accessories even more fashionable in Indian Market

Trends have to be predicted taking into consideration possible drastic changes. Fashion consumers are becoming more conscious of the environment.

The presence of a large number of players in the sector has intensified the competition to garner a larger chunk of the market share of this lucrative industry. On the demand front, consumers are rapidly aligning towards new designs and innovative leather offerings to ensure they are in sync with changing fashion trends.

This is what the Da Milano founder and the couple Sahil Malik and Shivani Malik are onto. Established in 1989, Da Milano was founded by the father of Sahil Malik. Started up with just one store in the market of Delhi, the brand prides itself in running 60 stores, under the control of Sahil Malik Da Milano. He decided to establish a chain of stores offering leather accessories at the time when Indian retail market was revolutionizing.

The couple who made leather accessories even more fashionable in Indian Market

Image: Shivani Malik, Director and Sahil Malik, Managing Director

In a recent interview with Da Milano Managing Director, Sahil Malik and Director and his wife, Shivani Malik, they share about latest trends in fashion, market for luxury products in India and shopping of leather accessories. The USP of the brand is a unique range of well-crafted and designed leather products finished and styled with world-class machinery to meet the customer demands. They deliver front-end services with a philosophy that features customer orientation to explain every product detail and feature to the customers. Read the edited excerpts below:

How would you describe the market for luxury products in India? What do you expect from the future? 

Shivani: As of now, the luxury market is at a nascent stage, however we believe that this sect holds great potential for growth in the future! 

Sahil: This is just the beginning for luxury shopping in India. Having endured and overcome massive hurdles be it demonetization or COVID, people’s spending power is slowly increasing, sure to give the luxury market a more permanent clientele. 

What is the size of the market for high-end leather bags in India? At what rate is it growing? 

Shivani: The Indian market is an extensively very fast paced one. With a growth in exposure and interest alike, people are getting a lot more fashion conscious; thereby eager to invest in luxe handbags. 

Sahil: Influences from the western culture in adopting the latest fashion trends make for a major factor in leading an average person to spend a lot more on lavish accessories. 

What are the key features of Da Milano leather bags? 

Key features of our leather bags include huge focus on quality, the intricacies of design and affordable luxury.  A lot of R&D is done while crafting the bags since the brand offers a lifetime- warranty, great quality at the best prices. 

Which collections of Da Milano have been well-received in the domestic and in theinternational markets? 

Sahil: Da Milano does not work with seasonal collections; instead, offers new styles forcustomers to choose from weekly. This makes the brand stand at par with international labels interms of design sensibilities, and ahead of them owing to its unique style of releasing new products as opposed to seasonal collections. 

Shivani: Our style predominantly comprises fast fashion. Customers are able to see different styles every time they come to the store as opposed to repetitive products the entire season. Other than that, there are a few signature designs that work year- round. Having faced our few flops, this works well for us as most of our customers love the designs we bring forth- and the array of new options they are able to choose from. 

Which markets do you export abroad? What kind of hides are in demand in international markets? 

We no longer export our products. Da Milano has its own retail stores in leading markets - across India, Dubai & Nepal, guaranteeing high quality-always in demand products anywhere you go. 

Which product segment - women's handbags, men's accessories, travel bags, business essentials, is popular in-store and online? 

Sahil: Women’s accessories + men’s accessories remain most popular. Just like the demand for a product varies from store to store, customer preferences from one city to another extensively vary. 

Shivani: The popularity of a product segment depends on the customers personal style, which varies from person to person. Ranging from the style to the colour a client prefers, the right merchandising is essential to understand these variations and provide our customers with the right products all the time. 

Your Wife Shivani being the Director of the company, how do you balance your work and personal life? 

We can both agree on the fact that we are workaholics in our own right. There’s no perfectbalance. Whichever way you bend, one or the other gets neglected, making for no perfectwork-life balance. Both of us are extremely passionate about Da Milano and our roles in order to build it everyday. We cannot say that we don’t take our work back home with us, Da Milano isand will always be our first baby 

How is the airport retail market in India? How have the sales been at such locations? 

With the lockdown being lifted, there’s an immediate jump in travel. With holiday destinations being almost back to normal within India, we firmly believe that airport retail is only going to get better with time now that people are ready to fly again. 

Which new markets do you plan to expand in future? 

The Middle East and Europe are two markets we’d want to expand to in the future.

What are your digital strategies post pandemic? 

In light of the pandemic, we have seen a gradual shift in customer behaviour from retail outlets to online shopping. With buyers now shopping online- our strategies have also shifted towards building traction on our website. We’ve personally seen a lot of growth in our online sales. Influencer marketing is a tool we’re focussing on as a major digital strategy for the brand. 

What changes have happened in the market post pandemic? 

Post the Covid-19 vaccine launch, we have seen a commendable growth in business. Earlier, high street stores like Khan Market had picked up even before malls opened; now the malls also get great customers and we’re picking up the pace- garnering sales closer to what we had before the pandemic. A lot of the credit here goes to branding. Da Milano being an affordable luxury brand, sees a lot of demand. If the brand quality is high, you will definitely get a return of customers.

Who decides the style code, you or your wife? 

The occasion, forte and mood determine which one of us decides the style code; while it varies from time to time, we’d say it’s balanced in two equal halves. 

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