Bridging the luxury gap

Luxury is taking a back seat as bridge to luxury (BTL) brands come to the forefront. BTL brands are garnering the spotlight and becoming a retailers' favourite.
Bridging the luxury gap

Luxury is what everyone wants to indulge in but not everyone can reach that stature. Bridge to luxury brands are narrowing the gap where people can aspire to move a notch higher on the ladder to luxury. Adding to the aspirational value, these brands are over ruling the luxury market in India and in no time will be much loved. The market size is fairly increasing but is not clearly defined yet as it is a relatively newer retail segment. Abhay Gupta, Founder, Promoter & CEO, Luxury Connect tells, “There is no concrete number as of now but certainly this is bigger than the luxury market.”  

The buzz

Operating a luxury business calls for a lot of patience in the Indian marketplace as it brings along slower returns. In today’s fastrack retail business world, brands too prefer to work on faster turnarounds. The break even period for a luxury brand can be about double as compared to that of a bridge-to-luxury brand. This is the primary reason for bridge-to-luxury brands gaining the limelight. As it turns out, some of the retail biggies have exited the luxury spaces too extend their bridge-to-luxury portfolio. While DLF brands called off its partnerships with global luxury labels, Giorgio Armani and Salvatore Ferragamo earlier this year, Blues Clothing split up with Versace. DLF is now looking to work on its bridge to luxury offerings. Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults tells, “People have an aspirational value that they will get there where they can afford luxury. More people are getting attracted to this industry as it is cheaper than luxury; the tag value is good and offers exclusivity.” Sephora has just made an India entry with its first store in Delhi. Furla from the Genesis Colors umbrella is adding to the brands profits. They have also recently tied-up with Vince Comuto, the American fashion label. The company plans to extensively invest and increase the store print for these brands. Arvind brand is also working on its bridge to luxury portfolio by bringing renowned names under its kitty. They also have a 25 crore expansion plan on cards. Gupta tells, “Companies like Mahindra are scaling up to occupy this segment. Scorpio is one example which lies between luxury and premium sgements. Luxury companies like Audi and Merc are also scaling down to find a place in this segment. Mercedes entry level car which costs 22 lakhs is an example of BTL. Audi's Q3 series lies in BTL segment. In fashion, Armani and Varsace jeans will fall under this category.”

The customer base for such brands is also larger as compared to a small number of people who take to luxury. People who want to shell out lesser than they would on a luxury brand but get the feel of it are the ones who are increasingly shopping with these brands. Gupta tells, “India is a place where in luxury market, entry level items are most picked. Looking at this trend it will not be wrong to say that the customers would prefer BTL brands more than luxury brands.” 


Bridge to luxury brands in India



Crabtree & Evelyn


Thomas Pink

Brooks Brother



Armani Jeans






Vince Comuto



Investment and returns

The investment of setting up a bridge to luxury store might not be on the lower end of the scale but is compensated by the break even period. Bijoor tells, “Luxury brands operate in the large format space as compared to bridge to luxury brands that prefer smaller formats. For example, in the furnishing space, if Atmosphere is to open a store, it will go for a large format store as compared to a bridge to luxury brand in the same segment, will go for a 500 square feet space. However, they will be operating in the same high street space.”

The break even period id faster for a bridge to luxury brand which adds to the glitz which is attracting retailers to it. The break even for luxury stores stands at around three and a half years or around 42 months whereas it is about 18 months for a bridge to luxury brand. Agreeing Gupta reiterates, “But the investment required by BTL brands will not be less than Luxury brands but their break even time will be much faster than in luxury market.”  

Road ahead   

The journey for this industry seems to be very smooth with a scalable path to walk on. The prospects and opportunities are immense with a lot to play with. In no tie, it has over taken the luxury market in India and in the coming days will definitely scale o greater heights. Bijoor tells, “The future for the industry is very bright. People are seamlessly growing aspirationally but by affordability are not there yet so these brands will help them reach there. Also these brands will work as stepping stones which will first lead to a boom in this segment and consequently to a boom in luxury.” 

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