How the internet and new technology is revolutionising India's growing luxury market
The Indian luxury market is undergoing a metamorphosis thanks to rapidly emerging new technology and the increased acceptance of the internet as a retail platform.
In this interview, Mr Aman Choudhary sheds light on how the Art Collection, a luxury designer furniture brand based out of Kolkata, is responding to these changes.
In an interview to Harper’s Bazaar Arabia in 2020, avant-garde couturier Iris Van Herpen remarked, “Technology can really accelerate craftsmanship, and it can also create new forms of it.”
Technology and the internet have permeated the very core of the luxury industry, transforming it irrevocably. Every brand will need to find their own response to this changing world, and the Art Collection, a luxury designer furniture brand based out of Kolkata is no different.
Started in the 1990s by interior designer Mr Amit Choudhary, this luxury brand creates unique and customised furniture pieces and accessories to adorn people’s homes. What started as a small store in Orphangunje in Kolkata is now a full-fledged brand that brings together luxury and functionality.
We asked well-known luxury brand specialist, Shrehya Agarwal, to have a chat with Aman Choudhary, the creative head of the brand, to understand his perspective on what’s happening in luxury right now and how that impacts their business approach.
Q: How has the Indian Luxury market evolved in the past 30 years, from when Mr Amit Choudhary founded the brand to today when you are taking care of its operations?
A: Internet has given people a huge advantage. Everyone has phones with internet access that gives them an incredible amount of information on everything that was not there in his time. This makes marketing and promotion easy and much lower in cost. There are a lot more resources available today to create a brand. The internet helped boost globalisation and logistics has become far more efficient. I can easily sell a piece to someone in, let’s say, Singapore today. The payment process is easier now.
Technology has undergone major changes in these 30 years too. Whether we talk about AI or IoT et al, so many things are pairing up with each other. A lot of fashion brands have been using AI and blockchain technology. For example, a brand in interiors is creating virtual showrooms, using AI and photography. This allows people to walk around and see the products on their computers wherever they are in the world. This is going to be the future because nobody wants to go out. You have access to the globe through the internet. I can video call a client living in another country to explain how to assemble a piece I might have sold him.
Q: As the majority of Indian consumers still remain influenced by Western concept of luxury, how difficult to educate them on the concept of them?
A: India has a diverse market with people from different walks of life. From what I understand, ‘Luxury’ is a thing of the cities. People from major cities are the ones who can really understand the concept of luxury. Cities like Mumbai and Delhi, that are well-connected to major cities of the world through direct flights, bring in the culture of luxury first and get used to it.
One of the biggest problems is in the way that we have always looked at the west and we always copy them. We are culturally very rich but there is some sort of disparity where we’re not being able to convey that culture and make it a brand. If you see, there was never really an art movement in India which connects various different disciplines and give out a strong message.
Q: How do you think Indian luxury brands can evolve?
A: Long-term, I think India needs to work really hard for the luxury market to evolve. It has the potential and a young demographic as the average age of the country is very young. Luxury depends on two things —manufacturing and craft. These two aspects will determine the quality of the products.
Unfortunately that’s an issue because we’ve outsourced most of our manufacturing to China and hence the Make in India programme was launched by the Prime Minister to make us self-sufficient. If you want to create brands, you need to understand what manufacturing and finishing is. We need workshops so that people can learn about it.
Q: Are you planning to take this local brand global?
A: Yes. We would like to take the brand global through collaborations. Collaboration will become the future and will always create a win-win situation. If we have to go global quickly we will have to collaborate with designers et al, who have a wide expertise and global presence. With their aid, we can create designs accepted worldwide.
By selling furniture designed by designers specific to a region, we can enter other markets. People can trust us in those respective markets as they trust the corresponding designer.
Q: Finally, one piece of advice you would want to give our aspiring entrepreneurs?
A: Creating a personal brand has become very important for anyone who is starting any business. If you want to put yourself out there as a brand, you need to do personal branding. I would sincerely ask aspiring entrepreneurs to simultaneously work on their profile and align themselves with what their brand represents.