Manish Malhotra launches his — and perhaps India’s — first virtual designer store
Manish Malhotra’s week-old virtual store may just make you want to dress up in one of his bridal ensembles and go dancing to a big fat Bollywood-style wedding. Think: Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwani. The store opens its (virtual) doors to the catchy Punjabi song ‘Mahe de Tappe’ by Jasleen Aulakh. The music changes as you segue from one room to another.
A simple click of the mouse takes you from rows of pastel lehengas and sherwanis to a showcase shimmering with delicious jadau and polki jewellery. And as you navigate through every nook, corner and display of the labyrinth-like store, you can click on garments that then enlarge on screen, giving details about the fabric, embroidery and pricing.
This is the virtual avatar of Malhotra’s flagship store in Delhi that sits in Mehrauli’s Ambawatta One compound (now a hub for designer boutiques), facing the iconic Qutub Minar. The couturier admits, over email, that this store is closest to his heart. “This is my first store in India, and we did a revamp in 2019. It’s 15,000 square feet, one among the biggest in the designer category in India,” says Malhotra, who was among the first to open a store here.
Malhotra had been mulling over going digital. The lockdown expedited the process, he says. “The virtual store is ubiquitous, operates anytime, anywhere, all days and at all times. We’re hopeful that it reaches out to markets and clusters where we’re not present and creates an opportunity for newer interactions and engagements. We are hopeful of gaining stronger loyalty and better our customer lifetime value from this new interaction point,” he adds. Going forward, the idea is to make more collections available on virtual media.
But, for a lot of his clients, is not the idea of buying a Manish Malhotra creation so that they can interact with him personally? “I agree entirely,” says Malhotra, who received a flurry of calls during the lockdown, from brides who wanted to meet him and see their outfits in person. “Luxury fashion is all about customisation and personalisation but having said that, I have experienced the inclination towards the digital medium. I do not need to take trips to multiple cities for various orders. The virtual store offers similar experience to the customer in Tier II and III towns in India and international markets, and I’m hopeful to strengthen our presence in these smaller markets and countries like Middle East, Canada, US,” he adds.
Last year also created new situations such as online consults for bridal outfits, which was never the case before, for Malhotra. “Overall, digital is the new way as Coronavirus etiquette demands and I’m sure it will continue to strengthen in the future. It’s just a matter of time that we see some of the most disruptive and innovative fashion and digital innovations in the years to come,” he adds. The store is still developing further. A virtual try-on facility is in the works.
The designer has just launched a skincare range and is currently working on his summer collection which will launch in February/march. “Besides that, there is something we are discussing on the Manish Malhotra Productions front, and you can hear something from us soon,” says the darling designer of Bollywood, who recently worked on Varun Dhawan and Sara Ali Khan’s outfits in Coolie No. 1.
Other than that, Malhotra says he had the best time during lockdown. He jubilantly mentions that he took time to do things he likes, focussed on health and lost 18 kilograms, watched classic Bollywood movies and enjoyed evening tea with his mother. “It’s not always about how much we have done and what we have done. Sometimes, stillness is also good, where we work on health, relationships, and overall life.”
The virtual store is accessible at www.manishmalhotra.in