Just the other day I was doing my recce of some of the designer stores that I do on a routine basis. I do this not just to see how the stores are doing but to know how designer merchandise are displayed and managed at these stores.
Looking at the stores I realized that our fashion designers give least importance to their window displays (or VM, the visual merchandising part).In most stores, windows are shabbily or done in the most unattractive manner. Once inside, the same was seen on the shelves and racks. I also saw a mannequin that seemed to struggle out of an ill-fitting outfit.
Some of these stores that are situated in a mall where some of the leading names in the world of luxury are also situated look completely out of place. I know for a fact that each of these luxury brands takes a lot of effort in doing their windows and VM part so as to get the attention of prospective clients. They have specialized staff handling these parts and the end result is always an attractively displayed product shelf coupled with an equally pleasing window that prompts the customer to walk in to have a look at products. Once inside, trained staff (atleast in most cases) will assist them with product details and purchases.
Walking into an Indian designer store is like walking into a police station with a blood-stained knife in hand. The staff looks at you with suspicion plastered all over your body. As you walk from rack to rack, you can feel their stares smothering your back side, you could almost feel the heat of their breath on your back. They will atleast ask you twice whether you are looking at anything particular, and even if you say no, they still follow you through out. They are suspicious that you are there to copy their designs. I know this for a fact. And each time I walked in to a store, I always felt the same attitude from the sales staff, much to my amusement I might add.
Amusement I said because I find it damn funny that these guys are told to guard the store as if it’s Fort Knox. We must realize that our designers and their designs are far from being copied by competitors. And those who are desperate enough to copy them, they are doing it blatantly any way in places like Chandni Chowk, etc and our guys are not doing much to stop them from doing that either. Then why this drama of showing hostility when we walk into their stores? Or is it that one has to make oneself visible stepping out of a BMW to prove that one is worthy of walking in to these stores? I remember my good friend Mohan Murjani once telling me that often the best sales come from a person who walked in torn jeans. Clearly, the way these guys follow you through breathing down your neck and showering you with stares, I doubt how much sale are they generating.
Our designers should also work on their price tags – atleast when it comes to their western clothing – as most of them often find neck to neck with that of their counterparts from the west. If one of our best designers gives the pricing similar to that of a second line of a world-class luxury label, and if the product is similar, I am willing to place a bet that the customer will go for the second option. This can happen because the second option has a better brand appeal and recognition.
I feel the store acts of Indian designers should be looked into and reworked. A friendly demeanour by sales staff coupled with pleasant, uncluttered shelves and racks and a powerful window will do much better in terms of attracting customers than the present setup. This will sure make the prospective clients happy once they are inside, conversion of that feeling into a sale, well, that depends entirely on what the designer has to offer… and at what price.