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Diwali deluxe



SUJATA ASSOMULL SIPPY

Luxury brands have caught on to the fact that Diwali is the season of splurging in India. Watch them roll out those India-special limited editions.

If you're in the luxury business, the end of Shraddh is real reason to celebrate. All over the world the start of the fashion year is September. It is when the fall collection hits the stores, the spring shows take place in the fashion capital. For fashion magazines, "The September Issue" is the always the most coveted of the year. But in India it is all about "The October Issue" because the Shraddh phase makes it inauspicious for Hindus to invest in anything new. October is the natural start to our season - Diwali is around the corner and the wedding season is about to peak. This is the time to desire and splurge on something special. The luxury sector knows this and that is why you will find brands like Canali, Tod's and Gucci releasing their limited editions around now. Limited luxury limited editions are not new, but you will notice more and more brands doing special versions of these just for India. Some like Hermes (who launched a collection of printed saris last year) use it as a way of announcing their arrival in the country;others do it every season as a way of attracting media attention and making a special connection with customers. It has been four years since Canali first unveiled the "Nawab". Based on the bandgala, this is considered a collector's item for a select club of welldressed men. Says Elisabetta Canali, global communication director for the firm: "There are connoisseurs who are collectors of limited edition products and look forward to such pieces to enhance the experience of exclusivity. To know that you own a product that only a handful of people own across the world is the ultimate experience of exclusivity. "

This season Canali has released a pink velvet edition and there are only 13 pieces if it - and you know that before the season is over they will be sold out. Etro, Paul Smith and Ermenegildo Zegna have also done their versions of the bandgala. And though limited editions are a global trend, luxury brand have realised that in India, thanks to our rich heritage of traditional styles, they need to work hard at embracing the market.

"India is a unique market indeed and Indians have unique tastes and preferences, a lot of Indian men wear bandgalas for weddings instead of conventional suits. This incredible culture has been a source of inspiration for many global luxury brands, " says Canali. Many accessory brands have done special bags for India - Bottega Veneta, Jimmy Choo, Gucci and Tod's have done handbags especially to suit the Indian women's wardrobe. They are metallic or have embroidery to appeal to our sensibilities and also to look celebratory enough to be a part of a trousseau. This week Tod's announces the arrival of its Diwali D Bag. The D Bag is one the most sought after It bags and for India it has been given a colourful facelift. Purple silk and orange crocodile give the bag a vibrant and festive feel. There are only two of these bags being made, so they really have a feel of uniqueness. Tod's has been doing special editions in India, China, Japan and now are doing a limited edition project in the Middle East. Their choice of countries indicates that the luxury industry is now focusing on non-European markets.

Gucci is taking things a step further by coming out with two limited editions this season. It has been three years since Gucci started its "India Exclusive" series which now has a cult following. This season the bag comes in a deep copper Anaconda skin, and the horsebit detail ensures the Gucci touch. And to celebrate the launch of Gucci's largest store in India in November the company will launch an exclusive "Gurgaon" bag. (Their 4, 220 square two level store is in the Oberoi, Gurgaon. ) Again only two bags are being made - in exotic pink tan and blue aqua Anaconda skin.

Limited editions are being seen as a great way to announce the arrival of brand in emerging markets. But stop and think before you buy. Some of these limited editions are aesthetically iffy. To be honest, some "Made for India" limited editions can look a little garish. Often European brands seem unable to understand Indian design sensibilities or how to marry these with their European heritage. So remember not all limited editions are special!

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