Custom made or bespoke designs is something one hears quite often when high fashion is being discussed. The demand or the need for tailor-made, personalised products is on the rise as per industry experts. No matter what brand or label you choose to shop from, exclusivity is something that is lacking these days, as almost all objects are mass produced to cut costs and increase profits. But bespoke fashion is one way out of that.
Talking about bespoke products in India seems funny for once upon a time we were a country that thrived on tradition. Just like a family doctor we Indians used to have a family tailor who would be called upon before festivals or family functions to make new outfits for the entire family. Though this tradition still exists in smaller cities and towns, some of us who have grown up in rich metropolitan cities have long forgotten it.
“The demand for customised products has always been in India and why not, we were a land of hundreds and thousands of maharajas who were know for their eccentricities which covered having one-of-a-kind possessions,” says Abhishek Basak of Absynth Designs, a Delhi-based design studio that specialises in custom items.
Basak specialises in custom-made cellphone covers, watches, flash drives, jewelry, lights and much more. “I draw my inspiration from the Victorian era, so all my designs are based on that time period… I feel India has the potential to be one of the fastest growing markets in the world in custom made products, as people are not just aware but also willing to spend,” Basak says.
One of the major reasons for people going exclusive, as per Fiza Husain Irwin, a designer living between Delhi, Mumbai and Qatar, is: “People today travel a lot and due to this they have an open mind towards buying things like jewelry which are made of non precious metals and stones, as long as their thirst for exclusivity is quenched. Think about yesteryears, can you even imagine anyone who would be willing to spend thousands on fuel tanks of their motorcycles?”
“I personally feel the market in India is just about right for these personalized products. India is my second biggest market after the Middle East and all this is when my company is just a few weeks old. On an average week I cater to around 3-4 orders in jewelry, clothes and the custom fuel tanks,” adds Irwin.
On asking as to why would someone spend and around how much one spends to get ownership of these exclusive products, Irwin explains, “As designers it’s our job to make things that the client desires so the cost of these exclusive things depends on the requirements for a basic exclusive piece of jewelry that might cost, say around, Rs 2,500. It all depends upon the designs selected, the materials you desire and the size.”
The reason for this in the words of Basak is pretty much simple, “Bragging rights, individuality, standing out in a crowd of people, there is not a reason you could single out to understand why people demand these items. For tailor made products are conceived to be the ultimate form of luxury. How else would you explain that there is no other product like the one you possess?”
“I personally feel the market in India is just about right for these personalised products. India is my second biggest market after the Middle East and all this is when my company is just a few weeks old. On an average week I cater to around 3-4 orders in jewelry, clothes and custom fuel tanks.”
Sharuk Zaidi, another Delhi based designer, on the contrary has a completely different outlook towards the world of exclusivity, “We live in the world of mass production, everything you know is mass produced. Be it the car you drive or the watch you wear, the bag you carry or the blazer you drape around your shoulders. So the need and demand for exclusive products will always prevail but it will never be huge. It is one of those markets that will always be niche.”
Zaidi specializes in leather goods and accessories like NAPA, “The basic reason for the limited nature of this market is not the availability of money but the availability of time. To put it simply, how often can you visit your jeweler or designer or watch maker or shoe maker, as exclusivity is a lifestyle choice not just a unique jacket or watch or pair of shoes that you hold dear and wear occasionally to flaunt. A person addicted to exclusivity will have everything exclusive like the kings in the olden days.”
Nikita Sharma of Odara sums up the debate in the simplest terms, “In today’s world exclusivity means having a few items that can be worn once in a while to show and bear to the world about one’s tastes and monetary success just like a BMW or Audi. So the market will always exit but don’t expect it to be huge. It’s this niche nature of this market that makes it lucrative for us designers.”