Brands get a designer touch

04 Jan,2012


By Tuhina Anand


Wendell Rodricks for Polo, Malini Ramani for Bata, Tarun Tahiliani for Timex… Some of the top Indian fashion designers have moved from their familiar territory of creating haute couture to creating new lines for popular brands.


Wendell Rodricks has designed four new flavours called the Polo Fashion Flavours for Nestle’s Polo and has even given a funky new look to the staid-looking green and blue packaging of the mint.


Malini Ramani, who is known for her bohemian style, has associated with Bata to come out with a new collection of footwear called Malini Ramani for Bata.


Tarun Tahiliani has designed a special collection for Timex to help the brand break away from the sporty image it is associated with.


Giving his views on this trend, Harish Bijoor, brand expert and CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. said: “I would call it bringing bizarre into branding. Fashion designers have no connect with the (product) category and it’s a stretch to think of them designing footwear or a designer mint. This is done to just get eyeballs and media share, and not necessarily about gaining market share.”


For brands, it may be an effort to garner eyeballs, especially now, when they jostle with numerous others to grab the consumers’ attention.


For Bata the association came at a time when they were looking at opportunities at designer footwear market inIndia. This, in fact, is the first time that Bata India has roped in a designer to design a special collection for them.


On the reason behind associating with a fashion designer, Rajeev Gopalakrishnan, Group Managing Director, Bata India Limited, said: “The designer market is unique and full of innovations and Bata, as a brand, believes in constant innovations to bring forth the best for their customers. Therefore, we decided to rope in Malini Ramani, who is one of the most coveted designers in the country.”


The footwear major has had a positive feedback of its association with Malini Ramani and hopes to further strengthen this association and even look for similar opportunities with other designers in future.


Mr Gopalakrishnan added: “With the increasing demand for footwear in the Indian market, it is essential for any brand to introduce various designs and variety often. BataIndiaoffers various footwear ranges in every category. We bring out new designs for our customers as per the global trends and standards every month. The entire collection is changed every quarter to cater to the changing needs of Indian consumer.”


Besides the Malini Ramani collection, BataIndiahas genuine leather casual collection for men under Bata and North Star Collection for the young customers. For customers with an active lifestyle, Bata launched a new collection under the Weinbrenner brand with personalized branding. It has Marie Claire collection for women, Power brand for the sports enthusiasts and variety of designs in attractive colours for children under Bubblegummers and Baby Bubbles, besides school shoes for children.


For Timex the association with Tarun Tahiliani was to give break to the stereotype image that the brand has been associated with. VD Wadhwa, MD & CEO of Timex Group India, said: “Timex has been perceived as a sporty and outdoorsy brand since its inception and we want to move beyond that image. To strengthen our connect with the women costumers; we associated with ace designer Tarun Tahiliani. The aim of this association was to establish credibility amongst the women customers at comparatively higher price points and cash in on the wedding and festive season.”


Mr Wadhwa stated that the response has been tremendous as far the collection is concerned. In fact, many costumers have come back asking for more options in this line. Though Timex doesn’t have any plans to add to this collection with other designers.


“Marketers are increasingly leaning on homegrown designers for business associations to launch signature or limited edition lines. All this is done to attract the young and ambitious Indian consumers who would happily pay a premium price to stand out in the crowd. Indian designers are the best bet, since each one of them has a specific style and can fuse Indian and international designs brilliantly to develop an aspirational product,” said Mr Wadhwa.


Fashion designer Manish Malhotra has also been featured in La Opala Diva ads and there is a possibility that he may design for the crockery brand, though the plan has not been finalized yet.


One may even recall that few years ago, Sabyasachi had designed Bombay Dyeing’s new bed and bath range. It is clear that the marketers have started tapping the designers to give a fresh appeal to their products.


It could be to create an aspirational value or tap consumers that have remained away from the brands and lure them in. In a cluttered market, this may be the way to at least garner eyeballs and somewhere succeed in getting an increase in sales too.


Polo image:, other images: courtesy company spokespersons

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