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Fashion week finale outfits at Wills Lifestyle stores
Newkerala.com - 10 Apr 2006

By Vishnu Makhijani

New Delhi: In a unique first, the outfits showcased at the finale of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Sunday night are to be retailed at the sponsor's 40 signature stores across the country. "This will perhaps be the fastest transition from ramp to store," Atul Chand, general manager (marketing and retail) of the ITC group that owns the brand, said. "The whole thing is about celebrating the event - taking the event forward to your consumer," Chand told IANS in an interview.

"It will be a prĂȘt brand with a bit of diffusion (a combination of prĂȘt and haute couture). It will be an accessible range," he said, adding that the pricing would depend on the fabric and the amount of work that went into crafting a garment. The collection has been created by Delhi duo Rohit Gandhi-Rahul Khanna and Mumbai's Monisha Jaising. It includes a range of evening wear in pink, elaborately sequined dresses in brown and ochre, flouncy and hip hugging dresses in yellow and orange and some rather interesting combinations like long kurtas and matching pants in grey and white tops over pink free-flowing trousers.

All this is presented in an eclectic mix of fabrics - cotton, velvet, satin, quilts, bandhini and batik on silk cotton. The men's range, largely in brown, includes shirts, trousers and jackets in cotton, velvet and quilts. The bulk of the collection will be retailed. The rollout will begin in the next few weeks and will be staggered over the next couple of months. "That's what fashion is all about - keep giving new things to consumers," Chand said.

Explaining the concept behind Wills Lifestyle sponsoring the fashion week and retailing the new line, he described it as a "beautiful combination" of an event and a product. "In the last five years, we've built a good, strong brand with great loyalty and recall. So the time was right to move to the next level and to associate with an event like this where there is a synergy between the two. "It makes it a beautiful combination because you are associating with an event that has an impact on your product," Chand maintained. Wills Lifestyle started off in 2000 with one store in New Delhi and today has 40 across the country in cities like Jaipur, Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangalore and Bhubaneswar. There are plans to add another 40 in the next two years.

"It was one of the diversifications of ITC", which till then had a presence in the hospitality, tobacco and the agricultural sectors, Chand explained. "We decided that we would not necessarily go to the state capitals but where we thought the consumer is, where we could reach out to consumers. "This was because ours was a complete lifestyle wardrobe. Thus, we have office wear and evening wear, as also accessories like perfumes, personal grooming products, belts, ties - the entire range in a wardrobe."

The company has a state-of-the-art studio and prototyping centre in the satellite town of Gurgaon, where a 20-member design team puts a product through its various value addition stages before it hits the racks. Fabrication is done at captive manufacturing facilities around the country. Elaborating on the company's expansion plans, Chand pointed to the fact that India was a young country with two-thirds of its population below the age of 30. "India is also getting affluent. There are a huge number of malls coming in so therefore, there is a huge amount of consumerism happening. We are supporting the momentum at the consumer end from the retail end," Chand explained. "Fashion is finding more expression. People are getting more confident and wearing what they want to wear to express themselves - whether it is clothes, shoes, hairstyles, perfumes or whatever. "There is a huge big thing happening so we are obviously looking at expanding our retail presence," Chand stated.