Storied French luxury label Hermès–they of the $350 plain white t-shirts, Kim Kardashian-approved flatware and (of course) $10,000 handbags–entered the Indian luxury market on Friday with a line of really, really fancy saris. The traditional Indian womenswear pieces start at $6100 and cap out around $8200. They’ll be made in France, from luxe materials like cashmere and twill silk, and the prints come straight from the house’s beloved silk scarves.
Says Bertrand Michaud, president of Hermès India:
“This is part of our effort to connect to India’s culture and to the tradition of elegance of Indian women. We’ve put all our skills into making them to pay homage to the Indian tradition,” he said, adding there were no plans yet to make the collection a permanent addition to the company’s offerings.
The launch of the sari collection comes after Hermès enjoyed great success in the Asian market with the launch of Shang Xia, a luxury Chinese brand. As for the saris, the reception so far sounds positive:
The sunny outlook for Hermès’ new saris also comes from an initial positive industry reaction to the brand’s initiative. Several consultants for the Indian luxury market noted that, basically, it was about time a Western brand trying to get a foothold there offered a sari. Caroline Young, the CEO of Creative Link India, a fashion consulting firm, told the Financial Times that the move was “really smart,” and noted that all in all, she was “astonished this hasn’t been done before.”
Although the idea of a family-owned French luxury house manufacturing traditional Indian womenswear sounds a little… odd, this isn’t the West’s first foray into a (specifically) Indian market. It’s worth noting:
High-end menswear brands have already made analogous design adjustments for the Indian luxury market. Italian labels like Ermenegildo Zegna and Etro both offer Nehru-style collars for their male Indian customers (the Nehru collar was popularized by India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and consists of a closed, rounded neck).
Does this seem a little odd to you or just good business?