Hrithik Roshan, Virat Kohli and many more celebrities designing for fans

India's new crop of fashion designers includes actors, models and cricketers – and their fans are loving it.
Hrithik Roshan in an advertisement for his HRX clothing line for Myntra.com. Courtesy Myntra.com
Hrithik Roshan in an advertisement for his HRX clothing line for Myntra.com. Courtesy Myntra.com

Would you buy a skirt because Deepika Padukone has designed it? How about shoes created with input from Hrithik Roshan? Some of India’s best-known stars – from actors to cricketers – are branching out into fashion, and local and international brands are only too eager to collaborate and bring to the masses new collections associated with celebrity labels.

Fans and beyond

With many Indian fashion trends – for men and women – originating in Bollywood, it stands to reason that a celeb label would do brisk business among fans. But while curiosity may drive a customer to sample the brand, factors such as affordability and practicality will probably affect their future purchases.

The Label Corp (www.thelabelcorp.com), an India-based online retail space that ships worldwide, boasts three extremely popular celeb-styled lines that seem to have found the right balance of style, branding and affordability: The Closet Label with the actress Malaika Arora Khan, The Trunk Label with Bipasha Basu, also an actress, and The Home Label with Sussanne Khan, ex-wife of Bollywood A-lister Hrithik Roshan.

Roshan is also part of this fashion brigade, having launched his sportswear brand HRX this year. HRX is now the second-best-selling private brand out of the top 10 at Myntra (www.myntra.com), India’s best-known online retail portal (it only ships locally). What helps is that all the apparel in the line is priced between 599 and 2,999 rupees (Dh35 and Dh174), just like The Label Corp’s celeb collections.

“We get 40 per cent ‘return’ customers – but most of them are not just fans of Bipasha Basu, Malaika Arora and Sussanne Khan, which we know from our constant interaction with them,” says Preeta Sukhtankar, The Label Corp founder. “Besides the label sporting the name of their favourite stars, they’re also looking for comfort, affordable prices and wearability.”

How involved are the celebrities?

“Myntra would never work with stars who cannot devote time to their label,” says Gautam Kotamraju, the retailer’s chief creative officer.

“It is all about them – their aspirations and style – and we need time to factor in all that,” he adds, pointing out that despite the fact that “Roshan had a difficult year [the actor went through major surgery and a divorce], his dedication to HRX didn’t waver”.

“Both Arora and Basu are pretty involved at the ‘practical level’,” says Sukhtankar. She calls the actresses “tastemakers” who step in immediately after the forecasting team has predicted the trends for the new season. They then work closely with the designers and vet every piece before giving their approval.

Sukhantar also believes that the stars’ jet-setting lifestyle exposes them to worldwide fashion trends, endowing them with global vision while allowing them to stay true to their roots.

“We wanted to do bright-yellow dresses for The Closet Label once, but Malaika advised us to work with a deeper mustard, which goes better with Indian skin tones,” she says.

“As for Bipasha, she is passionate about high heels but suggested we design shoes with medium heels because the average Indian woman would definitely buy that.

“And our swimwear collection was launched at Malaika’s behest. She pointed out what a hard-to-find category it is in India.”

Next spring, Myntra will also start selling Indian cricketer Virat Kohli’s recently launched apparel label WROGN (pronounced “wrong”) for men.

“We co-create our products with direction from the celebrities, and Kohli is no different,” says Kotamraju.

Kohli, who offers his opinions on the functionality of the products, has shared a lot of his own wardrobe with the brand’s design team to give them an idea of his style.

“We get his ideas on the fabric, colour and fit of the product” before hitting the drawing board, says Kotamraju.

What do established designers think?

“The fashion industry is growing at a remarkable rate and there is space for designers and stylists of all kinds,” say Delhi-based designer Varun Bahl, who seems open to the idea of celebs wanting a share of the fashion market. “The youth of today is open to experimentation in trends and designs, which grants the celebs inroads into the industry.”

A Mumbai-based fashion designer to the stars, Nikhil Thampi, agrees, and believes it can only be a good thing “because it will provide an opportunity for the retail industry’s economic growth”.

Delhi-based designer Rajesh Pratap takes a more cautious approach.

“Celebrity status does help in connecting with a consumer,” says Pratap. “However, the designs and work have to consistently follow through for the label to sustain itself.”

artslife@thenational.ae

Published: December 22, 2014 04:00 AM

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