Even though couture now might be just a click away, the state of art interiors, the luxury of feeling the fabrics and on-spot alteration services come together to prove how brick and mortar stores still hold strong. As the debate on their relevance continues, here are a few standouts which remain unswayed and have been giving visitors an enhanced shopping experience.
Thierry Journo describes his fashion and home decor store, Idli, as his “exotic dream”. A homage to Indian regality and French eclecticism, the Jaipur store’s signature elements include scaled silk lanterns, an imposing pink sofa, ornate mirror frames, and hand-painted textiles. The space, which was launched in 2006, stocks intricately embroidered and hand-painted range of menswear and womenswear. Journo, who has collaborated with the likes of John Galliano, Thierry Mugler and Andrée Putman, defines his design narrative as “magico-mythical”, which is the result of his more than decade-long experiments with various art forms. In case you plan to visit, don’t miss out on hand-painted furniture, intricate textiles and floral brocade jackets.
Clove, The Store, Mumbai
A single glance at Clove will give you an insight into founder Samyukta Nair’s obsession with details. Housed within Churchill Chambers (known for its arched doorways and high ceilings) in the arterial lanes of Colaba’s art deco quarter, its calm and de-cluttered interiors are geared towards highlighting the merchandise. “It was envisioned as a welcoming space akin to one’s home within the comfort of which people could casually linger and browse, without the added pressure of having to make a purchase,” says Nair. The conceptual store, designed in collaboration with The Busride Design Studio’s Zameer Basrai, hosts a curated selection of homegrown designers such as Urvashi Kaur, Karishma Shahani, Divya Sethi and Dhora, keeping in mind a diverse audience.
Le Mill, Mumbai
Cecilia Morelli Parikh, a former Bergdorf Goodman buyer who’s worked with luxury behemoths such as Balenciaga and Prada, co-founded Le Mill with Julie Leymarie in 2011. As a fashion store, it is a gateway to international luxury labels like Chloé, Céline, Dries Van Noten and Balmain. Adding a local flavour to the edit are contemporary Indian labels such as Bodice, Eka, and Péro. “Our culture and aesthetics are different to Europe. So our selection is made keeping that in mind,” says Morelli about her curatorial process. “We like to say Le Mill has its eyes on Paris, but its heart firmly in Bombay.” Now housed in a heritage property in Colaba, it seeks inspiration from the cultural contradictions of Mumbai. Rustic hints, refined finishes and a well-lit up space paint a picture of perfection here.
Ensemble, Mumbai & Delhi
Launched in 1987 by Tarun Tahiliani and his wife Sal, Ensemble is an inseparable part of Indian fashion’s history. The original idea behind the store was to give Indian designers a suitable platform to showcase their creations, and it remains so even today. From the very beginning, Ensemble veered away from the diktats of fickle trend cycles. Today, be it the eclectic edit that consists of names like Anamika Khanna, Pero, Payal Pratap and Manish Malhotra or the thoughtfully done interiors by architect Bijoy Jain, all aspects of the store have a luxurious feel with a local undertone. “Curation is of utmost importance. We ensure that each piece looks, fits and is executed perfectly,” explains Tina Tahiliani, executive director, Ensemble. “At the end of the day, a wonderful customer experience is going to come out of a superlative human interaction and we try to do that in the best possible way.”
Bungalow 8, Mumbai
When Maithili Ahluwalia launched Bungalow 8 in 2003, her idea was to strip fashion of its cliches. Much like her grandmother, Chandu Morarji, who launched country’s first boutique Dagina in the ’60s, Ahluwalia has achieved what she set out to do. Many Indian designers such as Anavila, Lovebirds and Injiri, among others, were introduced at Bungalow 8 before they gained prominence. She has also collaborated with fashion veterans such as Abraham and Thakore and Sonam Dubal to create capsules for the store.