March 20, 2009 / 4:31 AM / 8 years ago

Indian designer Gill sees global as the way to go

MUMBAI (Reuters Life!) - For globally renowned Indian designer Ranna Gill, one collection fits the world.

Gill, who sells her "Ranna Gill" label to stores such as Neiman Marcus and Harvey Nichols, incorporates Indian motifs and colors in her fashions, but says they must suit the tastes, lifestyles - and pockets - of women around the world.

Gill showcases her collection in New Delhi on Saturday at India's biggest fashion event, where over 100 designers are vying for the attention of 175 domestic and foreign buyers amid the global economic crisis and decreased spending on luxury goods.

She spoke to Reuters about the recession and what it takes to make it in the international market.

Q: What percentage of your business is international?

A: "Sixty-five per cent of my business is export, stores that buy from me for their stores. I sell to Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols, to lots of stores internationally. It's not NRIs (Non Resident Indians). I have my own stores, but I also export."

Q: What do you think it takes for an Indian designer to make it abroad?

A: "You have to have a keen understanding of the global market, basically what a global customer needs. What does she buy, what is her lifestyle, what price point is she buying."

Q: Because Indian clothes are known for particular fabrics and designs, when you sell abroad, do you adjust anything?

A: "I don't wear my Indianness on my head, as a crown. I am a global designer. I could have been Greek, Egyptian, Lebanese, or French. I use my Indianness in terms of color. My collections have a lot of color, and they have a Western sensibility. When an American woman buys my clothes, I offer her color in a very international way, rather than, say, a New York designer. It's not "Indian Indian," you can't sell that in the West.

What you see at my shows is what I sell everywhere. I don't tweak it at all."

Q: Do you make a conscious choice between paying more attention to Indian clients or international clients?

A: "You have to decide whether you're doing your sarees, lehengas, your Indian clothing, or are you doing your Western dresses. You have to make that choice and then go for it."

Q: Has the economic crisis affected your business?

A: "Well, there are a few American customers who have canceled orders, or want to pay later or want to talk about payment terms, or cut down on orders because they are not sure, but having said that, it's okay. Has it affected us to a point of breakdown? No. Has it not affected us at all? No. But that's expected. There's a meltdown, and you have to deal with it."

Q: What are your aspirations for your business?

A: "I really want the brand to go global. I want to see more international stores buying into my line. To do that, you have to understand who is your customer and where is she going with that dress. In an international world, people are not willing to pay a million bucks for their dresses.

I make dresses for me. I am a working woman, I have a family, I need to go out. I need to travel. I can wear my dress in London, Hong Kong, or Bombay. And I don't want to look fat."

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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