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The Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD) recently hosted its Luxury Symposium, Delhi Chapter, an event designed to foster a dialogue between fashion business management students and established industry leaders from the luxury sector. The event brought together leading luminaries such as CEO of Lamborghini Delhi, Abhimanyu Mehta; Unit Head of Tangerine Skies Pvt Ltd, Sunil Negi (manufacturer of Michael Kors, COACH, and Kate Spade); Co-founder of Sunlight Chronicle, Anisha Malik; and Founder & Director of Stanley Communications, Jessica Singh.

Panellists having a discussion at the Luxury Symposium at IIAD

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally reshaped consumer behaviour across all industries, and the luxury sector is no exception. The high-end clientele now prioritise experiences and have a changing set of expectations. This presents a critical challenge for luxury brands: how can they adapt to meet these evolving demands while maintaining brand identity and a sense of exclusivity

An alternative avenue emerges through the expanding domain of Fashion Business Management (FBM), often synonymous with Fashion Management. FBM programme at IIAD offer students comprehensive insights into luxury branding, marketing strategies, product development, and distribution channels. Events such as the Luxury Symposium serve as pivotal platforms for students to gain practical insights into the Indian luxury market. Moderated by Abhishek Verma, Associate Professor of Fashion Business Management at IIAD, the symposium, themed “The Future of the Indian Luxury Ecosystem,” provided students with firsthand perspectives on the evolving landscape of the Indian luxury market. Through interactions with panellists, the symposium facilitated meaningful exchanges of ideas among aspiring FBM students, contributing to their understanding of the sector.

Dr. Jitin Chadha, Founder & CEO of IIAD, opened the symposium by highlighting the institutes dedication to fostering innovation and exploration since its inception in 2015. Highlighting the symposium as one of the many active initiatives, he emphasised, “Our mission has been steadfast that is to bridge the gaps and build enduring connections between design, society and industry transforming fashion business is taught, learnt and practised.”

Following this, the industry experts shed light on the complexities and evolving landscape of the Indian luxury market, offering students exclusive insights. The discussion began with a shift in the very definition of luxury. Abhimanyu Mehta, CEO of Lamborghini Delhi emphasised that luxury encompasses not just the product itself, but also the brands heritage, storytelling, and the experience it offers.

Jessica Singh, Founder & Director of Stanley Communications, stressed the importance of effective communication in this new era. She expressed that brands need to craft compelling narratives and leverage diverse media platforms-traditional media, influencers, events-to curate consumer perception and create trends. By a mutual consensus it was inferred that brands must stay attuned to changing consumer preferences, aspirations, and luxury trends to remain relevant.

The discussion also addressed the challenges and opportunities within the Indian luxury ecosystem. Sunil Negi, Unit Head at Tangerine Skies Pvt Ltd, highlighted the challenges encountered by the luxury retail sector in India, emphasising the importance of traditional handicraft techniques and the invaluable skills of craftspeople. He addressed concerns regarding the impact of artificial intelligence on job displacement, asserting the necessity of preserving generational knowledge for Indias economic prosperity.

The panel also explored career prospects within the luxury sector. Jessica highlighted the abundance of opportunities in areas like PR, marketing, CGI, and performance marketing. Interestingly, a key takeaway was the potential benefits of working with external agencies. Anisha Malik, Co-founder, Sunlight Chronicle, explained that agencies can provide fresh perspectives, access to a wider network, and cost-effectiveness compared to training in-house teams.

A significant point emerged about how todays luxury is expanding beyond traditional fashion brands. Consumers are seeking luxury experiences across various sectors, creating exciting new opportunities for brands that can cater to this evolving demand.

The discussion also addressed the concept of exclusivity in the luxury market. Jessica explained how brands maintain exclusivity through targeted marketing campaigns, curated events, and controlled media communication. Special previews and restricted media access ensure the niche audience remains the primary focus. However, aspirational marketing strategies are also employed to cultivate a sense of desire for these products amongst a broader audience.

The symposium concluded with a lively Q&A session, addressing a wide range of student concerns. Initiatives like the luxury symposium underscore the importance of academic institutions, bridging the gaps between industry and academia. This exposure allows students to gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the luxury market, pushing them to decode the markets underlying dynamics and anticipate future trends. Through such initiatives, academic institutions like IIAD position their students to become valuable contributors to the ever-evolving Indian luxury landscape. Fueled by the success of this years event, the symposium aims to expand its reach in the coming years.

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