Hidesign has designs on luxury leather goods

Vinay Kamath Chennai | Updated on January 15, 2018


Atelier collection handcrafted in ostrich and deer leather

Hidesign, the Puducherry-based leather goods brand which prides itself on its craftsmanship of handbags and other accessories, is taking the brand one notch up with the launch of its luxury collection, branded Atelier.

Designed by Hidesign’s feisty founder, Dilip Kapur, the two collections are called Champagne and Caviar, the former made from ostrich leather and Caviar crafted from deer leather, sourced from farms in New Zealand.

This isn’t Hidesign’s first foray into a luxury collection; its earlier collection by Italian designer Alberto Ciaschini, however, didn’t have much traction. Says Kapur: “We felt that the collection, while beautiful, lacked sufficient connect to the Hidesign lifestyle. The Atelier collection has been designed by us at Puducherry to ensure there is a deeper understanding at this early and critical stage. We need a high level of craftsmanship for this collection. We have selected our 12 best master craftsmen, each with at least 18 years of experience, for making the Atelier range.”

The desire of regular Hidesign customers for a more aspirational product than the regular Hidesign bags and accessories, prompted this new range. “It's a tiny percentage of the market, maybe 10 per cent of Hidesign’s customer base, but it's growing fast,” he says.

Sales recorded

Hidesign registered sales in FY 2016 of ₹150 crore and expects to finish the current year at approximately ₹175 crore. The brand has 74 exclusive stores in India and is distributed across 150 other outlets while it is present across 23 countries, where it’s sold at around 800 counters.

Talking about the leather used, Kapur says ostrich leather is preferred by luxury designers for its random and delicate pattern. The extreme softness and strength of sheep leather for the Caviar collection also makes it the perfect choice for luxury goods, he adds. The Atelier collection starts from ₹2,595 for wallets and ₹11,900 for ladies bags and goes up to ₹25,900. Hidesign’s regular ladies handbags retail in the price band of ₹4,000 to ₹8,500.

Comparisons to top French and Italian leather brands are natural but odious. While price is one comparison, and Atelier would be affordable luxury compared to European brands’ pricing, he doesn’t want this collection to be viewed through the price prism alone.

“We need to concentrate on what luxury means to us and what we can contribute that is special to the world of luxury craftsmanship. While France and Italy have their own stories, we hope we will have our own special story to tell that comes from our heritage and special skills,” elaborates Kapur.

In a branded leather goods market of approximately ₹800 crore, luxury would be barely 10 per cent, but growing fast. Atelier has launched with a small collection, so Hidesign is targeting only ₹5 crore in sales in the first year.

Other markets

While India will remain the top market for Atelier, it has had surprising success in the Gulf and Sri Lanka. Uganda and Kenya have bought Atelier shoes and the brand awaits further orders. Hidesign’s export sales have grown 24 per cent the past year, and what's surprising, points out Kapur, is that this growth is led by new markets that are not traditional big buyers, such as the Gulf, the US, Kenya and Portugal.

Published on November 25, 2016

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