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Pradeep Hirani: Anchoring the Indian couture story

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Pradeep Hirani is very surely executing his dream of giving to Indian fashion creations a global standing place. Heading a four-year-old enterprise called Kimaya with his wife, Neha, he has undoubtedly done good groundwork with the branding. Kimaya is today a name that fashion zealots embrace wholeheartedly. At the same time, it is an inspiring case of successful innovation with the concept of fashion retail in India. The Hiranis are, to resort to an idiom, on a roll.
Here, Pradeep Hirani articulates responses to some questions from coordinating editor Padma Pegu.

• Besides designer wear, what other product categories are stocked at Kimaya/Ayamik?

We sell haute couture at Kimaya, while Ayamik is our luxury prêt brand. The product categories are high-fashion clothing and accessories such as shoes, bags and jewellery.

• How many designers are on the company’s roll-call? Please specify some names.

Kimaya is one of the leading couture destinations in India and is the only fashion house that features 118 of India’s best designers. Some of these renowned names are Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal, Shahab Durazi, Suneet Verma, Malini Ramani, Manish Arora, Narendra Kumar, Anamika Khanna, Shantanu and Nikhil, and Wendell Rodricks.

• What criteria are considered while deciding on which designers to feature?

The demand from our discerning client base is our main criteria when selecting designers. Other important criteria are the designers’ style, their creativity, uniqueness and freshness.

• How many outlets are operational at present, and in which countries?

We have 3 outlets at present – Mumbai and Delhi in India, and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

• What are the expansion plans? Which other cities in India are you planning to go to? Also, which overseas locations are being considered?

We plan to launch a number of Kimaya and Ayamik stores in the metros of India, and we are looking at the Middle Eastern market as well.

• What is the average size of outlets?

The approximate size of the Kimaya store is 5,000+ square feet and for Ayamik it is 1,500+ square feet.

• Is the preference for standalone outlets, or locating in malls? Or, is the strategy a mix of the two?

Kimaya is in standalone stores only because it is exclusive and caters to private clients.
As for Ayamik, it is our prêt store and so we are looking at malls and other convenient shopping locations.

• Who constitute the major clientele? Can you describe the profile of a Kimaya/Ayamik customer?

The customers of Kimaya are the crème de la crème of society. They are mainly high-society clients who have a fervent passion for fashion. These include wives of top industrialists, Bollywood stars, models and NRIs.

Clients of Ayamik are younger, trendier and more youthful, looking for affordable yet exclusive fashion.

• What value-added services are available for clients?

We are a luxury couture house and make every effort to pamper our clients to ensure a unique and memorable shopping experience for them. We have extensive CRM initiatives such as newsletters, fashion previews, exclusive offers and fashion-related activities.

• What is the pricing and positioning strategy?

Kimaya’s pricing strategy is largely client-driven, wherein we try to ensure exclusivity and unique buying opportunities. Kimaya is positioned as a leading couture house that is exclusive and caters to an elite clientele.

• What has been the response to the overseas outlets? Is the customer profile different there?

Kimaya has had a fabulous response overseas – we have dedicated clients from all over the world, including South Africa, the United States, Europe and even Australia. In the United Arab Emirates, our clients are mainly Arabs and we cater especially to them. For example, we sell jalabias and other Arab silhouettes with Indian traditional work. We strive to offer these unique combinations to adapt to their fashion needs.

• Which fashion weeks have you been attending? Which are on the anvil?

We have been the largest buyers at India Fashion Week, consistently so in the past four years. We have also been regular invitees to the Milan, Paris and London fashion weeks in the last two years. We plan to continue attending them and to explore other business opportunities.

• Have you signed on any foreign designer?


• Overall, how has the equation worked out with the designers? Has there been any point of conflict?

No, there has been no point of conflict with any of our designers. We pride ourselves on having a fantastic, healthy working relationship with all of our designers and giving them a credible business platform.

• How are you tapping new talent?

We are constantly looking for new talent that we can promote and eventually cultivate into a well-established fashion label. We unveil designers’ new collections with launches and soirees that bring the best in luxury and couture to our discerning client base.

• In a few sentences, please describe the concept and vision of Kimaya/Ayamik.

Kimaya is India’s leading couture destination. It is the only fashion house to have 118 of India’s best fashion designers on its palette. We at Kimaya want to give the exoticism and craftsmanship of Indian designers a credible global platform, and provide the ideal business and aesthetic destination for leading international brands. As Indian couture approaches a zenith, it is Kimaya’s vision to bring Indian fashion to the world. At the same time, Kimaya wants to creatively represent prominent brands and designers from the world over in their stores in India and the Middle East, as also in fashion meccas across the globe.

Ayamik is a brainchild of the house of Kimaya. At Ayamik emphasis is on Indian and international silhouettes, with five to seven per cent influence of Indian craft and bling. Top quality, great silhouettes, affordable pricing and contemporary forms – you can truly look forward to expecting all this at Ayamik. Luxurious comfort, the finest fabrics, a startling array of colours and a generous dose of bling – each designer brings something new and desirable to the table.

• Lastly, how will you describe the journey so far? Please write a short brief about your professional progress.

In 2002, my wife Neha and I launched Kimaya, a designer couture house that caters to the crème de la crème of society. In only 4 years Kimaya has swelled into three establishments, one in each of the burgeoning metropolises of Mumbai, Delhi and the shoppers’ mecca, Dubai. Kimaya’s credentials are impeccable, having been the largest buyer at India Fashion Week for 4 years running and being invited to the Milan, Paris and London fashion weeks for the last 2 years.

In October 2005, my wife and I collaboratively launched a luxury prêt store in Mumbai – Ayamik. Embodying the tongue-in-cheek, delightful naughtiness inherent in all men and women, Ayamik is a mirror image of Kimaya, commercially and otherwise.

Today, I am busy giving back to the industry that has given me so much. I have started a 6-month training programme at Kimaya where young fashion graduates get an opportunity to showcase their designs at a fashion show sponsored by Kimaya Fashions. I have been on the governing board of Mumbai’s eminent fashion institutes such as SNDT College (EMC Division) and Sophia College of Fashion, besides being on the jury for graduating students of prestigious institutions such as NIFT, NID, SNDT, Empire Institute, Wigan and Leigh, and GSPS.

I want to take Indian fashion to the world and gain international renown for Kimaya and high- fashion Indian designer couture.

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