We see ourselves as a high-street brand in India

Written by Ayesha Dominica Singh | Updated: Feb 1 2010, 04:53am hrs
A premium designer, retailer and manufacturer of womens wear and accessories, British brand Aftershock has been catering to a niche audience for well over 15 years.

Dheeraj Harjani, Creative Director, Aftershock London, was in India recently to visit a new store in Pune. In an e-mail interview with Ayesha Dominica Singh, he shared the companys plans in India and its expansion plans globally. Excerpts:

What is it about that little black dress or that pair of dark blue classic denims that makes them so much a part of any womans ensemble

An LBD or classic denim jeans are the kind of items you can put on without thinking and know theyll look good. I wouldnt necessarily say theyre statement pieces but have an understated cool about them. The pieces can help you create the perfect outfit. For example, a skinny pair of jeans and vibrant Aftershock bustier top or an LBD with funky Swarovski coloured crystals from the Aftershock jewellery range do the job well.

Tell us a little about your new store in Casablanca.

Our new store in Casablanca is situated in Rue Illiane, the equivalent of Pali Hill in Mumbai. Its over 2,000 square feet on two levels. The upper level is strictly a VIP area, where a butler serves clients pink champagne and snacks whilst they shop.

The store is franchised and stocks the full collectionPrt--Porter, gold and accessories. At the launch a few weeks ago, we had a number of local celebrities visit and watch the catwalk show held in-store. We are already looking at opening another store, perhaps in Marrakech, after the successful launch in Casablanca.

What is your new swimwear line from Brazil for SS10 all about

The new SS10 swimwear line from Aftershock promises to be stunning. Its a small capsule collection of eight to ten styles with animal prints, gold hardware and Swarovski crystals and sequins. Were producing this range in Brazil because of the high fabric quality and specialised know-how to achieve what were looking for.

Beyond the cuts and seams and silhouettes, what makes the Indian woman so fashionable and distinct from other women across the globe

I would say their femininity. Whats more important than the dress itself is the woman who carries it. In cinema, Indian women such as Madhuri or Bipasha are strong role models and well spoken of. There is a sophistication that I find quite distinctive and this makes them more fashionable.

How do you view your competition here in India

Aftershock is a very niche brand that sits above Reiss, Karen Millen and Coast in the UK and just below other international designers in terms of price points. India tends to place international brands together, so we see ourselves next to the likes of Mango or Promod, which are considered very high street in the UK and were very different.

What are your plans in India in the immediate future

In India were looking at opening more sites. Weve just opened in The Jewel Centre in Pune and are now looking at Bandra or Juhu in Mumbai. Our store in DLF Promenade, New Delhi, has also opened and is doing very well. Were also looking for suitable sites in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

How has the global recession hit your brand

The recession has no doubt hit consumer spending and brands have to re-evaluate their pricing strategy and also have a tighter control on costs, budgeting and forecasts.

The UK has felt the impact, as has Spain. Average spend is slightly less than this time last year, but the frequency of visits has increased. So I think were well positioned in the market. AW09 was also one of our strongest collections to date, with many more product options, from casuals to evening wear. So the recession may only have had short-term impact on the brand.

Were still expanding cautiously in new territories internationally and increasing our PR activities (which is usually the first thing brands cut in a recession).

Where do you see the brand globally 10 years from now

Ten years from now, we hope to have over 300 stores all over the world and also have more of a presence on dictating the forthcoming trends on catwalks at London Fashion Week.

What makes Aftershock a cut above the rest

Aftershock has a very signature style and is known for its glamour and party wear. I think clients expect each piece to be unique. Even the casual styles offer some intricate embroidery, embellishment or cut that enhances the overall piece and by which you recognise the piece.

What according to you is timeless Indian style

Personally, timeless Indian style can be seen in films such as Jodha Akbar. The traditional outfits offer this. But for me, what is more special is the vintage jewellery with precious or semi-precious gems. Ive never seen such stunning jewellery in any other country.