Indian Brands – Fashionable, yet affordable! (Jasper Fortuin)
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Friends, family, co-workers and business partners often praise my looks. They never compliment me about my personal appearance or fitness and wellbeing, but they openly compliment me about my fashion-like appearance. And I have to admit it; I’m a fashionista. I do like a good pair of shoes, especially with a coordinating belt, colorful socks with and a matching shirt. My colorful socks are in fact my personal trademark within the company. I’m well known for my fashion-picks. My business style is ‘dress-casual’; I usually go to work in a good pair of jeans and a smart jacket. Wearing a jacket on your button-down shirt is a bit challenging during the hot months in Pune, so during April and May it might happen that I show-up in the office without one.

I have built up a personal brand portfolio of my favorite Indian fashion brands, which usually helps me to find good fashion-picks that suit me most. For most brands, I have found some pretty good resources, but that was back in the Netherlands. This was not too far from other countries and open to global online stores. How about within India? Is it easy for me to shop, and if yes what are my resources?

My wife and I moved to Pune for an assignment with a minimum duration of 2 years. She’s self-employed, and has been running a very successful interior designing agency over the last 18 years. She is with me in Pune for approximately 60-70% of the year. During the other, which is mostly periods of 3-6 weeks, she travels to work on International projects. This year her travels have included Paris, Florida, Austria and she’s planning to go to Cape Town after she returns to Pune. I’m a proud husband but I do miss her when she’s not around. Initially, it was very convenient for me to have her return back home occasionally. Not only have I managed to outsource the mandatory family visits but it also has given me the opportunity to have her do my personal shopping. We have been living in India for little over a year now, and I have completely changed my approach; I have been able to source some good stuff in India I’m happy to share my experiences!

Buying goods in India is easy. Almost everything ranging from food, fashion to electronics can be bought all over the Indian Subcontinent. This is thanks to a government ruling in 1991 when it introduced an economy based on market principles. Would you like to purchase the latest iPad or iPhone? No problem, you can get one at every retailer located on any street. Want to buy a pair of G-star jeans or the latest Italian-made leather shoes? No issues, it’s here! However, there is something that constantly withholds me from giving Indian retailers my money in exchange for western goods: the cost. Most western products are extreme costly. I have already found this out when I try to purchase the Parmesan cheese and quality Italian wines. When we speak about fashion brands, the pricing there is even worse.

My solution is simple and sufficient: GO LOCAL! To find some good substitutes for your favorite brands at home and you’ll end up spending less for better. As long as you avoid the Western chains and go for the local Indian-made brands, things could end up positively for you. Things could turn out even better if you create your own ‘brand converter’, a way to make shopping a bit more easy on the pocket. Let me explain, being a loyal brand lover I have been building up a pallet of favorite brands for certain products. The only thing that you should do while you’re in India is to find good substitutes for your regular brands. One of my favorite pick is the Mumbai-based Bombay Shirt Company, which now provides me with quality shirts tailor-made-to-measures. One other favorite pick is the Salman Khan-backed brand Being Human. It’s part of the Salman Khan foundation, as part of its profits benefit some of the underprivileged within India. They sell all kinds of well-designed clothes ranging from good t-shirts to modern-looking shorts. Another favorite brand is the Mumbai-based brand Raymond, with outlets across the country. If you want to buy quality shoes, a fancy shirt or even a suit, Raymond is the place you should definitely visit. And here are some more examples: Hidesign and Kompanero are both 100% Indian-owned and excellent for leather goods. Ruosh is a good choice for shoes. It offers Italian-like shoes and even sells a premium selection of handmade shoes for less than 100 euros a pair. Good quality for less! Pantaloons is a basic store for cheap stuff. What about Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Peter England, these are all part of the Indian-owned Aditya Birla Group? From good underwear to nice accessories….you could find an alternative for almost every brand. Were there any things that I could not find in India? Unfortunately, there are. I still buy G-star jeans, one of my favorite Dutch created brands, and end up paying more for it than I would have done in the Netherlands. And I still buy perfumes from home, as it does not feel right to pay 30% more per bottle.

For more wonderful stories about India, through an expat eye please visit Jasper’s personal blog:

Indian Brands – Fashionable, yet affordable! (Jasper Fortuin)

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