On the Hermes Sari

In On Luxury, On the Sari on November 16, 2011 at 5:10 am

I read today in the Economic Times and on Forbes.com that Hermes has launched its saris again. Last time Hermes launched saris, it was a limited edition for it’s Millenia collection. Recently it expanded in China with leather goods and opened a flagship store in Mumbai.

Clearly, luxury and fashion are moving East.

To me, this brought further clarity to what Amitabh Bacchan said on the the Lead India campaign regarding the two Indias. One India has come so far, that there are 27 story private homes, and printed saris for $6000-$8000 – 3 to 4 lakhs.

The other side of me recognizes that it’s not just any printed sari. There’s value in the Hermes print and logo on 6 yards of beautiful fabric. It also fills me with pride, that the Indian sari has become such an icon, that Hermes recognizes its importance and value. There have already been rich Indian prints on many Hermes scarves. But now Hermes is going one step further to pay homage to the Indian tradition.

And it’s true. That while Indian women and girls wear Western clothing very commonly now, there is definitely a strong pull towards the traditional and graceful sari. For formal occasions and weddings, most women still prefer to wear the sari.

There’s definitely a graceful elegance that is inherent in the sari, and the Hermes prints will no doubt add to this. There are a total of 28 saris, created in Paris, in fabrics varying from cashmere to twill silk. One line of saris is priced at 3 lakhs, while the other is at 4 lakhs. Obviously, only the wealthy can afford this gorgeous luxury.  Two of Forbes top-ten billionaires reside in India, though (Lakshmi Mittal and Mukesh Ambani). It’s not hard to imagine the French couturier’s target clientele.

^Mumbai flagship

Did you also know that a recent global affluence study show that India has more wealthy households than many European nations, including Germany and France. Of course the West is coming back to India as soon as India is getting rich again.

Can you predict what the celebrities or Ambani women will be wearing at their next event? I can!

Speaking of which…It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact this has on the top Indian designers, who until now, were the only creators of designer saris around the world. Hermes’s foray into this niche market isn’t very surprising. Hermes adds a layer of chic luxury to the already sophisticated, elegant sari. I’m hopeful that the price tag and lack of traditional quality inherent in Hermes will keep a large percentage of the wealthy from having or wanting wardrobes of Hermes saris.

But, this is a note to Indian designers. You must now do more than splatter paint, dye, and/or Swarovski crystals all over the sari to charge over 3 lakhs now. Step it up!


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