Designerification in retail

As there is an increase in aspirational and well-travelled consumers, jewellers have felt the need to engage more intensively with designers, particularly celebrity designers. These designers don’t just bring in a new design language, they also add a lot of public-relations (PR) value. To learn more about such mutually beneficial relatonships, The Retail Jeweller organised a session on “Designers’ Partnership with Retailers” in its annual Trendsetter Summit. Nikita Peer

Commenting on the sudden interest of retailers in collaborating with designers, Farah Khan Ali, promoter of Farah Khan Fine Jewellery, which has associated itself with Tanishq, said, “The need for design comes from consumers who want a change, and thus the need for jewellers to associate themselves with a designer whom they think will be able to bring new thoughts, designs, trends and a different language to what they offer.”
She continued, “We live in a world where people are very aspirational and want to afford designer products, but can’t. So they look to their mass-market chains, hoping to get better designs.”
Sunil Datwani, owner, Gehna Jewellers, said that “Earlier, trustworthiness was the biggest factor, but today design plays the number-one role. And this brings in the need to look around to see what else you can bring to the table for the buyer.”

Jewellers should work out why they are collaborating with a particular designer. A partnership could add either complementary or competitive value. In other words, both could benefit each other equally or either could take advantage of the other’s consumer goodwill. Gautam Ghanasingh, owner, Ghanasingh Be True, said, “While brainstorming with designers, we create mood boards and take inspiration from that for design inputs. The designer takes care of the design and we understand the technicalities well, to ultimately create jewellery. We also help leverage each other’s client base.”

According to Farah khan Ali, if it’s a mass market chain, the association with a designer can enable them to charge a certain premium for the range offered, in turn helping them to raise their average unit price.
Datwani noted that, interestingly, customers do not ask for cost breakup when a celebrity designer is involved; they are willing to pay a little bit more than they would have to a regular jeweller.

He also said that, for a jeweller, “Adding an array of designers helps tap varied consumers. For instance, we started off with Shaina NC, who was doing polki and fusion jewellery. James Ferreira did only rings, targeting mainly youngsters. Shaheen Abbas’ collection was very cocktail, with the use of a lot of colour stones. All these designers helped us target different markets. Karan Johar looks after a lot of the design part and we had to provide inputs on the practical aspect of manufacturing those designs.
This also helps raise the bar for jewellers’ own design teams. Khan pointed out by way of warning, however, that the industry has been very stingy in paying designers. “When you try to save on the creative aspect you end up losing on the aesthetic aspect, as a not-so-well-paid designer will not be happy, which will not convert into great design.”