By  on October 14, 2008

MILAN — Two more fashion brands are dipping their toes into the Indian market.

On Monday, Giorgio Armani Group said it has opened its first Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani stores in India, in the country’s first luxury center, the Emporio Mall in New Delhi. The stores are managed by a newly formed joint venture between Armani and real estate firm DLF Retail Brands Pvt. Ltd.

The designer, who has a 51 percent stake in the venture, said he was “truly excited to finally have a presence in India. This country, which perfectly mixes the spirit of adventure, the sense of mystery and majesty with the principles of elegance, sophistication and modernity, has long been a wonderful source of inspiration to my collections.”

Plans for future stores were not “ready to be communicated” for the time being, according to a spokeswoman.

Earlier this year, Cristiana Ruella, director of general affairs at Dolce & Gabbana, said the company had signed an agreement with DLF Group to secure spaces in the Emporio mall for that company’s first boutiques in India. Salvatore Ferragamo SpA also said it plans to open 10 stores in India by 2013 — including three this year — after launching a joint venture with DLF. This year’s units are slated for New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Ferragamo opened its first own-branded Indian store in 2006 at the Grand Hyatt Plaza Hotel in Mumbai. Gucci is planning its third Indian location at the Emporio mall this year.

Armani is among a host of European brands — including Hermès, Cartier, Stella McCartney, Lanvin and others — planting their first stores in the burgeoning market this year.

Meanwhile, Diesel is also looking to expand its business in the east and plans to enter India in spring 2009. To do so, the Italian apparel company has formed a joint venture with Reliance Brands Ltd., controlled by Reliance Industries Ltd. Diesel will hold a 51 percent stake in the partnership. Stores will initially open in Mumbai and Delhi, followed by Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chandigarh.

Most luxury players made their first moves into India in 2006, when the country loosened restrictions on foreign direct investment, allowing companies to own 51 percent of monobrand boutiques. Among the first to arrive were Christian Dior, Ermenegildo Zegna, Moschino, Ferragamo and Versace, joining established boutiques for Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari.

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