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Paul Smith Upbeat on Indian Market

The designer was in India last week in advance of the opening of his third store in the country next month.

James Bevan, Sir Paul Smith and Sanjay Kapoor

NEW DELHI — Paul Smith is the latest brand to have high hopes for the Indian market.

The designer was in India last week in advance of the opening of his third store in the country next month.

“India always inspires and excites me,” he said at an event at the British high commissioner’s residence here. There are already two Paul Smith stores in India, in Bangalore and in New Delhi. The new one will be in Mumbai at The Palladium Annexe.

“Paul Smith is growing steadily year-on-year and we are pleased with the brand’s performance in India. It has a loyal fan following and a growing set of new customers as well who love the brand’s classic with a twist design philosophy,” said Sanjay Kapoor, managing director of Genesis Luxury, the franchiser of Paul Smith shops in India.

Kapoor observed that the men’s apparel market in India is “growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 20 percent. It is the fastest growing segment in the apparel market.”

He said Indian men are “discerning customers and usually prefer to stick to brands that they might already have shopped for overseas.” However, having said that, the younger generation is more open to experimentation and is keen to try brands that are being endorsed by their peer group and or celebrities,” Kapoor said.

Brands such as Savile Row, Canali and Ermenegildo Zegna have been doing well in the Indian market in recent years.

“European brands seem to make a more ready entry into Indian markets, and this may be due to the fact that they have been early entrants into the market as well as the fact they are easily available at holiday destinations that Indians frequent most, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and London,” Kapoor said.

Smith, who has been to India several times, said he has seen a significant change in the country in recent years. “It has changed enormously,” he said, citing the improved “infrastructure” and the “more international” flavor.

He observed that part of the inspiration from India comes from color. “If you go to a place like Jaipur, you see the ladies wear orange with lime green and mix patterns with patterns, India is wonderful, especially for color,” he said.

At an event at British High Commissioner James Bevan’s home, Smith was in conversation with Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, comparing notes and talking about some of the high points of his career.

People used to ask me, ‘How do you describe Paul Smith,’ and I would say, ‘Classic with a twist,’ then I realized it is really ‘Savile Row crossed with Mr. Bean,’” Smith said.