Sabyasachi Mukherjee is 2 decades into his designing career and god will it be an understatement to say that he’s successful. He graduated from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Kolkata in 1999 and soon after started his own namesake label winning awards and showcasing collections with quirky names.
20 years ago, Sabyasachi could be found peddling potpourris of semi-precious stones and other paraphernalia on the bylanes of the bustling city of Kolkata. Gone the decades, he has been dubbed as the King of Indian Bridal Wear by The Business of Fashion, among many other recognitions. His masterstroke marketing strategies over the years have enabled the designer to create an aspirational brand which is now a dream of every Indian bride. It is a result of classic combination of two things done perfectly – creating an aspirational brand while maintaining quality core product value. And bam, every girl wants to be a #SabyasachiBride.
Through his journey, Sabyasachi has created a brand that ignites the opulent wedding fantasy and royalty of gone-by eras. Brides aspire for a Sabyasachi attire on their wedding day because the designer is able to bring out the shine and give a sense of luxury to his brides.
In an otherwise crowded bridal couture market with designers like Manish Malhotra, Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla, Tarun Tahiliani, and Ritu Kumar, Sabyasachi’s brand positioning has been unique. His focus has been to create an old world luxurious charm – give a taste of the traditional royalty to his brides and their grooms.
“I learned early that my customers are not really buying into seasonal trends and fleeting fashion moments. They come to me for clothes that they will keep forever or pass down to their children. A Sabyasachi woman believes in consistency and repetition. She celebrates her Indian-ness. This is not just about Indians in India, but the Indian diaspora who thrive on nostalgia for their motherland,” said Sabyasachi in an interview with BOF.
The reality TV show “Band, Baajaa, Bride” contributed in a great way to developing the idea of becoming a #SabyasachiBride. The award winning show features carefully selected couples from all over India, irrespective of their background, for their love and against-all-odds stories. Sabyasachi dresses up the couple for their wedding day by giving them a complete “Sabyasachi Makeover” – including clothes, jewellery, hair styling, makeup, dental and dermatologist appointment. The show, one of the first of its kind, opened up a market for the designer in newer ways than before.
Couture At Heart
Over the years, Sabyasachi has worked tirelessly towards building a brand of his eponymous label which has put bridal couture at the heart of its operations. He has not expanded through product or brand dilution by expanding his core functions.
The focus has been simple and only one – dominate the Indian bridal market with core values of the brand at heart. Sabyasachi currently employees close to 4,500 artisans across India who craft his clothes filled with intricate designs. Think Sabyasachi, think zari and embroidery and stones. He has successfully stuck to building his core value – quality craftsmanship.
Enter a Sabyasachi factory and you see vintage fabrics and textiles carefully finding their way together to be made into the jaw dropping outfits that we see in stores. “I don’t see myself as a fashion designer. I am more of a textile designer,” he said.
It has been Sabyasachi’s key focus to keep the brand value and ethos on track. His determination is what has aided towards the growth of his label into an international luxury brand. He launched Sabyasachi Jewellery in 2017 and it has been since making its way into the bridal jewellery market as well. His collections are undoubtedly gorgeous and add that little spark of quirkiness that has become Sabyasachi’s signature style by now.
Sabysachi’s Expanding Boundaries
He has dressed over 50,000 brides and their grooms up till now by his own estimate. They range from billionaire heiresses and Bollywood celebrities to middle-class girls who have saved up and dreamt of adorning a Sabysachi lehenga on their wedding. Over the past years, he has styled celebrities like Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli, Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra-Nick Jonas and Isha Ambani Piramal.
Currently about 40% of his business comes from the United States. This shows his footprints gradually spreading outside of Indian domestic market to attracting the international diaspora. Sabyasachi recently showcased a group presentation of his jewellery line in New York’s Bergdorf Goodman. He dreams of opening up a flagship store in New York soon so as to be able to attend to the international wealthy better.
They key to continued growth is to identify categories that compliment and supplement his existing business. Sabyasachi Jewellery picked up quick because of the existing clientele the brand enjoyed through its bridal couture wear. It is a delicate balance to strike – satisfying the needs of the existing customer base without diluting the core value of the brand.
With increased capital costs and growing market base, Sabyasachi is actively looking for investors. However, it is crucial to join hands with someone who places emphasis on long-term growth of a luxury brand over short-term gains that can potentially harm brand image.
Sabyasachi takes inspiration from Chanel – adding supplementing products while maintaining central focus on the core brand values. His wishes to introduce further product categories including shoes, perfume, a sustainable beauty brand and even lingerie. With fundraising plans on the table, he hopes to expand his boundaries, both in business verticals and geography.