March 27, 2022 | 06:06 IST


The luxury symposium brought together decision makers, artisans, artisans, global corporate brands and they will discuss how to make the country a brand

The luxury symposium kicked off yesterday with Culture and External Affairs Minister Meenakshi Lekhi saying the event was a curtain raiser for several events to be held in the future. She hoped that this curtain raiser would give a glimpse of what India had to offer. She said that as a proud Indian, she was very proud of all that it had to offer. She said there were very few countries with a six or seven thousand year old heritage. She asked if there was any country in the world that could claim this. The Minister said that India is the right place if one wants to see diversity. There were people of all religions in every town and yet she said everyone was one. Citing the example of aborigines who lost their land and culture, she pointed out that in India they were protected by law. The prehistoric model is open to science and technology, open to co-vaccines and it was obvious that this culture had done it all. According to her, it was the strength of the country. She said that for her the world was India whenever she traveled abroad; she always felt that India was her home. She said that despite the challenges and opposition faced and on the one hand, the country was developing and yet everyone was celebrating life. She said no country can offer what India can offer in every way of the world. The minister hoped that India would not just be the manufacturing hub but the design hub because India had the capability. Brand India, she said, had to be advanced as it claimed that “we are the originals”. She said: ‘Whether it’s jewelry, clothes, embroidery, handicrafts and seen on various ramps and since I’m here I will mention Paris and say that fashion is repeats every decade and whether it’s temple art or architecture, tribal clothing has all been used by major brands internationally, but we haven’t been given credit. Let’s put all our efforts together to mark India and make this luxury symposium a pioneer. Every Indian national has the ability to be a designer because at the time of making a garment they will come up with suggestions like wanting a slit in a certain way or embroidery on a particular side. The only thing missing is branding and I have every hope and expectation from the people sitting here to drive it forward.”

During a panel discussion, when asked what luxury means to her and how it can be used to preserve arts and crafts, Queen Diambi Kabatusuila of Congo thanked everyone for giving her given the opportunity to visit India for the very first time. She said everyone knew the beauty of Indian women, their grace, refinement and the way they presented themselves brought honor to themselves and their country. Their refinement showed not only in their way of dressing but also in their dancing. India, she said, was important and much noticed by everyone and she would be more than willing to help the country be the focus of the world. India, she said, had many masters for thousands of years who showed the way to spirituality. She said, “As an African woman, the history of Africa was like a black spot, people didn’t know much and everything they knew was negative. I believe it is time now to rename the continent and that will need friends and partners. Speaking of luxury, I think it’s the freedom to express yourself and do what you inherited from your ancestors. Ancestors are very important in African culture. They transmit all the teachings they have and we are obliged to show what they have left us”. She talked about her clothes and the beads she wore and said it was part of her culture. She said there was nothing to apologize for being African and it had been for too long. All of Africa’s wealth was washed away while much remained underground and the continent had received no credit.

Speaking about the two things that happened because of Covid, Rinaa Shah, a designer who has been in the industry for twenty years, said it all moved online. In the first year of Covid, everything collapsed, including the sale of luxury goods. It was a time of uncertainty. The second year was tough for luxury goods and everyone moved online. She said today that thirty percent of all luxury goods sales take place in Europe, but there is a lot of business in India. The forecast was that it would increase by thirty percent. This, she said, was due to huge pent-up demand. Anyone who earned fifty lakhs and above bought luxury. The second evolution was that luxury could no longer afford to be wasteful, it had to be sustainable.

Paulo Gomes, who flew in from Portugal, also spoke. He was the former creative director of Lisbon Fashion Week; Founder and Curator of Green Circle – Sustainable Textile and Fashion, Portugal.

The symposium will end today. The Luxury League is a non-profit foundation, India’s most powerful and influential premier platform for brand culture as luxury committed to branding India, globally. The foundation serves as a standard bearer to promote Indian arts, crafts and heritage and is a global ambassador for Indian culture. The foundation also aims to create an environment conducive to creative thinking through dialogue and the exchange of ideas between like-minded people, luxury suppliers, global decision makers and government.

A consortium of makers, artisans, artisans, global corporate brands, consumers as well as government come together on the same platform to reimagine the connotations of luxury in a global context.