From lockdown as the only option—to lockdown as the last resort, governments around the world have come a full circle on handling Covid-19. In the interim, the tragedy, the trauma and the shock inflicted on the economy have left no sector unaffected. Luxury, though, is in a league of its own. Despite setbacks, it rides out grave downturns with remarkable ease.
This time round, India’s $13-billion luxury industry bounced back faster than imagined after a great reset. Thanks to adaptive, innovative tech transition by luxury firms for ease of buying; revenge buying and revenge travel; conscious consumption with sustainability at its heart; and, new emergent buyers among India’s ever burgeoning ultra-high networth population. In fact, the transition and the new beginnings in the face of extreme adversity may have set the industry on a new, multiyear growth phase.
This special issue of Fortune India is conceptualised to capture distinct nuances of India’s luxury market. The breadth of coverage includes new strides in luxury art, reigniting of interest in luxury villas and homes, watches, cars, travel, liquor…just to name a few.
Art expert Kishore Singh says the industry proved the adage that when the economy heads down, the art world looks up. Luxury art found a new market in the pandemic as digital opened up promising avenues for artists. Canvases that had piled up over the years, were sold out as the buyer community widened from individuals, institutions and collectors to first-time buyers, seasoned professionals and entrepreneurs.
Holed up in homes for nearly 18 months now due to deadly waves of the pandemic, the luxury consumer has felt the acute need for larger homes, second homes and villas to make the most of the work-from-home culture. Demand has shot up as millennials scout for that extra room or a location within a few hours’ drive. Better still, a full-fledged villa in the hills, or by the sea side. In Goa, for instance, villas are now at least 50% more expensive than they were before the pandemic.
Any discussion on luxury is grossly incomplete without India’s famed royalty. Read how Rana Manvendra Singh of Barwani—a vintage car expert, restorer and an author — who has been curating Cartier’s Concours d’Élegance car show since 2008 showcases the vintage ‘Maharaja Class’ of cars.
Staying with royalty, Priya Kumari Rana writes about the ‘Dinosaur Princess’ — Princess Aaliya of Balasinor who has brought the 67-million-year-old fossils, the indigenous dinosaurs of Gujarat, on the world paleontology map.
But there’s a lot, lot more in the issue, including what makes Balvenie one of the world’s most exclusive distilleries. Founded by William Grant, it produces the Glenfiddich Scotch and Balvenie brands; reopening of The Samaritaine Paris after a six-year renovation that needed 800 skilled craftspeople and cost $1 billion, and how to travel to the edge of the earth to Antarctica in great luxury!
While you enjoy this finely curated issue, here’s to leave you with food for thought from Gabrielle Bonheur ‘Coco’ Chanel, the French fashion designer who founded the luxury brand Chanel: “Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity”