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Retailer-designer collaborations reshape jewelry, connecting with novelty-seeking customers innovatively

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A series of new strategic retailer designer tie-ups reflect the times and the demand it is making on jewellery businesses – the individuality of designs, immersive backstories and an expanding and evolving design assortment for building a deeper connection with novelty-seeking customers

Of late, quite a few instances of collaboration between retail jewellery houses and well-known designers have come to the fore – be it Atarashi Minimalistic Jewellery by KK Jewels with Farah Khan Atelier, Sawansukha Jewellers with Sussanne Khan, or designer Varuna D Jani with international brands like Marie Mas, Yeprem and Anabela Chan.

Rich Confluence

A designer-retailer alliance is a convergence of creativity and commerce. “A designer brings creative vision, design skills, variety and a distinctive design language to the partnership, while a retailer offers a deep understanding of the market, consumer preferences and distribution channels,” says Farah Khan, Founder & CEO, Farah Khan Fine Jewellery.

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Combining these complementary expertise allows for a comprehensive and well-rounded approach to business growth. Atarashi Minimalistic Jewellery is amongst the first few retail collaborations for Farah Khan Atelier, a sub-brand of Farah Khan, launched in 2021.

“ A designer brings creative vision, design skills, variety and a distinctive design language to the partnership, while a retailer offers a deep understanding of the market, consumer preferences and distribution channels ”

FARAH Khan, Creative Director & Founder, Farah Khan Fine Jewellery

While Farah is an established jewellery designer with nearly three decades of experience in the industry, retailers are also exploring collaborations outside the industry as they realise that creativity knows no bounds and design has no boundaries.

“We associated with a non-industry creative talent who can offer her evolved aesthetics to jewellery,” says Siddharth R Sawansukha, Director of Sawansukha Jewellers, who recently launched a line with Sussanne Khan, an established interior designer.

“ We associated with a non-industry creative talent who can offer her evolved aesthetics to jewellery. Sussanne conceptualised and stylised jewellery with new ideas that make each piece extraordinary ”

Siddharth R Sawansukha, Director, Sawansukha Jewellers

“She is a powerhouse of creative talent,” says Sawansukha while explaining how the conversations with her started around designs and not specifically jewellery.

“A simple thought of creating a jewellery line that stands apart from what is currently available in the market or at our stores,” he explains, translated into a fruitful collaboration. “Sussanne can conceptualise and stylish jewellery with new ideas that make each piece extraordinary.”

New Narrative

Today customers seek more meaning in everything and want to build a deeper emotional engagement with their products. Designers lend that opportunity.

On their part, Vrinda Agarwal and Ayushi Shah, with whom KK Jewels collaboratively created a new prêt line jewellery store dedicated to lightweight, daily wearable jewellery in coloured stones, uncut diamonds and diamonds, feel that Farah Khan Atelier has a great story to tell. “Farah’s jewellery is different in design and use of colours. We decided to collaborate with her because we always want to bring new products and experiences to our clients,” say the duo.

“ Farah’s jewellery is different in design and use of colours. We decided to collaborate with her because we always want to bring new products and experiences to our clients”

Vrinda Agarwal, Co-founder, Atarashi Minimalistic Jewellery

Farah launched Aayat – The Monogram Collection, inspired by the brand’s monogram that encapsulates and defines the Farah Khan Brand and Amaira – The Forever Beautiful Collection. The latter is an ode to her travel adventures and is as colourful as the cities they are named after.

Besides bringing in a new line of jewellery, such inspiring stories offer an opportunity to create a compelling new narrative to engage existing customers and attract new ones.

“Sharing the back story of the designs, the inspiration, and the collaborative process, enhances the perceived value and desirability of the jewellery pieces,” says Farah.

Customers are constantly seeking originality in designs. “A designer brings in a new language that becomes the starting point of a new conversation with customers,” says Sawansukha.

In April this year, Sawansukha unveiled a new collection, Bind Runes, specially designed by Sussanne Khan. It draws inspiration from the ancient runes symbols and embodies the rich cultural heritage and mysticism of the Viking and Norse civilisations.

Refreshed Imagery

Jewellers have an established reputation built over decades, and it is not necessarily appealing to the young or those with an evolving taste for something unique.

So, the association with a well-acclaimed designer is a sure-shot way to immediately create awareness about the brand’s expanding and evolving design assortments, giving customers ample choice and access to a new body of work, unlike anything at the store and revamp its image.

Vrinda Agarwal and Ayushi Shah say they collaborated with Khan knowing the taste of customers who follow her on Instagram, and bring her designs as reference photos for the kind of jewellery they want.

Designer jewellery, like most things designer, is often perceived to be beyond budget. However, retailers and designers are changing that perception through concerted efforts to create ranges that are accessible.

Farah Khan Atelier is conceptualised to make premium designs affordable and within the reach of many. “It is a brand of wearable premium jewellery which offers an unparalleled experience of the finest in design and finish within affordable price points,” she explains. The brand found a perfect fit in Atarashi Minimalistic Jewellery as it builds on the idea of affordable and accessible precious jewellery.

In the case of Sussanne’s collection, Sawansukha outlined the larger target group and product strategy. “We explained what the brand requires, for what age group and under what price bracket, after which she did the whole creation. With 100% involvement, she has ventured into the product line, the category, the heritage and all that can be done to make each piece of jewellery a statement piece.” The price point for Sussanne’s collection starts from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.

During the launch event of the partnership in Ahmedabad, where a hundred clients were invited, Farah personally interacted with the clients and showed them the pieces of jewellery from her Atelier Collection.

“I have been in the jewellery industry for 28 years and have been recognised as a trusted brand in India. They can sense my deep love and passion for jewellery through my interactions with customers. This genuine connection I establish with them adds a meaningful touch to every purchase,” says Farah.

Knowing and interacting with the creator enriches the experience of buying the creation. Even Suzanne was personally present at the store, interacting with clients and explaining the designs’ journey. “Sussanne herself was there for two days continuously to attend to any queries that customers had, which made all the difference,” says Sawansukha.

Value-for-money designs, combined with the designer’s involvement, are reasons the jewellers claim to have sold many designs during the exhibition. Sawansukha claims to have sold almost 50% of the designs on day one, and Aturshi sold 80% of the stock on the spot.

In the industry, such associations also have a novelty value. “We are the first jeweller to venture into such a collaboration,” says Sawansukha, who is already preparing a collection for the next season.

It evoked a tremendous response. “The brand and Sussanne Khan promoted the collection on Instagram, targeting new customers and leading to 590 potential buyers walking into the store during the launch phase,” he informs. For Sawansukha Jewellers of Kolkata, a legacy jewellery brand, collaborating with fashion designer Sussanne Khan meant bringing in a whole lot of newness in design and, thus, new customers.

For designers, such a partnership also means displaying their creativity at multiple store-fronts under multiple labels and exposing them to a broad consumer base.

Sawansukha has ensured that even the retail display of the 60-70 odd pieces in the collection is unconventional. Sussanne’s collection is now the star attraction on the floor. “We have a dedicated (circular) display unit at the centre of the retail space where jewellery is kept open for anyone to touch and feel. There are no sales staff to intervene in the retail experience of the products,” informs Sawansukha.

Beyond Borders

These collaborations also take a new route with consumers’ evolving aesthetics and awareness, making a solid case for affiliations beyond borders.

A shining example is Varuna D Jani, a reputed jewellery designer who recently collaborated with five international designer labels. These labels are housed at her destination store, Varuna D Jani- The Designer Jeweller.

“I have collaborated with international designers as there is a level of sophistication and a global approach in the designs which makes their acceptability high as the Indian consumer understands the fine detailing and luxury much better now,” she says, adding that consumers in India are very value conscious and if they get international designs at a reasonable price, they will go for it.

“ I have collaborated with international designers as there is a level of sophistication and a global approach in the designs which makes their acceptability high. The Indian consumer understands the fine detailing and luxury much better now ”

Varuna D Jani, Jewelry Designer, Varuna D Jani Fine Jewellery Pvt Ltd

Regarding collaborations, Jani says she picks designers to offer a holistic choice to customers. She believes in creating a mix in her collections, as customers have varied personalities and lifestyles. “Every brand has a certain persona reflected through their designs. We have curated a mix of designers to cater to a wider group of women with different personas,” Jani explains.
She displays five brands in her store, including French fine jewellery brand Marie Mas for the woman who loves classic, Lebanese brand Yeprem for the avant-garde woman, as well as London’s celeb-favoured jewellery brand Anabela Chan for the contemporary woman, amongst others including Mike, Joseph & Silvia Furmanovich. The jewellery ranges from 2 lac going upto crores.

According to Jani, the consumer has evolved regarding design sensibilities and aesthetics. “The exposure is much more these days due to the Internet or people’s knowledge of different places, countries and cultures from their travel experiences,” she explains.

For the same reasons and at the same time that Jani is creating a new market for internationally designed jewellery in India, Indian designer labels are finding access to global markets through international retail collaborations.

“We have launched Farah Khan Atelier in America with Neiman Marcus, available at ten stores. It is our vision to push boundaries and become a global brand. We are also excited about our upcoming partnership; our jewellery will soon be available in Dubai & GCC countries with one of the eminent retail chain stores,” informs Farah.

Shared Glory

A good collaboration is a win-win for both partners. Globally, collaborations between designers and retailers have catalysed success in the jewellery industry. In India so far, jewellers have abstained from such partnerships.

Considering people’s evolving tastes and fashion consciousness, designer jewellery as a segment has come of age, which is now shaping the retailer’s focus.

Consumers look at statements and styles to express individuality and flaunt a specific look. “If a brand offers premium exclusive jewellery pieces from well-known designer labels, the consumer won’t mind indulging a little,” says Jani.

Open to the idea of sharing retail space with up-and-coming designers, Sawansukha says, “It allows a retailer to present new concepts to customers. I am keen to give prominence to good work regardless of how known the name is.”

The duo at Atarashi share the same sentiment. “We look forward to collaborating with good designers who make jewellery different from our collections.”

Designer-retailer collaborations are set to be an integral part of the industry as retailers understand that such partnerships’ combined value and performance are higher than going solo!

Soma Bhatta with inputs from Janhavi Ganguly

Retail Jeweller India Magazine

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