Nagpur’s high-end exclusive boutique, Araaha at Civil Lines, has a wide range of collection by prominent fashion designers like Sabyasachi Mukherji, Gaurav Gupta, etc. In an interview with Nation Next, Araaha’s owner Sanya Mulani speaks about her store Araaha and how Nagpurians’ mindset of preferring the local market as their shopping destination over metro cities has changed for better.
What made you come up with your high-end designer store Araaha in Nagpur?
I fancy clothes. I have always loved donning designer labels and dressing up. I came up with Araaha because Nagpur lacked designer stores. My friends and me would often fly to Mumbai or Delhi to buy designer outifts for parties. All women want to create their own style statement with unique and stylish clothes. My family has a strong retail background, so I discussed the idea of Araaha with my husband Nitin and my in-laws, who were extremely supportive of the idea.
Were you not apprehensive about the response because of the high-end range of apparels you keep in your store? What made you think that Nagpur is ready for such designer labels? Do expensive designer labels sell in Nagpur?
I was never apprehensive. I have seen my friends opting for similar designer labels outside Nagpur so I was pretty confident about Araaha. Like any other store, we have a fine mix of all ranges, which makes people less hesitant to visit our store. Moreover, I don’t just depend on Nagpur for my sales. I have clients coming from Raipur, Chandrapur, Bhilai, etc. Instead of traveling all the way to Mumbai or Delhi, they prefer coming to Araaha. People spend on items of all price range. In fact, women splurge extravagantly for bridal shopping.
Which designers curry favour with Nagpurians? Which local designer labels are available at your store?
Sabyasachi Mukherji and Gaurav Gupta are our bestsellers. Their creations are completely different. While Gaurav Gupta’s designs are on the western side, Sabyasachi’s designs are extremely ethnic. They cater to different markets. Among Nagpur designers, I have Vidhi Wadhwani’s collections too. Hers is the only Nagpur designer label that I have kept at Aaraha.
On what basis do you stock the outfits? Do you primarily focus on the style and design part of it or do you also consider the price range as the basic parameter?
I primarily stock my collection on the basis of the price range. The purchase patterns of different clients are totally different. Some people are so style conscious that they don’t mind shelling out extra money. Today, the customers are smart because they know what they want and always buy the best for themselves.
Nagpurians have a tendency to shop from bigger cities like Mumbai and Delhi. Do you see that changing?
Of course it has changed a lot. When we started Araaha, we mostly had those ‘last-minute’ sales, which would be an alternative for people who would be unhappy with the end results of their designer outfits. Since three years, this mindset has gradually changed. Today, before traveling to Mumbai or Delhi, I have people coming over to have a look at the collection. I even place orders on their behalf.
What’s the lowest and the highest range of clothes that are available at your store?
Our range starts from Rs 5000 to five lacs. I don’t exceed five lacs because if I were to sell an outfit above five lacs, I would have to maintain an inventory of minimum 20 outfits that are above five lacs, which literally doubles my investment. But I keep images of exclusive outfits and I even arrange for one to one meetings of my clients with designers.
How do you define your style statement? How often do you buy clothes from Araaha? Do you personally believe in shelling out a huge chunk of money for clothes?
I buy clothes from Araaha every second day. Whenever I get a new collection, I’m the first person to pick up the clothes, without even caring about my customers! (Laughs) I’m a huge fan of Gaurav Gupta, Sabyasachi Mukherji, Amit Aggarwal and Nagpur’s Farah Sanjana, who’s now moved to Ludhiana. I don’t mind shelling out a huge chunk of money for clothes because it speaks volumes about one’s personality.
How important is having a sound technical knowledge of fashion to run a high-end apparel store, which particularly caters to niche customers who are high on style?
I don’t have a technical background of fashion. I’m successful because of the choice of outfits that I keep at Araaha.
Fashion in Nagpur is still limited to a certain swish set only. How do you plan to make it available to Nagpurians at large?
I don’t think that fashion is just limited to the swish set. Nagpurians are fashion and brand conscious. I’ve seen people cutting down on their expenses to buy their favourite outfit. Nagpurians don’t think twice before spending money on a quality outfit. I have clients who visit my store to check the collection and then they return in a month’s time to buy their favourite outfit after saving the required money!