About a decade ago, Da Milano Chief Executive Officer Sahil Malik joined his father’s business, and started a chain of stores, serving leather accessories. Turns out, this was a very good idea. Da Milano’s functional aesthetic caught on in a big way, and now they’ve got over 60 stores in the country. Talk about impressive. With their new line of stationery just around the corner, we caught up with Sahil to find out how he brought the global fashion taste into leather accessories, and what we can expect from the label in the season to come. Read on for the full scoop.
After joining the business – which was founded by your father in 1989 – Da Milano has grown into a major brand which is available in over 60 stores in India. How do you stay ahead of the industry and maintain an independent attitude?
Luxury today either has an Italian or a French stamp; there has never been an Asian perspective of luxury. For me, it was very important to have India’s first luxury brand going global. For a brand that runs in a very organic way, this has been a beautiful journey so far, and I’m certain to keep it going and growing.
How has the customer profile at Da Milano changed over the years?
Da Milano products have always been aimed at aspirational affluent customers who appreciate craftsmanship and styling. And the Indian audience and clientele have increased a lot over the years. So yes, the profile hasn’t changed, but multiplied with time.
Has your vision for the brand also changed?
At Da Milano, we have always believed that the product is the largest ‘first market’ force. The brand vision revolves around quality and the brand’s ability to meet our customers’ seasonal aspirations. We aim to serve them with aplomb and to ensure that the designs are a signature style for our customers, with each product offering clear value for money. But it is not always about selling a bag anymore; it is also about creating destinations where my clients can enjoy certain things.
How sustainable are affordable price points for luxury items in today’s market?
Da Milano has always strived to provide quality at par with high-end luxury brands around the globe, at an affordable price. We have a huge, loyal customer base that appreciates the brand’s value for money. For many, Da Milano remains an aspirational brand.
What do clients look for in your designs, and how do you approach your work with regard to this?
There’s a yearning for the perfect blend of quality with style, and we make sure our products meet their aspirations.
Does knowing that you have to sell every piece affect the design process? Does it limit what you can do?
Consumer preferences are very varied. What may appeal to one, may or may not be liked by others. So this doesn’t keep us from designing and creating something new. One unique proposition of the brand is also that every week we introduce new designs to keep pace with the fast-moving fashion trends. Luckily we have quite a lot of people who collect the more difficult pieces from our collection.
How does social media come into play in your creative process?
Social media fuels the preparation stage. By exposing us to more content, we’re always unconsciously absorbing bits and pieces that can ultimately come together in our minds to form our next big idea.
What’s the most interesting development currently underway at Da Milano?
Da Milano headquarters is brimming with excitement. We’ve launched a new line of stationery and quirky small accessories under the Da Milano label. And the launch of ‘WOOBA,’ – a new
sub-brand of handbags and accessories with lower price brackets – is also underway.
If you could be outfitted by one designer for the rest of your life, who would it be?
It would have to be Dolce & Gabbana.
What was the last website you looked at?
But of course, Damilano.com. – as told to Anisha