In a matter of a few years, Hyderabad has undergone a remarkable transformation. Once majorly known as a burgeoning metropolitan hub characterised by urban sprawl, a thriving IT sector, and a melting pot of cultures, it now stands as a city that proudly embraces a diverse population. This infusion of mixed crowd has breathed a new life into the city, enriching its tapestry with fresh cultures, ideas, and tastes. This wave of change hasn’t gone unnoticed by the business world, with retail giants, shopping malls, and startups recognising the immense potential that Hyderabad holds. Recent years have witnessed a significant increase in the city’s disposable income too, to the extent that it ranks as the fifth richest city in India and the 65th wealthiest in the world, according to a report by investment firm Henley and Partners. But it’s not just about wealth; it’s also about an aspirational lifestyle.
The denizens of the City of Nizams are increasingly embracing an elevated way of life, with a cosmopolitan outlook and a penchant for staying ahead of the curve. Exposure to global trends through social media has made the residents more adaptable, experimental, and discerning in their choices. This cosmopolitanism has even sprouted some upmarket neighbourhoods like Jubilee Hills, Banjara Hills, Gachibowli, and others which have become the battlegrounds for luxury boutiques, lifestyle exhibitions, fashion pop-ups, restaurants, bars, lounges and other high-end experiences. We speak to mavens in fashion, jewellery, accessory, and design, on whether Hyderabad is the next big destination for luxury lifestyle.
A city for fashionistas
Country’s esteemed luxury designer Ridhi Mehra opened her brand new store in Banjara Hills in September, this year. The designer’s massive 1,650 sq ft store washed in beige colour with Indo-western interiors, houses the best of couture. The Delhibased designer tells us that Hyderabad’s status as an emerging city in India and an evolving fashion scene here makes it a perfect fit for the brand’s expansion. “Hyderabad is on its way to becoming a cosmopolitan city due to its diverse and dynamic cultural landscape. The city’s rich history, influenced by various dynasties and cultures, has given rise to a harmonious blend of traditions, languages, and cuisines. Its thriving IT industry attracts professionals from across the country and the world, contributing to a multicultural environment. The presence of educational institutions and a growing art and entertainment scene further fosters a cosmopolitan atmosphere. The city’s welcoming spirit and openmindedness embraces diversity and fosters cultural exchange, positioning it as a cosmopolitan hub in the making.”
She adds how Hyderabad is having forward-thinking fashion sensibilities, “Earlier, we used to only get orders for simpler silhouettes but the city has definitely evolved over the years as there is a huge demand for couture in Hyderabad lately and we have received multiple requests from people to open a store here.” Traditionally, lifestyle luxury was often associated with conspicuous consumption, such as owning extravagant homes, cars, designer goods or assets. However, there has been a notable shift towards more experiential and sustainable forms of luxury. Ridhi weighs on this, “Today, people prioritise experiences like travel, fine dining, wellness, and cultural enrichment. Sustainable and eco-friendly choices are increasingly valued, with a focus on responsible consumption. The advent of technology has also played a role, with digital and smart luxury becoming important in people’s lives. Overall, there is a growing desire for a more balanced and meaningful approach to luxury that emphasises experiences, ethics, and personal well-being.”
Apart from Ridhi Mehra, home grown labels such as Gazal Gupta, Cord, Jaypore and Raw Mango also came to the city this year with new launches. They collectively agreed that the community here is vibrant and supports homegrown labels leading to diverse options in luxury living. Neha Singh, co-founder of Cord, who has spent her formative years in Hyderabad before being the citizen of the world, shares, “Our data tells us that people in Hyderabad love to invest in well crafted garments, and they appreciate good craftsmanship. The taste of the city is very refined with a great sense of style paired by the growing income level of the people. We think these factors make it the next lifestyle destination.” Sanjay Garg, founder of Raw Mango, tells us that Hyderabad had always been on the cards.“For over four years, my team and I have been on a lookout to find the space for our label in the city. The people of the city are amongst the earliest buyers of our label, so opening a store here was a natural progression, after marking our presence in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Chennai.”
The designer prefers designing spaces that marry the regional aspects of a place to Raw Mango’s aesthetic. Their new store in Banjara Hills spread across 12,500 sq. ft. area has created quite a buzz for its lush, private and tranquil interiors. Sitting amidst the courtyard is a 4,000 sq. ft. building that was once designed as a home for a city-based family. The building is an ode to modernist architecture and a testament to a lifestyle that values simplicity, austerity and good design with its clean lines and minimal ornamentation. The store’s five distinct rooms house saris, bridal wear and other niche-category ensembles.
Shining like a diamond
It’s no doubt that Hyderabadis love all things blingy which is why the city is home to numerous jewellery brands. Adding to the list is fine jewellery brand Irasva, founded in 2019 which opened its first store in Hyderabad in April this year. It houses an exquisite selection of fine diamonds, jadau, and precious gemstone jewels presented in their past collections like Mosaique, Stella, and Moonlit. For Ketan Patel, CEO, Irasva Fine Jewellery, the city’s burgeoning luxury market gave them immense scope for a launch here. “Our decision to open a store in Hyderabad is strategically grounded in the city’s growing luxury market, which has seen significant growth due to its thriving economy and the rising disposable income of its residents. The city boasts a substantial population of high-net-worth individuals and an emerging middle class, making it a prime location for luxury brands. Its rich cultural heritage, particularly its tradition of celebrating grand events with bijouterie also aligns with our offerings. The city has evolving preferences — consumers seeking unique and stylish pieces, creating a good opportunity for brands.”
Ketan highlights Hyderabad’s potential, saying, “The infrastructure development, with the establishment of upscale shopping malls, luxury hotels, and entertainment venues, is catering to an increasingly affluent and cosmopolitan population. The city’s cultural diversity, a blend of traditional and modern lifestyles, makes it an attractive prospect for luxury brands that aim to cater to a wide range of tastes. Additionally, Hyderabad’s popularity as a tourist destination draws visitors from around the world, who often seek luxury shopping experiences.”
A market of fleas and pop-ups
Hyderabad was fairly new to the idea of fashion pop-ups but not anymore. The city hosts pop-ups, trunk shows and fleas almost every week. Recently, it was host to Kolkata-based pop-up brand Pili Taxi who came twice to the city this year, in April and October. In their recent popup, they did a conscious curation for the festive season, encouraging the audience to buy more indigenous products and promote ethical fashion. Their festive curation had beautiful Kala Cotton Bhujodi saris, handcrafted Kantha saris from Bengal, printed ensembles, hemp based unisex clothing, handwoven Jamdani dresses, cruelty free leather bags, handcrafted jewels from Jaipur and more.
We met Bijaya Datta, the curator, at one of the exhibitions and asked her what brought her to the city after doing shows in Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai. I observed people in Hyderabad are consistently inclined to art and cultural activities. I was connected with a few local brands previously to understand the market demands . We were excited to introduce our concept, and were overwhelmed with unconditional love when we did the pop-ups here. People are so enthusiastic here. I felt elated when I saw 50+ aged women coming with their groups and families to the pop-ups. They were passionate about craft based products and knew a lot about 100 per cent handloom products. People here are eager to engage with the creators and they are open to take a call for something different. They have a taste for sustainable curation.”
Designer Kré sha Bajaj of the eponymous label also came to the city in October with a two-day fashion popup. The designer, who is celebrated for her trousseau-worthy pieces, brought bridal and occasion wear pieces, along with a festive edit for Diwali and a fine collection of signature capes and mix and match pieces. We spoke to the designer who calls Hyderabad her “favourite city” for fashion showcases. “It was our third display in the city and we love it each time! People here are always ahead in their game in terms of quality and finesse. They are open to experimenting with techniques while still being loyal to slow fashion and artisans. They appreciate detailing and craftsmanship which is why it’s one of our favourite places to showcase exclusive pieces.”
Haven for artsy décor
After Covid-19, city folks picked on the trend of intimate gatherings, soirées, garden brunches and picnics with closed ones. Adding a personal touch to spaces became a part of lifestyle which led to the demand for artisanal interior décor pieces. Catering to the need of an elevated lifestyle, interior décor and lighting brand The Purple Turtles and garden lifestyle brand Beruru came to the city in August after having their presence in Bengaluru and Chennai.
We met Radeesh Shetty at the store who tells us, “There are a lot of home décor brands in the city but not many are into curated products, especially from the yesteryear. Hyderabadis are extremely proud of their homes. They spend a lot of time doing the décor of their homes and entertain guests in their space. We see a discerning crowd here who are well travelled and appreciate Indian art and craft.” Radeesh agreed that Hyderabadis are known for their genuine hospitality, often opening their homes to guests, showcasing their interest for tasteful interior designs. “This unique combination of personalised style and cultural warmth align perfectly with The Purple Turtles. Additionally, the city’s growing commitment to green living and sustainability complements Beruru’s mission to infuse nature into daily life, creating an ideal platform for the brand to flourish in Hyderabad,” he tells us.
A quirky footing
New-age labels in footwear and accessory design are also making Hyderabad their home. In March, Fizzy Goblet — known for bringing a modern twist to traditional Indian crafts, with a fresh take on footwear and accessories — opened its second store in Banjara Hills after having their first one in Inorbit Mall. The new store houses fun and cutting edge collections from the brand, at their new luxurious establishment that has a private nook for people to do their shopping without getting disturbed. Telling us what brings the modern luxury brand to the city, founder Laksheeta Govil shares, “Hyderabad is witnessing a growing infrastructure and also bears an oldtown charm. It’s a perfect blend of traditional and modern sensibilities and has become one of the most interesting cities in the Indian subcontinent to live in. Over the years, it has become a cultural hub and home to the most iconic restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and more. It absolutely made sense to have a presence here.”
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