On October 3, Dubai got an unusual fashion store. The style lounge, aptly named Crossover-Bollywood Se, retails Bollywood inspired fashion apparel and is promoted by film star Suniel Shetty in collaboration with film producer Prakash Khubchandani under their company Fashion Bollywood Ishtyle Apparels Pvt. Ltd.
The duo has signed over 20 well-known fashion designers including people like Aki Narula, Anita Dongre, Arjun Khanna, Narendra Kumar, Rohit Bal, Neeta Lulla, Suneet Verma, Manish Malhotra, Vikram Phadnis, Nikhil and Shantanu, Deepika Gehani, Falguni and Shane Peacock.
The style lounge will stock four ranges of Bollywood inspired garments: bridal, couture, diffusion and pret with a price range of Rs 2,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
Says the company's managing director Prakash Khubchandani, "The Bollywood brand has always existed. What we're trying to do is to capitalise on it. Indian fashion is the rage overseas, so we roped in leading Bollywood designers and christened the brand Crossover-Bollywood Se."
Khubchandani says that the designers have the "latitude to design whatever they want provided it is inspired by Bollywood." So, if Aki Narula decides to do Bunty aur Babli kurtas or Neeta Lulla chooses to design outfits from Devdas, they are free to do so.
"We don't dictate their designs. The only condition is that the designers have to create an exclusive line that cannot be retailed anywhere else except at Crossover-Bollywood Se store," he explains.
Suniel Shetty, chairman, Fashion Bollywood Ishtyle Apparels Pvt. Ltd. says that people copy Bollywood designs in any case. "At Crossover-Bollywood Se you can pick designer clothes from all designers under one roof instead of going to 15 different places," he adds.
A successful entrepreneur with several restaurant brands to his credit, Shetty, however, is not content with letting Crossover-Bollywood Se lounge remain a clothes' store. He wants to add a Hakim Alim hair salon to the lounge.
Alim is a hairstylist who lent his services to cast in films such as Musafir, Dus and Chocolate. Plans are afoot to have Chai-Coffi, a new restaurant brand created by restaurateur Farhan Azmi, at Crossover.
Other than an interactive music counter, Adora Diamond Jewellery brand will also be available to complement the apparel in the store.
Says Khubchandani: "In Dubai, we're making Crossover-Bollywood Se a creative destination. It'll be fashion, style, grooming and entertainment all-in-one."
Khubchandani says that it has invested Rs 5 crore (Rs billion) in the first franchisee fashion outlet and is looking at opening another 21 stores in the next three years.
Concrete plans include launching Crossover-Bollywood Se in Toronto and Vancouver in March 2006, Lahore and Karachi by June 2006 and Los Angeles, Chicago and London by the end of next year.
Clearly, the company intends to tap the overseas market first before it brings the concept to India. So is it targeting the Indian diaspora?
"Not really," says Khubchandani. "The reason it's called 'Crossover' is because we want to crossover to the foreign market. Every foreign designer is doing Indian inspired garments. Since our designs are already accepted by the foreign buyers, we figured why not give them a taste of India as it is."
Khubchandani says that the company is eyeing locations such as Singapore, New York, Kuwait, Malaysia and Hong Kong. However, the final plans will be made after a detailed business study of these markets, he adds.
All the Crossover-Bollywood Se outlets will be franchisee stores. The first few stores are large at about 4,000 square feet though smaller outlets (1,200 to 1,500 square feet) are also being planned to target malls.
The company will be doing an IPO after its fifth store opens. The Dubai store's annual ad spend is a million dirhams with print ads in trade publications and fashion magazines. Future advertising measures also include TVCs.