L’Officiel India: London Bound

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L’Officiel India held a glitzy party in London last night to celebrate the distribution of its magazine in the UK, the first official deal of its kind for the magazine outside of India. Hosted by Bollywood director and talk-show host Karan Johar, and attended by the now infamous Shilpa Shetty (who literally sashayed into the club with an entourage who were running to keep up with her), the party was a sleek affair, mixing London fashion personalities, Bollywood star wattage, and high-net worth Indians with money to spend.

Up until now, Indians in the UK have had to use the old "suitcase" import technique to stay up to date on new hotspots in Mumbai, fashion week in Delhi, and Bollywood gossip. But now, they will be able to find L’Officiel India at their local newsagent right next to other international fashion magazines. The magazine in the UK will contain exactly the same content as the magazine distributed in India. Depending on the success of the UK initiative, next stops for L’Officiel India could be distribution deals in Dubai and Hong Kong.

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As Natasha Choksi, Managing Editor of L’Officiel India, explained to me, the decision to distribute the magazine here was not simply a PR tactic. Instead, L’Officiel believes there is a clear market opportunity to meet the needs of the South Asian diaspora in the UK, which is estimated to number more than 2.3m people. These people, many of whom flit back and forth between UK and the sub-continent, have a keen desire to stay more connected to fashion and culture in their homeland. The attention paid to the International Indian Film Academy Awards ("the Bollywood Oscars") held in the UK earlier this week is testament to that. A reported 500m people watched the awards show in 110 countries around the world.

With the impending (and much-awaited) launch of Vogue India in September, the competition amongst Indian fashion magazines is about to heat up. Fashion editorial, photography and styling are all bound to improve with the arrival of the legendary Conde Nast magazine. It will force each player to step up their game in delivering sophisticated fashion content in search of circulation and advertisers. As the reigning leader in the market, L’Officiel has the most to lose. It’s no wonder then that it is consolidating its position as the incumbent to beat and stretching its tentacles out into other markets. Clearly, they are not going to go down without a fight.

© 2007 Copyright Imran Amed – The Business of Fashion.