default-output-block.skip-main
BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

Reliance Brands Acquires 40% Stake in Indian Luxury Label Manish Malhotra

The retail giant has set an ambition to grow the one-time Bollywood stylist’s designer label into India’s first global luxury brand.
Darshin Mehta and Manish Malhotra photographed at Malhotra's home in Mumbai. Photograph by Prasad Naik
RBL's Darshan Mehta and Manish Malhotra photographed at Malhotra's home in Mumbai. Photograph by Prasad Naik

Indian retail giant, Reliance Brands Limited (RBL) has taken a 40 percent stake in 16-year-old luxury brand Manish Malhotra for an undisclosed sum, the companies said Friday.

The deal is intended to boost the brand’s positioning and drive international growth. It comes amid mounting investor interest in India’s luxury labels.

“A question I am often asked is: why isn’t there a true luxury brand out of India? In three years time, I would expect people to say, ‘Well, there’s Manish Malhotra, that’s a global luxury brand that comes out of India.’ That’s the mission we are driving towards,” said Darshan Mehta, RBL’s managing director and chief executive.

The executive pointed to the popularity the brand already enjoys among wealthy Indian expats in Europe, the US and the Middle East as an opportunity for broader expansion.

“They are bankers, tech people, aspirational and wealthy. We have a brand ... that already has a cachet in that cohort; it’s a good starting point,” Mehta said.

Manish Malhotra, which is known for high-octane glamour and Indian craftsmanship, currently has a physical retail footprint of four stores in India and a social media following in excess of 12 million over various channels. The privately held company doesn’t disclose sales results, but Malhotra said the brand already has a strong following in the US, UK and Middle East regions. Going forward, there are plans to tap into those markets with pop-ups, e-commerce expansion and more physical stores.

Malhotra, a self-taught designer who got his start as a stylist and costume designer in Bollywood films, said he had turned down other investment offers in the past.

“If I want to take on expansion and take on new verticals, there can be no other partner but Reliance for me,” he said.

The relationship is partly personal. Malhotra has long-standing links to the Ambani family (billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani is the chairman and managing director of RBL’s parent company Reliance Industries). The designer has counted members of the family as clients for years. When Ambani’s daughter Isha got married just before the pandemic, he famously dressed the bride and other family members for multiple events during the wedding festivities.

Meanwhile, RBL has a wide portfolio of fashion brand partnerships in the Indian market, with international labels such as Burberry, Diesel, Versace and Tory Burch. It has built out a substantial physical retail infrastructure that includes 1,339 doors split between 595 stores and 744 shop-in-shops in India.

The acquisition of a stake in Manish Malhotra is the retail giant’s second investment in an Indian designer brand, following its investment in Raghavendra Rathore in 2018. It follows a run of similar investments earlier this year from domestic retail market rival Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail, which acquired a 51 percent stake in Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s Sabyasachi label in January, before acquiring a 33 percent stake in Tarun Tahiliani’s luxury demi-couture business for 670 million rupees (approximately $9.25 million) in an all-cash deal in February.

Though India’s demi-couture and occasion-wear business, largely dependent on weddings, has suffered from a lack of events during the pandemic, as India’s vaccination drive kicks into gear and restrictions are lifted, these gatherings have come roaring back. Malhotra said this wedding season has been his brand’s busiest and most profitable in years.

India’s luxury market is one of the fastest growing in the world, estimated to grow from its current market value of $30 billion annually to more than $200 billion in 2030, according to McKinsey.

Post-investment, the brand will continue to be led by Malhotra, who will serve as both its managing and creative director.

Related Articles:

As India Begins Reopening, Will Retail Bounce Back?

India’s Fashion Industry at a Crossroads

Indian Fashion Giants Continue to Bet on Traditional Apparel

In This Article

© 2021 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
CONNECT WITH US ON
Voices2021
© 2021 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions and Privacy policy.
Voices2021