The newly launched Bharat Diamond Bourse complex in the Bandra Kurla district of Mumbai, India
Discreet and humble, it certainly is not. But Mumbai’s Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) has good reason to be bold and bolshie. After two decades of false starts, the city has finally organised its scattered and cheerless diamond trading facilities into a single, competitive hub calling itself nothing less than “the diamond centre of the world.”
Although India has a been a prime source of precious stones going back to ancient times and remains to this day the world’s leading exporter of cut and polished diamonds, its commercial capital has long been upstaged by cities such as Antwerp and Tel Aviv which profit on the processing, wholesaling and trading of the gems.
Only now, thanks to the new state-of-the art $240 million complex, has Mumbai finally brought exporters, trading firms, banks, vaults, a customs department and investors together to a single purpose-built location. “The objective is to establish necessary infrastructure facilities for the promotion of diamonds, diamond jewellery from India and provide all support and service facilities to [all] the stakeholders,” said BDB president Anoop Mehta.
With 900 trader members and 1400 provisional members bustling around the three million square feet space which connects eight 9-story towers, the city’s new bourse has the potential to bring some of diamonds’ value-added profits back to India – and shift the trade’s geographical centre of gravity in the process.
“India is a major diamond manufacturing centre with 11 out of 12 diamonds in the world being cut, polished and processed here,” said Mehta. “The BDB will ultimately help make India an international trading centre for gems and jewellery and take the step towards creating a Brand India in the world of diamonds. We expect diamond traders from Israel and Belgium to start trading over here.”
A trader in Antwerp’s Hoveniersstraat, in the Diamantenzentrum district
“ We expect diamond traders from Israel and Belgium to start trading here in Mumbai ”
The Israel Diamond Exchange complex in Ramat Ganon on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Israel
While neither Tel Aviv’s nor Antwerp’s diamond industries probably feel seriously threatened just yet, if Mumbai can match Mehta’s ambitions of 10-15% annual growth, then they may need to seriously up their game to stave off competition.
The news comes precisely at a time when other analysts are predicting that India itself could one day be overtaken by China because of Chinese firms’ aggressive acquisition of vast mines across Africa and a recent trend for them to outsource cutting and polishing to cheaper labour markets in nearby South East Asia (and possibly soon to even cheaper places like the African countries where they are mined in the first place).
At last month’s Mines to Market conference held in Mumbai, Chaim Even-Zohar, chairman of Tacy Diamond Consultants, told audience members: “This should make Indian manufacturers sit up and take stock.”
To complicate matters further, new mineral-rich players like Kazakhstan have begun to make tentative steps toward organising diamond industries of their own. This week, the strategically located Central Asian giant with a relatively well-established jewellery trade of its own based on importing jewellery from neighbouring Russia and Turkey and gems from India and China, sent representatives to the plenary session of the Kimberley Process meeting. Making a formal request to join the Kimberley Process is seen as an essential step for any country with the intention to export rough diamonds of its own.
Promotional image from the Stella McCartney Kids website, www.stellamccartneykids.co.uk
This week, Stella McCartney’s much anticipated children’s range debuted at retail. After a successful two-season design collaboration for Gap Kids and years of experience dressing three young children of her own (and with another on the way), McCartney’s foray into luxury childrenswear is probably one of the most natural among the many brands which have ventured into teeny tiny sizes.
Earlier this year, when the announcement was first made, she outlined her strategy to WWD. “As a brand with many working parents in the team, I wanted to create a desirable, fun, wearable kids’ collection that was affordable,” she said about the range with price points which range from $25 for a baby’s T-shirt to $194 for a coat. “I feel like all the timeless children’s wear is reserved for the expensive brands and that did not sit well with me. Kids and parents, aunts, uncles, friends should all be able to have access to Stella McCartney Kids clothes.”
Burberry, D&G;, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Paul Smith and Sonia Rykiel are just a few of the many others pitted against McCartney on the market. By the end of this month Gucci’s new kids range will also be in the shops and Fendi’s will follow. As a niche product category, designer children’s lines are often produced by license or in partnershiop with a specialist manufacturer such as Redcats for McCartney and Simonetta for Fendi (and Roberto Cavalli’s children’s line in the past).
Jennifer Lopez with her twins Emme and Max for the Gucci childrenswear advert earlier this year
“ At Gucci, Frida Giannini, said she had some concerns at the beginning because of the sexy attitude and the glamour of Gucci’ ”
A head-to-toe miniature look by Gucci for S/S 2011
Beyond a simple exercise in brand extension, the proliferation of luxury brands’ childrenswear lines is a disproportionate revenue earner because kids’ clothes are constantly being replenished – both because of the greater wear and tear they undergo and due to the constant need to upsize as children grow. Shortly after the recent S/S Paris womenswear fashion shows, the International Herald Tribune reporter Jessica Michault offered that not only are they a cash cow but that children’s clothes are outperforming the rest of the market in developed markets like the European Union. Michault wrote:
Parents have “a propensity to show how they have weathered the economic storm through their kids,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with the market research company NPD. Couple that with a desire to insulate their children from economic constraints, he added, and “the first place to spend goes to the kids.”
So how are fashion houses creating children’s clothing that still clearly represents the line? Some are taking the “mini me” approach. Paul Smith offers up pint-size floral print shirts. Jean Paul Gaultier makes tiny trench coats. Missoni has multicolored mini knitwear.
At Gucci, the creative director, Frida Giannini, said she had some concerns at the beginning because of the “sexy attitude and the glamour of Gucci.” Her solution? The Gucci archives. She incorporated images of bamboo and elements of the horse world in the clothing line, which includes shoes, accessories and, of course, sunglasses.
The Lamborghini Murciélago
There is no longer any doubt about which markets are keeping luxury auto makers profitable. Stories like those in this week’s Independent on Lamborghini’s entry into Mexico via new dealerships in Mexico City and Monterrey and in Reuters about Azerbaijan’s love affair with Bentley only confirm what has been apparent for quite a while. Frontier markets such as these are where automakers will battle it out in the next decade while so-called ‘emerging’ markets like China and India are where their fortunes depend today.
But what really drives the message of their importance home is the trend for these brands to build plants in China and India in order to better accommodate increased demand at lower costs. Harley-Davidson is the latest to announce such a plan, with Bloomberg reporting on the imminent opening of an assembly plant in India next year, only its second outside of the US.
“India’s rapidly growing economy, rising middle class and significant investment in construction of new roads and highways are paving the way for leisure motorcycle riding,” the firm’s COO, Matthew S. Levatich, said in the statement.
The other side of the newly accommodating face of the global luxury brand is to custom-make product ranges and exclusive items for these vast emerging markets. First it was fashion and accessories brands – but more recently carmakers have gotten in on the game. Volvo, which is now owned by the Chinese firm Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., confirmed that it plans to hire a team of designers in China to cater to local tastes for its next model, according to Bloomberg.
“If the Chinese or the Americans want more chrome on the grille, why would we say no to that just because we don’t have that in Sweden?” said the iconic Swedish automaker’s design chief Peter Horbury. “In a global market there’s still a cultural difference in tastes and requirements.”
Harley-Davidson’s Fat Boy