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Mahul Brahma

Mahul Brahma

Mahul Brahma

Commenting on ‘Luxury Brands’ seems to be a very niche interest! How did you gravitate towards it?

Commenting on “luxury” is indeed a very niche interest. Back in 2011, I was editing and writing for a luxury supplement for New York Times – India partner. My interest in luxury brands stemmed from my conversations with luxury brand custodians who helped me understand the stories behind these iconic brands and why they can claim the premium. I slowly started experiencing and appreciating luxury “beyond price tags”. During these times I realized that literature on luxury is almost non-existent and all that is available are glorified catalogues with glossy pictures and “price on request” tag.

My book “Decoding Luxe” to me is an expression of freedom from the myopic view of luxury, which is confined to price-tags. My aim was to deconstruct that centuries’ old school of thought and look at luxury in a more holistic way, exploring its various facets. Thus ‘Decoding Luxe’, a fruit of four years of research and writing, is born out of this sheer need to pen a book that captures the true, more inclusive essence of luxury. ,’Decoding Luxe’ is a result of a quest for luxe on which I had embarked and it has been a great adventure. I want more and more people to set sail. Let your quest for luxury continue.

There is a perception that luxury brands are only for the super rich or elite. Has that changed in the age of e-commerce?

Let me tell you some fun facts about the Indian royalties back in 1920s- around 20 per cent of Rolls Royce’s global sales were within India. In 1926, the Maharaja of Patiala commissioned Cartier, its largest till date, to remodel his crown jewels, which included the 234.69 carat De Beers diamond. The result was a breath-taking Patiala necklace weighing 962.25 carats with 2,930 diamonds. Not to mention that a certain Nizam had procured 50 Harley Davidsons for his postmen to deliver his messages.
Now to enjoy these stories or appreciate them you need not be super rich or elite!

My book is for those liberated thinkers who do not alienate luxury because of prohibitive pricing. More than affordability, it is question of freeing the mind to embrace luxe in its holistic avatar, looking beyond the dazzle, decoding the luxe.
E-commerce has done more harm than good in the luxury business, boosting sale of luxury fakes or counterfeit and thus hitting the genuine luxury brands. Growing at a compounded annual growth rate of almost 40-45 per cent, the counterfeit luxury products market in India is likely to more than double to INR 5,600 crore from the current level of about INR 2,500 crore.

How does social media help luxury brands to reach out to their prospective consumers?

Social media has been a great medium for luxury brands to reach a wider audience. Correct placement of advertisements on social media in the right channels and devices as well as SEM has helped garner a far higher targeted engagement that they could even have perceived earlier with the limitations of print advertisements in Forbes, Fortune or Vogue.

The only flip side is the rise of counterfeits, which are aggressively promoted by fake sites, using pictures of genuine products thus creating a confusion in the minds of price-sensitive Indian customers. Discounts lure us and these fake portals thrive on that.

What are your favourite reads of all time?

I love writings that are lucid and flow freely as if someone is talking to you. I try to write in a similar way. One of my all-time favourite is “The Fifth Mountain” by Paulo Coelho. I loved the narrative and the possibility of creating magic that the author has portrayed so beautifully.

How do the upcoming writers create a niche for themselves amongst the galaxy of already established writers?

Always remember your commitment has to be only towards your readers. For non-fiction, you need to be passionate and an authority on the subject. But the secret ingredient is in the presentation. What will make the readers pick up your book and read it from cover to cover? During the presentation you have to think from the reader’s perspective. And that will automatically create a niche for you.

For fiction, your audience is wider and thus it becomes more challenging to gauge the reader’s mind. But that is the only key towards creating your niche as a writer.

What are your favourite feedbacks from readers for ‘Decoding Luxe’?

I must say it was from Mr Amitabh Bachchan. He was kind enough to write to me saying that he found the book interesting and informative. His letter is a prized possession and has inspired me to complete my second book “Dark Luxe”, which was due completion for almost a year. It is now set for October release by Srishti. “Dark Luxe” is not about dreams, it is about nightmares. It is about those realities that safely hide behind the veil of luxe. These are tales of fiction from the darkest, bottomless pits of hell. These first-hand stories of horror are by stuff luxury is made of, straight from their heart, leaving a trail of blood.

About the Interviewee:

Mahul is an award-winning communicator, columnist and luxury commentator. For over a decade, he has held senior editorial positions with The Economic Times, India partner of New York Times and CNBC TV18. His debut film as a lead actor was screened at the 69th Cannes Film Festival. He is currently heading communications and branding for a Tata Group company.