A click here, a swipe there, or a quick dash to the mall to pick up something before a special occasion and go with it – the cash-rich, time-poor urban Indian’s current bane is ‘quickie shopping’ and Chennai-based fashion retailer Lata Madhu seems to be invested in changing that.
“We are done with speed. Good shopping requires involvement and not binge spending. One has to first understand what exactly one should pick and how the purchase will help add value to their wardrobes or their lives. Shopping properly in itself is an art. One has to enjoy the shopping experience – especially when you are spending good money to acquire something,” Lata Madhu, founder, of Collage told Business Today.
Madhu recently shut down a fully operational store to shift into a 4,000 sq ft heritage property to create a shopping experience bordering on vintage. The aesthetics of the interiors and the comfort the shop’s lounges offer, redefine shopping. Madhu spent seven months simply transforming the space into a studio for designers to display their clothing.
“Designer clothes should be honoured with great display simply for the craft and skills that go into making them. Similarly, those who want to acquire these pieces should be given time and space to make wise choices. While it could be easy to strategise and model one’s business for fast churn, I decided to redirect my work towards a rich experience. Slow is good,” Madhu said.
Branches of frangipani and mango trees line the ample windows of the double-storey building with open rooms, corridors, and balconies. The open verandahs have been covered with glass. The halls are lined with racks of clothes and track lights propped up to light up the display. Corner lounges have been created for customers to sit and explore the clothes or jewellery they want to pick.
Madhu calls her collection ‘everyday luxury.’ There are dresses, skirts, gowns, sarees, tunics, and more. “The clothes I display too are for sustained use, what people can wear over and over again. They are expensive but add value to a wardrobe. It is quite possible to integrate high-quality clothing into daily wear. This is where mindful shopping comes in,” she said.
Collage houses over 40 prominent designer clothing labels and curated costume jewellery. There are shopping assistants to advise and help pick an ensemble and put a look together for the clients. There’s even a lounging space on the ground floor for chauffeurs. The designer labels on display are – Kiran Uttam Ghosh , Payal Khandwala, Itrh, Lajjoo C, Rajdeep Ranawat, Lovebirds , 431-88 Shweta Kapur, Aseem Kapoor, Sukhet Dhir, Amrich, Jayanti Reddy, Pooja Keyur, Raji Ramniq, Madsam Tinzin, Pero and more.
“We are not in a hurry and we want our clients to come with time to make conscious purchases. I even stop people from picking up clothes thoughtlessly. Shop mindfully and be happy with what you take home. It is time to slow down a bit and raise the bar for a quality experience,” she said.
The property, a double-story old house at Nungambakkam, has been taken on lease. “During the pandemic, many who owned big houses moved to apartments and either sold their old houses or let them out because of sheer high maintenance. This was just what I was looking for. I decided to shut my jazzy store and tone down the shopping experience at Collage,” said Madhu (52). She has been an entrepreneur for over two decades. “Nothing in the old house has been broken down or changed as she converted it into a store even old switches have been retained to lend to the antique charm,” she said.
Does she not want to match the fast-moving sales pitch of high-street stores? “Not at all. We are not in a hurry. Come to us, when you have time.”