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HomeEntertainmentWhy fashion stores across India are becoming spaces for community gatherings

Why fashion stores across India are becoming spaces for community gatherings

Shamani Joshi

It’s a Sunday night in Mumbai’s Bandra neighbourhood. You find yourself under the flickering glow of pink-tinted fluorescent lights, swaying to an intergalactic mix of techno, D&B and disco. The drinks are flowing, and so is the conversation. Except, you’re not at a local bar or gig venue. You’re at Sound Sessions, an intimate shuttered-door party hosted by multi-brand streetwear platform Capsul at their concept fashion store in Mumbai.

The brand is part of a rising crop of homegrown labels reimagining their physical stores as spaces of cultural discovery that bring together a community. Faced with an explosion of retail options, the rise of online platforms with instant delivery timelines, and the influx of international luxury brands to the Indian market, fashion stores are now stepping beyond the template of a traditional retailer to curate offbeat events ranging from music gigs to art shows to food trails.

“We want people to walk into our store and feel like they’re in a really cool basement or art gallery, where they can discover something new”, explains Capsul’s co-founder Bhavisha Dave. The brainchild of former brand marketeers Dave and Meenakshi Singh, Capsul’s carefully curated stores across Mumbai, Bangalore, and Ahmedabad regularly serve as backdrops for tattoo workshops, b-boy showcases, and even sushi takeovers. “Friendships and even love stories have started through our events,” Dave says with a laugh.

Over the years, we’ve seen brands across the globe use experiential marketing to offer a taste of the lifestyle they want associated with their fashion, from Hermés’s gym to Dior’s afternoon tea service to Gucci’s bookstore. These immersive activations are an important part of a brand’s playbook to generate buzz among their target cohort and increase footfalls to their stores. But at its core is an innate desire to create a community space that mirrors the brand’s ethos while celebrating its local culture.

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Photo courtesy of Almost Gods

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