"Indian clients want good designs at a good price, especially in the luxury market. They do not fuss over designer names or brands This is not the case in places like China and the US, where consumers are very designer conscious When marketing, the focus is on popular designers, but the sales don’t usually come from them They come from brands that are wearable, on-trend, and well priced"
Pernia Qureshi’s first sale on her online multi-designer store, Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop, was from her own label. Seven years later, with close to 800 designers on the platform, she is ready to give her brands a distinct address. “When I started off, I had no one to learn from and no benchmark, so I had to do everything myself and learn from my own mistakes,” she says. With no formal training in business or fashion, she says that she depended on practical decisions and advice from industry professionals who knew the job.
Now that the market is saturated with spin-offs, Qureshi’s idea is to “stay ahead of the curve”. Is that how she has grown to play such a significant role in the Indian fashion retail scene? “I don’t take myself so seriously,” she laughs. “I just find it much more exciting to be the person setting the trend.”
Currently, she has four clothing lines and three jewellery lines, all of which are showcased on her new website, Pernia Qureshi Brands. This includes Umrao Couture and her eponymous chic casual label. Cupcake is an extension of the adult line, with matching mother-daughter sets — “I got so many requests for kidswear, and I was already doing this for my friend and her daughter, so I decided to launch a separate line,” she says.
However, what she is most excited about is the new Sketch to Reality offers. Customers go online, choose the type of outfit (everything from lehengas to ball gowns) and specify requirements (budget, colour, material, measurements). “Our design team will come up with options, and once finalised, the dress will be made. In the NCR region, we also consult in person,” she explains. The home appointment is priced at ₹5,000 for a 30-minute session, which will be built into the cost of the outfit. A recent favourite was a gold lehenga designed for a Thai client’s Bollywood-themed wedding festivities. “Another client liked it so much that she has requested it as a farshi gharara,” says Qureshi.
Running an online retail site meant that the designer has been privy to in-depth knowledge of what customers want, in terms of what they like and don’t, what silhouettes work, trends... “When we discovered brands and put them on our site, we helped them with pricing things right — even the luxury segment is very price conscious! We advised some to use quality material that matches their vision better. Also, it’s a fact that some colours sell better than others online, so we’ve had to explain that as well. It is important to have your own vision but it is also important to have clothes that sell.”
The self-taught designer says that all her brands are based on her ideas and inputs, brought to life by her design team. “I have three designers who have been formally trained, and I couldn’t do it without them. They help with the technicalities, which I may not be aware of,” she says. Her current vision is to create a sustainable platform that is future ready.
Qureshi has already put plans in motion to this end. “The embroidery for my Amaira label is done by underprivileged girls from my hometown of Rampur. They have been trained by an NGO, and this provides them with employment and income,” she says, praising the quality and finish of their work.
“We are also in the initial stages of starting a 100% organic line, where even the hooks, threads, dyes and the production house are compliant with the norms. And when this is established, I will probably move on to something else. I want to keep evolving,“ she concludes.