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Sanya Arora
Sanya Arora
Sanya has a keen eye for industry trends and a passion for uncovering the stories behind the brands. Her goal is to deliver insightful analysis and in-depth reporting on the business of fashion. From emerging fashion brands to established powerhouses, she strives to bring readers the latest news and expert perspectives shaping the fashion world.

Gioia is going beyond the traditional handbag, Co-Founder Vashisht Bhatia on why his brand stands out

Amidst the bustling streets of Kolkata, India, a legacy of craftsmanship and devotion to quality thrives within H&J Leather International Pvt Ltd. It is here, in the heart of this vibrant city, that Gioia (pronounced joy-a) was born. Gioia, meaning joy in Italian, encapsulates the essence of happiness found in enduring relationships. With roots deeply embedded in the belief that true joy emanates from connections that withstand the trials of time, Gioia emerges as a beacon of luxury leather goods. For almost three decades, its parent company has honed its craft, supplying high-quality leather goods to renowned luxury brands across the globe. Drawing upon this rich heritage, co-founders Diksha and Vashisht Bhatia, embarked on a journey to create something truly special.

In 2021, the mother-son duo launched Gioia, infusing each piece with the spirit of joy and resilience. Their vision was simple yet profound: to craft collections that not only exude elegance but also stand the test of time. With a meticulous eye for detail and an unwavering commitment to excellence, their craftsmen bring designs to life, infusing each stitch with passion and precision.

As they navigate the ever-changing landscape of the luxury market, remaining steadfast in their dedication to showcasing the unparalleled artistry of Indian artisans. Through Gioia, they strive to challenge perceptions and celebrate the talent that the country has to offer. Together, with the products crafted by their team of skilled artisans with dedication to quality, they invited people to experience the joy of Gioia at the India Fashion Forum 2024, held in Bengaluru, earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview with Sanya Arora of IMAGES Business of Fashion, conducted at the 23rd edition of the India Fashion Forum in Bengaluru Vashisht Bhatia, Co-Founder, Gioia, spoke of the company’s vision and ambitious plans for the future.

Excerpts from the chat…

Could you provide us with insights into your brand’s identity and values?

Gioia, established in 2021, is a distinguished luxury leather goods brand headquartered in Kolkata, India. Rooted in the concept of joy, Gioia draws inspiration from the profound significance of enduring relationships, those that provide unwavering support through life’s various phases. This ethos is intricately woven into our collections, symbolising longevity and steadfast companionship.

Our journey stems from a rich legacy in leather craftsmanship, spanning three decades within a renowned luxury brand export house. Leveraging this extensive experience and the expertise of our seasoned artisans, we embarked on a mission to elevate the ‘Made in India’ label, infusing it with pride and excellence. With a commitment to crafting collections that endure the test of time, Gioia’s creations embody the timeless essence of loyalty and permanence.

Our dedication to quality and artistry has garnered appreciation from our discerning clientele, fostering a sense of loyalty and admiration. Each day, we strive to uphold our standards of excellence, with a relentless pursuit of perfection. Our participation in events like the India Fashion Forum 2024 signifies another stride forward in our journey of innovation and distinction.

Give us an overview of your product catalog?

Our latest offering, the Spring-Summer 24 collection predominantly features leather handbags, briefcases, wallets, and small leather goods. Currently, the collection is tailored with a focus of approximately 70% on women’s accessories, while our men’s collection, although more recent, has gained significant traction since its launch in the middle or end of last year.

Frequency & Inspiration Of Collections

  • Gioia has two seasonal launches per year: Autumn-Winter and Spring-Summer.
  • The brand’s latest collection draws inspiration from the concept of individuality. It encourages people to express themselves freely and confidently.
  • The aim – to break away from the commonality and commoditisation often found in the market by offering a diverse range of prints, metallic leathers and textures including smooth Napa and textured Saffiano leather.
  • With the spring-summer season upon us, we have the opportunity to explore a broad spectrum of colors, ranging from crisp whites to bold and vibrant hues, enabling experimentation and creativity.

Why did you decide to expand into the men’s category?

The introduction of our men’s line was prompted mainly by customer requests. These customers wanted options tailored to their preferences, just like we have in the women’s category. So far, we have received a positive response and we are committed to further expanding our men’s collection to meet the growing demand.

How do you work on your product pricing?

We strive to offer our customers competitive pricing without compromising on quality, materials, or craftsmanship. Drawing from our years of experience, we can provide quality comparable to global luxury brands at a lower price point, mainly because we are based in India. Unlike these brands, we avoid the import duty of around 20% to 30%, enabling us to pass on savings to our customers. This translates into significant benefits for them without sacrificing quality.

We maintain consistent quality standards by utilising the same materials, craftsmen, and manufacturing processes that have been honed over 30 years.

The Pricing Strategy

  • Our handbags are priced in a range starting from approximately Rs 4,500 and reaching up to Rs 25,000-26,000.
  • We collaborate with some of the finest tanneries globally, sourcing premium materials like Italian leather, certified by the Leather Working Group as gold or silver rated. These tanneries adhere to rigorous international standards and are renowned for their excellence.
  • The leather used in our products rivals that of luxury brands such as Prada, with some collections featuring Italian Saffiano leather. Our meticulous selection process involves attending international trade fairs to handpick raw materials for our upcoming collections.
  • We recognize that these prices may exceed some customers’ budgets. To accommodate diverse preferences and financial considerations, we offer competitively priced alternatives sourced from various countries, including Thailand, Korea, India, Spain, and others. This blend ensures that we cater to a wide range of tastes and affordability levels within our product lineup.

What are your sustainability goals?

At Gioia, our mission has always been to design collections that stand the test of time for those who prefer to buy less but buy better. With this philosophy in mind, we choose responsibly sourced leather as our core material due to its exceptional durability. Our team of technicians source leather from Leather Working Group certified tanneries, ensuring not only the highest quality materials but also making sure that leather comes from animals not raised solely for their hides.

Additionally, our packaging is FSC certified, guaranteeing that our products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.

To support our skilled craftsmen in their artistry, we maintain stringent checks on working conditions. Our state-of-the-art factories are Sedex certified, ensuring that Gioia’s collections spread joy not only to our community but also to the artisans who create them. By combining premium materials with the expertise of our experienced artisans, we aim to craft handbags that are designed to last, always staying by your side.

How many stores do you currently operate and where are they located?

Currently, Gioia operates three stores in strategic locations – Kolkata airport, Phoenix Mall of Asia in Bengaluru, and Phoenix Market City, Kurla, Bombay.

What are your plans for expanding your retail presence this year in terms of opening new stores?

Currently, our primary focus lies in nurturing and optimising our existing stores. Rather than rushing into expansion targets, we are committed to maximising the potential of our current locations. Our approach is centered on delivering a delightful experience to our customers by meticulously analysing their journey, attending to every detail, and ensuring excellence in every interaction.

While we remain open to further expansion opportunities, we prioritise patience and discernment in selecting the right locations and timing. The positive response garnered by our current stores motivates us to consider future expansion, but we refrain from setting specific numerical targets, as our emphasis lies on quality rather than quantity.

What are the consumption trends you have observed in the Indian accessories market?

In recent times, we have observed a significant shift towards a blend of quality craftsmanship and practicality in handbag design. Today’s consumers seek not only aesthetically pleasing handbags but also those that seamlessly integrate into their daily lives. This trend has led to designs featuring multiple compartments, ensuring secure organisation of essentials.

Additionally, there is a growing awareness about the materials used in crafting handbags. While ‘vegan leather’ has gained popularity, many consumers are becoming more discerning, realising that much of it tends to degrade quickly due to its plastic composition. Consequently, there is an increasing preference for investing in handbags made from premium leather, known for its durability and longevity. This choice ultimately results in a lower cost per wear, reflecting a more sustainable and economical approach to fashion.

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