Vivek Karunakaran’s new boutique at the Hyatt Regency is an example of how the pandemic is pushing designers to be inventive
Designer Vivek Karunakaran is functioning out of a five star hotel. On the surface, it all sounds glamorous. But in the undertaking of this project lies a sacrificed dream.
In December last year, Vivek moved into his new boutique on Rutland Gate, a glitzy 1,500 square feet space. “I held on to the space for a long time. But after five months of uncertainty, I had to take a tough call and close it,” says Vivek.
However, the situation pushed him to reinvent. Now, his boutique is at the Hyatt Regency, in a cosy 500-square-feet hotel room. The bed has been moved, a little space has been converted into a changing room, and racks bearing his collections occupy much of the room.
Given the times, Vivek says his new retail set-up at the Hyatt is operationally more convenient than a standalone store, as “the hotel in its trademark manner handles the nitty gritties like maintenance and generator, among others.”
Says Vivek, “The idea came up in conversation with Tarun Sethi, general manager of the hotel, and we are excited about exploring this option.”
For now, he is meeting customers by appointment only. “We sanitise the space after each appointment,” he states.
With a studio in Neelankarai, Vivek says that he requires a space in the city to meet clients. “In this new generation, this is how we roll… We are trying to figure out if luxury can be reinvented.”
His clients have been trickling in every other day. Some have specific needs like wedding garments, some visit to show support, and the rest are people who are restless after months of lockdown, and just want to shop. “The whole process of them billing helps keep us and our artisans alive,” says Vivek
Vivek has built his eponymous brand over 14 years, and is determined to keep going. Given the scenario, the designer believes it is important to be be practical rather than emotional about business decisions. “I feel like today, surviving is the most important,” he says. “If we survive now we will sustain, if we sustain we will thrive.”