The air in the expo hall at Marina Bay Sands is heady with the scent of rajnigandha and buzzing with excitement, as the 20 or so Indian retailers who will show their collections at Bridal Mantra 2012 are in various stages of setting up. Their stalls are strung with jewel coloured flowers, adding to the celebratory air.
Bridal Mantra’s first international exhibition has lots to offer: top notch designer wear, the best of South Indian silk, classy wedding wear for men, a wide range of jewellery and even anti-allergic sarees. Even before the lamp is lit, officially declaring the day open, there are already few early browsers sifting through the merchandise, eager to get the best pick of the day.
At little after 10.30 a.m, the exhibition was officially opened with the lighting of the tall kuttuvilakku, by The Hindu CEO Arun Anant and various other members of staff who have played key roles in pulling this whole grandiose event together.
Amongst the retailers, are the Indian designers and jewellers who blazed a trail on the ramp last night - Shantanu and Nikhil, Nikasha, Falguni and Shane Peacock, and Raghavendra Rathore. Along with them, today’s exhibition witnessed wholehearted participation from various tourism boards across India, from turbaned Rajasthani men playing traditional instruments to an appearance by the Pondicherry Tourism Minister, Mr. Rajavelu. The Kerala Tourism Board, a veteran overseas exhibitor, has been participating in shows like this for 25 years.
But for many others, Bridal Mantra is their first exhibition in Singapore. Nona’s Exclusif (Pakistani Concepts) from Delhi, which is one example, offers richly embellished clothes without the designer price tag. “We were sold out within half an hour of opening when we showed at Bangkok,” said the staff. “Let’s see how we do here.”
Another successful Bangkok brand, Something Gorgeous, whose fashion jewellery has found its niche in Thailand, are also first time exhibitors in Singapore, while Raw Mango, a Delhi-based brand showing in Singapore for the second time, was confident of making sales. A brainchild of Sanjay Garg, Raw Mango is fast gaining popularity with Singapore clientele. Its range of chanderi and light silk sarees in pastels and candy colours sold out within half an hour of opening when it showed in Singapore two years ago.
Bridal Mantra has also proved to be an excellent platform for exhibitors like VGN Developers, who are selling brand new developments in and around Chennai for NRIs, and have recently begun operations in Singapore. Others, like Kolkatta-based Manyavar, are looking to expand into this market. “We are one of the only exhibitors specialising in menswear,” said Priyanka Datta, Advertising Manager, ”so we are expecting good footfalls. Although this is our first time in Singapore, we have stores in Dubai and Bangladesh. But we are interested in Singapore for our next retail outlet so this show is good exposure. And we have brought a good range here with us, so people have an idea of what we have to offer.”
The exhibition has a good mix of brands that are both new and seasoned international exhibitors like Vasansi, a brand from Jaipur with stores in Delhi, Pune, Indore and Ahmedabad, which regularly shows in Dubai, the U.K and the US. Although they are only showcasing a limited collection here, the pieces they have picked for Bridal Mantra are uniquely characteristic of Rajasthani handwork, such as gotta patti, lehariya and bandhej. This brand has caught the eye of Malaysian Indian Punitha, who was here at Bridal Mantra after seeing the advertisement for on Zee TV. “I am here to look for an anarkali suit,” she said, rifling through Vasansi’s collection. “Here, I have lots of good options.”
While most customers were here looking for something specific, or to buy from their favourite brands, there were many impulse shoppers too, including a Singaporean Chinese family who was out in Marina Bay Sands and a soon-to-be married Singapore Tamil couple, doing some last minute wedding shopping. The more established names in sarees like Nalli, Pothys, Kumaran Silks and Kalyan Sarees were magnets for shoppers who were after the best in traditional South Indian silks, while others came for the wide range of jewellery being shown.
Sunanda Jaganathan, originally from Chennai, made her way to Marina Bay Sands after seeing an advertisement in The Straits Times. A few minutes after she walked in, she found an interesting piece to buy at GRT Jewellers. She said that it was such a well-established brand that she was confident about buying from there. “This kind of jewellery is so much more relevant for me, although I visit other jewellery fairs. I know this brand from back home and I am very happy to see them here.”
GRT Jewellers caters to both a traditional and non-traditional audience, in their new Classic Collection. Workmanship in this series includes sparkling diamonds embedded in three different levels of settings, the use of the purest gold, the finest emeralds and uncut diamonds all in traditional settings and styles with a twist.
Another eye-catching jeweller was local brand Abhirami Jewellery, which showcased their newest collection at Bridal Mantra, displaying a gorgeous gold set crafted from 750 grams of pure gold. The staff proudly pointed out that as a complete set, anyone buying this would not have to buy anything more. Handmade by ten goldsmiths, over a period of thirty days, this Kolkatta-inspired design consists of a breastplate gold necklace, earrings and bangles.
For busy people looking for the finest in wedding wear, Bridal Mantra is a happy one-stop-shop. “There are many people who would love to go all over India to buy things but just haven’t got the time. So this fair is great because they can see such a wide range of Indian brands all under one roof,” said shopper Sundanda Jaganathan.
Bridal Mantra continues till Sunday, 5 August 2012.