Why mend it if it’s not broken? While this old adage holds true in most scenarios, there is value in fixing things before they break as we discovered at Ankur and Priyanka Modi’s label, AMPM. The 20-year-old luxury pret label recently underwent an overhaul and rebranding, one that superseded the old idiom and conventions. In conversation with AMPM’s Chief Brand Officer, Anirudh Birla on the little nuances that led to the big switch.
AMPM by Ankur and Priyanka Modi is a brand many would be familiar with. From its presence on nattily dressed women to multiple stores in premium malls and shopping complexes. Bridging a gap in the market where modern Indianwear was the unheard-of concept. “When Priyanka Modi conceptualised the label 20 years ago, there was no fusion,” recalls Birla. “She was like, I don’t want to give up my Indian roots either, but I want to make certain something for a person like me who is a global traveler and can easily wear something to work. It was her aesthetic of India modern that we adopted.”
One of the most obvious changes is their flagship and oldest store at DLF Emporio in Delhi. Unlike most mall stores, the 1,600-1,700 sqft is double the size of its predecessor and is designed like a home. You enter into the foyer, there’s a courtyard with large brass water bodies and ample natural light (artificially manufactured to give the right shade of sun). It’s spacious, empty, and designed to encourage slow browsing as opposed to a hurried retail experience.
The changes in the store, as well as the clothing, bring us back to our main question, why change an established brand. The decision to overhaul the AMPM aesthetic is almost akin to wiping off Bottega Veneta’s Instagram account, it’s a sudden yet calculated move. “A few years back,” recalls Birla, “we were looking at this milestone and wondering that have we gotten to where we wanted to be? Are we happy? And is this what you want to take forward for the next 20, for example? We were asking these fundamental, existential questions we were asking ourselves because 20 years is a long time and it’s always good to reflect back sometimes and see what have you done.” It was this introspection that led them to realise that over time there were certain aspects of design and business that had moved away from their original philosophy. For example, the increase in the use of colours like reds and yellows was one that was incidental and aimed at commercial success. But one they want to consciously drop from all new collections going forward, as with fabrics like georgette. The new vision for AMPM involves exploring natural fabrics and an earthy colour palettes, along with design focused on simple elements that are intrinsic to the label.
As designers who prefer not to be the face of the brand, Priyanka and Ankur Modi have faced the challenge of not only upturning the Indian heavy couture obsessed mindset but also creating a brand story that’s not defined by them. This is why dropping their names from the label was a decision that seemed imminent.
“We finally came to this juncture where we realised that we need to make the decisions now. The market is now ready, the audience is global due to social media and we were ready to upgrade ourselves.” While the decision might be a unanimous one, the challenges of overhauling a running business are plenty, albeit the pandemic did help in slowly easing the process.
What’s next you might wonder, “Our vision for the next 20 is something quite dynamic, quite large. And it has always been that for the brand, we have always wanted to be a global brand. We never just wanted to be an Indian brand. And we realised that to be that global brand, we have to be that brand which has that ethos, which has that aesthetic, which has the sort of clothes that are not just simple, simple doesn’t mean anything. It has to be a lot more, a lot more layers have to be added, things that we probably didn’t do. And now we’ve been in the business for 20 years and understand that, okay, what can be added, what is missing from us. So we did all that bottled it up and then came up with the 2.0. So when you come into the store and you see a different sort of feel, it’s the same, but it’s still different,” concludes Birla.
All Images: AMPM.