In an interview in 1967, Hugh Hefner, founder of the Playboy empire, explained the ways in which women were like rabbits. He said, “Because it’s a fresh animal, shy, vivacious, jumping—sexy. First it smells you, then it escapes, then it comes back, and you feel like caressing it, playing with it. A girl resembles a bunny. Joyful, joking.” This helps explain why Hefner had been dressing women as bunnies since 1960. But for the first time in history, keeping in mind Indian sensibilities, Playboy founder made the final decision on the design, US-based designer Mohini Tadikonda reworked the iconic costume, adding long drapes of chiffon to the bottom half. The upper half—the satin bustier—remains tight and revealing.
Mingle with bunnies
“The traditional cleavage-baring costume with black pantyhose and high-heels has been tweaked with an allusion to sari and paired with a translucent ankle-length skirt. But the other trademark paraphernalia—ears, cuffs, collar, bow tie and the signature Bunny tail—stayed the same. This new costume is a celebration of India’s rich culture and the Americana of the classic Playboy Bunny Costume,” says Sanjay Gupta, the chief executive of Playboy Lifestyle.
“Revealing outfits are frowned upon in this country. If you watch Bollywood films, you will see women dressed in far sexier and in more revealing outfits,” says Gupta. While the bunnies are all foreign to start with, “We are open to hiring Indian women too,” adds Gupta.
The Mumbai-based entity has won the brand licence to open over 120 Playboy formats at Rs 200 crore, which will be a mix of retail outlets, clubs, hotels and fashion cafes, in the next 10 years. “The luxury market is evolving more rapidly than foreseen and our strength will lie in understanding and customising our services to suit the needs of Indian consumers,” says Gupta, the businessman, who brought the club to India.
“Playboy went through a rigorous due-diligence exercise with us and having satisfied themselves on all counts of our capabilities, they selected us. We had to prepare a comprehensive business plan for their perusal including organisational, financial, operational and other aspects,” says Gupta, whose 25 years of business experience includes the entertainment, metals and mining industries.
“We’re very clear of our requirements as far as the club segment is concerned. We required them to be of a minimum certain size, within the premises of a five-star hotel etc. Our focus markets are Tier 1 cities, within which we found a suitable property first in Hyderabad which fulfilled all our requisite parameters. It will, of course, be on the same premises that currently houses The Club in Novotel.”
Sana Satish Babu, owner of The Club, Novotel and director of Shamash Entertainments Pvt Ltd says, “Hyderabad is a young and dynamic city and the brand Playboy goes with it completely. I think this deal will open a new chapter in Hyderabad’s younger culture. It all happened when I visited Playboy Club in London and than I put forward the proposal to Playboy in Hyderabad. Playboy has given quite a few things to the style and fashion of this world, we are planning to bring all of that within the reach of the people of Hyderabad through Playboy Club, Playboy Café and merchandise, ranging from perfumes to apparels. Looking at the increasing style quotient in Hyderabad, we are sure that the merchandise would be well received by the public.” The world famous Bunny costumes by Playboy have already been revealed and there are many surprises in the waiting as ‘the magic boxes’ are still to be opened. Babu adds, “Hyderabad has always been vibrant and alive, and with a name like Playboy coming to the city, the energy and excitement is super high. We have talked to quite a few of the young turks of our city and I have got positive feedback on the news. I believe this would create a new chapter in the way Hyderabad hangs out. We are planing to open the gates in April 2013.”
Reasons to be in Playboy club
As Hugh Hefner said, “Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream,” Hence, the brand is for people who want more out of life. “The target audience will be someone with aspiration. With the foray of Playboy into the Indian hospitality and retail space, we are focused on making Playboy more relevant to a new generation while enhancing our relationship with our core audience. We have strategically positioned ourselves to appeal to Generation Y. Our strength will lie in understanding and customising our services to suit the needs of Indian consumers while providing an unparalleled experience that would rival international standards,” says Gupta. No nudity
Anticipating concerns and criticism, Gupta is very clear that, “Playboy in India does not have any element of nudity attached to it. The club will be the lifestyle and glamour quotient that will attract members and walk-ins. The focus in India will be on the hospitality, food and beverage and retail business. We will focus on dining and culinary experiences to reach out to our target audience,” says Gupta adding, “Also we do not anticipate the entry of Playboy magazine and adult content in India in the near or distant future. We have done extensive research in-house to understand the Indian markets, their likings and spending habits. An unaided research has shown that Playboy has a very strong brand health in India as most consumers view the brand as a modern day influencer.”
Abide by the law
“PB Lifestyle will strictly abide by the law of the land and will respect local traditions. As stated earlier PB Lifestyle is not associated with the nudity element of Playboy magazines. PB Lifestyle is a separate entity from Playboy Enterprises. We are collaborating to bring Playboy into India in the retail, lifestyle and hospitality industries. Everything in India will be done within the purview of the prevailing laws,” says Gupta.