Remember the time when the first name that popped into your mind at the mention of trendy western wear or shoes was Dolls n Chic? Yo! Vizag gets talking to Dilip Bulchandani to know the story behind the 27 year old store.
Growing up in the 80s, one clearly remembers the horrors that the ill-fitted salwar and kurta outfits posed, with practically everyone from young to adults wearing them. It was then that Dilip Bulchandani and his elder brother Kamal decided to open a store catering to western wear. In 1989 ‘Dolls n Chic’ was created. Inspired by their father’s store in One Town called ‘Moti Creations’, the two brothers set to bring about a change in the city’s shopping scene. Despite sleepless nights and worrying days wondering if they’d made the right choice, the stage was set and there was no looking back.
When the store was conceived, it consisted of a limited collection of footwear and clothing, balanced out with some eye-catching accessories. But as the years rolled by, the duo found their groove with clothing and footwear respectively, and decided to start stocking only these. Dilip still personally selects and brings in clothes from Mumbai and Delhi, while Kamal hand-picks the footwear.
I see the same trends come back in style in different avatars. The parallels are now called palazzos and the dungarees are jumpsuits.
When Dolls n Chic was established, the city wasn’t concerned with fashion. As a result, customers would question the prices at the store, not realising the value. On top of that, they had to compete with local bigwigs to make their own mark.
And then came the 90s, bringing along with it cable TV and a radical change in the way people dressed. A city once unconcerned with trends started desiring what their favourite stars wore on TV. That gave the once uncertain brothers the much-needed fillip to carry on with the store. Dolls n Chic soon grew to the stage where they held fashion shows at prestigious places including the Navy Ball, Waltair Club, and the Sea Pearl Hotel – that once stood in place of The Gateway Hotel. At these shows, they forwent the regular old ethnic wear and showcased classy Indo-Westerns. Even the collection of clothes and footwear they stocked grew and still keeps growing.
When asked how he’s seen the face of fashion change through the years, Dilip wittily replies, “I see the same trends come back in style in different avatars. The parallels are now called palazzos, pedal pushers are capris, tights are leggings and the dungarees are called jumpsuits.” He acknowledges the vast transformation Vizag has gone through in the last few years and believes it’s well on its way to becoming a cosmopolitan. Dolls n Chic itself has come a long way. From the 150 designs of footwear and 40 clothes they started out with, it now boasts of over 900 designs in footwear and clothes that literally lie heaped up on tables and hung from every surface available.
Some things stay the same and Dolls n Chic is one such store. It is still that corner shop it started out as. It still offers a wide variety of affordable fashion. Hundreds of customers still walk in, sure that they’ll get ‘something different’. It is a store part of many lives, and we at Yo! hope that this never changes.