Burlingtons’TM traces its origins to the first quarter of the 1900s, when the pioneering aesthete Shori Lal Kapur opened what would historically be known as India’s first department store in Lahore. Devichands was the name of its first avatar. “The Selfridges of the East” is what the store came to be remembered as, and rightly so since Shori had in fact apprenticed under Sir. Gordon Selfridge, Chairman of the legendary London-based Selfridges’ Group.
Devichands was the consequence of Shori Lal’s spectacular imagination, which fancied bringing the West’s finest luxury items to the East at a time when the British East India Company had colonized India’s indigenous market. In 1925, Shori Lal opened his five-story department store featuring an elegantly curated selection of exotic items, from Austrian cut glass to Belgian lace to extravagant textiles, jewelry, and garments from the West; the culmination of his intense travels to Europe to source the merchandise that would then line his shelves.
His venture seduced the Lahori elite and proved so successful and in demand that Shori Lal felt persuaded to open branches in Rawalpindi and Murree. In 1943, he expanded operations to New Delhi under the branding of “Shalakas,” based in the commercial hub of Connaught Place.
It was on one his merchandising trips to Europe that Shori Kapur’s discerning eye fell upon an elegant English lady. What followed was a whirlwind romance and a gala wedding. Mr. and Mrs. Shori and Gladys Kapur returned to Lahore to raise a family of five sons and a daughter.
Meanwhile, History intervened, changing the course of their lives. It was 1947, India was Partitioned. The Jinnah-led Muslim nation of Pakistan was born. Like many Hindu families, Shori Lal had to make India home; which meant his legendary Devichands was looted and split. He moved with his family and took up residence in the mezzanine of his Shalakas store in Connaught Place. After spending years building his little empire of retail outlets, Shori Lal had to re-establish himself in a new environment. But his entrepreneurial élan meant his success would soon be restored.
THE BIRTH OF BURLINGTONS'TM
In 1949, Shori Lal moved to Bombay. He was determined to seek compensation for the assets he had been forced to leave behind when he migrated to India. He was persistent and his efforts paid off. In 1953, the custodian of evacuee properties granted him enough space within the city’s prestigious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel to run a full-fledged shop.
Burlingtons’TM was conceived as an exclusive boutique stocking ladies and men’s wear, catering to the local elite as well as its international clientele. It soon expanded from one store to 28 high fashion retail outlets, initially in Calcutta and Delhi, and eventually to other big cities in the country.
In 1958, Burlingtons’ TM organized the first-ever fashion show aboard the luxury liner Queen Elizabeth 11. The textile for the bespoke outfits had been sourced from the best Indian artisans, silk weavers, and included cottons, blended fabrics, prints, and embroideries, designed, styled, and manufactured internally for its growing clientele.
FROM BURLINGTON SHOP TO BURLINGTON GROUP
In 1963, Burlingtons’TM started manufacturing garments, initially, the motive was to support the group’s retail business, but eventually, to meet the international export demand. Once the export market was established, Burlingtons’TM shifted its manufacturing facilities from the city’s hub to a sprawling 30,000 square-feet factory in Bombay’s developing outskirts.
Roughly around the same time, another facility, “Maharani of India,” was set up in New Delhi. It was the era when the government had finally owned up to the significance of exports, sending out a call for organizations to participate in expanding the market. Burlingtons’TM was among the first groups to participate in the initiative, plunging into markets from Sydney to San Francisco.
Loaded with suitcases carrying everything from jewels and handicrafts, gift items and cotton shirts, Burlingtons’TM traversed the globe, establishing its clientele in such diverse settings as La Rinascente, Milan, Gallery Lafayette, Paris, Magasin du Nord and Nordisca, Scandinavia, Bloomingdales, New York, Bullocks, Los Angeles, Neman Marcus, Dalls, and Harrods, in London; and established its first international boutique, Shalimar, in Germany, which was spearheaded by Shori Lal’s resourceful European daughter-in-law, Gabriele Kapur and her husband, Andre.
The ’60s and the ’70s were golden decades for the group’s international department stores that profited greatly from the increased demand. Importers, traders, manufacturers, department stores, and retailers sought affiliations with Burlingtons’TM for its eclectic range of Indian products. Burlingtons’TM became the go-to group for their purchasing needs.
Burlingtons’ Exports and Maharani of India were conceived to meet this expanding market demand and the need for specialization. These divisions focused on manufacturing export-quality apparel. Burlington TM Agencies and Associated Indian Exports was set up to handle all the other trading activities.
Today, the Burlington’TM Group is well integrated, with retailing, garment manufacturing, and international trade run out of Mumbai, Delhi, and Calcutta. The Group remained a family-run institution, and acquired a reputation for its trade acumen, product quality, and timely deliveries, all of which continue to be instrumental to its success.
AN ELEPHANT ON PARADE IN DALLAS TEXAS
Burlingtons’TM Agencies and Associated Indian Exports began in 1960 by representing Associated Dry Goods, which owned around 70 stores in the USA, including Lord & Tailor.
In 1968, as part of a campaign with Neiman Markus to promote India, Shori Kapur freighted a baby elephant and his Mahout to Dallas, Texas, along with his other cargo on a chartered flight. At Dallas, the elephant was received by Stanley Marcus, the chairman of Neiman Markus, and Papul Jaikar, head of the government delegation, and Shori Kapur.
After the gimmick, the mahout returned to India, but the elephant stayed back in Dallas as a gift to its people from the Indian Government. It was housed at the city zoo.
Today, through its offices in Mumbai and New Delhi, Burlingtons’TM Agencies and Associated Indian Exports continue to engage in international trade with companies dealing in textiles, garments, gifts, accessories, home furnishings, and hard goods.
Burlingtons’TM maintained Italian standards of garment manufacturing, using imported high-speed sewing machines and sophisticated equipment that helps it stay on par with the international fashion market.
Besides quality, its focus has been on timely deliveries, successfully supplying to the world’s most significant fashion hubs. Burlingtons’TM internal and international design teams and technicians share their expertise and their knowledge of Indian textile and handicraft with fashion houses like Armani, Trusardi, Les Copaines, Max Mara, Malboro, and Oxbow, to name a few.
“A department store in your hands,” was the tagline that attracted over 75,000 customers to the pioneering mail-order catalogue launched by Burlingtons’TM Home Shopping Private Ltd. In 1990, which offered at least 3,000 items across 150 color pages. The establishment ventured into a collaboration with Germany’s Otto Versand, a world leader in mail order. This level of expertise is the core behind the services being offering by our online retail store.
2014 & BEYOND
The Burlingtons’TM group continues to be steered by a closely knit family whose members are experts in the field and who share Shori Lal’s entrepreneurial legacy and passion for textile and trade.
At its helm its Rudhra Kapur, Managing Partner and Creative Director of the company, son of Gabrielle and Andre Kapur, and Shori Lal’s grandson. Rudhra trained as a tailor at the Paris Academy of Fashion in London and at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, India, and brings in 27 years of experience in the field.
The 2013/2014 collections, designed by Rudhra, derive from Byzantine Ottoman and Moghul brocades, which are revived and reinvented by our weavers; alongside individual pieces featuring exquisite prints and sophisticated silhouettes developed exclusively BY & for Burlingtons’TM.
“You will find a completely new and refreshing outlook, ranging from lounge and cruise wear to executive and corporate wear to elegant formals across both women’s and men’s collections.”
Burlingtons’TM services include customized tailoring, room services, where clients can select from a range of items and afford an appointment with our expert staff at their premises, bridal offers, gifts, as well as options for whole sale, export and production.
“I place my passion in the maintenance of the marvels of the Indian artisan without compromise while maintaining fair and reasonable surveys through all our products. I believe in the wealth of sensation, silhouette and in the quality, and efficiency of our services, in extending our legacy as a pioneering representative of Indian hospitality and heritage in a modernised and globalizing world together with the alchemy of placing our boutiques in your hands.”