One of the reasons why the Net stokes an intimacy with surfers is because it tracks our browsing footprints and learns to second-guess us. Especially while shopping. Soon as the browser sniffs a repetition of some words—Rohit Bal for Jabong in this instance—the “items” chase you relentlessly every time you search for anything else. A persistent little sidebar will keep showing you Rohit Bal’s clothes.

This is no new insight of course but one with a potential to dilute the aura of almost everything online. So when I opened the Jabong site to check how much of the Mumbai-Delhi fanfare (dinners for fashion journalists in both cities and a beautiful fashion show at the Palladium Hotel in Mumbai) behind this exciting tie-up of a couturier and an online brand had translated into actual shopping bandwidth, I found myself stalked by “women’s ethnicwear” and in particular by a spectrum of Anarkalis.

None of the assorted ones up would compare to those by Bal. But let’s ask if that’s a fashion journalist’s informed perception or would it be the common perception too? It is easy to see even on a computer screen that Bal’s garments are well-finished and carry his unmistakable signature. If you want Bal in your wardrobe at an affordable price and Anarkalis and lehngas are your LBD, this is it.

But also look at it from a regular online shopper’s point of view. She may initially buy Rohit Bal garments for the name (or for the packing, sizing, exchange options, who knows). But when repeatedly serenaded with options left, right and centre, then with the true fickleness of consumer behaviour recorded everywhere in the world, she might sway.

On Jabong, the issue is a bit complicated anyway. Because the site also offers Biba by Rohit Bal, also a women’s ethnicwear line. The Biba option surges up the instant you type Rohit Bal and competes with Rohit Bal for Jabong. Upon observation, you do notice some differences. The brand new Rohit Bal for Jabong, a small collection (just 11 products on the morning of 23rd April, a week after the first announcement) has net lehnga-cholis with brocade details, one Jalabiya suit set, and some Anarkalis and kurta sets with “hand block printing” as the operative word. The price range is between Rs.5999-Rs 18,999.

On the other hand, the Anarkali and kurta sets from Biba by Rohit Bal (6 products only) use “embroidered” as the operative word. Their price range is Rs.12,950 to Rs.22,500. But as a genre and in design vocabulary they are similar clothes by the same designer. This similarity waters down the bigness of this tie-up and may need some re-strategizing.

Besides browsers will be browsers. Mine continued to parade Anarkali sets also throwing up a few from Biba by Rohit Bal on Perniaspopshop, another online fashion destination. This widens the cachet but further reduces the aura around the idea of Rohit Bal online.

I had begun exploring the Jabong site two days before writing this piece. My shopping footprints of those 48 hours also earned me Anarkali options by brands whose names I had never heard before. So, if I were simply Anarkali crazy instead of Bal-obsessed, I would be reasonably distracted as a shopper. After all, studies on Internet consumption behaviour still have to conclusively ascertain whether the Indian customer of fashion while evolving is only looking for designer clothes by some select names or looking for good bargains in similar designs. Or looking for a bit of both—some of this and some of that? Given the blatant success of derivative and plagiarized fashion in our retail markets, we already know that Indians are not necessarily loyal to the original.

Of course Jabong, Biba and Rohit Bal as well as assorted online entrepreneurs must have given this some thought and have ways to make it nobody’s loss. Even so, the press note sent out for the Rohit Bal for Jabong collection could consider dropping the word “exclusive”.