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India’s winter wear market

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The winterwear market in India was pegged at 15,670 crore in 2014. This market is expected to demonstrate a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent to reach 33,590 crore by 2024. Amit Gugnani, Senior Vice President and Jaspreet Kaur, Associate Consultant for Fashion at Technopak share how aspects like investment in new technologies, being abreast with international trends have helped in boosting this market.The Rs 2,48,250 crore apparel market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10 per cent to reach Rs 3,94,450 crore in 2019 and Rs 6,40,800 crore in 2024.

India's booming winterwear market is attracting a lot of international players

The apparel market is categorised into three different categories: menswear, womenswear and kidswear. The menswear segment contributed a majority to the total apparel market in India in 2014 with a share of 42 per cent. Womenswear and kidswear contributed 38 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Winterwear is one of the major seasonal categories. The winterwear market in India was pegged at Rs 15,670 crore in 2014. This market is expected to demonstrate a compound annual growth rate of 8 per cent to reach Rs 33,590 crore by 2024. Aspects like investment in new technologies and being abreast of international trends have helped in boosting this market.

Branded vs. unbranded

The unbranded segment forms a major share of 70 per cent of the total winterwear market. Winterwear brands are developing innovative products by focusing on specifications such as heat retention, feel, style, and design and offering new and wide product range to attract more consumers. Innovative pricing and discount sales are helping them increase foot falls.

Men’s winterwear
The men’s winterwear market is pegged at Rs 7,510 crore and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.5 per cent for the next decade to reach Rs 15,480 crore by 2024. Jackets, cardigans, pullovers, sweatshirts, tracksuits, stoles and shawls, caps, mufflers, blazers and suits form men’s winterwear. Most product segments in menswear such as jackets, blazers, and sweaters have recorded exponential growth in the past few years.

Women’s winterwear
The women’s has also been on a growth trajectory. The size of women’s winterwear stands at worth Rs 3,290 crore in India, is expected to grow at 7.5 per cent to reach Rs 8,080 crore by 2024. The major products in this segment are cardigans, sweaters, jackets, sweater tops, sweater-cum-kurtis, pullovers, sweatshirts, tracksuits, stoles and shawls, caps, mufflers.

Further, like all other womenswear segments, the product attributes and styling within this category are also influenced by global trends. New product segments like knee-length tunics, felt coats, etc. and fashion accessories like scarves, gloves and leggings have made their presence felt, especially in the urban regions of India.

Kids winterwear
While the kids winterwear has historically witnessed lesser penetration of brands and organised retail, the rapid upsurge of both national and international brands has ensured its robust growth. With a phenomenal increase in the number of double-income families and with family sizes diminishing, parents have a greater wallet share to spend on kidswear.

The boys winterwear market was at Rs 2,140 crore in 2014 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9 per cent to reach Rs 5,060 crore in 2024. Major products which comprise this segment are sweater, jackets, winter caps and blazers. The girls’ winterwear market was at Rs 2,100 crore in 2014 and is expected to grow at 9 per cent to reach Rs 4,970 crore in 2024. Major products which comprise this segment are knee length tunics, sweaters, cardigans, scarves, leggings, sweaters and blazers.

Key insights

Emergence as a major category
Experimentation and higher disposable incomes have accelerated the purchasing of winterwear due to awareness, change in lifestyles, and the need for seasonal clothing. Brands have now added winterwear as a separate category within their portfolios. Today’s fashion conscious consumers prefer changing their entire winter wardrobe more frequently than it used to be five years back.

Intensification of the category
A whole range of products such as mufflers, warm caps, hats, footwear, such as long boots, complimenting the main products like sweaters, jackets and pullovers are taken as a serious way to grab the larger share from the consumer wallet. Consumers purchase these products for a complete winter look. Winterwear brands are also cashing in on the light knit wear and pre winter apparel. After seeing the potential in the winterwear category, many innerwear companies have also launched thermals with major brands and hence adding volume to this segment.

Winter: A season of festivity
The sales of winterwear, in the months starting from October till January, are equivalent to the total business sale for the entire fiscal year. Most of the festivals, weddings, social functions etc. take place around this time. Shoppers, specially the youth are active buyers of this segment because of the growing awareness and availability of many retail channels. The retailers provide heavy discounts and promotions more prudently in this period during Diwali, Christmas, New Year and end-of-season-sale in January-February.

Regional considerations
Regional factors such as climatic conditions etc. play a major role as far as the purchase decision of apparels is concerned. For the northern region, brands use warmer and heavyweight fabrics, whereas for the southern region, the winter range would mostly comprise lightweight open jackets, windcheaters, and open cardigans.

Development in product design
Initially, winterwear consisted of basic sweaters, shawls, cardigans or trousers only. Nowadays winter wear brands are offering basic as well as trendy and colourful apparels to meet the season’s requirements as well as address the fashion needs of the consumers. The product line is based on detailed research based on demography, location, type of consumers, preferences.

From jackets to suits, sweaters to thermals, the wide collections on offer, by both the upscale brand stores and the unbranded small retailers are trying their best to attract more customers. They play with exciting mix of colours, designs and stylised detailing. Now, winterwear includes many leather products like jackets, dresses, boots, etc.

Competitive prices
Branded winterwear generally commands higher prices as compared to other categories due to the usage of wool fibres, techniques used, skilled labour and complexities of designs. The price is lower, with a wider range of products, in the unbranded segment. If brands want to increase their share they need to be creative and work on a unique product line which can be offered at a competitive price point. Even though the season is short, it contributes more to the proportionate revenue generated due to the higher price points of the winter line as compared to summers.

Fibre blends
Brands are working on the quality of the fabrics to be used and their functionalities (weather proof and water proof) to prepare the whole range of merchandise for the entire season – mild winters to harsh winters. Premium brands have carved their niche by using 100 per cent wool and selling at a premium rate. Otherwise, generally wool, acrylic, cotton or polyester blends are used for winterwear. The brands offer a wide range of styles in a variety of fabrics as acrylic, woollen, woollen viscose.

The rising aspirational life styles, increase in the income levels, rapid globalisation, widespread urbanisation, increased awareness has led to a more want based purchasing of fashionable products in every season and for every occasion.

A lot of major Indian and international brands are getting attracted by the booming winter wear market. The brands have huge opportunity because of the higher margins in comparison to other product categories, a consequence of the material used and complexity of designing. Though the segment has shown promising growth and elicited enthusiasm from brands and retailers, there is still an arduous task ahead for merchandisers and product developers. The seasonality of sales, necessity of skilled labour, competition among the already established brands or new international brands, competition from the unorganised market pose as challenges to this seasonal segment. One of major challenges is to make sure that the correct merchandise reaches the targeted customer at right point of time.

The brands need to devise strategic planning for innovative and fashionable products, pricing range, store display, packaging, production, marketing, how to cater to their target customers and gain an edge over other competitors and capture a greater market share within this burgeoning segment.