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India Fashion Forum 2012 a big draw

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~Indian fashion retail segment pegged at 3.7 lakh crore~
~Tier I and II markets expected to propel growth~

The first day of the 12th edition of India Fashion Forum 2012 (IFF 2012), the largest congregation of the fashion industry, witnessed a euphoric start with renowned fashion brands and industry stalwarts sharing their perspectives and forecasts for the Indian fashion segment.

The inaugural session on – Growing the fashion market put forth some thought provoking insights by leading retail honchos including Akhilesh Prasad, COO, Reliance Trends; Rakesh Biyani, Joint MD, Pantaloon Retail; and Kabir Lumba, Managing Director, Lifestyle. Prior to the panel discussion Jayant Kochar, Group Director & CEO, Images Group shared a presentation on the fundamentals driving the growth of the fashion retail segment, key challenges, and some opportunities that lie ahead in the industry.

Akhilesh Prasad said: “The previous year saw tremendous growth and it is important that this pace is maintained going forward. The fashion market which was conventionally male dominated is now opening up to women who are becoming more fashion and brand conscious. The fashion segment in India is been driven largely through media including Bollywood, Television, Internet and the proposed 4G and other wireless media channels.”

Adding on to this Kabir Lumba stressed the need to merge affordability with customer needs. “To tackle increased competition and the availability of a large array of brands in the market, companies will have to offer more niche products across various portfolios. The trend is now shifting from western wear to ethnic wear like salwar kameez. There is a need to meet with customer expectations in terms of quality while identifying strategies to ensure affordability,” he said.

“The past twelve months have been challenging for the segment with inflation at its peak and leading to a price hike from 8 percent to 22 percent. The introduction of several taxes over the past one year has led to an escalation in prices by almost 11 percent. The organized retail sector still has its own set of challenges that it needs to tackle,” said Rakesh Biyani.

The session on “Indian Apparel and Fashion Market – 2012 and beyond” witnessed a presentation followed by a panel discussion with Anjana Sharma, Director – Fashion, IMG Reliance; Amir Sheikh, Country Manager – India, Woolmark Services; Nikhil Chaturvedi, MD- Provogue; and Rachna Agarwal – CEO, Indus League. They identified kidswear and maternity wear as the key growth areas for fashion segments.

In the words of Anjana Sharma, “There is a huge market abroad of people using the medium of online shopping, and this trend is surely catching on in India. There is a requirement for fashion brands to keep up to the latest international trends in line with the communication of these brands via various media channels.

Amir Sheikh said: “FDI in retail is expected to play a pivotal role in the Indian retail sector. This will lead to more brands penetrating the Indian market, cut-throat competition, and invariably high retail rentals. Given the escalating rentals over the past few years e-tailing is expected to take centre stage as it has in other countries across the globe.”

“The fashion retail segment has been changing drastically and has evolved to a whole new level over the past few years. It is imperative that brands have a clearly defined strategy to thrive in a market that has been grappling through an economic slowdown. The organized retail sector is doing all it can to avoid risks and there is a huge requirement for merchants rather than investors to propel the growth of the Indian fashion segment,” said Nikhil Chaturvedi.

According to Rachna Aggarwal, the wedding wear segment holds great potential in the Indian fashion retail segment.

Earlier at the pre-inaugural session Amit Gungnani, Sr. VP – Fashion (textile and apparel), Technopak Advisors; and Amit Mahajan, Associate VP, IRIS deliberated on the most recent trends in the growing fashion market.

Amit Gungnani said: “The Indian fashion segment is at present estimated to have around 500 million consumers and this number is growing significantly year-on-year. Affordability in the fashion retail segment is imperative for the industry to grow, yet focus on value add-ons provided to customers in the form of superior quality, fashion, innovation and experience is a must. There is a huge untapped market in the tier II and III towns that offers immense growth potential for the fashion segment within the retail sector.”

Amit Mahajan, Associate VP, IRIS said: “The Indian fashion segment is growing at a healthy rate of 12-15 percent per annum and this growth is expected to continue over the next few years. The proportion of organized to unorganized sector is 30 to 70 respectively, and this provides huge opportunity for the organized sector to grow phenomenally. The Indian fashion market collectively with apparels, jewellery, shoes and accessories is pegged at 3.7 lakh crore. Women’s, kids wear and sports wear within this segment of the market is expected to grow anywhere between 40 -50 percent.”

The sessions by various industry leaders gave an in depth analysis, detailed perspective of the key challenges, opportunities and forecasts for the fashion segment in India that is growing at an exponential rate.

India Fashion Forum has been the focal point for fashion captains to converge – Learn, Share and Evolve – and fashion the future of retail in India. Seamless exchange of experiences and innovative ideas at IFF pave the way not just for the fashion industry, but for many other industries that are directly or indirectly interlinked to designing, marketing and retailing fashion and lifestyle products in India. IFF’ 12 promises to be bigger and better than ever before with a new venue, an impressive increase in the number of participating brands and companies, category expansion with four other concurrent and related shows this year.

-Images Bureau

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