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Casualwear: The Sunlight Segment in Indian Fashion Retail

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The shift from formal attire to comfort oriented casual attire is driving the fashion retail market, and casualwear brands in India see potential in all segments, and are focusing their energies on creating more variety and pushing production to meet demand.

It is estimated that the Indian apparel market, which stood at Rs 2.05 lakh crore in 2012, will register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9 per cent to reach Rs 3.15 lakh crore, in 2017. Further, given the increasing trend towards comfort and a trendy look, the growth rate is expected to be higher for the casualwear segment.

The Key Trends in the Casualwear Market

The casualwear market in India comprises men’s and women’s casualwear encompassing casual shirts/tops, casual trousers/skirts, denims, T-shirts, activewear, and dailywear. The following key trends related to consumer behavior, revolution in retail channel, and retailer’s market approach, are having an immense impact on the evolution of the casualwear market in the country.

Consumer Behaviour

Indian fashion consumers demand more value for their money, whether in casualwear or formalwear. At the same time, the favorable demographics of the country and the sustained trust in the long-term growth prospects of the economy makes the Indian casualwear customer amenable to experimenting with fashion products.

Favourable Median Age

Presently, the median age of men in India is 25.9 years, while that for women is 27.2 years. It is expected that the median age of the country will remain favorable, in the age range of 25-30. This lower median age reflects a youthful population that has a higher propensity for buying casualwear products.

Increasing Urbanisation

It is estimated that by 2020 almost 35 per cent of the Indian population will be living in urban centers. This high urban population is expected to splurge on casualwear products and as a result, by 2020, there will be more than 70 million aspiring consumers who can afford to consume on par with consumers in the developed world.

Casualwear and Work-time Balance

With an increasing number of women opting to work – over 35 per cent of urban women are expected to be established in their career by 2020- the work-time balance of Indian households is likely to undergo dramatic changes.

High Share of Lifestyle and Apparel in Youth’s Wallet

The increasing penetration of the internet and lifestyle TV channels, coupled with greater acceptance of social media, has resulted in the increased exposure of youth to the latest fashion trends and statements of iconic persons.

Varying Labels in Consumer Wardrobes

With the increasing exposure to international fashion trends, the Indian consumer today wants more than just need-based clothing. Consequently, the fashion basket has expanded to include occasion specific-clothing such as sports/gym wear, ethnic wear, casualwear, office wear, nightwear, party wear, etc.

Consumers of Tier 1 & 2 Cities to Drive Casualwear Market

Aspirational youth residing outside of the top 20 Indian cities have a higher propensity for casualwear fashion products. They have a strong desire to wear the same kind of clothing and similar brands as their counterparts in the bigger cities.

Consumers Trading Up and Down

The same consumer displays extreme price sensitivity for one product, which is normally functional, with low perceivable differentiation, e.g., food, daily wear, home textiles, and, at the same time, be willing to pay a premium for another product.

Retail Channel

Alternative apparel retailing is evolving in India at a rapid pace, and casualwear is no exception to this trend. Direct selling, home shopping, and e-tailing are gaining momentum in the market.

Introduction of Private Labels

Private labels are an acceptable solution for such consumers as, unlike unbranded fashion apparel, private labels ensure that a certain minimum quality is maintained. In addition, private labels have emerged as a popular offering from the retailer’s perspective, as they bring in higher margins, to the tune of 50-60 per cent.

Focussed Approach for E-tailing

Recognizing the preference and acceptance of alternative retail channels, many casualwear brands and retailers are venturing into the e-tailing space. Lucrative offers, like ‘Cash on delivery’, ‘Try-n-buy’, easy returns policy, etc., are making the e-tailing space more competitive and dynamic.

Launching of Women’s Casuals and Westernwear Brands

Players, traditionally focused solely on the men’s casualwear segment, have started launching women’s casualwear products and women’s westernwear brands, or have extended their existing brands into women’s products.

Casualwear at the Workplace

Following the global trend of casualwear becoming acceptable at the workplace, Indian companies, as well as India-based offices of multinational companies, have started drafting policies allowing casualwear in workplaces.

Emerging Sub-categories of Casualwear

The casualwear category in India, in recent years, has registered the growing acceptance of western style of casual clothing that is increasingly being occasion-specific. As a consequence, beachwear and resortwear are emerging as niche but promising subcategories within the casualwear category in India.

The Future of the Casualwear Market

Existing Indian and international brands are registering promising growth, which has also made the market competitive as many players have ventured in to tap this opportunity. But the success of these players will depend on their ability to gauge the pulse of Indian consumers, who are essentially a heterogeneous set of people whose tastes, choices, and preferences vary depending on their age, income level, social status, regional influence, etc.

Therefore, adopting a blanket solution for all of India might not be the right approach. Success in the Indian casualwear market will depend on the ability of brands and retailers to tweak their retail offerings to address the demand of various target segments.

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