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Trouser tales

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All day comfort remains the prime criterion for any trouser fabric and that is what men look out for when narrowing down on what best suits them. The trouser fabric market is dominated in India by names like , Grasim, BSL Suitings, etc. Images Business of Fashion speaks with the three to learn about the changing dynamics seen and what the future holds.

From pleated to baggy, trouser trends have seen a sea change. Where both of these two are today passé, the market is dominated by styles that are sharp, bold and which men earlier would not have dared to spot for their day to day affairs thus reserving them perhaps for occasional wear. Hetal Kotak, Brand Director, ColourPlus and Park Avenue shares, “A shift has been observed towards well-crafted trousers in rich and premium bases. A decline recorded in straight fits and upward movement observed in slim/tapered fits with added comfort.” Coming from the house of Raymonds, both the brands – ColourPlus and Park Avenue along with the ready-to-wear brand Raymond saw the trousers’ category contributing to about 23 percent of the total apparel turnover from the group.

Trouser trending
Where Kotak agrees that pleated trousers are not completely a matter of forgotten history, it is the flat front that is quite in and this contributes close to 75 percent of their trouser sale. The remaining 25 percent yet comes from the pleated. As for the share from the women’s category; 85 percent is seen from the slim and straight fit, the remaining 15 percent comes from crops. Where earlier shine and sheen also dominated the men’s wear category for occasional wear, today, the western wear within occasional wear is more about being subtle. According to Kotak, “Ceremonial trousers with extra sheen are now out of trend and subtle sheen in premium blends such as silk are now acceptable.”

Fabric in vogue
At BSL Limited which is a unit of the LNJ Group of companies, 80 percent of their production goes for trouser conversion either to OTC trade or to garment manufacturers. According to Ravindra Chowdhary, General Manager Marketing, the demand for formal trousers has increased at a year on year growth rate of 17-18 percent. The brand’s unit at Bhilwara has a capacity to weave and process about 22 lakh meters per month. BSL
supplies its fabric to brands such as – ITC, Madura Fashion and Lifestyle, Indus League,
Cantabil and Pantaloons. Close to 85 percent from their portfolio is towards retail sales
and balance is towards readymade garment manufacturers.

At Grasim Bhiwani Textiles Limited, which is a subsidiary of Limited () having a strong presence in manufacturing of polyester viscose fabric catering the market under brands Grasim and Graviera, 65 percent of the fabric being sold by them is used for stitching trousers and this is a huge number considering that it has a processing capacity of 18 million meters per year. The brands and retailers
division supplies fabrics and garments to almost every leading brands/retailers like , , , , Blackberrys, ITC, Tata Trent, UCB, Arrow, Cantabil, John Miller, Indus League, etc.

Stretch fibre too are gaining momentum in acceptance for trousers and according to the figures shared by Kotak, 10 percent of the trousers from the company use stretch fibre. Based on the demand from brands and that from direct sales from the
consumer market, according to Chowdhary, “For formal trousers PV blend in 70:30
and 80:20 are most popular and PV Lycra is doing well with the TR finish fabrics.”
Speaking on behalf of Grasim, , Brand Director, Grasim Bhiwani
Textiles Limited shares, “The types of fabrics and blends which are selling well include
Poly Viscose, PV Cotton blends and PV wool blends.” Poly Viscose remain on top of the
list of the most suited fabric for trousers according to Ganguly and the reason for
this include, “It is a highly durable fabric which also allow easy handling and low cost
maintenance compared to wool, cotton and linen. Further, is offer good drape and better
crease recovery besides being an all-weather fabric.”

Colours in vogue
Where black, blue, brown and grey have always been the evergreen colours for men’s
trousers, the shift is now becoming evident with men preferring other subtle shades as
well. Khaki is a regular and camel brown is also becoming the most preferred choice. A
sneak peek into the autumn winter 2015 look books of brands Breakbounce reveals some
interesting colours for trousers that we will spot soon.

Overview of the women’s market
Where western formals are catching the fancy of women in India, trousers as a
category yet have to witness any major breakthrough. The leggings market is
seen gaining momentum in the women’s bottom category specially so with the
atheleisure trend been seen as the next in-thing. According to Kotak, 90 percent
of the trousers that they manufacture for women, make use of stretch fibre. In terms
of fabric, polyster blended fabric constitutes 60 percent from the Raymond portfolio and
the remaining 40 percent is dominated by cotton.

And the future belong to…
And some surprise element here. According to Kotak (and because it comes from the
house of Raymond trend analyses team, we have all the reasons to believe this!),
Pinstripes in trousers are expected to make a comeback. This is more so of history
repeating itself. Whether that also applies to pleated, is something that can be thrown
open for debate and discussion though. On the future demand, Kotak further adds, “A
demand for stretch or comfort due to a shift towards tapered fits will lead to performance
based trousers.”