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Will Indian kidswear market grow out of its infancy stage?

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The Indian kids wear market is still in its nascent stage although there is huge scope for growth. Here’s a sneak-peek into the current statistics and the challenges involved…
The last few months in 2016 have witnessed a bunch of Indian and foreign brands foray into the kidswear market in India to vie for their piece of the $10 billion pie, that industry experts suggest, is growing at an annual rate of 10 per cent.
Exploring Opportunities
Proprietor, Kidzania, Rajeev Harmilapi feels that the kidswear market in India is still in its nascent stage. “Infant garments have not been marketed well in India. Until a few years ago, local brands were skeptical to move out of Kolkata but global exposure and better understanding of the domestic market has nudged them to spread out. The potential is huge,” he says.
“All major kidswear garment brands are from Bengal. From a total of over 2 lakh brands, most have outsourced their production with the exception of about 15-20 companies who continue to rely on their in-house production capabilities because of complicated labour laws along with a few other factors,” he adds.
He also suggests that the kidswear industry in India is in an unorganised form and the infrastructure and work culture needs to improve to organise the industry.
Influencing Factors
Talking about the factors influencing the garment industry in Kolkata, Harmilapi says, “Things have changed for the better in the state but not as per expected standards. People have made payments and bought place in the garment park project initiated by the previous Government that has been pending for the last 20 years, but the infrastructure is not ready yet. The Government is trying to make another garment park whilst the old one is lying unused.”
E-commerce is one of the key factors responsible for getting things a little organised. Most manufacturers feel that a majority of kidswear brands who initially shied away from the idea of listing their products online, are slowly waking up to the immense advantage that digital platforms have, thanks to the wide reach that they offer.
Time’s Are Changing
Diapers, a product that continues to be one of the key items in kidswear, finds a strong presence online. A majority of parents have shunned the old school method of buying diapers in physical shops and instead prefer buying them online. Furthermore, diapers are being sold online at a discounted rate to influence the buyer to purchase it in the online space. This also makes for an excellent opportunity to grab their attention towards kidswear garments and this exercise has proven to be quite successful.
As a result, most brands have listed their products on e-commerce portals such as Hopscotch. in and A few others have tried a few more portals in the form of Flipkart and Amazon.
Market Share
Proprietor, Kids R Us, Samir Mehra feels that the market is made up of a majority of people belonging to the middle class, followed by a minority section of people from the elite class.
He says, “We haven’t been able to woo the buyers from areas like Banaras, Kanpur, Nagpur, etc. Our products are sober in design as opposed to the ‘jhatka-matka’ (read: loud/flashy) design preferences of people from the aforementioned areas.”
Changing Preferences
He adds that the tastes of people are changing rapidly and nowadays exposure to design trends from the West and Europe is greater than ever. “People are travelling more than ever before. This, coupled with the global exposure imparted through the media, lead to most people now wanting to wear something that matches the design quality of Benetton and Hilfiger. I am foreseeing tremendous revolution in the Indian manufacturing sector in the next five years,” Mehra says.
After earning his post graduate degree from NIFT, Kolkata, and working in garment manufacturing for about 18 to 20 years, Mehra started his brand, Kids R Us almost five years ago. The brand, which primarily targets buyers from the middle class segment, is growing at the rate of 20-25 per cent every year. In a relatively short span of time, positive response to the business has inspired him to launch yet another brand – Toys R Us – for the forthcoming season, aimed at attracting buyers from the premium segment.
Design Trends
Elaborating more on the design trends, MD, Ambe Tex Fab (I) Pvt. Ltd., the parent company of brand, Olio Kids, Sunit Bajaj says, “Movie characters like minions, superheroes and cartoon characters influence the design trends a lot. But because exploiting these involves licensing and other protocol, legally it is not possible and hence we avoid taking that route. Bollywood is also a big factor. In today’s time, a particular design trend lasts a maximum of one season. Once a design trend gains popularity, manufacturers tend to go overboard churning out the same designs and this leads to monotony, which in turn marks the end of the trend life cycle.”
Founded in 2003, Olio Kids has been doing good business in Tier I and Tier II cities. Banking on his experience, Bajaj points out yet another interesting buying trend. He says, “In the kidswear garments, the actual buyer is the mother of the child. And the mother is always concerned about things like the quality of the fabric, the comfort that it provides, value for money, etc. After assessing different brands on these parameters, the mother then zeroes in on one brand and tends to stick to it.”
Challenges Faced
While the brand manufacturers are dealing with a dicey market, the distribution network appointed by them is coping with their own share of challenges. Dilip Rangwani, a distributor functioning in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, says, “Firstly, the online market place is posing as a challenge to the distribution network. Secondly, many brand manufacturers are appointing multiple distributors leading to cut-throat competition.” Rangwani deals with brands such as Zero, and Point, to name a few.
Additionally, there are some area specific internal issues too that are affecting the dynamics of the distribution market. Proprietor of Super Enterprises which deals with multiple kidswear brands in Delhi, Deepak Gangwani said, “On one hand, new young players entering the distribution market who are energetic and have a vision, find it tough to tie up with brands, manufacturers and factories. On the other, seasoned players do not feel the need to change their traditional business practices and strategies, and are happy with their small share of the market pie. This has made the market stagnant.”
What The Future Holds
A majority of distributors feel that the future for kidswear market in India is bright and forward is the only way to move. Especially, with the value of Indian Rupee appreciating better than the Chinese currency, coupled with better manufacturing setup in India, the next couple of years are going to be crucial for the Indian market.

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