The past decade has seen the emergence of powerhouse home-grown ethnic brands that have ridden the festive boom. However with all year round occasion wear opportunities in prevalence now, Team Images BoF explores how the broadening opportunities are playing out for them.
Rent a cocktail outfit for the most happening party in town, or a nothing to wear in this heat, then go and pick up Anita Dongre’s hand-embroidered, Made-in-India dresses and shirts or pick up Sunday casuals from Manyavar. Be it Mother’s day, Father’s day, Independence day, Republic day, an anniversary, house warming, a puja, or be it any occasion or festival, or even a no-reason party, all occasions act as a powerful stimulant for consumers to experiment and look their best. Add on birthday parties, office get-togethers, alumni meets, office celebrations, kid’s school functions, light cocktails, dining out, kitty parties, baby showers, graduation day, etc., and the opportunities are endless.
“The interesting fact is that, for Indian shoppers, the wardrobe is shifting from need-based clothing to occasion specific dressing and is gradually becoming more detail oriented,” says Brand Head, Aurelia, Arindam Chakravorty.
Yes, today consumers have started shopping more regularly rather than buying fashion wear only during festivals or weddings once in a year.
“Higher disposable income, nuclear family set up and being fashion conscious have brought immense change in the spending pattern of modern day customers. Today, we have started celebrating innumerable occasions in our daily life and we feel that our clothes play an integral role in every celebration,” says MD, Biba, Siddharth Bindra.
With an exceedingly high number of holidays, both traditional and global, being celebrated in India the occasions to shop are endless. Today, people even create occasions to buy new clothes and celebrate life.
“People now do not repeat their occasion wear and want to be remembered for the outfit they wore and how well they carried themselves. Additionally, people want to share their memories, stories and special moments with the world. They share about how they are celebrating, what clothes they are wearing and where they are travelling etc.,” states Head – Design, W & Wishful, Sreyashee Datta.
Occasions give consumers ample space to experiment and indulge. And in this there is a definite shift towards fusion wear when it comes to occasion wear shopping.
“The entire concept of fusion wear has evolved over the last10-15 years. Traditional salwar kameez and dupattas were slowly replaced with kurtis teamed with trousers and denims and now even palazzos and skirts. This has changed the entire look of the ensemble. The ever-evolving fusion fashion is the first choice for consumers who want to experiment with their look from top to toe,” says Chakravorty.
Triggers & Drivers
The well-informed consumers of today generally seek acceptance from their peers and to blend with their social surrounding. Factors like growing media, cinema and television penetration, celebrity influence and access to fashion trends outside the country are the major influence while shopping in this category.
“Penetration of internet in our day to day life, emergence of e-commerce, popular marketing campaigns by brands have made shopping much more convenient and easy and these have been the mainreasons that this category has seen a growth,” says Bindra.
School going teenagers, the college youth, the working class, and the newlyweds are the major drivers of shopping of occasion wear and they all follow world trend religiously.
“Additionally, the media has been responsible for spreading awareness of the latest trends in looks and styles. And these may be as diverse as airport looks, Ganpati dressing, Deepawali look, Pujo paridhan,” says Business Lead, Ethnix (Raymond), Nameet Srivastava.
Also considering that Bollywood and fashion go hand in hand, Bollywood celebs act as major influencers. “The ready-made industry manufactures these clothes and several actors endorse designer collections; walk the ramp for them which make the collections popular. This is the reason people are more aware about designer brands than ever before,” says Datta.
“The trends in occasion wear can be attributed to today’s millennials; who are more inclined to indulge in occasion based shopping,” believes Chakravorty.
In India, it is the women in the age group of 25-40 (be it unmarried or married) who have different occasions to attend like-festivals, family functions, office celebrations, friend get togethers, etc., that do maximum shopping.
“These women are self-dependent and have a strong purchasing power,” feels Datta.
Along with consumer specific demands, what really fuels the fashion purchase in metros are the latest designer collections, along with their replicas for the class who cannot afford the original designer label.
However, the favourable growth in occasion wear is not restricted to affluent categories anymore.
“Consumers across the economic strata tend to shop and in today’s day and age, growing disposable income plays an important factor. Especially, ethnic wear for festivities and occasions is bought across economic segments,” reveals Bindra.
With exposure from television, social media, internet penetration and migrant population, the consumers of tier -II and -III cities are increasingly following the latest trends and trying to be in sync with the lifestyles of their counterparts in metros and Tier -I cities. Datta believes that small towns are emerging as crucial markets of growth for occasion wear clothing and a lot of brands are eyeing these opportunities.
Change in Season
The beauty of fashion is that it flows and permeates continually. The trends often return cyclically over a period of time and with newer manifestations.
“The Pathani kurta of the interior towns of Pakistan have trickled up and are now seen in most of the men’s wear collections showcased at major fashion shows. The same goes for printed merchandise, which was once the dressing of the movie stars. It has come back with a bang and is now available at the price of peanuts in almost every roadside store. The working class is wearing and pairing them in the most interesting ways and creating a new category of comfort wear,” adds Srivastava.
Extensive promotional discount sales and multiple new collection launches both spread out all over the calendar year have impacted the shopping curve too. Because of this the buying is not only happening in festive season but in the off season too.
Director, Manyavar, Shilpi Modi explains, “However, weddings remainthe occasion for which maximum purchases are made since products are not only being bought for one or two individuals but for the entire family which includes the bride, the groomand their friends.”
It is an established fact that the Indian festive season, especially between October to December, witnesses unsurpassed fervour amongst Indian shoppers.
“Our like-to-like sales growth during this phase makes it our bestselling period, and our focus is towards giving the best to suit all occasions and needs be it regular wear, need-based, casuals, fashion or office. The offerings across categories contribute to our overall sales, says Datta.
“There has been a gradual increase in the past decade in the overall sales. The period of October to December follows the same trend. Data suggests that around 35 percent of the sales occur in the months from October–December,” says Modi.
The world is coming closer online. Consumers have easy access to trends and information on fashion. Social media platforms like Instagram are influencing consumer choices.
“Social media and the campaigns are not just spreading awareness but with the increase in various channels, of information and selling, fashion is now available for all society irrespective of affluence,” opines Modi.
The Indian consumer is clearly enjoying the modern shopping experience which is a combination of shopping malls, traditional shops and e-shopping. Despite the diversity in culture and social strata in India as well as the high prevalence of the mall culture, there are still loyalists of traditional stores when it comes to shopping for weddings and festivals.
“Depending upon the occasion, priority and their budget, consumers chose from buying from a designer or a luxury or high-end retailer,” says Srivastava.
Fashion designers and luxury brand outlet shopping is still limited to the affluent strata in India. But nevertheless, a new consumers trend has been regoistered of late.
“Customers are moving from mid to high-end brands for this kind of shopping as these buying decisions are mostly impulsive and deliveries have to be immediate,” states Chakravorty.
Designing & Delivering a “Look” for Occasion Wear
Today the growth of a brand depends on its ability to balance commercial viability with newness in trends. Also, designing and delivering a ‘look’ for an occasion becomes extremely crucial because the entire garment reflects the personality of the wearer. To cater to the demands of the consumers brands have started curating stylish apparels, look books to help their customers look trendy and fashionable every time. With the increasing popularity of lifestyle bloggers consumers can easily try different looks. “Nowadays bloggers create complete looks from head to toe for their readers and even provide look credits to the brands making it easy for the readers to shop the desired look. Brands have also started expanding their array of services and have started offering jewellery, accessories under their umbrella thus providing customers a complete shopping experience under one roof,” says Bindra.