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Occasion Wear in India: Segments, Drivers and Prospects

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With growing awareness of global fashion trends, a growing middle class and rising disposable income, the occasion wear market in India has witnessed aggressive growth. Amit Gugnani, Senior Vice President – Fashion (Textile & Apparel), Technopak, presents an analysis of the popular segments and growing trends in the occasion wear segment.

The definition of clothing has changed a lot over the years. In today’s scenario clothes are not just essentials to cover ourselves or feel comfortable, but rather are synonymous to our image. Wearing appropriate clothes at weddings, festivals, etc., makes it clear that the event is considered important and special.

Traditionally, in India, shopping for new clothes was reserved predominantly for festivals and occasions such as weddings, birthdays, festivals and other similar occasions. But, in recent past, the occasion wear market has witnessed aggressive growth fuelled by higher spending by the young and growing middle class of the country. With the boom in retail in the last few decades, urban India embraced consumerism and has since been brimming with brands offering the consumer an improved shopping experience. Traditionally, the occasion wear market was catered by either the unorganised players or the high-end designers. But, as the fashion and brand conscious young middle class started earning higher disposable income, this segment has emerged to be an attractive market. This has resulted in a slew of domestic and international brands focusing on this segment. The categories themselves have grown significantly.

In India, the apparel category is transiting from a need-based to a lifestyle category. The need-based purchase was limited to basic categories like shirts, trousers, jackets, sarees, salwar kameez, etc. Today, however, with greater awareness of international trends and selfimage, consumers prefer wearing apparel based on the occasion. Consequently, from largely two categories of formal and casual clothing, the categories have emerged to occasion specific ones like gym wear, party wear, lounge wear, wedding wear, festival wear, travel clothing and accessories, etc. In the years to come, the occasion wear market is expected to transform into a more detail-oriented and fashion conscious segment.

Importance of Occasion Wear in Indian Diaspora

As a confluence of different cultures, India is a land of festivals with a significant share of populace celebrating different festivals together. Most people prefer going ethnic while celebrating the festivals. But in recent times, western wear and fusion wear has gained popularity in the occasion wear segment. The growing awareness of global fashion and trends has resulted in the emergence of a new range of product category which is fusion of both ethnic and western wear. In addition, theme based parties, evening dinners and the advent of destination weddings has resulted in specific wear for specific occasions.

Popular Segments in Occasion Wear

The willingness of consumers to spend more and have modern and evolved lifestyle has resulted in domestic as well as international players entering the this segment. Brands and retailers are catching up with the latest trends and customizing their product offerings to match the specific demands.

Occasion wear is a segment that can be classified into ethnic and western wear in both men’s and women’s categories. Under the men’s segment, sherwanis, Jodhpuris, bandhgalas reign as the top demanded apparels in ethnic; suits/mandarins/tuxedos and zoot suits, shirt coordinates and party shirts dominate the western wear segment that are reserved for formal occasions. Gym wear, sports wear (like running gear and sport specific clothes), travel wear are some of the other popular segments in occasion wear.

Under the women’s segment sarees, lehengas, suits, western wear, fusion wear, party gowns and dresses, gym wear, yoga clothes and travel wear are some of the popular segments in occasion wear. Value added and premium sarees have remained the most popular among the women of the country for special occasions.

Key Growth Drivers Growing

Media Influence/ Exposure: The growing awareness of global fashion trends has been fuelled by internet penetration and the fashion and lifestyle media. As a result, the middle class and the young population of the country are becoming aware about international trends. This resulted in fusion wear capturing a prominent space in the Indian occasion wear segment. The emergence of such new categories has resulted in a significant growth of occasion wear retail in India.

Change in Consumer’s Preferences: Due to the growing middle class and rising disposable income among consumers, a change can be seen in consumer’s preferences and choices. Indian consumers are no more limited to shopping based on needs.

Need based shopping has graduated to occasion specific shopping. Today, a consumer’s wardrobe has different attire according to specific occasions. The consumer is concerned about his image and is willing to dress up according to the occasion. This has resulted in increased spending on occasion wear.

Rise in Numbers of Theme Based Occasions

Occasions such as birthday parties and weddings have witnessed a growing trend of theme based events. Weddings in India are a three to five days affair with numerous events such as sangeet, mehndi, cocktail dinner and DJ nights, etc. the weddings have become an extended celebration leading to purchase of occasion wear to suit every event. Sports and fitness based activities have also increased considerably along with leisure and travel.

Availabilty of Increased Variety

Various brands and retailers have also made sure that there are plenty of choices available for the consumer across various categories, which was not the case traditionally. Most brands have extended the product offerings to capture a higher share of wallet making it easier for the consumer to find the product suitable for a specific occasion.

Currently, a number of major players are attempting to redefine this category, with new campaigns that are targeted around occasions such as special social evenings, convocation ceremonies, etc. These trends have led to many premium brands entering the occasion wear segment by enhancing their existing product offering to cater to this market.

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