India is the fifth largest destination in the global retail space, making the Indian apparel industry the second largest contributor in the retail industry. Basis industry statistics, denim is the single most leading segment in the fashion industry.
Retail Market’s Progression Over The Years
Somewhere in the mid-nineties, the apparel industry in India began to get more organised. During this time there was a radical shift in fashion and men became more experimental with their choices. Denims became the garment of choice for urban Indians – both men and women. Today the Indian denim fashion industry is at an exciting place – with huge growth opportunities ahead. There is a strong and technically sound production base that has evolved through the export base of garment manufacturers. The design sensibility of Indian brands is at par with international brands. The ability to produce well-designed denims at affordable prices is the strength and forte of Indian brands. They can exploit the opportunity to position themselves in the middle of the consumption pyramid and span across all metros, Tier -I, -II and even -III towns to gain scale, while premium brand continue to struggle with this.
Organised retailing in India has undergone immense growth in the last decade owing to growing consumer aspirations, favourable demographics and brand consciousness. Correspondingly, the fashion category has also undergone profound transformation over the years in terms of type and positioning of brands, formats, products and emergence of new players. Urban India has an increased purchasing capacity as well as awareness of fashion trends thereby providing a huge market to denim players in the country. This further indicates preference towards purchasing premium and quality products. This has led to deeper penetration of foreign brand and the popularity of private labels.
In recent years, India has also seen the entry of various new players in the retail market. This has led to awareness and an increasing sense of global fashion. Denim is considered as one of the most versatile fabrics, whether it’s casual wear, or everyday use; denims are also accepted as work wear on Fridays which are casual days for most companies. Even in smaller towns, women and men pair denim with ethnic wear or kurtas. This mix and match trend has picked up very well in the recent years and fuelled the growth of denims in these areas.
With the influx of decorated denim in the last two seasons, it’s no surprise that the trend has made its way from jeans to jackets. Internationally denim customisation has taken hold of every cuff , collar and back pocket worth its grommet and buttonhole. From
monograms to embroidered patches to eye-catching pins, putting your own personal spin on the likes of jeans and jackets is more fashionable than ever. It’s the type of trend that is unique to the individual – and increasingly popular among social media influencers looking to show off their cool customisations. For a customer, it’s about creativity and personalisation – about creating a bespoke piece. For a brand it’s about giving the customer a unique and one-of-its-kind experience. Adding a personal touch makes otherwise ordinary pieces uniquely your own.
Pepe Jeans was the first to introduce the denim customisation service in India back in October, 2015. Pepe Jeans Custom Studio service enables customers to step into the design seat and customise their denim in a few easy steps. The process is very simple and is widely appreciated by our customers. In four easy steps, the customisation process can be done according what one wants to create on their denims. First, pick a laser print to be tattooed on the denim. Next choose the fastenings – be it buttons, rivets or tacks. Then select the brush of the garment and where exactly you want it. Lastly, choose the colours you want your print to be in.
The idea behind Custom Studio is to empower the customer with the opportunity for personalisation; and therein lies a powerful tool that will revolutionise denim fashion in India. Fashion and customisation go hand in hand. This value added service helps in retaining your current customers and also helps in acquiring new customers.
We conducted three events to celebrate the launch of Custom Studio which enabled key influencers to experience this innovative concept. The first experiential took place at Delhi’s Connaught Place. We invited top lifestyle magazines and the country’s top fashion bloggers for an exclusive first hand experience. Fashion editorial teams were seen designing their own denims and tweeting and posting pictures of their experience across social media. The bloggers created much excitement through conversations on their social media platforms through posts and stories on how much they enjoyed participating in this unique concept.
The second experiential was conducted in Mumbai’s Linking Road, Pepe Jeans store. The third experiential was recently held in Bengaluru’s Indira Nagar Store. Top bloggers and influencers from the city’s fashion fraternity were in attendance. This event witnessed astounding social buzz. In over 2 days, 25 bloggers designed over 30 pieces of denims that ranged from cool florals to monograms and song lyrics. The activity generated over 30,000 likes and over 2,000 impressions in the same time period.
Since the launch of the Custom Studio, the store has witnessed adults and kids alike, enthusiastically personalising their denims. The cost for the custom studio services are Rs 250 for each service—laser, colour, rip and tear, and adding embellishments.
Looking at Custom Studio from a strategic perspective, our objective was to rebuild relationships with consumers by adding a touch of personalisation and drive them to the stores. We wanted to reinvent how denims were being sold. Customers are genuinely excited to choose their own design and personalise their denims. We saw that 3 out 10 customers who purchased denims used the Pepe Jeans customisation service.
Currently, the Indian target audience is almost on par with the global consumers. They are a lot more evolved with their shopping choices; and are constantly seeking novelty in experiences. We have to be ahead of the curve in understanding the new generation consumers.
The Digital Way
Taking into account the digitisation, India’s e-commerce market is expected to cross US $800 billion, according to industry reports. The online space is growing at par with physical stores now; as brands are amping up their strategies to ensure an omni-channel business. This will help to acquire new consumers as well as retain their existing market share. What makes this market promising is the heavy investments and rapid increase of Internet users.
This Internet penetration is not only seen in urban areas but also in emerging markets. Organised players can now get a hold in these markets through this medium. It is important to also consider the buying behaviour of consumers in small towns which is different compared to consumers living in the urban areas. They seek value; they have an affinity towards local culture, and are more conservative in their choices. Also in the last 2 years, the delivery reach and speed in these areas has also picked up making it an ideal time to target additional customers with the help of e-commerce partners.
While e-commerce expands your reach and customer base, another factor to consider is the influence of social media and its huge impact on the apparel industry. The internet has given social media the reach, which wasn’t possible 10 years ago. Fashion in the age of millennial and social media is diff erent – influencers and bloggers are the new trend-setters.
While there have been several factors that have contributed to the denim market’s continued success, there has also been a plethora of challenges that showcase how this market is also susceptible to volatility.
The new age millenials and this generation of shoppers are starting to view clothes as an extension and expression of their lifestyles. These consumers are also increasingly travelling and shopping abroad. Attitude shifts have further led to change in purchase patterns, because of the increase in disposable income. In the last 5 years, the retail landscape has changed dramatically. Buying behaviour is rapidly changing and forcing retailers to conform to the new age of shopping. Brands need to up their game when it comes to the cluttered market of retailers prying for customer attention and also plan effective retention programs. Further the increase in operational cost, changing real estate prices, heavy discounting during sales are additional challenges for retailers.
There has never been a better time for the retail industry, the denim industry specifically as there is huge growth year on year. A plethora of factors like India’s growing economy coupled with rising incomes and urbanisation have resulted in the continued success of the denim industry. There are several components; brands will have to consider is leveraging this growth in the current market scenario. Product innovations, pricing and consumer preferences will be in the forefront when curating new collections. The future of denim will also depend on how brands will build their Omnichannel strategy and its technology through which they can tap additional customers.