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Knitwear market in India


As the casualisation trend picks up momentum, the knitwear industry in India registers a significant upsurge. Experts from Technopak Advisors size the in India and highlight the growth of the key categories.

Knitwear market in India
With an increase in the fashion conscious population and growing working women populace in the country, this segment shall continue to grow further

India is at the threshold of a retail revolution with the fashion retail market being one of the fastest evolving segments in Indian retail. Change in income structure, consumer tastes and preferences, the rise of a burgeoning middle class income group with increasing disposable income, increase in the number of working women, entry of foreign retailers, etc., are some of the key growth drivers of Indian fashion retail.

Currently, the fashion retail market is estimated at Rs 3,22,209 crore (US $50 bn) and is envisaged to grow at a promising CAGR of 7.7 percent over the next decade to reach the size of Rs 6,74,037 crore (US $104 bn) by 2027.


Despite being strong in wovens, Indian fashion retail is witnessing huge demand for knitwear. The knitwear market is expected to grow at a promising rate of 9 percent over the next decade to reach Rs 1,61,700 crore from the current market size of Rs 68,932 crore.

Men’s wear is the single largest category in knitwear, accounting for 40 percent followed by women’s wear, boys’ wear and girls’ wear with market shares of 34 percent, 18 percent and 8 percent respectively.

Key Segments

The domestic knitwear market consists of various categories such as innerwear, t-shirts, winter-wear, knitted bottom-wear for kids, sleepwear, etc. The major contributors to the knitwear market are innerwear and t-shirts accounting for 34 percent and 28 percent of the market respectively.

The innerwear segment is a large category in the Indian knitwear market. The current market size of the innerwear market is worth Rs 27,931 crore which is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 10 percent over the next decade to become Rs 74,258 crore by 2027.

The Indian innerwear market is primarily segmented into men’s and women’s. Currently, the women’s segment dominates the market by accounting for 66 percent of the total market. It is estimated at a value of Rs 18,454 crore and is expected to grow at a high CAGR of 12 percent over the next decade. The remaining is contributed by men’s with an estimated value of Rs 9, 477 crore which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7 percent. The kids’ innerwear market is primarily unorganized. Local MBOs and regional players are known for catering to kids’ segment of the innerwear market.

Innerwear has evolved from core functional to being associated with more lifestyle attributes. Varied activities and enhanced lifestyle has lead to increased demand for fashionable, functional and premium lingerie that is sported at different occasions and activities on daily basis. The innerwear category is expected to witness more innovation and experiment in shapes and materials.

Another signifi cant category under knitwear market is t-shirts. It is widely accepted among a wide range of customers for its soft knit fabric, fi tting and versatility, making it a comfortable and dynamic category under knitwear. The t-shirt market of India comprises of polo t-shirts, knit t-shirts, Henley t-shirts, knit tops, etc. The current Indian t-shirt market is estimated at Rs 23,211 crore which is expected to grow at a promising CAGR of ~10 percent over the next decade to reach Rs 61,954 crore by 2027.

With an increase in the fashion conscious population and growing working women populace in the country, this segment shall continue to grow further. Even the middle aged/ older consumers have also started experimenting and adopting t-shirts.

The fact that Indian youth seek a distinct look has forced t-shirt manufacturers and retailers to explore various dimensions of product innovation primarily related to product design, colour selection options, prints, etc. In addition to cotton t-shirts, the Indian fashion market is also witnessing a huge demand for polyester-cotton blendedt-shirts. Polyester is the most common fibre used in the sportswear as it does not hold water and gets dry very quickly. The demand for t-shirts printed with traditional Indian designs has also gained momentum. Many retailers have started providing the option of customising t-shirts through their websites. In the coming years, the demand for organic cottonbased t-shirts and those made from recycled products is expected to pick up in select Indian cities. Such products are already in demand in many western countries.

Bottomwear is another emerging category among knitwear in India. The huge demand of leggings, knitted churidar, pajama sets, etc., due to comfort and easy maintenance has resulted in growth of this category. Increased share of working women with their concern on low maintenance of apparel has made leggings popular among them.

Due to abundant style options, changing life styles, and increase in brand awareness and exposure to western fashion, the average Indian apparel consumer has become much more picky and aware of their fashion needs.

The other categories contributing to the knitwear market are winterwear, kids bottomwear and sleepwear etc. These categories are expected to grow at a CAGR of 4 percent, 9 percent and 7 percent respectively.

Athleisure, comfortwear are a few new emerging categories in the knitwear segment. Their increasing acceptance and huge demand among the youth will add to increase in their share in knitwear, propelling the growth of Indian knitwear market.

Trends and Growth Drivers

The Indian knitwear market has witnessed impressive growth in the last decade. The primary factor driving this growth is increasing adaptation to casualwear by Indians. Nowadays, casualwear is not confined only to the walls of one’s residence but is being adopted in the corporate sector as well. The emergence of start-ups with flexible or no dress codes has also increased demand of casualwear. The Indian casual wear market is booming and the rural markets will play a pivotal role in this growth story in the near future. Factors including a growing middle class population, rising disposable income, increasing brand awareness among the consumers in terms of quality and up-gradation of service standards, ensure promising future for casual wear segment. There is a huge scope for product innovation within the casual wear segment. India has become a market with a plethora of opportunities and brands and retailers who understand the needs of Indian customers better are expected to leverage these opportunities.

The knitting industry is making some interesting changes in the footwear category as well. Usage of flat knits in making shoe uppers has increased as it results in zero wastage, less energy consumption and higher productivity.

Increasing urbanisation, higher discretionary spending and evolving lifestyle is leading to casualization of both men and women’s wardrobes. Smart casuals with a few do’s and don’ts are becoming more and more acceptable on a daily basis and are not strictly restricted to a Friday dressing format anymore.

Knitwear fabrics are known for the comfort they provide, moisture absorption, stretch, easy care, etc. The conversion of need based clothing to occasionwear has resulted in the emergence of new categories such as gym wear, yoga wear, etc., which is going to increase the demand of knitwear in the near future.

Way Forward

The knitwear market in India is gaining share in Indian fashion retail. The change in consumer’s tastes and preferences and emergence of new categories such as athleisure, gym wear, yoga wear, comfort wear, et al., has lured many brands/retailers to cater to this growing knitwear market. The increasing penetration of these categories in smaller towns and rural areas would fuel this growth.

Exploring new segments within knitwear will also be key to the growth for brands. Brands and retailers that would keep pace with the changing fashion trends through innovation, alongwith the flair of establishing themselves through marketing strategies are expected to outpace their peers and would be positioned better to capture a higher share of the Indian knitwear market.