We are in an age where fashion and functionality accelerates paralleling each other. With the ever-so increasing urbanisation in India, there is an increasing demand for apparel that do not just satiate the weather conditions, but goes much beyond. This is also pertinent to the winter wear segment.
The winter wear market in India is at the threshold of a strong and determined fashion revolution. Once widely positioned as functional apparel for winter season, winter wear today is blending fashion to its functionality. Conforming to the changing lifestyles and preferences of the modern consumer, the winter wear market in India has witnessed the inception of wide array of fabrics, designs and styles over the last decades. Today, the industry is at an acme of innovation in terms of styles, design and fabric and has found its position in the fashion industry.
Indian Winter Wear Market
Customers today prefer products that not only cater to the season but also ensure comfort style. Hence, similar to the other segments in the fashion industry, winter wear preferences are increasingly gravitating towards lightweight casuals. This trend towards casual look and comfort wearing has contributed substantially to the elevated growth of knitwear compared to woven apparel.
Winter wear has, over the years, been one most important drivers of the Indian knitwear tree that extends out to many branches. This category in India was pegged at Rs 14,475 crore in 2017 and is expected to reach Rs 33,957 crore by 2027. The major catalysts of this growth are advent of technically advanced fabrics, international trends and disposable income.
Exceeding the expectations of the prourban populace, major fashion houses are introducing fabrics that keeps pace with the demands of the new generation. Talking about the present winter fashion trends and requirements of the people, Chaitali Giri, Fashion Designer, Chic By Chaitalibiplab stated, “Both knitted and non-knitted winter wear are in high demand. It varies, depending on climate, customer’s lifestyle and customer’s budget. The grown rate, however, is around 7-8 percent per annum.”
According to recent market analysis, the knitwear industry in India is tremendously accelerating. Rishabh Oswal, President, Oswal Woolen Mills (Monte Carlo) said, “In the past year, trade in knitwear fared better, compared to woven and there is an increased demand for knitted apparels. Knitwear constitutes about 50 percent of the domestic apparel market in India and 45 percent of the apparel exports from India. The growth of knitwear industry has been upward of 9-10 percent”.
The established brands have realized the demand for knitwear and are introducing products that are specifically designed for the generation next.
Impact Of Global Warming
Owing to global warming, the winter season in India is gradually changing. Winters, at present, are much warmer and shorter. Consequently, the winter wear market in India is also experiencing a change due to the demands. Manufacturers of winter wear are emphasizing upon introducing products that suit the weather condition, while maintaining the overall appeal.
Accentuating upon the impact of global warming, Chaitali Giri said, “Few years ago winter wear was just only a functional product, but now it has changed as a fashion wear. The consumers earlier purchased hardly 2 to 3 sweaters (winter wear) and used it for years. But, now people purchase winter wear as per their occasion, as per their lifestyle and keep adding new winter clothes every winter season.”
Speaking on the impact of global warming in the winter wear market, Vishal Jain, Founder and CEO, Tab91 said, “Most people think about global warming during the dog days of summer. But temperatures are rising in the winter too, and that means less winter. Winters for the past two years have been among the warmest, during December to March, in North India, which has impacted the sales of winter clothing by almost 30 percent. This year, retailers have already tweaked their winter products mix, anticipating a shrinking of the cold period.”
In spite of the shrinking size of winter season and its impact on the winter wear market, it is quite evident that with the arrival of fresh and innovative product lines, the knitwear winter market still stands its prominent position.
“All the clothing retailers have a stock overhang now and fi erce discounting is the norm. However, we view this as a market specific issue and believe the longer term investment case remains intact. Long term growth opportunity and prospects for winter wear industry still seem good and we are in good spirits about it,” said Rishab Oswal.
The Transition From Functional To Fashion
People desire fashion and when it is blended with comfort, it becomes an impeccable tandem. Preferences for winter wear have drastically changed with time. Today, individuals do not just look for winter clothing that enhances their stance, while keeping them comfortable.
Speaking on the demand for both knitted and non-knitted products, Chaitali Giri said, “The total winter wear for both men and women has changed from functional product category to fashion statement. Functionality and fashion both are important. But I think balancing between functionality and fashion is very crucial today.”
On being asked about the importance of the balance between fashion and functionality in the winter wear category, Vishal Jain said, “The entire winter wear category has been shifted from being protective to being fashionable. People desire for clothes that make them look smart and fashionable, and also give them the needed comfort. TAB91 range is both fashionable and endlessly adaptable. Cotton sweaters for men are breathable and stylish. Lightweight sweatshirts are simply awesome this year. The 2018-19 winter theme is ‘Go with Lightweight Stuff ’ made of comfortable, cool fabrics and materials.
An increased number of manufacturers and retailers are now emphasizing upon products that deliver both functionality and fashion. “We now incorporate trending designs in winter wear collection. Bold prints, bright colors, vivid patterns and more are added to the sweaters to make them more of fashion apparel than just a basic warmer. Recently, we have also launched a premium winter wear collection named Luxuria, which caters to the demands of the elite and niche buyer base,” said Rishab Oswal.
Going back few decades, winter wear category only comprised of basic sweaters, shawls, cardigans and trousers. However, at present, all the winter wear brands have brought forth trendy and vibrant apparels, meeting the season’s requirements and quenching the desire to stay stylish. The products that are introduced are designed and manufactured after detailed research work that is based on demography, type of consumers and preferences.
Winter wear brands are focusing on attracting their customers by varied designs and trends. With brilliant mix of colours and styles, customers today have the freedom to explore and create their own style statement.
Kuntal Raj Jain, Director, Duke said, “For us, both functionality and fashion is important, as consumers demand both the things at same level. The balance between functionality and design allows for a successful sense of fashion.”
The Upcoming Trends
There is no denying the fact that with the coming of winter, everyone wishes to revamp their wardrobe. This pleasantly mellow weather has its effect on everyone who follows fashion. They desire for clothes that will let them stay comfortable during the season and will also let them check their style quotient.
On being asked what key elements have the highest possibility to dominate the trends in knitted winter wear this year, Chaitali Giri said, “Any kind of woollen, acrylic, cashmeres and blended scarves, shawls, tides, etc., would be a complete hit this winter. Jacket styled sweaters, outfits made by wool/ cashmere, blended fabrics in woven are things that we are expecting to attract people.”
According to Rishabh Oswal, cardigans, jumpers, turtleneck, capes and ponchos will be trending this year. “Playing with proportions, hues and wool thickness, cutting edge asymmetry and fringe details, modernfolk geometric motifs would be burning trends in knitwear apparels this year. Also, sustainable garments will definitely dominate the industry this season,” he added.
The Future Of Lightweight Knits
Over the past few years, the market has experienced a humongous shift. Today’s generation prefer light jackets and sweat shirts over pullovers and wool. Lightweight knits have also found a prominent position in the market due to their high demand.
On being asked if lightweight knit would continue being a huge hit this year, Guneet & Japneet Singh, Directors, Juelle articulated that it will not only continue, but would rather increase in the coming season.
Chaitali Giri stated that demand for lightweight knitted products will continue beyond the present year and will only increase. According to Chaitali, the main factors for its high demand are warmer winters, diff erent trends, flowy fashion. “People love comfort wear. Apart from that, the winter season is the festive season. It is also the season of weddings. People want to maintain the trendy, fashionable and stylish look in every season, everywhere.”
Manufacturers and brands are all poised for the coming winter season with exclusive collections. They have realized what the customers are looking for and are ready to bring it forth.
Chaitali Giri talks about her plan for the forthcoming season, “CHIC is focusing on hand-knitted merino woolen scarves, mufflers, stoles, shawls, capes, cape styled tops, ponchos, tides and palazzos. Hand knitted gowns and maxi-dresses are sure to change tides in the winter wear market this year. Lightweight jackets, lot of crochet work, woven fabric, anarkali styled, front open, Indian jackets with hoody and kurtis with hoody are few that will be customer’s favourite this season.”
This winter, TAB91 has emphasized on the use of Griddle, Scuba, Tensely, Modal besides regular fabrics. Vishal Jain said, “In knitting we have given range of lightweight yarns and blends in cardigans, which has been developed especially for our brand.”
Elucidating on Monte Carlo’s latest winter collection, Rishab Oswal said, “We will have a knit for everyone and for all tastes. For winter 2018, we are focusing on bright colors, interesting silhouettes, bold prints, catchy slogans and 3D structures. Ruffles, extra long sleeves, yarn play, flare and embellished texture are also incorporated in the knitwear apparels. This time around, keeping warm will look slightly more fun and stylish.”
Keeping in pace with the changing trends and creating a niche has always been the foremost objective of every brand. Different brands have brought in their unique styles and products that have captured the customers’ interest.
Juelle has created a stylish impact with its imported fancy yarns and newer blends. Being one of the few players to bring products that are a cut above the chiche, Juelle is one name every fashion enthusiast today knows.
Chaitali Giri, speaking on contributing towards the changing winter wear trend said, “We understand the need for style. Thus, our hand-knitted merino woolen scarves, mufflers, stoles, shawls, capes, cape styled tops, ponchos, palazzos, hand-knitted gowns, maxi-dresses and jackets have caught the interest of our customers. Apart from that we have embroidered shawl for the new brides.”
Rishab Oswal, on the other hand, said, “For women, we have experimented a lot with knitted tunics, ponchos with varied necklines, floor length dresses, which no other brand has offered till date. The kind of styles and wide variety that we have in men’s t-shirts and shirts is definitely not found with other brands in the industry.”
With a more technically advance take on new-age winter-wear, Kuntal Raj Jain stated that they have kept it trendy by introducing 3D prints, reflectors, different embroidery and strong graphical line for a clean and vibrant contemporary look.
Technology and innovation is an integral part of almost every aspect of our life. Hence, clothes are no exception. At present, there are many brands that are focusing on innovation in fashion. This is one podium that not just boosts the latest trends, but also helps brands in staying a step ahead of their competitors.
Talking about innovations happening in knitted winter wear, Chaitali Giri said, “From last few years, people are interested in any kind of comfort wear, comfort styles, easy to handle and care, and of course pocket-friendly price range. Apart from that, people are starting to purchase more clothes than before. Lifestyle has changed and every day is an occasion. There is a change in weather and change in lifestyle and there is a refl ection of these reasons in the clothes. And thus it makes way for innovating newer, better and more comfortable wear. Some fi ne examples are the assorted scarves, knitted shawls, hats with muffl ers and more. There are stylized woolen knitted tunics, ponchos and cape styled winter wear amongst few more where every design is scrupulously planned and created.”
Putting forward his opinion on innovation and fashion, Vishal Jain said, “There are many innovations happening around the fashion industry, even in the winter wear section. Such as automation in the machinery, computerized knitting techniques, three-way transfer with split stitching function, bird’s eye, square, mini jacquards and full jacquards meshes are now quite popular in the market.”
Elaborating on the topic, Rishab Oswal said that knitting technology has made great advances in recent years. “Innovative designs are being undertaken by fashion designers and other practitioners. Elements of hand crafts, including chunky textured sections, crochet or lace constructions can be seamlessly added to knitted fabrics along with twisted, inter-looped or draped effects, giving exciting possibilities, not available to most woven or non-woven fabric constructions. Fabric and garments can be created in the round and simultaneously shaped to fit,” he added.
The Future Of Wool
With warmer winters and need for comfort, people are starting to opt for lightweight knitted winter wear. Market analysis states that wool today is primarily promoted as an all season fabric, as with advance technical production woolen clothes are now produced to cater to both extremely cold and milder climatic conditions. Consequently, all the major winter wear brands are replacing heavy woolens with light ones.
Highlighting on the future of wool, Chaitali Giri said, “Wool is now being promoted as an all season fi bre. We understand that ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. Therefore, I think sometimes a style is converted and a fashion is created by our necessity. Wool is being used as an embellishment material. People prefer wool blended fabric even during the summer season. Like the way a market is modernized according to the demand, similarly, every product needs to be upgraded according to the customer’s requirements. Thus, a lot of woolen manufacturers are now focusing on products that meet with the customer expectation, while keeping the trend alive.”
With the upcoming winter season, the Indian winter wear market is all set to create testimonials of fashion. Brands are ready with their exclusive winter collection. Be it the festivals or the weddings, winter wear brands are emphasizing it on all. The market has something for every customer. This revolutionizing Indian winter wear market is sure to warm up with intricate designs, innovative styles, abstract colours and more. Some keep it classy while some like to keep the fashion – Radical!