The casual wear market in India has been growing steadily over the last decade. It has kept the Indian consumer satisfied and engaged with constant re-invention from existing brands and launch of several new local and international brands. Casual wear offerings include an assortment across categories and verticals in fashion. Even the staples of casual wear are available in countless variations.
The basics now include style details like cold shoulder tops, fit and flare dresses, acid washed jeans, slim fit shirts, cropped trousers and much more. Customers are further spoilt for choice with more segmentation into different looks. Outdoor casuals, Sports casuals, Smart casuals, Indo-western etc. are some of the looks which allow the consumers to not just buy a product but embrace a new identity.
The popularity of fashionable casualwear picked up steam around 2010 with an increased exposure and awareness of the younger consumer.
According to research by Livemint.com in 2011, the Indian apparel market was estimated to be Rs 190 crore, growing at an annual average growth rate of more than 9 percent. The changing consumer demands have led to an exponential growth of the apparel industry over the years. Technopak research states that the Indian fashion retail market is worth Rs 3,61,160 crore (US$ 54 billion) and will grow at a promising CAGR of 8.1 percent for the next 10 years to reach Rs 7,88,532 crore (US$ 118 billion) by 2028. As per the IMAGES Business of Fashion Report 2018, menswear held 41.7 percent share of the Indian apparel market followed by women at 37.5 percent and kids wear at 20.8 percent.
The Indian apparel industry owes its growth to the burgeoning middle class, change in consumer choices and an increased disposable income. Boom in rural markets is another essential factor in this expansion narrative. The growth story has led to India becoming a focus market for the global fashion industry. In order to cater to the growing demands of the consumers, apparel companies have to be nimble and constantly increase productivity.
Important Categories of Casualwear
Shirts: An article in IMAGES Business of Fashion states that in 2017, the domestic shirt market was estimated at Rs 39,659 crore, and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6 percent to become Rs 69,361 crore by 2027. Shirts accounts for 12 percent of the total apparel market in India. This growth is driven by the choice available in shirts category. Shirt is an item that is taking the fast fashion industry by storm. This category has gone beyond the boundaries of formal wear. Casual and semi casual shirts are available in a variety of fits, styles, patterns and prints. Fashion awareness of this silhouette has given impetus to international and domestic brands to personalize styles based on the consumer preferences. Shirts are now a wardrobe essential for men as well as women.
T-shirts: The size of the t-shirt market in India is estimated to be 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. This fashion essential has grown from basics to an instrument of personal expression. Slogan tees are worn to reflect an attitude and make fashion statements while all over prints and stripes can be seen sported with blazers for a semi-formal look AKA ‘Friday Dressing’. T-shirts are ageless and are preferred for their easy care, comfort and affordability. A Credence Research report from March 2018 says that India is set to register the highest growth rate for t-shirts sale in the Asia- Pacific region in the next five years.
Denim: Denim category has been growing 15 percent annually for the last five years and is expected to be worth Rs 54,600 crore by 2023, according to experts. Denims are the largest growing segment globally.
Today, denim collections in stores can be seen in an array of fits, wash, and distress details. All Indian and global brands such as Pantaloons, H&M, UCB, etc. have expanded the denim offering to cater to the diverse needs of their consumer. While the millennials demand a more washed out and distressed look, the middle aged consumer prefers to keep it classy with cleaner washes and tapered fits. And we as Pantaloons ensure that we have the right options for both these segments. Awareness around sustainability has positively influenced the denim sector.
Brands like Numero Uno, Gap and H&M have been collaborating with Arvind Ltd (a leading denim manufacturer) to make sustainable denims. Experts from Arvind Ltd say that it takes 70 litres of water to make a pair of jeans from denim. The use of innovative technologies will help reduce the water imprint by 95 percent. This revolution in Denim will serve the evolved consumer who is aware of the dangers to the environment caused by the wash processes of making jeans.
Other Categories: In addition to the above categories, brands are offering the consumers a choice of identity through various curated looks such as Athleisure, Smart Casuals, Ethnic Chic and so on. Many brands have launched in-house labels to cater to the Athleisure look. At Pantaloons, we serve this segment through our brand Ajile. With the popularity of outdoor lifestyle sports like skate boarding, dance styles like hiphop and also the rap culture this trend can be seen sported in many small towns as well. Millennials identify with youth icons and aspire to replicate their style. This look typically includes oversized or cropped tees, joggers and ankle high shoes.
Professionals today sport smart casuals in contrast to suiting up as more workplaces in India are accepting a more relaxed dress code. This shift is to keep the millennial workforce happy as well as to be in sync with the weather of India. During Mumbai summers for example, men would prefer a linen blazer over a woolen blend. Women may opt for a cotton t-shirt layered with a cropped jacket paired with a skirt or trousers. The young working population in metros are more open to experimenting with diff erent fabrics and shades. On the other hand, consumers in smaller cities like Kanpur and Coimbatore may place a little safe but will still want to remain stylish.
The ethnic chic look is a rather new but an important trending style statement. Brands like Global Desi have tapped into this trend by infusing western silhouettes with traditional fabrics. Akkriti by Pantaloons is bringing these looks to our consumers too.
Plus Size Clothing: It’s another growing segment of the fashion industry. A credence report states that the global plus size women’s clothing market stood at US$ 165.2 Bn in 2017 expanding at a CAGR of 4.4 percent during the forecast period from 2018 to 2026. Asia Pacific dominated the market and is expected to display similar trend in the coming years. Multiple brands in India like Pantaloons Rangmanch Plus, Westside’s Gia cater to this segment. Many brands cater to this segment with styles offered in larger sizes. The scope for growth increases as the consumers embrace their bodies and become more fashion conscious.
Influencers in India
Technology and globalisation will be one of the most important influencers in India in the years to come. And the same truth extends to fashion industry too. Millennials are the game-changers of fashion industry and as youth becomes the key decision maker, a shift in the fashion paradigm is inevitable.
For the fashion conscious population accessibility to stylish casualwear is important. They enjoy making a style statement every day which is evident from #ootd (Outfit of the day) posts on Instagram. The access to various social media platforms and fashion blogs enables them to keep pace with the latest trends. Frequent wardrobe update is the new normal and brands must remain on point with latest trends and affordable pricing.
The growing reach of the internet, social media and e-commerce now allows fashion players to reach consumers in smaller towns. The growth in e-commerce is driven by access to cheap data, increasing comfort with online shopping and brands offering best in class service on their web selling platforms. According to experts, ten years ago, technology was for the few, with just five million smartphones in a country of 1.2 billion people and only 45 million Internet users. These figures have since increased to 355 million and 460 million, respectively, in 2018, and they are expected to double by 2021, when more than 900 million Indian consumers will be online. Omnichannel and assisted e-commerce will contribute to the growth of fashion brands. A quick purchase journey and check-out is essential for the shopper with a reduced attention span and the desire for a minimal click process. The plethora of new brands as well as established companies offering casualwear via e-commerce must ensure a smooth online shopping experience.
A Consumer Centric Approach
Indian apparel companies are becoming more and more consumer centric in their approach. They are proactively creating engagement opportunities rather than just working on solutions to problems. Consumers are growing increasingly impatient as they want to have first access to new trends which they discover. Traditional brands are seen ‘self-disrupting’ their business models to keep pace with the surge in new brand launches, to cope with plummeting brand loyalty and to satiate the customer’s growing appetite for newness. The former 4 season fashion cycle namely spring, summer, autumn and winter is gradually inching towards a 12 season cycle, where there will be something new every month.
The old-age business mantra
“Customer is King” couldn’t be more relevant than it is today. Consumer centricity has led to innumerable loyalty programs launched by retailers in India. Personalization and customer service is crucial to a brand’s popularity as consumers prioritize shopping experiences and satisfaction.
International brands are paying careful attention to the needs of the Indian consumer. It is crucial for brands to understand the Indian market and the cultural identity of its consumers. The shift from conspicuous consumption to more value-driven purchases is extremely evident in today’s aspirational buyers of high-end brands. As the global brands enter, consumers expect more from store design, visual merchandising, product pricing, product designing, marketing, etc.