The Indian casual wear market has evolved very quickly and has emerged as one of the fastest growing segments in the Indian Fashion Market. Over the past few years, the market has witnessed accelerating growth, driven by growth in income levels, changing lifestyles, increasing casualisation among MNC’s employees, emergence of start-ups and the entry of foreign players. Home-grown brands have also launched trendy casual wear products and repositioned the brand in to mirror global fashion trends.
The increasing availability of international fashion at affordable rates, are causing casual wear sales in India to surge. Formal wear is increasingly giving way to trendier lines of clothing that includes casual apparel. Casual wear brands in India have shown potential in all segments of the market – premium, medium, lower and is going beyond the boundaries of urban markets in major metros, casual wear is picking up pace in mini metros, Tier II and III cities as well.
Market size overview
It is envisaged that the current fashion retail market worth Rs 3,61,160 crore (US$ 54 billion) will grow at a promising CAGR of 8.1 percent for next ten years to reach Rs 7,88,532 crore(US$ 118 billion) by 2028.
Casual Wear Categories
Smart Casual: Generally neat yet informal attire qualifies as smart casual wear.
Business Casual: Business dress has three primary categories: Power Business, General Business, and Business Casual. While Business Casual attire is a recent addition to traditional business dress, it is no longer considered to be a trend.
Active Casual/Sporty Casual: This category encompasses apparel for gym, running, rollerblading, biking, tennis, racquetball, golf and other such sports. Most sports have particular items of clothing that support participants in performing well in that game. This category is not about playing a sport, but more about the relaxed look of a spectator.
Rugged Casual: The Rugged Casual category draws garments from the typical apparel of the more outdoor sports, like hunting, fishing, backpacking, rock climbing,etc.
Men’s Casual Wear
With the market size of Rs 1,56,496 crore (US$ 24 billion), menswear is the largest segment in apparel market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.6 percent for next ten years to reach market of Rs 3,26,869 crore (US$ 49 billion) by 2028.
Owing to the gradual shift of men’s apparel market towards casual wear such as denims, activewear and t-shirts/polo are growing at a much faster CAGR of 13 percent, 15 percent and 10.5 percent respectively. This is also a result of growing fashion consciousness and aspiration beliefs, higher disposable income, increasing corporatisation, and acceptance of specialised clothing with features such as odour resistant jeans etc., not just in metros, but also in Tier I and II cities across India.
Women’s Casual Wear
Women’s apparel market in 2018 was Rs 1,31,389 crore and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.3 percent to reach Rs 2,90,504 crore by 2028.
A women’s casual wear collection largely comprises tops made out of chiff on, cropped or utility pants, fashionable skirts, silk, velvet, cargo, capris and shirts made out of denim, silk and chambray, different washes of denim, leather or denim jackets, etc. Because comfort and functionality is of utmost importance, casual wear is quickly replacing the traditional sarees and salwar kameez in a woman’s everyday wardrobe. Complimentary accessories like scarves, hats, mittens, handcrafted belts etc., have made the women’s casual wear market much more versatile and dynamic.
The Indian denim market is exhibiting continual growth trends over the years. With newer technologies and trends, territories the market is only going to see some exciting moments ahead.
Not only men, even teenage girls in rural areas are opting for denim wear. Denim is a high growth casual wear category as the consumers find it to be fashionable and comfortable, and gave it the necessary style quotient.
A lot of choices are available to the consumer for finishes looks, colors, washes. Nowadays the blue denim is being replaced by the colourful, printed denims or jeggings. Due to high demand new synthetic fabrics are now used extensively. The trend is not restricted to women. Due to the high popularity of denims, many brands are coming up with innovative products like breathable jeans made up of new fabrics and in new styles. Depending on the quality and make of the denim, the price range divides the market into the luxury, premium, mid-premium, mass, and unbranded segments. The market size for men’s denim was Rs 25,000 crore in 2018 and is estimated to grow at CAGR of 13 percent to reach Rs 77,800 crore by 2028. Whereas, the market size for women’s denim was Rs 2,700 crore in 2018 and is estimated to grow at CAGR of 15.5 percent to reach Rs 10,100 crore by 2028.
T-shirts is considered as one of the most comfortable and dynamic categories of casual wear. Due to its soft knit fabric, fits, and the versatile use of it and is highly acceptable to a wide segment of customers. The market size for men’s t-shirts in 2018 was Rs 11,800 crore and is estimated to grow at CAGR of 10.5 percent to reach Rs 31,500 crore by 2028 and for women the market size for t-shirts was Rs 1,200 crore in 2018 and is estimated to grow at CAGR of 13.5 percent to reach Rs 3,781 crore by 2028.
Casual Shirts/ Tops/ Trousers/ Skirts
Due to comfort choices for fabric, designs, fits–this product category of casuals has been quite popular with youth in both urban as well as rural areas. In the year 2019, the market size of women casual shirts/tops/trousers and skirts was Rs 4,570 crore which is expected to reach Rs 12,000 crore by growing at a CAGR of 10 percent.
Key Trends and Growth Drivers
Due to abundant style options, changing life styles, growing middle class with increasing income, 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.
Increased inclination towards smart casuals Indian corporate dressing is witnessing a transitional phase from strict formal wear to smart casuals.
The steady abandonment of formal attire is reflected in the top lines of formal wear brands and shelves of retailers. The changing work culture is driving the market for smart casuals. The underlying philosophy for the acceptance of smart casuals is that being casual helps people to be more relaxed at work place promoting a culture that is not bureaucratic & hierarchical giving equal opportunity to all genders and age groups. Smart casuals have inspired new categories like treggings (hybrid of trousers and leggings), knitted blazers etc. thus providing comfort, design and styling through casual wear and smart appearance for professionals.
Innovations in Casualwear
Products – The change in consumer buying behavior has also led to the introduction of many innovative products in the Indian casualwear market. Most such innovations have taken place in the denim and activewear categories. Innovations in casualwear products are primarily related to product design, colour selection options, and fiber mix. Men’s casual trousers and denims are no longer limited in terms of colours to black, navy blue, grey, and cream; instead, they are now available in red, green, sky blue, and many other variations, which have been received widely among youth. Innovation in terms of fibers and fabric properties, and application of newer finishes, will remain one of the key features of sportswear apparel.
Indian consumers have also started displaying an inclination towards environmentally-responsible casualwear products. Following the trends in European and US markets, eco-friendly fashion products have begun registering signs of growth in the Indian fashion market, including the casualwear market. The demand for casualwear products made from organic cotton, recycled apparel, etc. is growing in India. Interestingly, one of the global leaders in activewear has opened its first ever‘sustainable store’ in Bangalore. The store sells recycled casualwear fashion articles, shoes, and accessories. Built with recycled steel, the store has deployed sustainable recyclable energy management and lighting mechanisms. The company believes that sustainable stores will help them promote reduced carbon dioxide emissions, energy consumption, and use of water.
Bespoke Model for Denims- A premium tailoring segment has arisen for denims, comprising fashion designers and niche players, and dubbed the bespoke, or luxury, segment. Many companies and fashion designers have also started leveraging this premium bespoke segment. These companies and fashion designers have their own tailoring functions for high end denims that cater to the requirements of fashion-conscious, elite sections of society, and ensure that the tailored denim suits the customer’s personality and social status, and occasion.
Focused Approach for E-tailing- The Indian online fashion retail industry has hitherto exhibited a great success story mainly due increasing internet and smartphone penetration, convenience of in-home shopping, aggressive promotion and pricing strategy (mainly led by discounting) by online players and easy options (cash on delivery, free return, etc.). Online retailers like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Snapdeal, Jabong, etc., are aggressively building fashion category since this category is key growth driver. Online retail helps brand reach in untapped market where brands will find it difficult to open and sustain exclusive brand outlets. Also individual fashion designers are able to leverage online platform for their exclusive designs. Considering the above reasons many casual wear brands and retailers are venturing into the e-tailing space. Convenient options, like cash on delivery, try-and-buy, easy returns policy, etc., are making the e-tailing space more competitive and dynamic.
The Way Ahead for Casual Wear
The Indian casual wear market is booming and the rural markets will play a pivotal role in this growth story.
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, rapid shift from tailored to ready-towear suits, the growing service sector 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 the opportunities to derive growth.