Since the advent of western wear in India, trousers have been an important wardrobe investment especially for men in India. While fit, cuts and fabric may have witnessed staggering evolution over the time, what has remained constant all these years is the popularity of this apparel segment.
Today, trousers have come a long way from its just functional roots to become a style defining piece of apparel. Especially in India, the traditional mentality pertaining to trousers is finally witnessing a revolution parallel to the modern corporate young men’s penchant for trendy ready-to-wear, bottomwear. On the other hand, the women’s segment too has picked up momentum in the recent years as the number of working women increase by the day. Overall, the trousers market, especially the formal trousers category, has witnessed a remarkable change in the last few years from limited options to a wide range of different colours and designs.
According to India’s leading management consulting firm, Technopak, the bottom wear market in India, excluding denims, was estimated to be worth `41,988 crore in 2017 for men, women and kids. It is estimated that this market segment will grow at a CAGR of 6.5 percent over the decade to reach Rs 78,480 crore by 2027. Segment wise, the trousers market in India is dominated by the men’s segment which comprises ~71 percent, followed by the kids’ segment which accounts for ~25 percent and finally there is the women’s segment that accounts for ~4 percent of the total share.
Trousers is the second largest category in the menswear and accounts for 23 percent of the total market. Technopak’s latest data reveals that men’s trousers market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.6 percent to reach Rs 58,602 crore by 2028 from its current size of Rs 33,984 crore.
The women’s trousers category is a relatively small category in the overall women’s fashion segment, contributing about 1 percent to the overall women’s apparel market, but is expected to grow at a CAGR of ~9 percent for the next decade to reach a market size of Rs 3,689 crore by 2027. The key drivers behind such high growth rate are increase in number of working women, changing lifestyle and fashion awareness, higher spending patterns, etc.
The kids’ bottom wear, as documented by Technopak, was worth Rs 8,575 crore in 2017 and accounted for ~25 percent of the total bottom wear market of the country. Across both boys’ and girl’s segment, trousers contribute very trivially.
On the basis of price, the trousers market can be divided across four major broad categories across the men’s, women’s and kids’ segments – super premium, premium, mid and economy. The super-premium and premium segments are dominated by both Indian and International brands. Consumers in these segments tend to have high association with the brand image and seek exclusivity. Innovation in weaves and special finishing are distinguishing factors in this segment.
The mid and economy segments contribute the largest chunk to men’s trousers market with a share of approximately 82 percent of the total market. Value brands and private labels are growing rapidly in these segments as the consumers’ awareness of brands has increased substantially; at the same time, the consumer is increasingly seeking value for money.
The apparel industry in India has traditionally been largely driven by women, who have tended to be more interested in fashion trends. However, this has slowly been changing as more men are paying greater attention to their grooming and appearance and are making more apparel-related purchases based on fashion trends rather than need. The demand for chic trousers too has been chiefly fuelled by the Indian youth, who now seek trendy look due to increasing fashion awareness, availability of international brands, higher disposable income, etc.
With many women entering the corporate world, the formal women’s trouser segment has got a major boost. A growing number of urban working women are accepting concepts like ‘board room dressing’ and ‘business dressing’ that involves extensive us of formal trousers. In the rural fashion market increasing shifting from ethnic wear to western trouser shall contribute to the volume growth of the trousers market while the need of higher quality shall drive the value market.
The reason behind the slow growth of women’s trousers might lie in the innate preference for traditional ethnic wear and growing share of contemporary ethnic and fusion wear in women’s wardrobes.
Growth in Smaller Town & Cities It’s an established fact by now that the growth in the next few years for the retail category, as a whole, will come from Tier II and III cities. With mobile data being freely available and online shopping portals offering delivery to the remotest of pincodes in India, brands and manufacturers have, before them, the option to reach out to the previously underserved patrons living in smaller towns and cities across India.
There has been a strong rising demand for trousers in these cities along with the rapid proliferation of jobs in the private sector. The rising disposable incomes and growing infrastructure availability is further fuelling growth. During the festive season too, many brands usually clock a very strong growth in the trousers category.
In the women’s sector, the major share of women’s trousers market is still concentrated in the metros and bigger cites. However, the category is expected to penetrate into Tier I and II cities in the coming years. Moreover, now that the brand culture is picking up in these towns and cities, it gives brands and retailers immense opportunities.
For trousers, cotton Lycra is one of the top selling fabrics followed by various cellulosic based blends and linen. In the coming future, regenerated fabrics have the potential to be popular. On the contrary, polyester-viscose has become a standard substitute for the classic wool or wool blend trousers in the economy and value market.
Indian consumers are today willing to pay a higher amount as long as the brand perception, consumer value equation and their needs being satiated all along. Consumers are also accepting innovations, which might have been shunned upon previously. Though finishes like wrinkle-free treatment, durable press, water resistance, water repellence, etc., have been in the market for a long time, there have been continuous improvement in all these finishes over time. At the same time the market has witnessed the introduction of new finishes like breathability with superior moisture management characteristics and exceptionally good comfort properties.
The Indian fashion industry has been going through a phase of transformation, both from the supply as well as the demand side of the market.
On the demand front, consumers are moving away from the conventional need-based purchase to occasion specific clothing, from unbranded to branded apparel, from ready-to-stitch fabric to ready-made apparel, from limited colours and styles to experimentative colours and styles. The Indian trousers market is no exception to this trend.
In the smaller markets of India, increasing shifting from ethnic wear to western trouser shall contribute to the volume growth of the market while the need of higher quality shall drive the value market. The economy segment will also witness entrance of many strong local and regional brands who would off er value for money trousers that the consumer could trust for quality.
On the other side, the established national and international brands will continue to strengthen their position in super premium, premium and mid-price segments of the market; many of them are expected to extend their product offering to economy segment of smaller cities.
With consumers increasingly seeking newer product innovations and responsible production, success of manufacturers and brands in Indian trousers market shall depend on their ability to off er innovative products at right price points and their ability to expand their reach beyond the metros and big cities.