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Retail’s Twins: Fashion Accessories & Western Wear Are Inseparable

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The influence of western culture in India has set a wave for a growing sense of fashion among Indian women. Thanks to the increased penetration of technology, awareness about latest fashion trends across the globe is available within a matter a seconds; this has helped the market for fashion accessories grow considerably.

Women today have at their disposal, a host of fashion accessories, not restricted to just fashion jewellery. Beit scarves, belts, shoes, bags, brooches, etc., the choice to add in glamour quotient to the simplest of ensemble being chosen to wear is limitless. Thus, just as western wear has shown a strong influence in the growth of fashion accessories in India, vice versa holds true as well where accessories are now prompting women to experiment with their western wear.

Market Overview

Jacqueline Kapur, Co-Founder and President, Ayesha Accessories shares an overview of the women’s accessories market in India citing the major growth drivers.

“The fashion accessories market in India is witnessing a rapid growth owing to a multitude of reasons. The millennial customer occupies 47 percent of the working population and is the main target customer for fashion accessories. Increased globalisation and the access to fashion items through the internet for not only the urban customer but also young buyers in the Tier II and III cities drive growth. The westernisation in fashion trends in India further requires western styled accessories and this has opened a whole new market for the same,” she says.

Little wonder then that Ayesha Accessories, growing at a rate of 20 percent YoY, is a leading name dedicated to satiating the need for fashionable accessories for women in India. The brand has a strong presence across the country with prime space being occupied in prominent malls and shopping centres.

Where western influence no doubt is a strong factor for an increase in demand for western design influenced accessories, one cannot dismiss the fact that women today are no longer shy of experimenting with the way they wish to be seen.

Tanushri Biyani, Founder, Ceriz, hits the nail right on the head while attributing the rise in demand for accessories on the growing need among young urban customers to express their uniqueness. Elaborating on this, she explains, “Accessories are no longer need based purchases but give customers the opportunity to make a fashion statement. Young women of India have moved away from buying purely functional accessories to embrace the whole gamut of accessory possibilities’ wear mostly western apparel, which calls for a range of fashion accessories.”

“Millennials composed of those between the ages 18 and 35 years are India’s largest demographic segment. They are the chief wage earners and send a far greater percentage of their income on consumer products. The effects of globalisation have influenced the tastes and consumption patterns of millennials through access to international television shows/ films and social media. With their higher disposable income and need to define themselves, millennials have championed the rise of fashion accessories into the organised retail market being the drivers to increase in demand of fashion accessories,” she adds.

PETA approved vegan brand FOReT’s Founder and Creative Director, Supriya Shirsat Satam highlights that there is a growing propensity towards western wear by younger professionals and this has also been a catalyst for a new trend that reflects through a fusion of Indianand Western style. She says, “We have also seen a new confidence with buyers wanting to try something new and diff erent, and for a discerning buyer who is conscious of creating a certain look, western design does blend. However, the preference largely is towards bold designs.”

Satam further adds on the online factor leading to the growth of fashion accessories in the country saying, “Indian market is price sensitive and with fast fashion and discounts on commerce stores, price does play a role. At the end of the day, it is based on the market strategy, if one needs to reach out to the masses, then price has to be a major attraction with Instagram popular designs and for a niche player, concentration on exclusive design balanced with the right price point, can get the ball rolling.”

Indranath Sengupta, Managing Director and Co-Founder, Kompanero is quick to point out that growing demand for apparel and other fashion products along with growing influence of promotional strategies by e-commerce players especially during festival season is supporting the market growth from last few years. Creating a niche for itself with off ering a wide variety of colours in leather bags, Kompanero’s collection is designed in a way that adds in sophistication even if just teamed up with a plain coloured clothing.

He further makes an interesting point reiterating Biyani’s and Satam’s view stating, “With the kind of exposure gained due to extensive travel, people nowadays want products which are more suitable to their personality and products which come with ease.”

Of Luggage Bags, Footwear & Fine Jewellery

Like everyday fashion accessories, travel and luggage bags too have undergone a transformation with western wear becoming more of a preferred choice when it comes to apparels. The choice of luggage bags now is more tilted towards designs that have a strong western influence.

Sachi Maker, Vice President – Marketing (PAN India), Traworld reveals, “Creative colours and prints has now become all fashion brands’ new initiative for innovation. Pastels and raw colours have become the new trend along with a growing influence of pop coloured luggage. We do not see much of blacks, greys and dark colours as luggage are the new thing to show off .”

She further adds, “Following the rise of Internet and smart phone usage, more women are now able to stay aucourant of latest fashion trends and have become smart consumers who know what they want when it comes to fashion. Unique, chic, personal and bold is the new style statement.”

Maker points out that there has been a big influence of Bollywood movies in transforming the way Indian women dress and this eventually has impacted the change in preference for luggage bags as well.

Glamourising one’s attire with fashion accessories was not that prevalent in the yesteryears unless of course one belonged to a certain class and was frequent at parties and outings so one can well imagine that the trend for fine jewellery too didn’t easily find its way unless it was a special occasion where women were expected to dress well.

Neha Arora of Soni Sapphire rightly points out, “A few years ago, accessories were something which were reserved only for the wealthy, but today, walk into any department store and the accessory section is filled to the brim with outfit add-ons that appeal to those with jazzy tastes, to those who are looking at something subtle, and of course at a price that is pocket friendly. Furthermore, increasing demand for the product due to growing working population is propelling the market demand in recent times. Increasing number of manufacturers has brought a lot of affordable options thus, increasing popularity among the youth, corporate people, and working women. This has led to an increase in demand for the product in the last few years.”

Arora further adds that demand for western influenced jewellery is on the rise also because of how Indian brides prefer accessorizing themselves on their wedding day. Based on the sales trend witnessed by their brand, she shares, “We have witnessed a healthy growth in the last few years because brides have also started choosing more of artificial or semi-precious jewellery that we have available in our stores today for their wedding day. The choice and demand for jewellery that we see in the market today has motivated us to bring new trends not only during festive season but also during the wedding season.”

Similar to accessories, footwear too has witnessed a change in demand where ‘sandals’ are no longer considered a must have. Bollywood icons have made it cool to have a pair of sneakers being teamed up with a saree and this perhaps have motivated women to experiment with their footwear collection too. Biyani points out, “In the footwear segment, we have our athleisure section, Pumps, Ballerinas and Loafers that have remained key drivers in sales.”

The Eye-Catchers

Bright, bold, blingy and Bohemian are catching the fancy of Indian women in their choice of fashion accessories and all of these three features resonate with western designs. It is not uncommon to spot a woman teaming up her kurta and palazzo with a pair of large hoop earrings and a scarf that has prints in bold colours. Similarly, a long dress in monotone can be made to look fashionable with a shiny colourful belt and long boots thus making it a perfect party wear.

Kapur shares, “The demand for western fashion accessories has grown over the last 3-5 years. Jewellery is mostly gold and silver tone based, but accessories such as scarves, caps and bags certainly off er a bigger colour range than similar products would in Germany for example.”

The demand for accessories is such that the brand not only offers a range of fashion jewellery for their primary target audience that comprises of young girls between 15 to 25, but they have also developed a sub-brand for young man called UNKNOWN, Lil’Star for the kids ‘market segment and another one for the young urban working women called JQ. Kapur adds, “Our biggest range is fashion jewellery and hair accessories with an emphasis on western styles.”

When it comes to handbags, according to Sengupta, his brand Kompanero is witnessing a strong demand in simpler and minimalistic products.

He shares, “Thus few of our latest collections like Zen, Coachella, Amalfi, etc., tend towards a more simplistic design and offer a wide variety of colour options to the consumers. We keep introducing warm colours like Olive Green and Garnet Red for the Autumn-Winter collections in addition to the good old Cognac colour and bright colours like mustard yellow and turquoise blue for Spring-Summer collections.”

In jewellery, Satam shares, “Stackable jewellery is most popular while fusing with western wear. Black, nude and white are evergreen and there is so much yet to unveil with these colours.”

Seasonal Flavours

On the market for accessories being influenced by seasons, Kapur points out that there is certainly a correlation between new trends coming up in the apparel market and the accessories trends.

She elaborates, “New colour schemes do influence the demand for matching accessories, but at the same time factors as winter and summer do not have such a strong impact on the jewellery market. Earrings and necklaces do not change in the material according to the weather. Colours though change with new seasons with brighter colours being predominant in summer and gold metal statement pieces becoming more popular during the festive times.”

Kapur says, “One of the biggest jewellery trends this year is oversized and embellished Hoop earrings, modern styled pearl jewellery and very big gold toned earrings are trending for the upcoming festive season. Scarves with gold metal weaves are big for the winter, small silk scarves reminiscent of the early 60’s styling are supposed to be worn close to your neck with a bow. Small camera bags with a wide strap with sporty prints are on vogue this season.”

To Conclude…

Where Indian wear can be carried on its own owing to its colourful prints, western wear remains incomplete without throwing in basic accessories even if it is just a large dial handwatch and a tote bag with a scarf tied around its handle. The relation between western wear and accessories cannot be undermined and perhaps that could be the reason we have major western wear brands also offering a range of accessories for their patrons to choose from. Be it H&M, Zara, Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Only, etc., each of these brands have gone ahead to launch their exclusive range of accessories to compliment with their collection of western wear. Be it a brooch or a buckle for the hair, the accessory range to compliment western wear is limitless.

Where Ayesha Accessories has managed to get the pulse of the market in place with its collection, the country is yet to see any other major player dedicating their collection to suit the sensibilities of Indian women in terms of price and designs that goes well with her choice of western wear.

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