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The ‘Dapper Man’ leads to rise of the occasion wear market in India

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The rise in fashionable wear for men, along with increase in awareness related to dressing sense and looks, has propelled the participation of men in the fashion industry. These emerging fashion conscious men are expected to drive the occasion wear market over the next few years, which will propel the demand for suits, tuxedos and bandgalas. Cashing on this opportunity are indigenous men’s wear brands who are providing customised and innovative designs, while many fashion designers are creating special designs for the male segment to increase product offerings and improve participation.

Men’s designer wear brand, Studio H-2 offers suits, blazers, tuxedos, sherwanis, bandgalas and innovative men’s safaas. “We are into ready-to-wear and customised fashion for men. Studio H-2 offers inquisitive collection for men with a focus on classy silhouette and edgy cuts. Fine texture of the fabric and handcrafted designer pieces remain the USP of our designs and the categories include tradition, western, Indo-western, formal and casual wear. Our fashion philosophy encompasses sophistication and versatility as our designs are the true epitome of creativity,” share Reshma and Bharat Grover, Creative Heads & Designers, Studio H-2.

Another men’s designer brand, SS Homme offer bespoke tailoring for both western and festive Indian styles, and all products are exclusively designed by Sarah and Sandeep Gonsalves, Co- Founders & Directors of SS Homme.“We are a one-stop shop for all formal men’s wear products. In terms of fastest moving products, our bespoke festive tuxedos are performing exceptionally well. We also have several requests for our Indian classic sherwani designs with our signature detailing and silhouettes,” shares Gonsalves.

Acknowledged as one of the largest and leading men’s fashion houses in India, Zodiac caters to the premium and super premium categories in suits and jackets. The brand’s offering in this segment is crafted from ultrafine light weight super 180s, 160s and 140s pure wool – wool silk and wool Mohair blends. It caters to four distinct looks for customers – Classic, Dark Dressing, Ceremonial and Black Tie.

“Zodiac is primarily in the business wear category with fine pure wool suits and in the occasion wear segment with bandgalas. Ready-to-wear suits and jackets in pure wool still appeal to a very niche segment in India. However, as we have seen in ready-to-wear shirts over the past 20 years, the Indian consumers will get more discerning as his exposure to international brands, clothing and trends increase,” says Salman Noorani, MD & President, Zodiac.

“There has been a steady growth in this segment and that comes from demand of quality product from men clientele. Usually they do not want to compromise on the quality or the final product. That’s how the premium and super premium segmentis seeing an increase in sale and client base,” expresses Manoj Mehra, Managing Director, Study By Janak.

The brand offers ready-to-wear shirts, trousers, blazers, made-to-measure suits, bespoke suits, bandgalas, sherwanis and kurtas. “The fastest moving products are the Indo-western fusion line, as that’s where maximum innovation is seen in terms of drapes, cuts and fabrics.”

The Market

Men’s occasion wear has gained significant traction in the market due to the rise in celebrity and social media influencers. Male brand ambassadors are setting benchmarks related to occasion wear and wedding wear styles and designs in the minds of the millennial generation. As a result, manufacturers are focusing on popular celebrities to be the face of their brands to improve brand awareness and increase demand for their designs. This is expected to propel overall market growth in the coming years.
According to a report the men’s wear market constitutes a big chunk of the total apparel market at 41 percent,where shirt category remains the largest men’s apparel category, followed by trousers accounting for 27 percent and 22 percent respectively. However, the suits/coats/ bandgala market is ~4 percent of the total men’s wear market.

Men’s wear market in India has seen a constant surge and Indian men not just want to spend but splurge on apparel, the trend is growing further and buoyed by the trend many international brands and Indian designers have forayed in the men’s wear market.

“Indian brands or even designers are facing fierce and stiff competition, but to beat that one has to off er ensembles that remain the best of quality and creativity, the consumer is always a king in a competitive environment and competition is always healthy if you take it in your stride,” says, Grover.

“The increased competition is mainly in the suits segment and that too at two levels. Firstly, there is ready-to-wear suits available at premium international stores like Zara or H&M and secondly there are luxury brands who are doing the suits, bespoke and traditional bandgalas. But when it comes to a traditional occasion wear pick, the indigenous brands are still way ahead,” opines Mehra.

However, Gonsalves says, “International brands in this segment are currently on the decline. They lack flexibility and are unable to cater to the needs of Indian consumers. As the consumer evolves, they expect the brand to evolve too and that can be an arduous process for international brands since they primarily depend on traditional practices.”

As per Noorani, any category of consumer products will see an increase in off take as more brands enter the segment. “Increased competition has only help expand the market and lead to evolved customers. Discerning customers looking for international quality standards makes Zodiac the ideal brand choice given the Indian price value which remains unmatched in this segment,” he states.

Product Innovation

The men’s occasion wear market is highly penetrated and competitive with domestic players and fashion designers engaging in product innovations. They are focusing on improving their footprints by entering into new markets. Many local designers are driving the market by offering customised designs at a low price. In mature markets like metro and Tier I cities, manufacturers are adopting competitive price strategies to increase their sales.

“We are constantly innovating to make the experience better for the end-consumer. We believe that our bespoke consultation process is a major asset and we keep working on the same with our team to ensure the best possible bespoke consultation. In terms of design innovation, we work with the latest hand work techniques such as French knot embroidery and we are also experimenting with fabric manipulation on wool,” says Gonsalves.

“We have recently expanded our production unit to meet the exponentially growing demand. In terms of bespoke tailoring, we are front runners in our category since we adhere to the standards set by Savile Row tailors over the last two centuries. The bespoke market is growing consistently in India with consumers leaning towards customisation and personalisation for festive and occasion wear.”

Similarly, Study By Janak has also been focusing on innovating not only the product but the entire experience starting at handling the client, production and the final product. Infact, they were the first ones to get 40 Savile Row to India and are still following the guidelines of Savile Row tailoring. They launched it around eight years ago and are seeing a steady growth in the same. They are working on technique and software to give a complete bespoke suit experience on the fingertips.

Mehra shares, “I personally spearhead the design team of the men’s wear, as that is the core of the brand.” When it comes to products- -the diff erent set of drapes, usage of fabrics or detailing techniques — Study By Janak work on each collection as a new benchmark for the season launch.

“Zodiac is constantly looking at innovation and quality to bring perfection to its consumer,” says Noorani.

All stages of the manufacturing process, across facilities, have recently been upgraded with the latest developments in automation and technology. From automatic spreading-and-cutting to auto sewing and material handling using Artificial Intelligence. This has resulted in eliminating subjectivity from manufacturing and planning, while capturing data in real time. Ensuring that the work in progress manages itself at the same pace as it is being manufactured, culminating in auto finishing. Thereby improving efficiency, productivity, and consistency of quality. The plant at Yelahanka, Bengaluru is CTPATT approved and was the first woven clothing facility in the world to be S.A. 8,000 certified. Today, the facilities is a fully BSCI and Sedex compliant, with surveillance audits carried out regularly. Zodiac launched a bespoke and made-to-measure offering for the discerning customer of ‘limited edition’ shirts called Regale in ultra-luxurious Italian fabrics, the rare Sea Island Cotton 7 and linen from European Flax.

“Product innovation remains the main criterion for us and that goes through a transition in every season, we keep pace with global fashion trends before presenting new products in the market. Quality control, product innovation remain the core essence of our designs. We have always preferred to off er our clients in the store experience, feeling the texture of fabric, embroidery and seeing colour contrast, trying the fittings are very important factors before making the purchase decision,” concludes Grover.

(With inputs from Gurbir Singh Gulati)

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