Winter wear in India has come a long way from its humble roots as a functional category. As financial stability and purchasing power of the modern consumer base started to pick up momentum in the last few years, an inevitable shift from need-based to aspiration-based clothing manifested, unveiling the true potential of the Indian winter wear industry to the fashion retail fraternity.
“The Indian winter wear industry is at the start of a strong and focused revolution in style. Winter wear, once commonly marketed for the winter season as practical clothing, today combines style with functionality. In line with the changing habits and tastes of modern consumers, India’s winter wear market has seen the emergence of a wide range of fabrics, patterns and models,” states Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Aero Club (Woodland).
Evolution of the Segment
In the last decade, a profusion of factors including rising disposable income, heightened fashion consciousness and increasing penetration of the mass media has been instrumental in giving impetus to the winter wear market in India.
“Advertisement and social media have played a major role in changing the market as well as the consumer. Earlier people use to buy 1-2 items of winter wear but with the exposure to social media everyone now wants to be updated with the current fashions, so the buying power has increased. Buying behaviour nowadays is actually based on occasions so this has resulted in more consumption over the last 10 years,” says Sandeep Jain, Executive Director, Monte Carlo Fashions Ltd.
According to him, another key factor driving the growth of this industry is the growing trend of fitness consciousness. “People have become more health-conscious, so the pattern nowadays is more on slimmer sizes. Everyone wants to look fit and fab. Our ‘slim fit’ category of winter wear is in super demand now,” he adds.
Just like in other apparel sectors, the convenience, discoverability and affordability offered by e-commerce has been successful in catalysing the winter wear market in India. “The booming e-commerce sector and extensive spending on quality clothes are key factors fuelling the Indian winter wear market. Consumers are increasingly spending on a variety of clothing material such as woollen, leather, silk, linen to match their changing lifestyle,” says Singh.
He further adds that in the past few years there has been an increase in online brands hence there has been a significant improvement in customer accessibility.
“Consumers can easily view and compare branded products and prices thereby increasing awareness and demand. Online as a medium supplements our retail network and is currently contributing 10-12 percent to the group turnover,” he reveals.
Even Monte Carlo has witnessed warm response for their range of winter wear through e-commerce. “We are operating through our own website and all leading online marketplaces like Myntra, Amazon, Flipkart, etc. We have a great response over here too and in Woollen category we hold a very strong position,” says Jain.
One of the most important trends that has been registered in this segment in the last few years is the gradual shift to light weight winter wear. Consumers today exhibit a uniform propensity towards light weight and durable products that can be used as fashionable clothing product with high level of comfort. Today the winter wear market in India is driven by light weight products that can be layered instead of bulky winter wear products. According to experts, this shift has partly been influenced by shrinking of the ‘cold period’ in many parts of the country due to global warming.
“Most people think about global warming during the dog days of summer. But temperatures are rising in the winter too, and that means less winter. Winters for the past two years have been among the warmest and that has heavily impacted sales of winter clothing by almost 30 percent. This year, retailers have already tweaked their winter products mix, anticipating a shrinking of the cold period. Over the past few years, there has been a massive shift from pullovers and wool to lighter jackets and sweatshirts,” says Vishal Jain, Chief Marketing Person, Garvit Knitwear (Tab 91).
Futuristic Fabrics & Technology Lead The Way
Monte Carlo’s 2019-2020 collection features intricate knits and has been successful in garnering tremendous response from the channel partners too. “The collection this season encompasses very intricate knits. Detailed attention was paid while designing every single article. Various kinds of jacquards and structures have been used along with various kinds of blends and fancy yarn. Meanwhile while keeping the design aesthetic high, we have really worked on our price points,” says Jain.
Tab 91 has an in-house R&D division to create new winter wear product designs and identification of appropriate fabrics. This season, the brand is focusing on the lightweight theme with innovative fabrics and fancy yarns that have been specifically developed to appeal to the youth. “This season we have specially focused on using Griddle, Scuba, Tensely, Modal besides regular fabrics. In the knitted range, we have concentrated on a range of light weight yarns and blends in cardigans which have been developed especially for our brand,” says Vishal Jain, Chief Marketing Person, Tab 91.
This winter, Tab 91 has is focusing more on women’s cardigans, knitted coats, shrugs, fashion capes along with men’s sweaters and fashion sweatshirts.
Woodland is confident about its latest collection Techno Jacket that promises effective protection from multiple types of weather conditions. “The Techno Jacket collection has been developed and promoted as part of our campaign, ‘Know Your Winters’ in which we claim of knowing the winters’ best. Every winter is not the same and so is the requirement. As part of the collection, we have launched a set of 3 jackets — Storm Breaker for winter, Infralite for wet winters and HeatLock for dry winters. All products in this collection are extremely lightweight and promise cosy comfort against chilly winters,” says Singh.
The brand has already launched GPS embedded jackets, BOA shoes, client t-shirts, and many more such new technologies and innovations in products are in pipeline.
Traction in Smaller Towns & Cities
With the boom in retail in the last few decades, India has embraced consumerism and the fashion consumption has grown manifolds, even in smaller cities across the country. Smaller retail locations are transforming rapidly and offers great potential for brands and retailers today. The buying pattern of these consumers is changing as they are becoming more aspirational and slowly coming at par with their urban counterparts in terms of awareness about fashion and the latest trend.
“Tier II and III markets have a lot of potential today. The consumer base of these markets is increasingly becoming more receptive to brands with the advent of shopping malls, entrance of international retail chains, etc., in these markets. Naturally this progress has been possible because of the available opportunity and the demand for this sector from those markets,” states Singh.
Echoing similar sentiments, Jain adds, “Earlier Tier I and II markets were ignored by retailers, large format stores. But with the advent of internet accessibility I am surprised with the focus these cities are getting from all business houses. In current market scenario almost 30 percent of sales are coming from these markets which is likely to grow with the coming times ahead.”
The winter wear segment is a lucrative segment poised for high growth. It is also an untapped segment as compared to other apparel segments. Having said this, brands and retailers who are going to spend larger share of revenue in making their back-end strong to understand customer convenience, needs, and the current fashion and market trends, will champion the growth story.