In a tête-à-tête with Ameet Panchal, Director, Ethnicity, IMAGES Fashion Bureau discovers all about the evolution of the ethnic wear market in India and the unexplored opportunities in the segment.
Tell us about current standing of the ethnic wear market in India. What is the market size?
Let’s start by identifying ethnic wear as Indian wear to begin with. I personally feel it is a better suited term. big and growing market actually.
India’s apparel market is estimated touch over Rs 4 lakh crore in 2022, according to data from McKinsey’s FashionScope. Indian wear is the biggest piece of the pie in today’s day and time and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Women’s Indian wear is estimated to contribute to a rough 80 percent, currently at USD$ 18.6 billion and expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.60 percent to reach US$ 38.5 billion by 2027.
Demand for western wear will go up for sure. However, given India is a land of colour and festivals, Indian wear should still account for a sizeable market share.
How has the ethnic wear market in India grown in the last 10 years? What are the major drivers responsible for the change in the ethnic wear market?
There has been tremendous evolution. The last few years especially have seen rapid growth in the men’s wear category. We now see some of the top international and Indian fashion retailers putting a spotlight on men’s Indian wear, which has helped in growing the men’s Indian wear market.
I also feel that there is a large scope for making men’s Indian wear more acceptable at workplaces, just like in the women’s segment. For now, demand for men’s wear comes as a mix of festive and weekend home wear.
The consumer too has evolved greatly. With disposable income in hand and a growing awareness about brands and current trends, people are making more informed decisions and you can see this being reflected in their purchase patterns. Design sensibilities among men and women are evolving rapidly thanks to the many influencing factors.
One of the biggest drivers is the Internet boom, which has opened up a plethora of avenues for the customer.
Television, streaming services, web films, social content and social media are now accessible on handheld devices to customers across all strata of society, and this is where all trends are set in today.
Tell us about the changes that you have witnessed in the women’s segment.
In the women’s section, Indian fashion wear has evolved and is now a part of the customer’s lifescape. With more women joining the work force, a need for comfortable and trendy work wear has become a necessity as Indian wear is an acceptable norm for work clothing. It also has become the preferred clothing of choice owing to its comfort and styling versatility. Today, women’s Indian wear has a plethora of subsegments work and fusion wear, festive wear, wedding wear, lounge wear, etc.
What is the consumption pattern in the women’s Indian wear market?
Awareness has led to age barriers becoming obsolete. Hence, brands like us have to continuously work on the customer mind set across all age groups. And, women across different societal strata have different patterns of selection and it’s all an aspirational want, with value being an individual desire or a personal preference.
What spike in demand do you witness during the festive and wedding season from October to December?
To be honest, women’s Indian wear demands are year-round today. It’s just that the styles tend to take a more opulent design approach with vibrant hues and intrinsic patterns during the festive period of October to December.
Also, Indian festivals are as diverse as the country itself; style and preferences are highly subjective to regions. So, we design our collections keeping in mind the customer preferences regionally. For example, during Pujo season we see a spurt in red and white clothing in the eastern part of the country.
Tell us about your latest collections.
Our new festive collection has aptly been named ‘Utsav’ and has been met with very warm response.
What are your views on bespoke services in Indian wear?
Bespoke is a normally a luxury of the luxe and uber-luxe segments. I think, since fit, finish, etc., are far more superior in the bespoke and made-to-order segments, it will continue to enjoy demand at premium and specialised businesses. Nevertheless, we also off er customised fittings, as and when requested by our customers across all our stores.
Walk us through sales of ethnic wear in Tier II and III markets as compared to metros. How has the market and the consumption pattern changed in in Tier II and III markets in the last 10 years?
When we talk about Tier II and II markets, we are talking about immense untapped potential, of which just the tip has been explored, to be honest. Accessible mobile devices and cellular data have brought in a paradigm shift in terms of awareness about brands, trends and fashion, making people from these cities, aspirational as well experimental.
The demand for branded garments has grown manifold from these cities and it only show an upward trajectory going forward. The future belongs to these upcoming cities which will soon be the new metropolises of the future. Ethnicity has already spread its wings in these cities. We strongly believe retail expansion plans across these cities will help the Indian wear market grow to the next level.
How do you think will the ethnic wear category shape up in the near future?
With the rise of a back to the roots enthusiasm in the nation, it seems that Indian wear will be the fashion mantra for the years to come. Going ahead, as various channels continue to emerge to converse with the customer, the growth of brands will be dependent on hitting the sweet spot with USPs that make them unique to him/her. Brands that are successful in India understand that all the senses have to be engaged to have the customer asking for more. The customer must feel good to look good.
How is Ethnicity planning to hit this sweet spot?
We are all about offering the right fit, fabric, feel, colour and look at the right price points, in the right ambience making the customer’s decision making simpler. This is the success mantra that Ethnicity follows when it designs all its product and retail stores. We also are working hard on geographical customisation of products.