When the temperature reaches extreme degrees in the dead of the winter, stylish clothing is all but impossible! How does one look fashionable in layers and layers of clothing, all worn in a bid to achieve maximum comfort? Fret not, for modern day, winter-smart retailers have the perfect solution to this age-old conundrum. They are of the opinion that the chilly winter months of India can be smartly braved with the right thermal wear. With the solution a perfect one for style divas and dudes, it is no wonder then that demand for thermal wear is intensifying.
“People are now extremely fashion conscious. They are concerned about what they wear and how they look. They even want their thermal wear to be stylish and fashionable,” says Vinod Kumar Gupta, Managing Director, Dollar Industries. The company holds approximately 5 to 8 percent market share in the thermal wear segment.
According to Navin Todi, President, Lux Industries Limited, the thermal wear market in India is rising by leaps and bounds. “Considering the frequency of festivals and occasions in the winter season, thermal products come to a quick rescue of consumers. Thermal takes care of both style and comfort for them,” he says. “Indian consumers – always abreast of the latest global fashion trends – have increased their demand and purchase of thermal wear.”
According to Siddharth Grover, Director, Groversons Group, change in the customers’ tastes for consumption of thermal wear products comes as no major surprise. “Over the years, the thermal wear dynamics have changed from just being able to beat the winter chill to making people look stylish fashionable while keeping them warm,” he said. “Currently, there is a 7 percent contribution of thermal wear in the overall sales. Over the years, contribution is increasing with consistent growth year on year.” Groversons offers thermal wear range under the brand, Winta.
As per Todi, the winter wear market is expected to demonstrate a compound annual growth rate of 6 to 8 percent. “At present, the unbranded segment has a market share of nearly 70 percent, while the branded segment is trying to bridge the gap by innovating and offering new products.”
In the thermal wear market, companies and brands are focusing on launching new products of the latest fashion and high quality along with expanding their market presence through establishing new manufacturing facilities as well as sales channels to reach potential customers.
Factors like abrupt weather change, early winters, increasing cold days in many pockets around India have been among the major growth drivers of the thermal wear segment. Not just limited to metro and Tier I cities, the growing consumption of thermal wear could be felt in rural markets as well. With rising disposable income, the buying patterns have witnessed a growth trajectory in Tier II, III and IV cities.
“The consumption pattern of thermal wear is equal in urban cities as well as in Tier II and III cities, leading to a considerable sale in the product all over India,” says Todi. “The sale of Lux Inferno is 25 percent in the metros, 45 percent in Tier II and 30 percent in Tier III markets. Nonetheless, the market and consumption pattern in the metros and Tier II and III markets has been equal with no such difference witnessed in the market consumption pattern.”
“Consumers’ mindset is considered the major driver. With new trends and fashion flooding the market every year, mapping the consumer’s mind has been difficult but not impossible. Mass market penetration and advancement in product development are considered significant reasons for increasing growth of thermal wear market,” Grover feels.
“The consumption of thermal wear in terms of styles, fabrics and colours are very different from that of metros and Tier II and III cities. The urban market is more style-friendly, which also encompasses the comfort of fabrics and looks. Urban people choose dark colours and V-neck, whereas rural people prefer round-necks and stone washed colours. Even the fabrics and pattern choices diff er, where the urban people want stylish patterns in pastel colours, the rural people prefer traditional thick fabric and solid colours,” he adds.
“Due to urbanisation, urban consumers have more choices than shoppers in rural areas, both in innerwear and outerwear segments. However, in Tier II and III cities people do not have such a variety of choices. They either buy heavy woolens, jackets or depend upon clothing like thermals to keep them going through the winter. Our sales figure of Tier II and III cities is more motivating than the metro cities,” Gupta opines.
From a necessity-based garment to a fashion basic, thermal wear has transformed its role in the last few years. Today, the market is flourishing, growing exponentially. Rise in purchasing power of consumers, along with demand for premium and branded products across different end users is a big driving force.
“Thermal wear is an emerging segment with national and international brands diversifying their products in this range. Several large players have already entered the segment and are looking at strengthening their presence in the category,” states Todi.
According to Grover, there is intense competition, which is clearly visible in the market. Winta by Groversons, has been one of the pioneering brands when it comes to thermal wear. While the brand enjoys the trust and love of the customers, Groversons ensures that it keeps its collection updated and constantly introduces new styles and colours. “The styling procedure and technologies of international brands are pretty different from the indigenous brands and even their marketing strategies make a lot of difference and create competition in the market. The extensive competition has made us realise that we need to keep innovating and make our product more customer-centric to give the end user the maximum benefit,” he says.
“We are facing a more competitive urban market with the advent of big international brands. However, when it comes to semi urban and rural markets, Indian brands understand the consumer demands better,” says Gupta.
Product & Innovation
The shift in consumer preferences from conventional towards newly arrived thermal wear range with attractive light weight products, has fueled its demand. The products are used as a fashionable clothing with high level of comfort. Moreover, rise in product innovations, along with introduction of smart technology in this segment has provided a huge growth opportunity for the market.
“Technology and innovation in thermal wear industry are prone to regular changes. Recent most-followed technology is sweat and odour resistant, paired with great styling, softness, seamless design and choice of classy winter colours,” says Grover. Manufactured with premium quality fabrics, Winta thermal wear exudes a high degree of comfort and functional flexibility, while keeping up with latest trends.
Groversons aims to provide triple layer protection from cold for which the polyfill is sandwiched between two layers to create cotton-polyfill cotton thermal fabric, made on Hi-Tech German machines to provide enhanced insulation. With soft brushed inner surface and quality sewing, the thermals absorb moisture from the skin, giving aesthetic appeal and making it irritation free.
Their highest selling products as of last season are the white and charcoal black coloured thermal sets. “We plan to add a category of thermal blouse range for women, because there are regions where this particular product is in demand,” says Grover.
According to Todi, since Lux Inferno comes in a variety of styles, it is among the highest selling products in the thermal wear category. “We have not faced any adverse effects of competition on our brand yet as Inferno has fulfilled its promise of warmth and comfort. With its special technology treated yarn that has unique heat insulation properties, our brand provides maximum warmth even in extreme low temperatures. The unique thermo receptors used in our product ensure the garments retain body heat and are a perfect solution to cold temperatures.”
“Lux Inferno has always been about quality and comfort. Because of its fine fabrics, perfect fittings and stylish colours, the brand is a favourite among consumers. Crafted with a blend of polyester, cotton, ultra-superior thin and light fabric, our range is far more superior in quality which retains body heat with brushed fabric inside and ensures warmth without weight,” he adds.
Available in both round and V- neck lines, Lux Inferno offers a variety of style and colour options. It is available in three quarter, half sleeves, full sleeves, and trousers for both the genders as well as kids. Dollar offers two product ranges in thermal wear -value for money and premium. In value for money range, Dollar has brands like Wintercare and Esteem. These products are traditional thick fabric thermal with zero percent shrinkage and are the highest selling products in this category. Under the premium range, Dollar offers Ultra Thermals. This range uses thinner fabrics and offers men’s premium round neck, V-neck and women’s premium round neck are the highest selling products.
“We have been consistently evolving our products following the latest trends in the industry. Our range of thermal wears are upgraded and equipped with the best quality features for the winter season. Recently, with the help of advanced technology, we have introduced sweat resistant fabrics too,” says Gupta. “We keep changing and innovating the packaging of products in order to make the category look attractive.”
The Way Forward
“Seeing the rise in popularity of thermal wear among consumers, a huge growth is perceived in the thermal wear segment,” says Todi. “Thermal wear has become a winter essential and the range for men, women, and kids is in huge demand at the present. Looking at the ongoing trend, an almost 100 percent growth is anticipated in the thermal wear category in the future.”
“To sum it all up, it would be pruden to say that every year the growth rate in thermal wear accounts to a minimum of 4 percent. Going by the latest statistics, the thermal wear market sees an estimated growth of 6.2 percent ahead of its current share by 2023. The consumer buying attributes change, with every season along with the styling, fabric and technology. But, with the constant increase in demand, substantial growth in thermal wear is inevitable,” concludes Grover.