Shortened Winters: How winterwear brands are facing the heat


From changing their designs to stocking up less, winter wear retailers are finding ways to minimize the impact of delayed or short winters on their business

By Bavishya Bir and Sanya Arora

New Delhi: The late onset of winters in North India was enough to give jitters to fashion retailers who had loaded up their racks with winter wear. Not just retailers but even consumers were waiting for the mercury to drop so they could flaunt their winter looks.

“Seems like global warming is taking its toll…not just on the weather cycle but even on our wardrobes and moods by taking away the chilly winters that we wait for all year long,” said a consumer.

Till 2014, winter clothing like fleece jackets, boots, warm inners and thick woollen sweaters dominated winter wardrobes. But people are now having to be content with thin cardigans and light jackets as Delhi and north India have been increasingly witnessing warm winters over the years.

Businesses facing the heat

Winter seems to be fleeting away with each passing year. A five-month winter spell has shrunk to a few weeks of subtly cold days.

Not just consumers, but apparel brands too are starting to feel the heat of the warm winters, which is impacting their business.

Winter is crucial for most of the fashion brands as they generate hefty businesses selling winter clothing that are generally higher ticket items as compared to other clothing.

Various fashion brands IndiaRetailing spoke to said they had to change their styles and their portfolios amid changing weather patterns over the years. Popular winter wear brand Monte Carlo has changed its focus by expanding its operations from a woollen wear only brand to being a lifestyle brand.

“Now the brand has chosen to take a different path by investing their time and efforts into light weight sweaters and summer clothes,” Sandeep Jain, executive director of Monte Carlo Fashions Ltd. said.

“Currently sweaters account for just 20% of Monte Carlo’s product portfolio, moving away over the years from a sweater and woollen clothes-oriented brands to a general clothing company,” observed Harminder Sahni, founder of retail consultancy Wazir Advisors.

Other companies too that used to bet big on winter wear are taking similar routes. “We have launched lightweight warm fur jackets and have shifted our focus to developing more lightweight winter clothing for men and women,” Deepak Bansal, whole-time Director, Cantabil Retail India Ltd. said.

Weathering the impact

There are still a few brands that stand dedicated to manufacturing warm clothes hoping for the original cold Delhi winters to return, Woodland being one of them. IndiaRetailing’s conversation with such brands revealed that they are not being impacted much by the shortened winters because they make heavy winter wear albeit with a limited stock. And whatever stock is left, it is liquidated through factory outlets and online platforms, shared retailers like Cantabil, Woodland and Monte Carlo. Apart from this, the ‘End of Season Sale’ helps.

A few years ago, the shortening of winters tanked the business of several winter-focused fashion brands. However, over the years, the retailers have adapted to the change in weather, thus, designing the winter collection accordingly.

From making dull and heavy woollen clothes to now making bright and colourful lightweight winter apparels, the brands are adding light to the gloomy winters.

Luckily in late December, weather in North India has taken a turn in favour of retailers bringing cheers to their business and customers are alike. It seems winterwear is back in business, for now.