TRENDS IN WOMEN’S DENIMS
With time, denim has evolved in every way - styles, fabrics and fits, products, occasions and more. Today, denim is not just a bold fashion statement but a wardrobe staple for many women across India. And this wardrobe staple has taken more than one form to suit the needs and personality of the wearer. Images BoF talks to the leaders of major women denim brands and analyses the various trends in the segment and the prospective growth
of this market in the times to come.
It isn’t uncommon to spot a woman wearing a pair of denims with an ethnic Indian kurti. The functionality and perceived image of denim has gradually changed for Indian society over the years, especially when it comes to it being owned and worn by a woman. From being a strictly western wear, denims today are a part of majority of the wardrobes in India with the growing emergence and acceptance of Indo-western wear.
The Market Mapping
“The estimated market in women’s denim in India is about `1,800 crores, growing at a CAGR of 18.5 percent to reach an expected `35,000- `37,000 crores by 2025. Most of the denim brands catering to the men’s segment have realised the growth potential of women’s denim in the country. The trend towards casualization combined with the growing preference of look and comfort among women drives the women’s denim market in India,” apprises Rahul Gupta, Vice President, Jealous 21.
Hetal Kotak, Chief Executive Officer, Lee Cooper, accentuates the growing popularity and acceptance of denims in the wardrobe of an Indian woman stating, “For us, the women’s denim market has proved to be one of the fastest growing market in the recent years and we believe that women are following fashion more closely than ever before and want to ensure that they have the latest in fashion at all times.” According to Sameer Patel, Founder and Chairman, Deal Global Fashion Pvt. Ltd., a brand that was one of the earliest to tap the market for women’s denim wear in India, “The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 15 percent by 2018.” He mentions the Indo-western culture catching momentum while deciding on the choice for clothes. “Women who are not at ease with western wear have taken up to wearing jeans by pairing them with Indian ethnic wear. This mix and match style is gradually picking up, particularly among women in small towns who come from a traditional background and is likely to fuel the growth of the segment,” he adds. Yogesh Kuruba, Proprietor, Focus Jeans, agrees to this point when he says, “Among all types of denim wear, jeans or trousers are the most popular articles among Indian women. Women in different age brackets of all shapes and sizes like to wear denim as it is comfortable, functional and durable. The mix and match style where women pair denims with ethnic wear pieces like kurtis, is gradually picking up and would most likely fuel the growth of the segment.” Reiterating the fact, Vineet Gautam, Country Head, Bestseller India who operates women’s wear brands Vero Moda and Only in India, shares, “The growth of Indo-western fashion has also largely shaped the denim story in India. Acceptance of denim as work wear has also boosted the category.”
Where denim bottoms have seen good demand by women across the country, when it comes to denim shirts, the profile of women who opt for the same are usually the ones who work in a corporate office set-up. Sameer Patel from Deal Jeans elaborates, “Women who buy shirts are mainly professionals who believe in being well-groomed at work or women who do not experiment in fashion with trendy tops but rather prefer a comfortable clothing for their daily wear.”
Denim – The Differentiator
Where denims are a wardrobe staple for men, for the women in India, denims are still entering the wardrobes. Earlier when only urban Indian women were seen wearing a denim,
today the dynamics are different. Women in tier -II and -III cities and towns and women belonging to SEC C are also opting for denims even if that means teaming denims with an Indian kurti. Sameer Patel (Deal Jeans) accepts, “For men, a denim is their essential garment while for women, it is a symbol of modern thinking. Today, women judge their level of modernity on the basis of clothing. For women, fit plays a crucial role unlike men who do not consider minute details. Women are always keen to be in trend and will search the trendiest clothes offered to them before make a purchase unlike men.” Speaking on the same lines, Kuruba from Focus Jeans maintains, “Like every other item in a woman’s wardrobe, even denims have the same respect. Unlike men, jeans are bought to make a statement or establish an image of the wearer/ buyer.” Hetal Kotak (Lee Cooper) adds, “We have observed that men tend to be more ‘functional’ about denim, i.e., they are more interested in the comfort. Moreover, they would like to have one denim in different colours and be okay with it. Women, on the other hand, are more trend conscious. Citing the differentiating factors observed, Gautam from Bestseller India, adds, “The factors that men and women consider while purchasing a pair of jeans can vary to a very large extent. While male shoppers look at fit, durability, elasticity and quality; the needs of a female shopper are more fashion centric whereby factors like popular trends, relevance of brands internationally, play a critical role.” Prem Gupta, CEO, Tarama, also agrees, “Usually for men, their jeans become a part of themselves. Once they find their fit, they mostly don’t change it. On the contrary, women are more trend conscious and apart from trendy clothes, they require their denims to be of good aesthetics and fit. The choice of fits, washes and embellishment is much wider then men’s.” Patel from Deal
Jeans also feels that women consumers are more difficult to please because they are always in a frame of mind to pay for fashion that meet their desires. He shares, “They take many things into consideration before shopping and two of the foremost things that rule their decisions are choice and price.” Vineet Gautam (Bestseller India) adds, “The fashion preferences of a female shopper constantly evolve on trends, patterns, cuts and fabrics as per the merchandise offered by fashion brands. Thus, a female shopper at all points of time, has a variety of options to choose from. Brands therefore have to be constantly at the top of their game to ensure that the fashion they offer is at par with their competition. The width of the range in women’s denim is always more compared to men’s wear.”
When we look at the denims in vogue, the current top 3 selling denim styles are flair cropped pants, studs and ripped embellished shorts and patchwork in hues of blue, according to Patel from Deal Jeans. Naresh Varwani, Director, No Error, shares, “Ripped, tearing grinding and embroidered denims are in vogue in India.” Prem Gupta from Tarama appprises, “Our white mom fit in high rise is simple, relaxed and offers effortless casual style and our cold shoulder bodycon denim dress made in super stretch cotton denim, combines the two top trends this season. Calf cropped wide legs with open hem details, not only match up with international trends but also have a breezy comfort fit that have become a favourite this summer.”
Gautam from Bestseller India shares his take stating that denims with a hint of embroidery, doodles, patch and badge work are very popular among shoppers as they give a very distinct touch and denims with open and unfinished hems are also gaining popularity. He adds, “Sequined denims have been adding the much needed spark to the wardrobe as well.” The other embellishments include lace-up, patchwork, beads, studs, rhine stones, swarovski, rivets, foil prints, statement graphics and thread-work. Popular colours include, light blue, medium blue, dark blue, ice blue, midnight blue, black indigo, medium stone blue, carbon, tinted and grey. Gupta from Jealous 21 shares,
“We have been very successful with all our three fits for every waist size that address the unique curves of the Indian body type.” Jealous 21’s three hip sizes are, Hottie for the slim hips, Hour Glass for the regular hips and Bootilicious for the curvier hips.
In washes, it is the ripped acid wash, dip dyed wash, ice bleach wash, dark indigo wash, tint, stone, clod and medium blue wash and dark blue (resin) wash that are popular. Moving over to fits, skinny fit is always in when it comes to women’s denim along with ankle, straight, boyfriend and boot cut. Kuruba (Focus Jeans) agrees, “Acid wash, over-dyed and other premium washes like velvet finish are in-trend in denims. While in effects, whiskers, scrapping, spray,
tugging and other dry process are being loved; crystals, pearls, studs and embellishments are popularly accepted elements in women’s denims. In terms of fits, pencil fit, ankle length and boot cuts is setting in and are gaining popularity among the customers.”
Saying it with Stretch
A stretchable denim is a must have for any woman keeping in mind the variation in body types of a woman which makes ‘one style fits all’ an impossible for a brand to achieve. Patel explains, “Having the ability to conform to your body shape each time you put them on, stretch is a consideration for both the genders but for women, it might be of more concern as women usually wear body hugging denims and stretch plays an important role in flaunting their curves while men are usually comfortable in regular pair of jeans.” Gautam from Bestseller India adds, “Stretch is more popular among women as they seek for comfort with a feminine look. Men prefer denims with straight and relaxed fit as it looks masculine.” Patel (Deal Jeans) shares the growing prominence of leggings and jeggings stating, “Leggings and jeggings are offering an exceptional level of comfort due to the softness and unparalleled stretchability of the material. Jeggings are a huge hit in the market for resembling jeans with comfort. The brands are now bringing designer jeggings with washes and embellishments which are gaining much preference over jeans by women consumers in the Indian market.” According to Hetal Kotak (Lee Cooper), they are really hot on the radar especially among college students and they have been instrumental in making the ‘skinny’ fit denim even more popular. However, Gupta from Jealous 21 maintains that jeggings is a great product for introducing the customers to the larger denim category but at the same time, he says, “For all the technical limitations, jeggings cannot take away from the aspiration of denim wear. It provides an extention to the denim wear market, to engage with potential customers.”
According to Deal Jeans’ Patel, the future for denims as part of women’s wear is going to get only more interesting with patches in contrast fabrics adding pattern to plain jeans, vetements style, embroidery designs, lazered impression, vintage wash and mom jeans attracting more women to opt for denims. Vineet Gautam (Bestseller India) shares the emergence of over the top embroidery, highlow hemlines, distressed denims and cropped kick fare. Lee Cooper’s Kotak concluded with the future 5 trends being - embellished jeans with embroidery, sequins and badges, colour blocked denims (through wash treatments), faux leather denims, high waisted zipper denims and anti-fit denims.
“We have observed that men tend to be more ‘functional’ about denim, i.e., they are more interested inthe comfort.”– Hetal Kotak, CEO, Lee Cooper
“Women are more trend conscious and apart from trendy clothes, they require their denims to be of goodaesthetics and fit.”–Prem Gupta, CEO, Tarama
–Vineet Gautam, Country Head, Bestseller India“Ripped, tearing grinding and embroidered denims are in vogue inIndia.”–Naresh Varwani, Director, No Error
“Sequined denims have been adding the much needed spark to thewardrobe as well.”
“Stretch is a consideration for both the genders but for women, it might be of more concern as women usuallywear body hugging denims.”– Sameer Patel,Founder & Chairman, Deal Global Fashion Pvt. Ltd.
“Jeggings provides an extention to the denim wear market, to engagewith potential customers.”– Rahul Gupta,Vice President, Jealous 21
“Acid wash, over-dyed and other premium washes like velvet finishare in-trend in denims.”– Yogesh Kuruba Proprietor, Focus Jeans