Business of Fashion - - Category Study - By Zainab S. Kazi with in­puts from Gur­bir Singh Gu­lati

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.”

Fu­ture Fash­ion

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.

Jeal­ous 21

Deal Jeans

Deal Jeans


Fo­cus Jeans

“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

No Er­ror

–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

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