Business of Fashion - - Category Study - By Bharti Sood with in­puts from Gur­bir Singh Gu­lati

The denim mar­ket in In­dia has been evolv­ing fast with in­tro­duc­tion of more styles, colours and some dis­tinct trends in the prod­uct of­fer­ing. The ex­ten­sion of denim brands onto kids’ rack is part of the larger trend of mar­ket­ing per­vad­ing nearly ev­ery cor­ner of the con­sumer mar­ket­place. We talk to lead­ers from renowned denim brands in kids cat­e­gory about the trends, op­por­tu­ni­ties and mar­ket po­si­tion­ing of this seg­ment.

Afew years ago chil­dren just grew up wear­ing clothes passed on by their el­der sib­lings or from those pur­chased from lo­cal neigh­bor­hood mar­kets. But to­day, in­creased aware­ness, grow­ing brand con­scious­ness, rise in dis­pos­able in­come of con­sumers, in­creas­ing num­ber of nu­clear fam­i­lies, in­flu­ence of me­dia and western cul­ture is pro­pel­ling growth for kids ap­parel mar­ket in In­dia and kids are mov­ing to­wards den­ims in a big way. Kids want to wear what their par­ents wear and par­ents want their chil­dren to wear com­fort­able, skin friendly yet trendy cloth­ing. Thus kidswear, es­pe­cially the denim seg­ment is cre­at­ing a huge de­mand not only in larger cities but in tier-II and -III mar­kets as well.

Key In­flu­encers

Kids’ denim is mostly in­flu­enced by the trends run­ning in adult cloth­ing, with a slight twist here and there in styling and colours. Shar­ing his views on the fac­tors in­flu­enc­ing trends in kids den­ims, Oliver Kaye, Busi­ness Head, Gap In­dia, ex­plains, “Match­ing adult denim sto­ries/styling and pop cul­ture icons fas­ci­nate kids the most. For ex­am­ple, hav­ing pat­terns with their favourite su­per he­roes, forms the most pre­dom­i­nant in­flu­ence.” He adds, “For us, at Gap, the fo­cus be­sides styling has also been on prod­uct qual­ity. We’ve de­vel­oped our denim as the soft­est, stretchi­est and most com­fort­able one, which the kids can wear ev­ery­day. And our denim of­fer­ing starts from ba­bies to kids up to the age of

12-14 years. Our kids’ denim range is stylish and trendy.” Lat­est char­ac­ters in kids movies, sports per­son­al­i­ties, su­per he­roes – all in­flu­ence chil­dren and they want to dress up like their favourite he­roes. High­light­ing this as­pect, Sar­taj Singh Me­hta, Vice Pres­i­dent- De­sign, Pepe, states, “Trends in the kids seg­ment are very dif­fer­ent from adults. Kids pri­mar­ily look for style, colours and com­fort. Boys and girls of the same age have very dif­fer­ent sen­si­bil­i­ties. The mind­set of 4-8 year olds is very dif­fer­ent from kids in the 10-12 years range. They iden­tify with sportsper­sons, celebri­ties and su­per he­roes which are the ma­jor fac­tors that in­flu­ence or drive trends in the kids seg­ment.

At­ti­tude and in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic style is also an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of kids cloth­ing.” Agrees Sharad Venkta, MD & CEO, Su­pery­oung/Wow­mom of Toonz, “Kids are gen­er­ally icon fol­low­ers. They fol­low their icon and try to mimic their styles. Icons may be celebri­ties, their el­ders or their favourite

char­ac­ters. Thus, ma­jor trend in­flu­encers in kids den­ims are celebri­ties, adult fash­ion, me­dia and trends on hype.”

G. Satya­narayana, Head Sales and Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment, Rook­ies, shares, “We have re­cently ven­tured into the kids’ denim cat­e­gory af­ter see­ing a Gap in the kids’ cat­e­gory for in­ter­na­tional niche fash­ion den­ims. Our kids denim is a replica of the men’s trends and the walk path is on the same lines.

Af­ter test­ing the kids range mar­ket, we felt that ini­tially the mar­ket was not ready to ac­cept this trend. But we have slowly nur­tured this and are grad­u­ally ex­pand­ing the cat­e­gory. We hope to be es­tab­lished as a full fledged cat­e­gory by sum­mer 2018.”

Top Sell­ing Styles and Trends

Chil­dren now-a-days have be­come brand and style con­scious. They have their own choices when it comes to se­lec­tion of clothes and colours. Denim be­ing long last­ing and hard wear­ing, is one of their favourite choices.

Shed­ding light on the cur­rent trends, Oliver Kaye (Gap) shares, “Skinny Jeans have been a huge denim trend for kids for a while now. De­stroyed denim, jeans that look old or de­stroyed are also very pop­u­lar. Colour­ful den­ims are quite ap­peal­ing for the kids and one can get a vast va­ri­ety in colours.” Ac­cord­ing

to Me­hta from Pepe, “Hot shorts and dun­ga­rees for girls and 3/4th pants and dark blue den­ims for boys are the top favourite denim styles for kids.” Good shades and co-or­di­nated colours which can eas­ily go with t-shirts/ tops are the top denim styles as per Sharad Venkta of Toonz. “Trendy jeans with em­broi­dered badges and char­ac­ters and smi­leys and com­fort­able stretch fab­ric jog­ger style jeans which are fash­ion­able as well as day-to-day wear are pre­ferred the most,” he adds.

Talk­ing about washes in trend, Oliver Kaye from Gap In­dia says, “Kids fash­ion to some ex­tent mim­ics adult styling, and in­digo wash is a sta­ple. But we find lighter colours also oc­cu­py­ing some of the bas­ket space.” Ac­cord­ing to Me­hta (Pepe), en­zyme wash, river wash, acid wash, bleach wash, stone wash and mi­cro sand­ing are the top trends. As per Venkta (Toonz), dark wash also known as den­imex, which gives a rich blue colour with dry process for the tex­ture are quite pop­u­lar now-a-days. Heavy bleached wash also known as cloud wash, which makes the denim light in colour with blue patches is also ap­pre­ci­ated. He also em­pha­sized that the dis­tress ef­fect which give unique/ torn look to jeans was gain­ing huge pop­u­lar­ity and cloud ef­fect was an­other trend which was pop­u­lar be­cause of its cool light colour.Fur­ther, a lot of ef­fects are avail­able in kids den­ims. In­forms Gap In­dia’s Oliver Kaye, “We’ve done an ex­clu­sive range of denim through Dis­ney col­lab­o­ra­tion which we find has done very well. This in­cludes Mickey/ Min­nie mouse prints trans­ferred in dif­fer­ent colours onto denim for a unique styling mo­ment.”

Em­bel­lished den­ims too has been a great craze in re­cent times. As per Oliver Kaye (Gap In­dia), patch­work, em­broi­dered denim, frayed denim, beads and prints are the pop­u­lar el­e­ments used for kids. Em­broi­dered denim is par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar cur­rently. Toonz’s Sharad Venkta opines, “Boys gen­er­ally like smi­leys, an­i­mal badges and bold texts on their den­ims. While girls are more fond of flow­ers and em­broi­deries.”

Among top sell­ing colours or shades, Me­hta (Pepe) finds grey, blue (dark and light), black and navy blue as the most pre­ferred colours. Ac­cord­ing to Venkta from Toonz, blues are still in fash­ion. Dark blue, light blue, in­digo colour, cloud ef­fect (dark blue), cloud ef­fect (light blue) are quite pop­u­lar. “Girls are ex­per­i­ment­ing with shades of pinks, peaches and printed den­ims,” he shares.

Par­ent’s Pref­er­ences

While buy­ing kidswear, par­ents are more par­tic­u­lar about the style and the qual­ity. Even though the kids are en­cour­aged to ex­press their choices, but the buy­ing de­ci­sion still vests with the par­ents.

Talk­ing about par­ent’s pref­er­ences, Oliver Kaye (Gap In­dia) points out, “Com­fort is al­ways in style. Par­ents look for den­ims with stretch to al­low easy move­ment for their kids. Skinny

and slim denim styles are al­ways in de­mand.” G. Satya­narayana (Rook­ies) be­lieves that the kids denim mar­ket is vast and the tastes change as per re­quire­ment. “Par­ents are ac­cept­ing very clean den­ims for their kids, with good washes and a dis­tressed look,” he adds.

Me­hta (Pepe) un­der­lines the pref­er­ence for icons and char­ac­ters, “Den­ims with cool and quirky badges, pop­u­lar car­toon char­ac­ters and den­ims with funky prints are pre­ferred choices.”

While Sharad Venkta (Toonz) feels that, “Par­ents pre­fer all round elas­ti­cated waist jog­gers, which are com­fort­able as well as trendy. These styles are easy to wear and carry.” He feels that though organic/hy­genic fab­rics are im­por­tant, but as the mar­ket is price sen­si­tive, it will take time for uni­ver­sal ac­cep­tance in In­dia. Not many par­ents ask for it yet.

Re­cent mar­ket growth

The over­all In­dian kid’s denim mar­ket has been wit­ness­ing tremen­dous growth in vol­umes as well as sales, be­cause of the high pop­u­la­tion base of chil­dren and the grow­ing ex­po­sure of both par­ents and chil­dren to­wards fash­ion trends. Some of the other key fac­tors driv­ing the growth are in­flu­ence of me­dia, grow­ing dis­pos­able in­comes and avail­abil­ity of vast va­ri­ety of styles and choices. The cat­e­gory re­mains the fastest grow­ing cat­e­gory as both chil­dren and par­ents con­sider denim fab­ric and styles more fash­ion­able as well as wear­able.

Elu­ci­dat­ing how kids’ denim mar­ket has grown in re­cent times, Me­hta (Pepe) says that to­day’s kids are well aware of the cur­rent trends and are fash­ion savvy. He feels that me­dia has played a big role in chang­ing the mind­set of kids who have be­come very de­mand­ing now-a-days and have also started in­flu­enc­ing pur­chase de­ci­sions. He adds, “Shop­ping for kids clothes is no more a birth­day or a special oc­ca­sion af­fair. Grow­ing dis­pos­able in­comes of par­ents, cou­pled with ex­po­sure to in­ter­na­tional trends have fur­ther fu­elled the growth of den­ims in the kidswear cat­e­gory.” Talk­ing about the ini­tia­tives taken by Pepe, Me­hta elab­o­rates, “This sea­son, the growth of den­ims has been ex­cep­tional be­cause of our pro­mo­tional of­fers. Be­sides, our col­lec­tion also show­cased prints on denim along with fun badges, which kids now-a-days want. In the last 2 years, there has been a tremen­dous growth in sales of kids wear denim at Pepe. In the year 2015, we had a re­tail space of 7,000 sq.ft. and our goal was to fur­ther ex­pand this due to the in­creas­ing de­mand. By next year in 2016, we ac­quired a to­tal re­tail space of 37,560 sq.ft., which was al­most 5 times big­ger than the pre­vi­ous year. So growth this sea­son has been phe­nom­e­nal, one of the key fac­tors for the ex­pan­sion and our col­lec­tion.”

Oliver Kaye (Gap In­dia) agrees that kids denim has been grow­ing at a good rate. He shares, “In par­tic­u­lar, our baby’s first denim sells very well since

cus­tomers love the out­fit on their kids. These in­clude elas­tic waist­bands for com­fort fits in shorts/car­gos, su­per soft over­alls, stretch jeg­gings for baby girls in the ‘my first jeg­gings’ range.”

G. Satya­narayana of Rook­ies has just ven­tured into the mar­ket and feels that the kids’ denim wear cat­e­gory has im­mense po­ten­tial. Ac­cord­ing to Sharad Venkta (Toonz), there is an up­ward trend in den­ims. With new styles and washes avail­able for kids, the con­sump­tion has in­creased im­mensely. He feels now-a-days, par­ents/kids are more aware of unique­ness in den­ims in terms of com­fort, washes and fab­rics.

Fu­ture trends to watch for

Oliver Kaye from Gap In­dia fore­sees printed jeans for girls as the new up­com­ing trend. “Pat­terned denim fab­rics such as flo­ral prints, pat­terns, stripes have been quite pop­u­lar for a while with the adults and are ex­pected to grow in the kids sec­tion as well,” he ap­prises. The denim or cham­bray shirts, which has been very pop­u­lar with the adults, is also gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity in the kids de­part­ment. “It is ver­sa­tile and can be worn in so many dif­fer­ent ways. These will have mo­tifs, ap­plique and other style el­e­ments, which have been pop­u­lar with men and women,” shares Oliver Kaye. An­other trend will be cuffed den­ims for boys. These jeans have a re­laxed, clas­sic vibe that is roomy and trendy. “Cropped jeans are very trendy for women this year and will prob­a­bly emerge as a girl’s denim trend too. These jeans are ver­sa­tile, cut straight through the leg and flare out gen­tly at the bot­tom,” says Oliver Kaye. He also feels that the clas­sic denim jacket is ex­pected to hit the kids denim de­part­ment too. Me­hta (Pepe) sees striped den­ims, camo prints and coloured den­ims (green, ma­roon) be­com­ing pop­u­lar in the com­ing months. Whereas, Venkta from Toonz an­tic­i­pates to see more of flayer jeans, denim on denim look, vin­tage wash den­ims, denim dun­grees, mix and match of den­ims and other fab­rics in fu­ture.


Pepe Jeans

– Sar­taj Singh Me­hta, Vice-Pres­i­dent- De­sign, Pepe Jeans In­dia “Boys gen­er­ally like smi­leys, an­i­mal

badges and bold texts on their den­ims. While girls are more fond of

flow­ers and em­broi­deries.”

– Sharad Venkta,

MD & CEO, Toonz Re­tail Ltd.

“Kids fash­ion to some ex­tent mim­ics adult styling, and in­digo wash is a


Pepe Jeans

“Par­ents are ac­cept­ing very clean den­ims for their kids, with good washes and a dis­tressed look.”

– G. Satya­narayana,

Head Sales and Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment,




“Pat­terned denim fab­rics such as flo­ral prints, pat­terns, stripes have been quite pop­u­lar for a while with the adults and are ex­pected to grow

in the kids sec­tion as well.”

– Oliver Kaye, Busi­ness Head, Gap In­dia

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