Be­spoke Oc­ca­sion Wear: The Sun­shine Mar­ket


Business of Fashion - - Contents -

Im­ages BoF talks to a trio of vet­er­ans in be­spoke fash­ion on the unique dy­nam­ics of the be­spoke oc­ca­sion wear mar­ket.

The In­dian con­sumer tends to shop more fre­quently to­day. The new breed of shoppers are re­defin­ing what it means to shop for oc­ca­sion-ori­ented life­style and as a con­se­quence, be­spoke fash­ion is gain­ing mo­men­tum. San­deep Gon­salves, Co-Founder, SS Homme, ex­presses, “In­di­ans have cer­tainly started shop­ping much more reg­u­larly, keep­ing in mind the oc­ca­sion they are dress­ing for.” He fur­ther ex­plains the trend, “Tech­nol­ogy has ad­vanced and so­cial me­dia has be­come an in­te­gral part of life. Ev­ery celebrity, in­flu­encer, blog­ger and brand looks to so­cial me­dia to share their taste in fash­ion among all other things they do. This plays a ma­jor role in in­flu­enc­ing the com­mon man. They may not al­ways use the trend as it is, but they do cer­tainly take the trend into con­sid­er­a­tion while look­ing for oc­ca­sion needs. The rise in the number of suc­cess­ful fash­ion blog­gers is a tes­ti­mony to the fact that the au­di­ence is more aware of the trends and wants to use to for spe­cific oc­ca­sion.”

The age of so­cial me­dia and smart phones has spurred a dig­i­tal-led life­style charged with a stronger in­flu­ence of vi­su­als. Peo­ple want to leave an im­pres­sion in all their im­ages on so­cial me­dia. Grow­ing groups of fash­ion blog­gers have also in­tro­duced a cul­ture of ex­per­i­men­tal looks and theme-based dress­ing, en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to shop more looks reg­u­larly. Ris­ing dis­pos­able in­comes have aug­mented con­sump­tion of life­style, dig­i­tal prod­ucts as well as ser­vices. It has bred as­pi­ra­tional life­styles and peo­ple to­day want to ex­press them­selves. Te­jin­der Singh, COO, Crey­ate, ex­plains, “The rea­sons may be de­fined by the 3Ps – Pos­ter­ity, Pros­per­ity and Prox­im­ity. Fi­nally, thanks to tech­nol­ogy the world is shrink­ing and this dig­i­tal prox­im­ity is mak­ing peo­ple more aware of in­ter­na­tional trends. The oc­ca­sions them­selves are no longer lim­ited to wed­dings and pu­jas in In­dia. Peo­ple opt for spe­cific looks for ev­ery pos­si­ble cel­e­bra­tion.”

On an­other front, Ke­tan Pishe, Part­ner, P N Rao, feels that in met­ros like Delhi and Mum­bai, cer­tain sec­tions of

the so­ci­ety have al­ways been ex­posed to do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional trends and al­ways shopped for world-class fash­ion ir­re­spec­tive of the oc­ca­sion.” His brand P N Rao has been po­si­tioned as a pre­mium-to-bridge-to-lux­ury brand. They have a rich her­itage of over 90 years. They are one of the very few fam­ily-led suit-mak­ing cor­po­ra­tions in the coun­try that has stood the test of time.

Why be­spoke?

Elab­o­rat­ing on the core cus­tomers that act as the key driv­ers of this trend, Pishe shares that it is largely the young en­trepreneurs, peo­ple who have started up on their own. Th­ese are young achiev­ers mov­ing up the lad­der. The con­sumer class is more prom­i­nent in the met­ros that are home to hun­dreds of star­tups with mil­len­ni­als tak­ing reigns at the work­place. Singh feels that when it comes to eth­nic wear, peo­ple look for de­signer wear. How­ever, when it comes to western wear, the de­mand for cus­tom cloth­ing al­ways rises, more so in the menswear sec­tion. “A sense of re­li­a­bil­ity works very strongly here, com­bined with the in­nu­mer­able choices of fab­rics, de­signs and details one can choose from. Oc­ca­sions are the ideal op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to stand out in the crowd, so they be­come even more se­lec­tive about their at­tire. Es­pe­cially while choos­ing gar­ments for wed­dings and fes­ti­vals, In­di­ans be­come very se­lec­tive about colours, fab­rics and styles. That shows an im­me­di­ate ef­fect on the de­mand for cus­tom-made oc­ca­sion-wear,” he adds.

He fur­ther ex­plained that peo­ple who look at oc­ca­sion-spe­cific cus­tom cloth­ing mostly be­long to a ma­ture group of glob­ally evolved clients. The mod­ern in­di­vid­u­al­ist al­ways seeks to make an im­pres­sion and stand out in the crowd, whether at a for­mal or in­for­mal so­cial event. “So, he al­ways looks to make that per­sonal state­ment that only cus­tomi­sa­tion can pro­vide, with pre­mium fab­rics, spe­cific de­signs and a qual­ity prod­uct with tai­lored fin­ish,” he shares.

Talk­ing about the de­cid­ing fac­tors, Gon­salves says, “There are mul­ti­ple vari­ables that go into this de­ci­sion. It de­pends on the oc­ca­sion they are dress­ing up, the amount they are will­ing to spend, the aes­thet­ics they are look­ing for, etc. For ex­am­ple, a groom, look­ing for an out­fit for the main event would pre­fer go­ing to a be­spoke brand as he would want the gar­ment to be made to his per­fect mea­sure­ments and wouldn’t want to com­pro­mise on the com­fort fac­tor. He wouldn’t mind spend­ing the ex­tra buck if that would mean get­ting that per­fect gar­ment. Whereas the grooms­man or rel­a­tives of

the groom wouldn’t mind shop­ping at a lux­ury brand with ready sizes. Most of the grooms and their grooms­men come in look­ing for a new-age gar­ment which breaks away from the cliché gar­ments avail­able in the mar­ket.”

In­crease in de­mand for be­spoke oc­ca­sion wear

The ma­jor­ity of the sale and shop­ping for an im­por­tant oc­ca­sion like a wed­ding in par­tic­u­lar hap­pens in the month of Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber.

Com­ment­ing on the evolv­ing mar­ket sce­nario, he says, “There has been an in­crease in sales over the years. The rea­son be­ing, peo­ple are be­com­ing more con­scious of what they wear. Wed­ding trousseau has al­ways been a lav­ish af­fair for In­di­ans. At present, the de­mand is get­ting big­ger as the au­di­ence is ready to splurge on the gar­ments and want some­thing unique and un­usual.”

The shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence at Crey­ate stores is much more in­volved in com­par­i­son to buy­ing off-the-rack. Singh says, “Key el­e­ments be­ing choice around fab­rics, styles, fit, mea­sure­ments amongst oth­ers, all of which re­sult in mak­ing each ‘crey­a­tion’ is a spe­cial buy. Crey­ate’s psy­cho­graph­ics re­flect on a ma­jor­ity of taste­ful ur­ban­ites that like to make an im­pres­sion ev­ery­where they go, be it of­fice, party, ca­sual brunches or even a cer­e­mo­nial event. Oc­ca­sion turns up for such cus­tomers ev­ery other day.” For Crey­ate, oc­ca­sions win them a lot of or­ganic vis­its from cus­tomers that con­sti­tutes al­most 30-35 per­cent of its an­nual sales.

Talk­ing about the con­tri­bu­tion of oc­ca­sion wear, P N Rao’s Pishe says, “Our oc­ca­sion wear seg­ment’s con­tri­bu­tion to the over­all sales is over 80 per­cent. Al­though it will take a while for this trend to catch up in the South states. At a na­tional level, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the met­ro­pol­i­tan cities, oc­ca­sion is the big­gest growth driver where In­di­ans largely con­sume it.”

Oc­ca­sions In­di­ans shop for

Birth­days, an­niver­saries, wed­dings, and fes­ti­vals are the main oc­ca­sions that prompt oc­ca­sion wear sales in In­dia. But to­day, peo­ple also buy for a lot of other oc­ca­sions such as var­i­ous wed­ding rit­u­als, events, photo shoots, etc.

With glob­al­i­sa­tion and eth­nic blur­ring, the term ‘oc­ca­sion’ has also gone far be­yond the tra­di­tional fes­tiv­i­ties to en­com­pass a wider range of events.

“So even if it is not the wed­ding sea­son or fam­ily cel­e­bra­tions, it is the white-tie and black-tie oc­ca­sions, Sun­day brunches, and va­ca­tions that en­cour­age peo­ple to opt for new looks,” says Singh.

Ac­cord­ing to Pishe, “Busi­ness and travel are the other two oc­ca­sions when our clients shop. Busi­ness events have dis­tinct re­quire­ments, there­fore, at P N Rao, we recog­nised that need and cre­ated busi­ness and ca­sual-busi­ness wears to ful­fill the chang­ing con­sumers need. Also, fac­tors like at­tend­ing an

in­ter­view call, a client meet­ing over lunch or din­ner have height­ened this new trend.”

Oc­ca­sion wear: The phe­nom & key in­flu­ences

With the newer gen­er­a­tion com­ing in and their height­ened sense of fash­ion, it is only im­per­a­tive for such a change to take place. “The whole trend starts from cities like Mum­bai and Delhi for they have al­ways stayed close to the in­ter­na­tional and na­tional fash­ion trends and it spreads out to rest of the cities there­after. To­day, a lot of tier -II cities con­sume be­spoke fash­ion too,” says Pishe.

On fash­ion in­flu­ences Pishe shares that a lot of cus­tomers come to them af­ter look­ing at trend­ing fash­ion on In­sta­gram and other so­cial plat­forms. Bol­ly­wood is a huge in­flu­ence on peo­ple. They tied up with a de­signer who de­signed sig­na­ture pathan suits for Shah Rukh Khan in the movie Raees and had a sim­i­lar cat­a­logue at their stores, which had great trac­tion.

Singh ac­ceded that a dras­tic ex­po­sure to so­cial me­dia plat­forms like In­sta­gram, Pin­ter­est and Face­book have shed a light on fash­ion in­flu­encers across the world. Cit­ing ex­am­ples such as red car­pet looks from the Os­cars to the Grammy’s and even Hol­ly­wood films like The Great Gatsby have now be­come in­spi­ra­tions for cer­e­mo­nial dress­ing.

In­flu­encers play on the minds of the pop­u­la­tion and ev­ery­one wants to wear the best. Peo­ple cer­tainly fol­low celebri­ties as an icon and would want to fol­low how they dress. There are trends which gain tremen­dous pop­u­lar­ity af­ter a cer­tain in­flu­encer or celebrity wears it.

Key trends & pref­er­ences

On a broader front, there is a re­mark­able shift in the men’s trends when the cur­rent is com­pared with past. Peo­ple have started shift­ing from com­pletely eth­nic to western wear. “While there are cer­tain oc­ca­sions for which they pre­fer only eth­nic wear, for most of the oc­ca­sions, peo­ple want an out­fit which can be uti­lized more of­ten, and hence a shift to western out­fits. Peo­ple are be­com­ing bold in colour choices and styles too, which makes the jour­ney of cus­tom-made oc­ca­sion-wear even more ex­cit­ing,” said Singh.

He fur­ther said that in terms of fash­ion pref­er­ences and ref­er­ences, peo­ple are glued to lat­est trends and their style stew­ards guide them through. “Peo­ple want to have the ecru selvedge denim or a peak lapel check suit or the crisp English spread col­lar dress shirt. Buy­ing de­ci­sions are also based on a wardrobe so­lu­tion per­spec­tive, wherein they want new looks to com­ple­ment what’s in their wardrobe al­ready,” he said.

“Men usu­ally opt for some­thing sub­tle with sharp cuts and crisp de­tail­ing. Some of the men want in­tri­cate de­tail­ing on their gar­ments with a burst of colours. While, some would opt for a quirkier look with dif­fer­ent cuts.

How­ever, we at SS Homme cus­tomise it for cus­tomers ac­cord­ing to their sen­si­bil­i­ties,” shares Gon­salves.

SS Homme is a re­puted brand that spe­cialises in sharp cuts, Euro­pean sil­hou­ettes, con­tem­po­rary de­signs and crisp de­tail­ing. It is a one-stopdes­ti­na­tion for the man who wants to look dis­tin­guished. Through their three sub cat­e­gories, namely SS Homme Be­spoke, they cater to cus­tomers who pre­fer clas­sic looks with min­i­mal aes­thet­ics; SS Homme Cou­ture pro­vides ev­ery­thing from clean cut sher­wa­nis to em­broi­dered suits, cater­ing to ev­ery one’s wed­ding needs. Ev­ery gar­ment is hand­crafted to fit the mod­ern cus­tomers taste; SS Homme SSen­tric caters to the cus­tomer who isn’t afraid to ex­per­i­ment with printed suits and quirky sil­hou­ettes.

Over the years, apart from the festive sea­son, men pur­chase their for­mal wear and reg­u­lar wear. “SS Homme Be­spoke is what they usu­ally opt for. The be­spoke process is what dif­fer­en­ti­ates the brand from oth­ers in the mar­ket,” he says. Ac­cord­ing to him, in terms of In­dian wear, Achkan cuts and An­grakha’s are the cur­rent trend. How­ever, sharp clean cuts are al­ways in mode. Clean sil­hou­ettes with min­i­mal details, hand em­broi­dery, bright coloured en­sem­bles and thread work are also what you can see in their col­lec­tion ‘Mozaik’.” Pishe also be­lieves that the sub­tler or un­der­stated look is what men are look­ing for. And for him “Ele­gance” is the key word in men’s oc­ca­sion wear seg­ment. Ac­cord­ingly, in their of­fer­ings in this seg­ment, there is a lot of va­ri­ety in terms of colours, cuts and de­signs. Sim­i­larly, their au­tumn/win­ter 2017-18 col­lec­tion which is themed as ‘In­fu­sion’ high­light colours – Green and Pur­ple. “Use of jack­ets is largely ac­cepted when they are matched with fashionable for­mals. A wide range of jack­ets are avail­able at all our P N Rao stores in semi-for­mal and fash­ion for­mal wear with dif­fer­ent hues, cuts, colours and fits,” Pishe added.

Singh fur­ther ex­plained that, in terms of de­sign and trends in oc­ca­sion-wear, peo­ple usu­ally pre­fer peak and shawl lapels to the clas­sic notch lapels. “They also look for con­trast­ing trims for the lapels from the same colour fam­ily as the base fab­ric, but in dif­fer­ent tex­tures like dobby, com­plex struc­tures or dif­fer­ent de­signs of jacquard (from geo­met­ric to or­na­men­tal). Fur­ther­more, cus­tomers tend to use th­ese con­trast­ing trim fab­rics as a base fab­ric for the vest as it gives the en­sem­ble a more thought­ful and dif­fer­en­ti­ated look.

The sil­hou­ette of the blaz­ers is usu­ally pre­ferred to be slim with a front cut as the cut­away style. This gives it a more mod­ern ap­proach. To make the in­side of the jacket also in­ter­est­ing peo­ple choose printed lin­ings, even if it’s at an up­charge,” ex­plains Singh.

“Trousers are also pre­ferred to be slim with the bot­tom hem as a shoe cut de­sign which al­lows it to drape bet­ter on shoes. Colour pref­er­ences usu­ally vary from the clas­sic black to dif­fer­ent shades of blues as they are al­ways a safer bet and ideal for peo­ple who pre­fer not to be too no­tice­able or too in­signif­i­cant. Pink is the most sell­ing colour af­ter the usual blue and white. How­ever, some cus­tomers who are bold enough to carry more flam­boy­ant looks go for jewel tones like lilac, bur­gundy, dark green, etc.,” Singh con­cluded.

P N Rao

– San­deep Gon­salves, Co-Founder, S S Homme

“Tech­nol­ogy has ad­vanced and so­cial me­dia has be­come an in­te­gral part of life. Ev­ery celebrity, in­flu­encer, blog­ger and brand looks to so­cial me­dia to share their taste in fash­ion among all the other things they do. This plays a ma­jor role in...

– Ke­tan Pishe, Part­ner, P N Rao

“We pro­vide a global sense of dress­ing for in­di­vid­u­als and groups on how one is ex­pected to dress when trav­el­ling and meet­ing peo­ple. It ed­u­cates peo­ple on the in­tri­ca­cies in­volved in it. This is a new and up­com­ing seg­ment that never ex­isted a decade...

Crey­ate SS Homme

– Te­jin­der Singh, COO, Crey­ate

“The de­mand for be­spoke is surely more pro­nounced in tier-I cities with an abun­dance of cos­mopoli­tans, but grad­u­ally its ef­fect is show­ing up in tierII cities as well. A lot of our cus­tomers are based in tier-II cities who come to shop with us at store...

By Rosy Ngai­hte Sharma

Im­ages Busi­ness of Fash­ion talks to a trio of vet­er­ans in be­spoke fash­ion on the unique dy­nam­ics of the be­spoke oc­ca­sion wear mar­ket. Te­jin­der Singh, COO, Crey­ate; Ke­tan Pishe, Part­ner, P N Rao; and San­deep Gon­salves, Co-Founder, SS Homme, share their...

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