In­dia’s fash­ion re­tail­ers bet big on oc­ca­sion wear

The suave mod­ern In­dian con­sumer now leads an oc­ca­sion-ori­ented life­style and his fash­ion needs are fre­quent and di­verse. A look at the dy­nam­ics of this rel­a­tively new fash­ion seg­ment that is oblig­ing In­dia’s new­found pen­chant for cel­e­brat­ing oc­ca­sions...

Business of Fashion - - Contents - By Shivam Gau­tom

A look at the dy­nam­ics of this rel­a­tively new fash­ion seg­ment that is oblig­ing In­dia’s new­found pen­chant for cel­e­brat­ing oc­ca­sions.

In­dia is a vivid land of oc­ca­sions, es­pe­cially in con­tem­po­rary sec­u­lar times, when even re­gional oc­ca­sions and fes­ti­vals en­joy pan In­dia pop­u­lar­ity. Hardly a calendar month goes by with­out at least one day ded­i­cated to some oc­ca­sion. For the fash­ion in­dus­try, these times spell a for­tune for they act as pow­er­ful stim­u­lants for fash­ion con­sump­tion in In­dia.

Con­sumer be­hav­ior and spend­ing pat­terns are shift­ing as in­comes rise and In­dian so­ci­ety evolves. Peo­ple are spend­ing on new clothes for all sorts of oc­ca­sions – birthdays, par­ties, busi­ness events, wed­dings and fes­ti­vals. If it’s an oc­ca­sion, In­di­ans need some­thing new to wear.

“Peo­ple as in­di­vid­u­als have started cel­e­brat­ing life ev­ery day. It’s not lim­ited to the de­fined fes­ti­vals. The life­style in­cludes travel as an­other cru­cial as­pect, and peo­ple have be­come fash­ion con­scious. It is true that they have started shop­ping through­out, but the re­sponse dur­ing fes­ti­vals al­ways takes the lead,” says Su­varna Kale, Head of De­sign, Black­ber­rys.

And as oc­ca­sions tran­scend bor­ders and tra­di­tions, a gen­er­a­tional trans­for­ma­tion has been ush­ered into the fash­ion mar­ket in In­dia -- the

“The grow­ing mid­dle class has a larger wal­let to­day, and is open to spend­ing it across newer oc­ca­sions

and con­tem­po­rary needs. The in­dus­try sup­ports such cus­tomer needs by tai­lor­ing its of­fer­ings to

spe­cific oc­ca­sions”

– Ku­mar Sau­rabh,

CBO, Manay­var & Mon­hey

“The rise in the pop­u­lar­ity of so­cial me­dia as well as ex­po­sure to in­ter­na­tional trends and self-im­age

has meant that it is not only the af­flu­ent con­sumers who are go­ing in for oc­ca­sion wear but also the young

mid­dle class”

– Vi­nay M Chat­lani,

Direc­tor & CEO, Soch

“Mod­ern life­style in­volves a lot more meet­ings for busi­ness or for par­ty­ing. So, peo­ple have started

shop­ping through­out, but the re­sponse dur­ing fes­ti­vals al­ways

takes the lead”

– Su­varna Kale,

Head of De­sign, Black­ber­rys

av­er­age In­dian’s wardrobe is shift­ing from need-based cloth­ing to oc­ca­sion spe­cific dress­ing along.

Growth Driv­ers

With the boom in re­tail in the last few decades, ur­ban In­dia has em­braced con­sumerism and the oc­ca­sions for con­sump­tion has grown man­i­fold. In the re­cent past, the grow­ing awareness of global fash­ion trends has been fu­eled by the pro­lif­er­at­ing pen­e­tra­tion of the in­ter­net and the fash­ion and life­style me­dia. Higher dis­pos­able in­come, nu­clear fam­ily set up and be­ing fash­ion con­scious have fur­ther brought im­mense change in the spend­ing pat­tern of mod­ern cus­tomers.

“Un­prece­dented growth of re­tail, cou­pled with an in­crease in dis­pos­able in­comes has largely fu­eled con­sump­tion in In­dia. The grow­ing mid­dle class has a larger wal­let to­day, and is open to spend­ing it in a dif­fer­ent man­ner, spread across newer oc­ca­sions and con­tem­po­rary needs. The in­dus­try in turn sup­ports such con­sump­tion lev­els and cus­tomer needs by tai­lor­ing its of­fer­ings to spe­cific oc­ca­sions,” says Ku­mar Sau­rabh, Chief Busi­ness Of­fi­cer, Manyavar and Mo­hey. “Other than the wed­dings and the fes­tive sea­son, peo­ple shop for oc­ca­sions like birthdays, an­niver­saries, housed warm­ing par­ties, new year eve, hol­i­days, ev­ery year stu­dents who are (20-25 year old) shop for their grad­u­a­tion day. Peo­ple also shop for gift­ing pur­poses as it is one of the eas­i­est items to pick up and can be ex­changed,” says Shachi Sing­ha­nia, Brand Man­ager, Tur­tle.

Var­i­ous brands and re­tail­ers have en­sured that there is plenty of choice avail­able for the con­sumer across var­i­ous cat­e­gories, which was not the case tra­di­tion­ally. Most brands have ex­tended the prod­uct of­fer­ing to cap­ture a higher wal­let share, mak­ing it eas­ier for the con­sumer to find a prod­uct suit­able for a spe­cific oc­ca­sion.

Tar­get Group

Tra­di­tion­ally, the oc­ca­sion wear mar­ket in In­dia was catered by ei­ther the un­or­gan­ised play­ers or the high-end de­sign­ers. But, to­day, this seg­ment has emerged to be an at­trac­tive mar­ket for the mid­dle class as well. “To­day, all con­sumers are tar­get cus­tomers

for oc­ca­sion wear. The rise in the pop­u­lar­ity of so­cial me­dia as well ex­po­sure to in­ter­na­tional trends and self-im­age has meant that it is not only the af­flu­ent con­sumers who are go­ing in for oc­ca­sion wear but also the young mid­dle class, armed with higher dis­pos­able in­come, which is fu­elling the de­mand in this cat­e­gory,” says Vi­nay M Chat­lani, Direc­tor and CEO, Soch.

In­dus­try sen­tinels have also noted that it is the young de­mo­graphic, with a greater pro­cliv­ity to­wards ‘look­ing and feel­ing good’, who are amongst the core driv­ers of this phe­nom­e­non. “In my ex­pe­ri­ence con­sumers be­tween the ages of 18 to 35 make up a con­sid­er­able num­ber of oc­ca­sion wear shop­pers. This is a rel­a­tively young de­mo­graphic whose mem­bers strive to look their best and of­ten com­pete amongst one an­other in this re­spect,” says Surya Suri, Founder, Steele Col­lec­tion.

Tra­di­tion­ally, al­though metro cities have al­ways con­trib­uted more to­wards oc­ca­sion spe­cific sales, with the flow of in­for­ma­tion and easy ac­cess to a wide range of brands, non-metro towns have emerged as par­al­lel con­trib­u­tors of this mar­ket as well. “The con­sumers of Tier -II and -III cities are in­creas­ingly fol­low­ing the lat­est trends and wants to be in sync in as far as fash­ion goes of their coun­ter­parts in met­ros and Tier-I cities. And with avail­abil­ity of proper in­fra­struc­ture of malls and high streets, it has now be­come eas­ier to gain foothold in these mar­kets,” says Pratikh Ra­jpuria, Direc­tor, Man­ish Cre­ations.

Pop­u­lar Seg­ments

Ev­ery oc­ca­sion/festival calls for its own style and prod­uct cat­e­gories. Un­der the men’s wear seg­ment, sher­wa­nis, jodh­puris, band­hgalas reign as the top de­manded ap­par­els in the eth­nic wear seg­ment. While party shirts dom­i­nate the western wear seg­ment – gen­er­ally re­served for for­mal oc­ca­sions – suits, man­darins, tuxe­dos, zoot suits, shirt co­or­di­nates, etc., en­joy a healthy de­mand.

Un­der the women’s seg­ment sa­rees, lehen­gas, suits, western wear, fu­sion wear, party gowns and dresses, gym wear, yoga clothes and travel wear are some of the pop­u­lar seg­ments in oc­ca­sion wear. “Kur­tas and kurta jack­ets find max­i­mum fo­cus dur­ing small oc­ca­sions and fes­ti­vals. For grooms wear, Manyavar sher­wa­nis are an ever­green choice. The Indo-western cat­e­gory is also find­ing its own loy­al­ists amongst con­sumers who love to ex­per­i­ment and mix and match. For ex­am­ple, a sleeve­less jacket paired with a shirt en­hances the en­tire en­sem­ble. Amongst women, lehen­gas are the goto cat­e­gory. At Mo­hey, we chan­nel­ize our ex­per­tise with hand­work and com­bine it with the lat­est trends to craft our lehenga ranges,” says Ku­mar Sau­rabh.

Cur­rently, a num­ber of ma­jor play­ers are at­tempt­ing to re­de­fine this cat­e­gory, and the teem­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties has lured in many pre­mium brands to en­ter the oc­ca­sion wear seg­ment by en­hanc­ing their ex­ist­ing prod­uct of­fer­ing to cater to this mar­ket. In the years to come, the oc­ca­sion wear mar­ket is ex­pected to trans­form into a more de­tail-ori­ented and fash­ion con­scious seg­ment along with the ris­ing as­pi­ra­tions of the In­dian con­sumer.

“From my ex­pe­ri­ence con­sumers be­tween the ages of 18 to 35 make up a con­sid­er­able num­ber of oc­ca­sion wear shop­pers. This is a rel­a­tively young de­mo­graphic whose mem­bers strive to look their best”

– Surya Suri, Founder, Steele Col­lec­tion “With avail­abil­ity of proper in­fra­struc­ture of malls and high street, it has now be­come eas­ier to gain foothold in the mar­kets of TierII and -III cities, home to a con­sumer base that is in­creas­ingly fol­low­ing the lat­est trends” – Pratikh Ra­jpuria, Direc­tor, Man­ish Cre­ations “Other than the wed­dings and fes­tiv­i­ties peo­ple shop for oc­ca­sions like birthdays, an­niver­saries, housed warm­ing par­ties,

new year eve, hol­i­days, ev­ery year stu­dents who are (20-25 years) shop for

their grad­u­a­tion day”

– Shachi Sing­ha­nia, Brand Man­ager, Tur­tle

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