In­dia’s win­ter wear mar­ket: It’s busy busi­ness as re­tail­ers gear up to weather cli­mate change


Business of Fashion - - Contents - Rosy N Sharma With In­puts From Gur­bir Singh Gu­lati

IMAGES BoF spoke to var­i­ous brands to com­pile a com­pre­hen­sive study of the win­ter wear mar­ket in the coun­try and the road ahead.

The In­dian win­ter wear mar­ket has been wit­ness­ing a slump for quite some time now due to the er­ratic du­ra­tion of time for which the sea­son ac­tu­ally comes to In­dia. Un­pre­dictable weather con­di­tions have im­pacted the busi­ness of ap­parel to such a great ex­tent that brands are be­ing forced to re­visit their prod­uct mix. IMAGES BoF spoke to var­i­ous brands to com­pile a com­pre­hen­sive study of the win­ter wear mar­ket in the coun­try and the road ahead...

Global warm­ing, in­con­sis­tent weather con­di­tions and the shrink­ing win­ter sea­son have ad­versely im­pacted In­dia’s win­ter wear mar­ket, chang­ing con­sumer buy­ing be­hav­iour. Cli­mate change has served to trans­form the busi­ness mod­els of ap­parel re­tail­ers as well as their de­signs, and the very no­tion of sea­sonal fash­ion it­self.

The pe­riod be­tween De­cem­ber to March, when the north­ern part of In­dia usu­ally wit­nessed ex­treme win­ters, has shrunk to just a few weeks. The prac­tice of bring­ing win­ter fash­ion to the shelves in Au­gust to en­sure smooth lo­gis­tics for re­tail­ers are a thing of the past, with brands ques­tion­ing the lead time since no one re­ally buys win­ter wear so early on in the year any­more.

“The cli­mate change has not only im­pacted sales lo­cally but glob­ally as well, since weather pat­terns are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly un­pre­dictable. In­dia be­ing a sea­sonal mar­ket, the chal­lenge be­comes even big­ger as re­tail­ers are left with lim­ited time to en­sure the in­ven­tory is sold,” says Ab­hishek Shetty, Head – Mar­ket­ing, PR & Loy­alty, Ce­lio*.

Rishabh Oswal, Pres­i­dent, Oswal Woolen Mills (Monte Carlo) agrees, say­ing that while a few years ago ap­parel wasn’t con­sid­ered win­ter wear un­less it was heavy wo­ven, to­day light fabrics are serv­ing the pur­pose eas­ily, with knit­ted woollen sweaters are be­ing re­placed with light weight cardi­gans and jack­ets.

“The im­pact of global warm­ing is def­i­nitely vis­i­ble in the in­dus­try. Ear­lier peo­ple used to in­vest in solid sweaters and jumpers while to­day they pre­fer di­vid­ing the bud­get and buy­ing light weight win­ter wear. The course of buy­ing win­ter wear has changed and so has our busi­ness model in terms of pro­duc­tiv­ity and profit,” he adds.

Agree­ing with the fact that shorter win­ters have dis­rupted the sea­sonal re­tail calendar, Neha Shah, Head Mar­ket­ing, Pepe Jeans, con­cedes that peo­ple are now more or less wear­ing the same clothes the whole year round. “In a sce­nario like this, we have to fine tune our col­lec­tions ac­cord­ing to con­sumers’ de­mand. But this doesn’t mean that win­ter wear as a cat­e­gory will soon be­come ob­so­lete. With the change in weather pat­terns, new styles will be cre­ated to meet the re­quire­ment for all-weather cloth­ing,” she ex­plains.

Win­ter Wear Mar­ket Size in In­dia

Win­ter wear oc­cu­pies 50 per­cent of the do­mes­tic mar­ket and around 45 per­cent of the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket with an up­ward growth of 9 to 10 per­cent an­nu­ally. In 2017, win­ter wear was pegged at `14,475 crore and this is ex­pected to reach al­most `33,957 crore by 2027.

“Win­ter wear over­all ac­counts for about 8 per­cent of the to­tal menswear ap­parel mar­ket which is pegged at `1,24,423 crore and forms the largest seg­ment (men’s wear) in the ap­parel mar­ket. The win­ter wear mar­ket is ex­pected to clock about 9 to 11 per­cent growth in the com­ing years. Cur­rently the un­branded seg­ment ac­counts for about 70 per­cent of this mar­ket,” says Shetty.

Shah says that the In­dian ap­parel mar­ket con­sists of 50 per­cent men’s wear, 20 per­cent women’s wear, and 30 per­cent kidswear. Win­ter wear as a cat­e­gory has an equal mar­ket of branded and un­branded play­ers, she

adds, with both in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal play­ers al­ways look­ing for in­no­va­tive ways to cap­ture a ma­jor­ity of the mar­ket share.

Ac­cord­ing to Oswal, win­ter wear is a ma­jor driver in the In­dian knitwear mar­ket, with trade far­ing bet­ter de­spite the cli­mate shift in last few decades.

“With in­crease in ac­cu­rate pen­e­tra­tion and ap­pro­pri­ate ex­po­sure, the win­ter wear mar­ket does have po­ten­tial to grow in ex­cess of 10 to 15 per­cent an­nu­ally in the near fu­ture,” adds He­tal Ko­tak, CEO, Lee Cooper.

From Util­ity to Fash­ion Wear

While the main pur­pose of win­ter wear is to keep a per­son warm in cold weather, over the years, this cat­e­gory has evolved from a ne­ces­sity to a fash­ion state­ment. While the global con­sumer has al­ready pushed re­tail­ers and brands to con­sider en­vi­ron­men­tally-flex­i­ble fabrics, for win­ter wear, the more ob­vi­ous shift may be the de­sign of the ap­parel. Brands are now warm­ing up to the fact that win­ter wear is no longer about bulky, func­tional, warm gar­ments, but could be de­fined by a whole new aes­thetic.

Shah re­counts that a cou­ple of years ago, win­ter wear was not as di­ver­si­fied as com­pared to the range that ex­ists to­day. “It mainly re­volved around sweaters, heavy woollen wear and jack­ets that only pro­vided func­tion and not much of style. The tran­si­tion in win­ter wear came with the western in­flu­ence, run­way trends and en­try of many in­ter­na­tional brands in the In­dian mar­ket,” she re­calls.

While Pepe Jeans of­fers a wide ar­ray of chic ca­sual wear for men, women and kids and jeans is the brand’s core prod­uct – very pop­u­lar and sell­ing ex­tremely well – other prod­ucts in the brand’s kitty in­clude flat knits, sweaters, sweat­shirts, jack­ets as well as wo­ven mer­chan­dise. Aside from this, there are t-shirts as well as an ac­ces­sories range con­sist­ing of bags, wal­lets, caps, socks and footwear.

“In our lat­est Au­tumn/Win­ter 2018 col­lec­tion, we have in­tro­duced a mix of light and heavy win­ter wear keep­ing in mind peo­ple’s pref­er­ences as well as fash­ion for­ward styles such as that of­fer com­fort and at the same time are also prac­ti­cal,” Shah states.

“We are see­ing a surge in stylish and trendy pieces in this seg­ment. Also prod­ucts which make a fash­ion state­ment tend to do quite well in the ur­ban ar­eas.”

– Ab­hishek Shetty,

Head – Mar­ket­ing, PR & Loy­alty, Ce­lio

Mean­while, in­ter­na­tional brands Lee Cooper and Ce­lio* say that they of­fer prod­ucts that are ur­ban, smart, el­e­gant and very wear­able. Tak­ing pride for be­ing in the busi­ness for more than 110 long years, Lee Cooper has wit­nessed mas­sive changes in ev­ery as­pect of fash­ion – be it bell bot­toms or skin fit den­ims. The brand has al­ways en­sured that its prod­ucts are in sync with con­tem­po­rary fash­ion in its re­spec­tive time pe­riod.

“Lee Cooper has al­ways been ef­fort­lessly stylish yet com­fort­able. It has un­der­gone var­i­ous trans­for­ma­tions over the years and al­ways sharp fo­cused its of­fer­ings to cater to the taste and pref­er­ences of the on­go­ing con­sumer trends,” says Ko­tak.

In the win­ter wear range, cus­tomers can pick and choose from a wide range of overdyed cot­ton sweaters, hooded over dyed sweat­shirts, denim jack­ets, biker jack­ets, sweat­shirts in dif­fer­ent wash tech­niques, over-dyed and gar­ment washed cot­ton jack­ets, cardi­gans and pullovers. Front open sweat­shirts with zip­per are do­ing phe­nom­e­nally well for Lee Cooper. “This time we are in­tro­duc­ing op­tions in light win­ter wear. We have also in­cluded a range of ath­leisure jack­ets to pro­vide our con­sumers with a larger bou­quet of op­tions,” he says.

“We are see­ing a surge in stylish and trendy pieces in this seg­ment.

Also, prod­ucts which make a fash­ion state­ment tend to do quite well in ur­ban ar­eas. This sea­son we will launch light weight puff jack­ets, which are made of spe­cial­ized light­weight fabric, but gives you high de­gree of pro­tec­tion from the cold. We are call­ing them ‘Light­weight Heavy­weights’,” says Shetty of Ce­lio*.

“Over the years, we have in­creased both width and depth in terms of win­ter wear of­fer­ing. In the last few years a por­tion of the con­sumers have been mov­ing from value-based pur­chas­ing to life­style-based pur­chas­ing. Be­ing in the busi­ness of fast fash­ion, we con­stantly in­no­vate and up­grade our prod­ucts on a sea­son-to-sea­son ba­sis and some­times even within a sea­son. Be­ing a global fash­ion pow­er­house helps us to be at the fore­front of global

“With in­crease in ac­cu­rate pen­e­tra­tion and ap­pro­pri­ate ex­po­sure, the win­ter

wear mar­ket does have po­ten­tial to grow in ex­cess of 10 to 15 per­cent

an­nu­ally in the near fu­ture.”

– He­tal Ko­tak, CEO, Lee Cooper

“Over the past few years in par­tic­u­lar, re­tail sales have suf­fered as a re­sult of un­sea­son­ably warm

weather and con­se­quently less re­li­able tra­di­tional sea­sonal cy­cles.”

– Man­ish Mand­hana, CEO, Be­ing Hu­man Cloth­ing “Win­ter wear has an equal mar­ket of branded and un­branded play­ers. Both

in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal play­ers are al­ways look­ing for in­no­va­tive ways to cap­ture ma­jor­ity of the mar­ket share.”

– Neha Shah, Head-Mar­ket­ing, Pepe Jeans

fash­ion trends and launch prod­ucts which the In­dia con­sumer as­pires to buy,” he adds.

While, Monte Carlo’s motto is to pro­vide qual­ity and va­ri­ety to its cus­tomers, the brand’s win­ter wear range is solely based on blend­ing com­fort with fash­ion.

“We de­sign clothes keep­ing the fash­ion zeit­geists in mind and for­mu­late the best cuts, de­signs, pat­terns and colours that give an edge to the reg­u­lar win­ter wear,” ex­plains Oswal. “This year the clas­sic camel coats are mak­ing a come­back (in lighter fabric), cardi­gans and jardi­gans (a hy­brid of cardi­gan and jacket), sweat­shirts and jack­ets are trend­ing,” he adds.

Menswear brand, Parx that of­fers shirts, trousers, po­los, t-shirts, den­ims, sweat­shirts, pullovers and out­er­wear, has in­tro­duced su­per light jack­ets, scuba jack­ets and more that are easy to han­dle and light weight too.

Pra­gati Sri­vas­tava, Brand Head, Parx, shares, “The heavy win­ter sea­son has shrunk and is lim­ited only to cer­tain parts of In­dia. Light weight jack­ets and sweat­shirts with added fash­ion el­e­ments are ideal prod­ucts, for which con­sumers are ready to spend.”

Spykar, a brand for younger au­di­ences, has been known to keep up with its tar­get con­sumer’s high fash­ion con­sump­tion quo­tient. The brand cou­ples this with of­fer­ing win­ter wear with func­tional ben­e­fits and they have a best­seller.

“We are heav­ily ex­per­i­ment­ing with light weight fabric for win­ter sea­son. We of­fer a range of bomber jack­ets, which is a trendy prod­uct this sea­son. Quilted ad­ven­ture jack­ets for out­door needs in sporty and clas­sic colours are crafted in light-to-medium weight ny­lon, cot­ton and cot­ton blends,” says San­jay Vakharia, CEO, Spykar.

Do­mes­tic Vs In­ter­na­tional Brands

Man­ish Mand­hana, CEO, Be­ing Hu­man Cloth­ing says that the pres­ence of in­ter­na­tional brands has made the In­dian win­ter wear mar­ket tougher for do­mes­tic brands to cap­ture.

“Heavy win­ter sea­son has shrunk and is lim­ited only to cer­tain parts

of In­dia. So, light weight jack­ets and sweat shirts with added fash­ion el­e­ments are ideal prod­ucts, for which con­sumers are ready

to spend.”

– Pra­gati Sri­vas­tava,

Brand Head, Parx

“The only way to beat in­ter­na­tional play­ers at their own game is to take the tech­nol­ogy route, to get closer to the cus­tomers, to get more in­tel­li­gence in­for­ma­tion about what is the pat­tern of the mar­kets, con­sumers and de­signs. And plan your busi­ness based on that be­cause it’s time to be a lit­tle watch­ful,” he ex­plains.

Ac­cord­ing to him, in­ter­na­tional play­ers of­fer very sharp prices at lower mul­ti­ple rates. They be­lieve more in vol­ume gains and faster turnovers, due to which In­dian value re­tail­ers have been im­pacted.

For­eign brands like H&M, Zara, For­ever 21—and Uniqlo, which is on its way to In­dia—have can­ni­bal­ized the In­dian home­grown busi­nesses.

Shetty ob­serves that ear­lier, play­ers in the non-branded seg­ment pro­cured new, in­no­va­tive and cheaper prod­ucts from coun­tries such as China and of­fered them at great prices, thereby mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for big­ger brands to pen­e­trate the mar­ket. “Now, there will be an ag­gres­sive push from the branded seg­ment in the next few years to bridge this gap by in­no­vat­ing and of­fer­ing new prod­uct ranges,” he says.

Mean­while, Shah ex­plains that Pepe Jeans’ ap­proach is very sim­ple. “We stand for cer­tain values and as long as we are able to make the con­sumer un­der­stand that the price prod­uct equa­tion that Pepe Jeans is of­fer­ing is bet­ter than any­body else, noth­ing else matters. Our con­sumers look for a great fit, qual­ity prod­ucts and a sharp pric­ing. Keep­ing in mind our end cus­tomers and stay­ing true to our values of a cool denim brand is all that matters,” she con­cludes.

“We de­sign a range of clothes keep­ing the fash­ion zeit­geists in mind, and af­ter an in-depth re­search, we for­mu­late the best cuts, de­signs, pat­terns, colours that give an edge to

the reg­u­lar win­ter wear.”

– Rishabh Oswal, Pres­i­dent, Monte Carlo “Weather in­flu­ences the sales. The er­ratic cold pe­riod which is short­en­ing year by year has led to brands re­vis­it­ing the prod­uct mix.”

– San­jay Vakharia,

CEO, Spykar

Lee Cooper store

Spykar store

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