Indian Fashion Industry
Colourful fashion trends of India
With the end of the 20th
century came the end of all hype which has created a more practical and
pragmatic environment and has given a more stable picture of the fashion
In the 50s, 60s and 70s, the Indian fashion scenario wasn’t exactly
colorless. It was exciting, stylish and very graceful. There were no
designers, models, star or fashion design labels that the country could
show off. The value of a garment was judged by its style and fabric and
not by who made it.
It was regarded as ever so chic and
fashionable to approach any unfamiliar tailor, who could make a garment
for a few rupees, providing the perfect fit, finish and style. The high
society lady, who wore it, was proud for getting a good bargain and for
giving her name to the end result.
In 60s, tight ‘kurtas’,
‘churidars’ and high coiffures were a trend among ladies. It was an era
full of naughtiness and celebration in arts and music and cinema,
manifested by liberation from restriction and acceptance of new types of
materials such as plastic film and coated polyester fabric.
70s witnessed an increase in the export of traditional materials outside
the country as well as within. Hence, international fashion arrived in
India much before the MTV culture with the bold colors, flower prints
and bell-bottoms. Synthetics turned trendy and the disco culture
affected the fashion scenario.
It was in the early 80s when the
first fashion store ‘Ravissant’ opened in Mumbai. At that time garments
were retailed for a four-figure price tag. The ’80s was the era of self
consciousness and American designers like Calvin Klein became popular.
In India too, silhouettes became more masculine and the ‘salwar kameez’
was designed with shoulder pads.
With the evolution of designer
stores in Mumbai, the elegant fashion design culture was a trend among
Indians along with their heavy price tags. No doubt that a garment with a
heavy price tag was at the bottom stage of fashion. But clients
immediately transformed into the high fashion fold where they were
convinced that that the word ‘elegant fashion design culture’ means, it
had to have a higher price tag.
Garments were sold at unbelievable
prices only because the designers had decided to get themselves noticed
by making showy outfits and getting associated with the right shows,
celebrities and events.
Later, fashion shows shifted to
competitive events each attempting to out-do the other in theme, guest
list and media coverage. For any newcomer, the fashion business was the
number one professional art that time.
In the 90’s, the last
decade of the millennium, a move towards the drastic pairing down
returned with ethnic wears (Today, ethnic wear market in India is
accounted to Rs. 9000 crore). This led to the decline and the recession,
the push to sell at any cost and keep staying in the limelight. With
heavy cut throat competition and sound awareness of the client, the
inevitable occurred. The price tags, which had once reached at a peak,
began their downside journey.
At those times the downturn was not
only being experienced in the price tags of the garments, but also in
the business of fashion shows. More models, choreographers, make-up men,
hairstylists and designers streamed down into their business.
fun and party time in the Indian fashion scenario had not ended with
this, but continued. It was a point, where it reached at a certain
steady level and from there, in the beginning of the 21st centaury, with
new designers and models and some sensible designing; the fashion hype
accelerated its speed.
Indian fashion industry spreads its wings globally
the global fashion industry, India is a very big exporter of fabrics
and accessories. All over the world, Indian ethnic designs and materials
are considered as a significant facet for the fashion houses and
garment manufacturers. In fabrics, while sourcing for fashion wear,
India also plays a vital role as one of the biggest players in the
international fashion arena.
India’s strengths not only depend on its tradition, but also on its
raw materials. World over, India is the third largest producer of
cotton, the second largest producer of silk and the fifth largest
producer of man-made fibres.
In the international market, the
Indian garment and fabric industries have many fundamental aspects that
are compliant, in terms of cost effectiveness to produce, raw material,
quick adjustment for selling, and a wide ranges of preference in the
designs in the garments like with sequin, beadwork, aari or chikkon
embroidery etc, as well as cheaper skilled work force. India provides
these fashion garments to the international fashion houses at
competitive prices with shorter lead time and an effective monopoly in
designs which covers elaborated hand embroidery – accepted world over.
has always been considered as a default source in the embroidered
garment segment, but the changes of rupee against dollar has further
decreased the prices, thereby attracting buyers. So the international
fashion houses walk away with customized stuff, and in the end crafted
works are sold at very cheap rates.
As far as the market of
fabrics is concerned, the ranges available in India can attract as well
as confuse the buyer. A basic judgmental expectation in the choosing of
fabrics is the present trend in the international market. Much of the
production tasks take place in parts of the small town of Chapa in the
Eastern state of Bihar, a name one would have never even heard of. Here
fabric making is a family industry, the ranges and quality of raw silks
churned out here belie the crude production methods and equipment used-
tussars, matka silks, phaswas, you name it and they can design it. Surat
in Gujarat, is the supplier of an amazing set of jacquards, moss crepes
and georgette sheers – all fabrics utilized to make dazzling
silhouettes demanded world over. Another Indian fabric design that has
been specially designed for the fashion history is the “Madras check”
originally utilized for the universal “Lungi” a simple lower body wrap
worn in Southern India, this product has now traversed its way on to
bandannas, blouses, home furnishings and almost any thing one can think
Recently many designers have started using traditional Indian
fabrics, designs and cuts to enhance their fashion collections. Ethnic
Indian designs with batik cravat, tie-and-dye or vegetable block print
is ‘in’ not just in India but all across the world.
In India, folk
embroidery is always associated with women. It is a way of their self
expression, and they make designs that depict their native culture,
their religion and their desires. Women embroider clothes for their
personal use, and the people linked with the pastoral profession prepare
embroidered animal decorations, decorative covers for horns and
foreheads and the Rabaris of Kutch in Gujarat do some of the finest
embroidery. Embroidered pieces are made during the festivals and
marriages, which are appliqu� work called ‘Dharaniya’. One of the
significant styles of Saurashtra is ‘Heer’ embroidery, which has bold
geometric designs, woven on silks. The Mutwa women of the Banni area of
Kutch have a fascinating embroidery where they make fine embroidery
works with designed motifs and mirrors in the size of pinheads, the
Gracia jats use geometric designs on the yoke of long dresses. Moreover,
the finest of quilts with appliqu� work are also made in Kutch.
embellishment with bead work is another area where it in demand in the
international market. Beads are used to prepare garlands and other
accessory items like belts and bags and these patterns now available for
haute couture evening wear too.
According to a survey, in recent times Indian women have given up
their traditional sari for western wears like t-shirts and shorts, as
they feel more comfortable in skirts and trousers instead of saris and
salwar kameez. It’s been noted that women spend just $165 million on
trousers and skirts against 1.74 billion dollars spent by men on
trousers. With more women coming out to work, the (combined) branded
trouser and skirts market has been increasing at a whopping 27 per cent
in sales terms. Women feel that Western clothing is more suitable,
particularly when working or using public transportation. Many corporate
offices are also in favor of their employees wearing Western wear.
India, Western inspiration is increasing due to the influence of TV and
films. Besides, shopping malls selling branded clothes have also
mushroomed in India and are fascinating the youngsters. Recently,
designer wear is being promoted through store chains such as Shopper’s
Stop, Pantaloons, Westside, etc. Companies such as Raymond and TCNS have
also set up their exclusive stores for designer wear such as Be: and W.
The market of India fashion industry
Recently, a report stated
that the Indian fashion industry can increase from its net worth of Rs
200 crore to Rs 1,000 crore in the next five to ten years. Currently,
the worldwide designer wear market is amounted at $35 billion, with a 9
per cent growth rate, with the Indian fashion industry creating hardly
0.1 per cent of the international industry’s net worth.
to approximations, the total apparel market in India is calculated to be
about Rs 20,000 crore. The branded apparel market’s size is nearly one
fourth of this or Rs 5,000 crore. Designer wear, in turn, covers nearly
about 0.2 per cent of the branded apparel market.
At present, the
largest sales turnover within the designer wear segment is about Rs25
crore, with other well-known names having less turnovers of Rs10-15
crore. In view of the prospects of the Indian fashion industry for
growth, the figures are not very hopeful.
The figure of fashion industry
o The organized market for designer apparel is about Rs 250 crore
o Designer wear calculates to less than 1 per cent of the apparel market
o The global market for designer wear is 5 per cent of total apparel market
o The global market for designer wear industry is largely dependent on the small-scale sector
Consumers for designer wear have a yearly household income of Rs 10
lakh-plus. There are 3 lakh such households developing at 40-45 per cent
o Designer wear industry is projected to increase to Rs 1,000 crore by 2015.
o More than 81 per cent of the population below 45 years of the age is fashion conscious.
fashion designers and management experts foresee an average growth of
about 10-12 per cent for the Indian fashion industry in the coming
years. Though, the growth rate could be more than 15 per cent, if
infrastructural and other logistical bottlenecks and drawbacks are over
India needs more effort to overcome
the benefits available in India there are also some disadvantages. India
is not a remarkable player in the global market with reference to
brands because of its inability to add value to products. This is
observed by the fact that nearly 50 per cent of its exports are apparel
and made-ups where value addition is essential. Likewise, 75 per cent of
domestic apparel market is commoditized and unbranded and very few
Indian brands do survive in the foreign markets. Evidently, the Indian
market has not made a strong stand and hence it is difficult to make
Indian brands that can compete with global brands in India.
reason for the fashion industry’s inadequate growth is the limited
experience of the designers and the platform they are offered. The
insignificance stalks from the reality that most of the young talent is
hired by the bigger names to work in their studios, thus imprinting
their work with the label of the big designers.
Though performing individual presentation is not an alternative
choice for most of the young talent, because of the limitation of
finance, a beginner designer’s name fails to come to the forefront.
Another thing, with regards to the ramp, is what the designers offer
is barely appropriate to be worn ordinarily. You’ll see there’s
dissimilarity between what is there on the ramp and what the Page Three
crowd wears. Some believe at present the fashion is in, but the tendency
hasn’t changed much as it is the old ones coming back. We have had
short kurtas, long kurtas, flowing skirts, etc. coming back into fashion
with only a new variety of designs.
Many management consultants
and professionals believe that the Indian fashion industry will be
boosted if the new comers are paid proper attention. What they require
is more support so that their work gets due recognition. According to
the consultants and professionals there should be a panel of people who
choose designers for showcasing according to their work and not their
name or who they’ve worked for earlier, and hence selection would be
purely based on quality. Besides this, the panel of judges should
comprise of people from the fashion schools rather than designers.
It has been observed that the media-hype around the big designers
and blatant commercialism has hindered business in the Indian fashion
industry. No clear cut picture is provided about the feasibility of the
products. Basically it is only the famous names that are being talked
of. What they offer is not quite daily-wear. The entire focal point of
the industry is on commercialism. The discussion is only regarding how
much is sold and for what price and nothing about the designs or styles.
Efforts to develop global fashion brands
needs innovative designers, a seamless supply chain, control over
retail and distribution and concentration of quality while dealing with
some image. While a few have accomplished something in the west covering
Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Zara, Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, etc, India
has not been capable to track on.
A serious reason for India not being successful has been its
isolation in the fashion system. Each stakeholder including designers,
exporters, textile players and retail chains need to come together along
with the government to make sure that the position of Indian fashion is
strong in the coming years.
There are various agencies and
industry associations that can support in brand-building practice. Many
of these agencies require attractive resources and making a global image
of Indian fashion rather than independently trying to promote
particular brands or textile segments.
Efforts to create strong global image
textiles players require more and more to target on the market facing
activities while developing an association with small medium enterprise
(SME) clusters. Such kind of networks would be a benefit to that which
can focus on demand making and branding as well as for clusters that can
focus on quality production.
Efforts to create value networks
the entry of large retail chains like Wal-Mart, Gap etc in India, Small
scale manufacturers in India will find it very difficult to satisfy the
demands of these international buyers if they continue to promote their
products individually. Therefore, it is very important that value
networks are created between large textile and apparel companies in
India and small scale manufacturers, so that the marketing muscle of the
leading players can be utilized for receiving large orders while the
bigger players then assign the orders to the small-medium enterprises
according to their past record of quality and service. For this to be
put into practice, it will be vital to well-organize the information on
small-medium enterprise clusters in a perfect manner so that supplier
selection decisions are made according to the information in the long
run, only the more efficient small-medium enterprise players survive and
Efforts to concentrate on designers and designs
a fundamental role to play in the future of Indian fashion scenario.
There should hence be an effective process for preparing these
designers. This can be done by sponsoring exchange programs with
international schools, increasing participations in the fashion capitals
of the world, motivating and offering business incubation to new
designers and rewarding efforts through proper design awards.
Even in India, well-known designers are incapable to tap finances
from well-organized resources, since a vital part of their assets are
brands and design talent which are not measured in terms of money and
hence it becomes difficult to judge the value. This has severely
inhibited their development and capability to raise retail existence
across the country and abroad. Likewise, there is no systematic approach
of existence in the fashion capitals of the world like Paris, Milan and
New York. Due to this, designers have to depend on their personal
contacts and relationships for organizing fashion shows and making
retail alliances. The French government as well as the British
government helps designers of their particular countries appreciably in
these areas as they understand that value creation through design is the
only way to carry on in the competitive landscape of the global fashion
industry. The Indian government and related agencies should also accept
this aspect of textile, apparel and fashion industry sincerely if they
need to see India on the global fashion map.
Work in collaboration: designers-corporate efforts
and many organizations can work globally through various models and with
many working relationships. The Indian fashion industry has many views
but only one such model, wherein a designer creates a retail venture
with his/her own brand through organized retail chains. There are many
other models according to brand ownership and division of operational
Globally, many models of collaboration between
designers and corporates are available. For example Ralph Lauren has
made an agreement with Jones Apparel for producing and retailing various
Polo brands. Likewise, Armani had an agreement with Zegna for
production, even while it was competing with them in the marketplace.
There are many cases of designer brands being co-owned by the designers
and corporates, Gucci-Alexander McQueen and Gucci-Stella McCartney being
some of them.
In the end, many designer businesses have been
obtained by corporates where designers play a major role in the design
elements of the business, but the brand and the organization is owned
completely by the corporate.
The current possession of Calvin
Klein by Philips Van Heusen and earlier holdings of Hugo Boss and
Valentino by Marzotto are some related examples in this segment. These
examples strongly point out that not only designers find such
relationships important for development, but also corporates find these
attractive for rising their profitability and growth. Likewise deals in
India could go a long way in developing the brand values of corporates
infrastructure for functioning such as design and sampling, affluent
treatment, product testing, etc can help in increasing the capability of
the clusters since noteworthy investments could be made by the cluster
itself rather than any single player.
Well-managed databases can
help in decreasing search costs and through data mining, rating of
players can be done so as to make the procurement process easier for
buyers. Cooperative marketing programs at different clusters can also
support players to grow up in the value chain by mixing their strengths
within the cluster.
Cluster based battle in the fashion industry
is characterized by the Italian industry. The National Chamber for
Italian Fashion for example, supports the development of the fashion
clusters at Milan and Florence in a well organized manner. Indian
industry can learn a lot from Italy because India has a similar cluster
based scattered production base, but has been incapable to link it with
design and branding capability.
If the above activities are
successfully considered, India could have an extraordinary development
in the fashion industry, which could increase from a negligible size to
Rs 8,000 crore in the coming decade.
In the 50s,
60s and 70s, the Indian fashion scenario was colorful and stylish, in
the end of 20th century it was quite subdued and with the beginning of
the 21st century it has geared up and is still experiencing the growth
with many spectrums of colours. Though this industry is growing at a
very good pace, besides achieving a negligible share in the global
market, still it needs to make severe efforts to stand amongst
international fashion market in various aspects.