Iconic clothing brand Mustang plans to incorporate vibrant hues in its current and upcoming collection. “The designs in this collection will be bolder,” says Lubeina Shahpurwala, Partner, Mustang. The brand witnessed an incredible surge in knitwear industry due to various product and fiber innovations. “Formal outerwear is being manufactured in knitted fabrics which focus on comfort and fashion. The same concept has filtered down to the accessory segment in knits as well. Socks have become more fashionable, comfortable and easily accessible,” she says. Till a few years ago, socks were the smallest component of the hosiery industry and constituted less than 10 per cent of the entire hosiery/knitwear category.
Shahpurwala points out knitwear has been selling for many years however, earlier people were not aware of the importance of this sector. “Their perception of knitwear was restricted to sweaters and other winter warmers. But now the segment has diversified from winter apparels like sweaters, neck warmers, socks, cardigans to dresses, skirts, crop tops, jumpers, shoes, oversized knitted beanie hats, head bands, etc,” she says.
Earlier, the industry was dominated by non-branded players. However, now, more and more brands are gearing up for this segment. “The segment is doing quite well and is encouraging growth potential,” states Shahpurwala. However, she warns customers to look into certain aspects like convenience, location, price, etc while shopping for these products.
India is the largest exporter of men’s/boy’s cotton knit shirts. Shahpurwala explains, “We overtook China for a while in 2016. This slouch also opened doors for other developing countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh. However, India is finding it difficult to compete with nations like Europe and other parts since it does not enjoy benefits like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and others under trade agreements.”
E-commerce boosts segment
The online retail segment aims to not just deliver products but also create fashion statements for customers. “A customer shopping online makes sure that the products he buys are well presented. A lot of our customers want comfort to be a major component of their fashion statement. This has led to a great outlet for our fashion product line and also immediate feedback on our designs. Although conventional trade has apprehensions about trendier range, this channel has reinforced our belief in the fashion business and has also helped us build dealer confidences,” adds Shapurwala.
With more and more brands introducing knitwear products, the segment is sure to grow in coming years. Shapurwala says, brick and mortar stores will never lose their charm. The brand, which has a robust distribution network with 36 distributors across India, plans to consolidate its operations further this year. “This would involve increasing our presence in all B+C territories besides strengthening our presence in metros,” she states. “We also aim to develop our e-commerce platform to reach customers of all age. We aim to be one of the best apparel brands.”