While demand for ethnic wear has grown with time, traditional silhouettes, fabrics, styling has changed to give it a more contemporary look. Today, ethnic wear segment has two clear sub categories: traditional ethnic and Indo-western or fusion wear. “Modern women are open to experimentation and want different styles and looks for various occasions starting from formal to evening wear. The urge to look trendy and fashionable has been the key growth drivers in women’s ethnic wear segment,” says Siddharth Bindra, MD, Biba.
The Indo-western segment has been redefined by players like Biba, W, Zola, Akriti, among others who are trendsetters in design, silhouettes, technology, fabric and more. These players have recorded drastic growth in the last few years, indicating the scope of the segment. More so, now the Indo-western segment is competing with western wear. “Women’s fashion space in ethnic wear has started competing with western wear but it’s still holding ground. Brands have started creating fusion lines to transform ethnic wear into fashion that is enjoyed by youngsters,” opines Manohar Chatlani, MD, Soch. Talking about the scope of the segment, he adds “Women’s ethnic wear market is fragmented and falls in the unorganized sector. Customers are slowly moving towards organised and branded sector which is pushing up growth. There may be some amount of western influence in ethnic wear but the segment will continue to sell for a long time.”
Steady growth outlook
A Technopak study reveals the unorganised segment, which traditionally, and still largely, caters to the ethnic wear industry, has demonstrated steady growth over the past years and is set to grow by 8.4 per cent over the next decade from the present Rs 61,679 crores. The women’s segment currently accounts for an overwhelming 87 per cent of total ethnic wear market at Rs 54,425 crores; growth of this segment will continue to drive the overall sector. The women’s wear segment alone is expected to grow at a steady 8 per cent over the coming decade.
“Women’s ethnic wear market is going through a change with urbanization. It is important to remember that in the fashion industry, you are selling a lifestyle. In western India, demand is slowly moving away from traditional saris to embellished saris and in some regions moving completely away from saris to suits and kurtis etc. In the mid-eastern and southern part, sari is still daily wear. The overall industry is growing but there is a shift in categories. It is difficult to measure growth properly because traditional ethnic wear market is mostly unorganized,” says Hitesh Kasat, MD, Hypnotex.
Gearing up for festivities
As ethnic wear is deeply integrated with weddings, festivities, etc, it creates ample scope for new players to reach out to customers across value and mid segments. “Key growth driver are festivals and there is always a festival round the corner which leads to all year sale for us,” says Kasat. “The focus is on traditional colours but newer shades give a fresh fashion feel,” he adds.
Another growth trigger is ecommerce. With internet penetration marketplaces like Myntra, Flipkart, Craftsvilla are reaching out to every corner and brands are riding high on them. Even though it may have an impact on offline sales of some brands however, online has given a major platform to new entrants. “Since we majorly export and sell through ecommerce channels, it is important to focus on finishing of the product,” says Kasat.
Also established brands are gradually able to strike a balance between online and offline retail and widen their customer base. As Bindra explains “Technology is playing a big role in expansion of fashion industry in India. Customers have become tech savvy and leading fashion sites are now launchpads for young designers to showcase their designs. Through our own e-commerce portal and presence across leading ecommerce sites, Biba is now available in cities where the brand has gained popularity and recognised but is yet to open a retail store. Technology has helped the NRI community to shop for their favourite brands. We don’t have a separate line for online retail.”
Zola has also been focusing on both offline and online channels to achieve growth. “We have an international presence across 15 countries and customer base has increased to 7,500 stores. We sell through MBOs, family stores, stores that stock only women’s wear, small boutiques and franchisees. We also sell through Jabong, Limeroad, and other leading portals,” says Kirti Shah, Director, Zola, Pragati Fashions.