The year in review for fashion

Overall, Indian retail has become one of the most dynamic in the country, largely driven by the entry of several new players and the massive surge in e-commerce recently. A report from the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) said retail technology companies that support retailers with services such as digital ledgers, inventory management, payment solutions, and tools for logistics and fulfillment are on the rise in India. In the first nine months of 2021, investors invested $ 843 million in 200 small and medium-sized tech retailers, 260 percent more capital compared to 2020 as a whole. However, companies faced several challenges in the industry last year Year and it was anything but smooth.

Speaking of how the year went for his brand, Gaurav Pushkar, DaMENSCH co-founder, says, “In the pre-COVID era, the men’s clothing industry had an average annual growth rate of 12 to 13 percent. The digital native online consumer sparked this revolution in search of unique and innovative products and fabrics, looking for brands that challenged the norm. As a result, the underwear segment for online platforms before COVID grew 2.5 times, DaMENSCH grew 6 times. We have expanded our existing interior clothing catalog to include products for all of men’s essential wear – shorts, t-shirts, sweatpants, pajama pants, sweatshirts, tank tops, hoodies and chino shorts. So it was a great year overall for us and indispensable men’s clothing in India. “

A report by SMIFS Limited says the men’s underwear market is projected to be $ 218 billion by 2028. The men’s underwear segment has a very high brand share of around 61 percent of the total market size. Looking ahead, it is expected that the growth of the underwear market will be driven by broad consumer trends in the form of rising discrete spending, growing numbers of middle to high income households, and increasing urbanization. Innerwear has evolved from a purely functional category to a bold fashion statement. It is a welcome shift from a price-sensitive category to a brand-sensitive category, the report adds.

On the other hand, the women’s clothing market in India is estimated at $ 39 billion by 2025, with ethnic clothing expected to account for 28 percent. Share details on business development in 2021, Sidhant Keshwani, Managing Director & CEO of Libas, says: “The business has grown 70 percent regardless of the ongoing pandemic. We ventured into retail with the opening of three exclusive branded stores in New Delhi. We also marched into the doors of over 200 MBOs and large format stores. Our company team grew to over 200 employees in 2021. Initially, our supply chain was overwhelmed by the massive demand in the first few years, but we managed to do this successfully, which helped us achieve an upward momentum throughout the year. ”

Challenges galore

The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges that fashion companies could not possibly fathom. IBEF states that retailers on the verge of recovery after the first wave of the pandemic saw a sharp drop in sales when the second wave hit the country. In April and May 2021, the retail sector, which is typically between $ 40 and 45 billion, lost more than half of that, around $ 25 to 30 billion, the Retailers Association of India (RAI) said. However, as the second wave subsided, retailers have seen a gradual recovery and are now back on growth path.

Pushkar Says: “One of the biggest challenges for D2C brands has been the last mile manufacturing and delivery delays, which have been seriously impacted due to COVID-related restrictions. However, in an eagerness to delight our customers, we worked hard alternating shifts while adhering to social distancing protocol and were able to do our best to deliver on our promises. ”

Keshwani adds that they too faced supply issues due to COVID and the lockdown earlier in the year, but were able to resolve them by adding more factories to their portfolio. “We have created a robust warehouse infrastructure with a state-of-the-art warehouse management system and a fulfillment capacity of 50,000 orders per day. This is one of the largest capacities for any e-commerce fashion brand in India, ”he shares.

Chances that knocked

E-commerce is steadily expanding in the country, leading to one of the biggest revolutions in fashion. More and more customers are becoming dependent on the e-commerce network and looking for products that best suit their style and wallet. The new work-from-home culture has also increased the demand for comfortable and functional products immensely, leading brands to launch collections that they were not primarily concerned with or to renew existing innovations. The online retail market in India is projected to reach $ 350 billion by 2030, up from an estimated $ 55 billion in 2021, due to the increase in online shoppers in the country, according to IBEF.

Says Pushkar, “When we saw consumers become familiar with the new work-from-home regime, we launched our Breeeze collection, which includes boxer shorts and inner boxers. We also launched the Constants – a fashion collection with a 500-day guarantee. It is a promise to replace the product within 500 days of purchase if it becomes worn. ”

However, as more consumers and brands moved online, some companies saw the rapidly shrinking offline retail market as an opportunity worth investing in. Says Keshwani: “This year a lot of key players went online due to the pandemic. This, in turn, has made the retail space less competitive. We saw a great opportunity here and expanded our physical presence with our first independent stores in New Delhi and plan to open more than 50 by 2023. “

Prepare for the future

With the spread of a new variant of COVID-19 across the country and around the world, business may be affected again. Companies and brands need to have an action plan in place to be well prepared for such disruptions. Says Pushkar, “One of the great advantages of doing business online is that we don’t rely on face-to-face interactions to keep marketing, technology and people going. For production and delivery, however, we try to be better prepared with long-term planning, both in production and in storage, so that we can still inspire our customers if COVID bothers us for a few months. “

Brand Libas, who survived several lockdowns, also knows exactly how to deal with such a situation if it should arise in the future. “We remain largely unaffected by all requirements, as we are predominantly an e-commerce brand. We also intend to do a category expansion. In the near future we will venture into lifestyle segments such as home and categories such as men’s and children’s clothing and plan to open over 50 exclusive branded stores by 2023, ”adds Keshwani.

The New Year therefore seems like a promising time for fashion retailing and e-commerce in India. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have already better equipped brands and companies to deal with the uncertainties of the future while eliminating unnecessary costs and streamlining operations. Brands that have only survived so far can thrive in the future.

Trendwatch: consumers

  • With work from home the new normal, comfort clothing shopping has seen an upward trend.

Compared to previous years, there was an enormous attraction this year from customers from Tier II and Tier III cities. These customers are not only looking for reduced products, but also for newer and fresh styles.

Trend watch: technology

  1. Provides consumers with the best user experience while shopping online from the comfort of their home.
    2. Curating an omnichannel and personalized experience for customers via Al-based marketing and Al-based recommendations on the website.

Trend observation: marketing

  • As people become more environmentally conscious and responsible, companies have shifted their focus to sustainability – from product to packaging.
  • Give your customers a more personalized experience and segment them to show what they’re looking for through ads.

Forecasts for 2022

  • The essential wear category will continue to grow because even if people don’t leave their homes, they still need these garments. That demand is further fueled as people shop more, be it for their work clothes, stag trips or a stay in the mountains.
  • An upward trend in sales, as seen in the last few months, will continue if the new variant doesn’t bother much.

People have become used to comfort, functionality and versatility in their choice of clothing and this is a driving factor in their purchasing decisions. The demand for categories such as loungewear and sports utility wear has increased. This trend is likely to continue as customers now prefer convenience and functionality after making lifestyle changes during the pandemic.

Textile industry: 2021 vs. 2022

“2021 was an important year. After witnessing the devastating effects of COVID on the entire textile business as well as personal life, we are fortunate enough to see a strong economic recovery. This is due to the increase in exports as well as domestic retail activities. The focus on comfort and responsible fashion has ensured that our fibers continue to make a positive difference in the textile industry. In 2022 we want to expand the presence of our specialty fibers in various end uses for both international and domestic companies. ”- Avinash Mane, Commercial Director, South Asia, Lenzing Group

Conversion from offline shops to e-commerce

“Before the pandemic, sales were positive and growing. During the pandemic, we accelerated the introduction of an online platform for customers nationwide in order to be able to receive the desired products, initially by introducing a transition service, then with the launch of our full-fledged online shop. Last year we saw fewer walk-ins in the malls due to the lockdown and restrictions imposed. The lack of vaccinations and the inability to hold meetings where customers might want a new outfit resulted in a decrease in the need to shop and the ability to make purchases. This year, however, since most of the people were vaccinated, they were able to meet again and celebrate, which led to a demand for shopping. ”
Tomoya Maruyama, Head of Merchandising, Uniqlo India

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