The men’s occasion wear market is witnessing a great progression. The way men approach fashion and personal style is evolving from what it used to be. Today, men are far more aware of their choices. Previously, they lacked options and had no choice but to opt for simplicity when it came to occasion wear. This trend has changed drastically and come festive and wedding seasons, the men’s formal wear market will be brimming with exhaustive fashion and accessories collections.
With growing awareness of global fashion trends, a growing middle class and rising disposable income, the men’s occasion wear market in India is witnessing aggressive growth. Domestic and international brands are taking advantage of this growth, with domestic brands becoming stronger and international brands raising the bar with better pricing and product offerings.
The men’s occasion wear market is transforming into a very detail-oriented, fashion conscious segment. The segment that can be classified into ethnic and western wear. These include sherwanis, Jodhpuris, bandhgalas in ethnic and suits, mandarins, tuxedos, shirt coordinates and formal party shirts dominating the western formal men’s wear segment.
Surya Suri, Founder, Steele Collection says their collections are always in line with current market trends and are developed after a thorough understanding of customer needs.
“The men’s formal wear brand that was launched last year is an experiment with new trends and prints in our suiting range, which are appreciated a lot by younger customers,” he says.
One trend which is quickly catching on this season are multitude transformer suits which have convertible features and menswear brands are highly banking on its success.
“Multitude transformer suits is the statement Blackberrys is making this Fall. These are multi-occasion suits with detachable lapels as their main selling point. The focal idea of the suits is to enable men to make a swift transition from the business look to the party look. The detachable satin lapels ensure the one outfit meets both requirements,” says Suvarna Kale, Head of Design, Blackberrys.
Narinder Kaaur, Head of Design, Turtle, concurs saying that their brand’s style statement for this season is ‘detachables’ as well.
“A jacket or a suit with detachable waistcoat, lapel and scarves gives a multi-utility factor to an attire, and that’s our focus this season,” she says.
Key Growth Drivers
According to a study by Technopak, the Indian economy, one of the fastest growing economies of the world, is witnessing major shifts in consumer preferences. Increasing disposable income, brand awareness and increasing tech-savvy millennial population are the driving factors of corporatized retail within the country. Overall, Indian retail scenario has shown sustainable long-term growth compared to other developing economies.
The study states that the Indian retail market was worth Rs 41,66,500 crore (US $641 billion) in 2016 and is expected to reach Rs 1,02,50,500 crore (US $1,576 billion) by 2026, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10 percent. It is envisaged that the current fashion retail market worth Rs 2,97,091 crore (US $46 billion) will grow at a promising CAGR of 9.7 percent to reach Rs 7,48,398 crore (US $115 billion) by 2026.
One reason that the occasion wear market stands out amid these impressive numbers is the growing awareness of global fashion trends has been fueled by deep Internet penetration and the fashion and lifestyle media in India. As a result, the middle class and the young population of the country are extremely trend conscious.
Rising disposable income among in India among the middle class has led to a change in their preferences. Indian consumers are now no longer limited to shopping based on needs.
Also, need-based shopping has graduated to occasion-specific shopping. Today, a consumer’s wardrobe has different attire according to specific occasions. The consumer is concerned about his image and is willing to dress up according to the occasion. This has resulted in increased spending on occasion wear.
Various brands and retailers have also made sure that there are plenty of choices available for the consumer across various categories, which was not the case traditionally. Most brands have extended the product offerings to capture a higher share of wallet making it easier for the consumer to find the product suitable for a specific occasion..
Today’s men have started shopping for occasion wear more regularly than hitting stores only during festivals or weddings, once a year. Since Indians celebrate more than just festivals, clothes play an integral role in every occasion and there are brands upon brands to choose from for men, a change in their shopping behavior has been observed over the last five years.
Higher disposable incomes, nuclear family set ups and being fashion conscious have also brought about a great change in the spending pattern of modern men.
Ravi Gupta, Co-Founder, Gargee Designer’s states that five years ago, the consumption pattern in metros and mini-metros was poles apart. “Thanks to the mall culture, pop-up shops and online shopping platforms, the difference has reduced to a large extent. Now the people of smaller cities are equally exposed to fashionable outfits and moreover, they are ready to invest in such clothes. Smaller cities are growing markets for brands like ours. Meanwhile, metro cities are at a saturation point, they are areas where we already know our target customers and cater to them every season.”
Blackberrys’ Kale adds, “Metros cover all our ranges – from formal to occasion wear. In non-metro cities, occasion wear suits lead sales. 40 percent of the consumption happens in metros and the remaining 60 percent consumption occurs in non-metro cities.”
Steele Collection also receives an overwhelming response from metro cities, while Success observes more consumption in metros than in mini-metro cities.
“The Indian consumer is growing conscious of premium and super premium apparel products and is more willing to pay for the same. Upwardly mobile and wealthy Indians for whom money is often secondary to looking their best are eager to dress in a signature style. We provide such customers with signature styles,” says Suri.
According to Sumit Dhingra, CEO, Arrow, the occasion wear market is still dominated by the non-branded sector and made-to-measure stores, but brands are also picking up fast on the opportunity.
“We have seen Arrow suits and blazers sales showing healthy numbers especially during wedding and ceremonial periods,” he says.
The Indian men’s wear market is approximately Rs. 1,51,551 crore today. This includes apparel such as shirts, trousers, suits, winter wear, t-shirts, denims and others including innerwear, according to Steele Collection’s Suri. Of this, approximately Rs. 1.51 lakh crore is the size of the formal wear segment which is 10 percent or a little over Rs. 15,000 crore.
“Over the next eight years we expect the size of the men’s formal wear market to expand by 15 percent while the size of the entire men’s wear apparel market is expected to grow at a healthy rate of 10 percent. So, by 2026 the annual revenues generated by the men’s wear market in India will be Rs. 2.96 lakh crore and the revenues generated by suits, jackets and tuxedos will be approximately Rs. 44,000 crore,” he adds.
“Currently the majority of men’s apparel sold in India is sold in the unorganized sector. But gradually as consumer demand for high quality apparel increases we expect the demand for branded apparel to increase. The unorganized sector today is 60 percent of the entire men’s wear segment while the remaining space is occupied by organized and branded players. Today, the organized sector’s revenue from sales of formal men’s wear apparel including suits, jackets and tuxedos is 10 percent of the entire organized or branded menswear apparel segment,” he further states.
He adds that Delhi-NCR has tremendous potential for a high-end apparel label like his. Apart from the Indian capital, Steele Collection has seen great potential in cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune. Chandigarh is another destination, where Suri believes Steel Collection can serve fashionably astute clients.
Competition & Opportunities
“The size of the men’s formal wear market is ever growing. In the present context the credit goes to Bollywood and more recently TV shows, which have always played a significant role in determining ethnic fashion trends. Better access to entertainment in addition to the explosion of e-commerce sales means that people in cities of any size now have both trends and purchasing ability. And that’s the reason the future of formal wear is bright and blooming,” says Ravi Gupta of Gargee Designer’s.
“As far as the organized and unorganized market is concerned, the former is a long term player which understands the value of branding and works with a set of skilled professionals, while the latter are seasonal players who don’t last long in the market because of their unplanned work and limited scope of design sense,” he explains.
Rajnish Sethia, Director, Success adds that there is a huge growth potential in this segment. Both the organized and unorganized market for occasion wear is doing well, both the markets run parallel and they have their own set off customers.
Meanwhile, Kaaur says that there has been a shift in the past few years from the un-organized and tailored occasion wear market to the organized ready-made occasion wear, where people are happy to come and chose from the variety that retailers have to offer. Moreover, with international brands coming in, the men’s festive and occasion wear segment has gotten more competitive though domestic brands have not been greatly affected.
“This is because international brands do not specifically cater to the occasion wear segment, as this segment’s needs are very specific in terms of colours, cuts and textures,” she explains.
Domestic brands have the upper hand where the ceremonial occasion wear segment is concerned, opines Kale, since international brands have higher price points. Sethia agrees with this saying that international brands are more into business wear and casual wear segments, than occasion wear.
“International brands have actually helped customers in exploring ready-to-wear offering in the suits and blazers category. Due to this competition, the ready-to-wear brands have improved their merchandise over a period of time,” explains Dhingra, adding,” Although international brands come with offerings at edgy price points and latest trends, but their retail presence is limited against local competition.”
Product Offerings: Customization & Innovations
Arrow has a 167-year long heritage of shirts and the brand has been known as an expert shirt maker since 1851. It has been pioneering product innovation and known for its consistency of delivering future products to its consumers, be it auto press shirts, stitch-less shirts, iconic white shirts, auto flex trousers and even 4-in-1 shirts.
“We work on the concept of the shelf calendar which is very detailed from the beginning of the season. We are not into bespoke tailoring as of now, but we give personalized customization offerings,” says Dhingra.
Sethia on the other hands say that the USP of his brand Success is innovation. “With an in-house production unit, factories equipped with state-of-art machineries and skilled labour, our product innovations are so fast-paced that the time taken for a design from visualization to rack is very short compared to other brands,” he expounds.
Meanwhile, a brand like Gargee Designer’s uses its tailoring process to combine traditional methods with the modern approach in a bid to offer their clients a grand collection of high-end suiting and fine shirting. Every outfit the brand produces is customised with utmost attention to provide the wearer with flawlessly crafted clothing.
“We have quite a strong online presence as well, with approximately 12,000 and 2,50,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram respectively. Our out-of-box approach with a touch of traditionalism, progressive vision and technical strength has got us to a different benchmark of custom tailoring,” shares Gupta.
For Blackberrys’, the fit what differentiates the brand from others. The brand’s F3 range is one of its key innovations and its luxe suits are crafted from European fabrics with premium linings and fusing. “Our slim fit and Phoenix fit are perfectly crafted for Indian males,” says Kale.
According to Suri, Steele Collections is all about sustainability and ethical manufacturing techniques.
“We try and utilise the most cost effective production techniques that are environment friendly. We also employ ecofriendly trims like corozo buttons. We also offer made-to-measure and made-to-order services for our premium customers and have plans to coming up with MTM Events with the finest international designers and pattern masters,” says Suri.
No wonder then that the men’s apparel segment is estimated to post an annual growth rate of 8 percent by 2020, growing to US$19 billion as per Euromonitor International.