The “Made in India” label will take on a whole new meaning for the clothing industry in the world this year. Certainly 2019 will be the year in which India will take center stage in the apparel sector.
According to The State of Fashion 2019, a survey issued by McKinsey & Company, a global management consultancy firm, India becomes a crucial point for the fashion industry this year as manufacturing strengthens and middle class consumers expand–higher incomes are likely to create a whole new class of consumers.
These factors, together with strong economic development, and growing tech-savvy, make India too important for international brands to ignore, the report says.
The country is seen as the fastest growing major economy in the world. “It is predicted to grow 8 percent a year between 2018 and 2022 and the Indian middle class is forecast to expand at 19.4 percent a year over the same period, outpacing China, Mexico and Brazil. As a result, India it is set to move from being an increasingly important sourcing hub to being one of the most attractive consumer markets outside the Western world,” report finds.
McKinsey’s FashionScope reveals precise figures: India’s apparel market will be worth $59.3 billion in 2022, making it the sixth-largest in the world, and comparable to the UK ($65 billion) and Germany ($63 billion).
It is well known that high-end fashion powerhouses sometimes looked to India for inspiration, adding bits of ancient, pre-modern and modern Indian culture into their haute couture designs. Today India continues to inspire Western designers, who pay tribute to the magic of the Indian weave, that unique mix of vivid colors, silks, motifs and silhouettes.
From Emilio Pucci and Christian Dior to Missoni and Christian Labotin, they all have reinterpreted India’s exquisite repertoire of imagery.
Both international fashion houses and Western women are mesmerized by the Indian textile production and artistry. The variety of hand-made fabrics is astonishing.
I cannot help but love the tie-dye fabrics in Rajasthan and Gujarat, the beauty of gold brocades from Benares, the durable Kanjeevaram silk saree from Tamil Nadu and the intricacy of Jamavar fabric from Kashmir.
Given all these considerations, investing in India’s expanding apparel market could be a clever move as a burgeoning middle class is keen to demonstrate an unprecedented “desire” to express their identity through fashion.
But India is not China. “Every time you look at India through the Chinese lens you will not see (the opportunity) correctly,” founder and chief executive of Reliance Brands Darshan Metha told McKinsleyFashionScope. “India is a whole different ball game. In India, it is not about the traditionally rich Indians—they shop all over the world. It is about the 999 others who are the customers of tomorrow,” he said.
Last year, Italian luxury menswear brand Ermenegildo Zegna has joint hands with its Indian retail partner Reliance Brands Limited to invest in Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur, one of India’s leading luxury menswear brands. Zegna was quick to understand that India is preparing to become a big global economic power.
The State of Fashion 2019 also revealed that more than 300 international fashion brands are expected to open stores in the country in the next two years. They are determined to take advantage of India’s blossoming growth. Many have plans to enter the market and many others are expanding existing operations. They all might have room to carve out different niche areas.
Despite structural challenges that include inequality, infrastructure and market fragmentation, Indian market offers great promise, as stated in the report provided by McKinsey’s FashionScope. Sign of improvement in terms of infrastructure are evident.
Darshan Metha confirms that that luxury malls are popping up more frequently in India, so competition is increasing.
“International brands that are successful in India have understood that, how Indians consume, what color they consume, what kind of designs work, what touch points and personalization work may be very different from a consumer living in New York or Hong Kong”, said Sanjay Kapoor, founder of Genesis Luxury, an Indian luxury retail conglomerate. “Indian women have kept a lot of their traditional sensibilities alive and you see a beautiful mix of both Indian and western sensibilities across the spectrum”. The survey shows that appetite for western styles is likely to increase, but it is expected that traditional wear will still account for a 65 percent market share by 2023.
India is without doubt an excellent place to create haute couture. The supply side of the industry is robust and the growth of textile and apparel exports is expected to accelerate. The country is endowed with huge stock of raw material such as cotton wool, silk and jute which enable participation in the entire fashion value chain.
And it is factual that Western fashion brands woo Indian designers. It started to become a trend when in 2011 Paco Rabanne asked Manish Arora to be the creative director of a chic womenswear collection based on the ancient know-how.
Today, there is an extraordinary generation of Indian fashion designers who are pulling those unique inherited techniques into cutting-edge visions of beauty. The Indian fashion scene is vibrant and dynamic.
I love the design duo Abraham &Thakore. Once I bought a beautiful silk robe they designed exclusively for London luxury department store Harrods. The attention to detail was incredible.
As well I am personally fond of those designers who are demonstrating strong sustainable policies.I am thinking about Anita Dongre who is flying the flag for sustainability – The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has a fancy for her clothes.
I am also thinking about Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the first brand to be proudly ecofriendly and green. I am in love with his pastel-colored lehengas embroidered with flowers in silk thread from the collection made in partnership with Christian Lauboutin. Cross-cultural clothing is cool, especially when its forms are designed to emphasize a woman’s delicacy.