NEW DELHI: India has a wealth of fabric suppliers and design talent but its fashion brands have – so far – failed to make an impact on the global market, a failing that needs to be addressed by "bold marketing", according to an industry observer.
Shweta Jain, of investment banking firm Aurum Equity Partners, observed in ETRetail.com that global brands such as Zara, H&M and Mango have been making serious inroads into the Indian market, but that local brands, while impressing international buyers, have not succeeded abroad in the mainstream market.
"Most of the Indian apparel brands that break into the international market are either very high end, exclusive brands or are displayed with an array of brands in large chains like Niemen Marcus or Macys," she said.
Part of the problem, she suggested, is that while Indian brands have global aspirations, they don't address a global audience, preferring to focus on domestic consumers or the Indian diaspora.
"They have not been able to move from a 'create to sell' to a 'create to brand' mentality," Jain argued.
There are signs of change, however, with local brand AND offering contemporary western wear for women with an Indian inspiration and having opened its first international store in 2013.
Design and physical presence – to be accepted globally, Indian brands need to be available globally and worn globally but most leading brands have only a handful of independent stores outside the country – need to be joined by promotion.
The world of fashion still relies heavily on glossy fashion magazines, but Indian labels are "conspicuously missing" from these; Indian celebrities and socialites also need to be brought on board to glamourise local labels and capture the imagination of global audiences.
"Bold marketing is essential for a label to make its mark," Jain declared.
And she said that not just from the point of view of breaking into international markets.
"Fashion is aspirational and if Indian brands cannot captivate global shoppers their brand in India is likely to take a beating, slowly affecting sales figures."
Data sourced from ETRetail.com; additional content by Warc staff