India, with its huge and diverse population, can be a daunting market for international fashion brands, but many have found success having paid attention to local tastes.
There is much at stake because India is on course to become the world’s sixth-largest apparel market by 2022, according to a report earlier this year from McKinsey, the management consulting firm.
McKinsey forecast that India’s apparel market will be worth $59.3bn in 2022, only narrowly behind those of the UK ($65bn) and Germany ($63.1bn) and, given the opportunities, it is expected that more than 300 international fashion brands will open stores in the country over the next two years.
However, as reported by Vogue Business, many pitfalls await global brands, not least if they are unable to match the aesthetic preferences of most Indian consumers. And another challenge is the sheer complexity of some Indian wardrobes.
For example, Indian consultancy Technopak has pointed out that ethnic clothing makes up 71% of womenswear spending. And while the sari remains the single most popular item of clothing for women, they also keep separate wardrobes for work and their social lives.
“[Visiting] a woman’s wardrobe here is like going to a mini department store,” said Priya Tanna, editor-in-chief of Vogue India. “The good news for international brands is that there is a vibrant market and a space for all.”
According to Vogue Business: “The fashion houses that thrive in India tailor their collections to local customers, respond to the complexities in Indian wardrobes and cater to different needs throughout the country’s diverse markets.”
Successful entrants include Canali, the Italian menswear brand, which introduced the Nawab Collection, a closed collar suit tailed for men’s wardrobes that has new colours and fabrics added each season.
Meanwhile, Japanese casualwear brand Uniqlo, which opened its first store in India only last month, teamed up with Delhi-based designer Rina Singh to produce a special collection based on the kurta, a collarless tunic-shirt, as well as dresses and other items.
International brands must also take note of regional differences in India – for example, northern regions like Delhi are partial to flashy jewellery, according to Neha Lidder, the founder of Platoon, a luxury retail brand advisory firm – as well as recognise that an increasing number of Indian women are mixing traditional clothing with contemporary styles.
“In India, we localise global trends,” said Vogue India’s Tanna. “Indians are truly global nomads when it comes to dressing.”
Sourced from McKinsey, Vogue Business, Economic Times; additional content by WARC staff