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17-May-2014

Not too long ago, Indian apparel makers were reluctant to enter the woman’s western-wear segment, given that ethnic wear was seen as a predominant category. However, with sales of ethnic wear, petering out considerably, players are reworking their marketing strategies with a slew of party and occasion-based western wear.

From a relatively smaller base, western wear is estimated to be a ₹19,000-crore category growing at 15.5 per cent, while the ₹36,000-crore ethnic wear category has hit a rough patch with slow sales, and is growing in single digits at 9.8 per cent, according to data from Technopak, a research firm.

Players are stitching up new moves, with ethnic brand Fabindia recently introducing a western wear range under Fabels, and Van Heusen stepping up investment in woman’s western wear, with actress Deepika Padukone co-creating a special edition line of dresses for the brand, this season.

“Fashion sensibilities are changing, and western wear is becoming more acceptable. We have stepped up investments in this segment with ten exclusive stores dedicated to women’s western wear,” said Vinay Bhopatkar, Brand Head, Van Heusen. With more women joining the workforce, Van Heusen has been focusing on its corporate wear range, and has now decided to include a range of dresses. The concept has been worked upon with the new brand ambassador, Deepika Padukone.

“It is not just about having corporate wear for women, but even high fashion dresses for women in the 25-35 age group. For the first time, we have a lady celebrity who will bring her point of view to the brand,” added Bhopatkar. Meanwhile, having crossed a sales turnover of ₹1,000 crore Fabindia has also decided to enter the western wear category under a new brand, Fabels, given the fresh impetus with new private equity investor, L Capital.

Looking inwards

Interestingly, Indian western wear brands like Kazo and Chemistry, which have been exporters for several years, have now turned to the domestic market to retail their wares and are increasing their outlets. “International brands dominate the woman’s wear category today, but even Indian western wear brands are trying to make their mark. We are adding almost 15 new stores and sourcing our designs from studios in Spain and Italy,’’ said Sunil Bansal, Chief Financial Officer, Kazo Fashion.

The retail outlet supplies to international fashion labels like Zara, among others.

Even Sri Lankan women’s western wear brand Avirate, which had entered the country through the foreign direct investment route two years ago, is stepping up investments in the Indian market. The company has assigned ₹100 core towards opening 64 exclusive stores over the next three years.

As Rahul Gupta, CEO, Avirate India said, “India is going to be a key market for Avirate, and we are looking at growing at 45 per cent in this market. We expect western wear in India to become a ₹40,000 crore category in the next four years.’’

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