Indian menswear brands holding own against international labels

August 6th, 2012 - 3:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) The business dynamics of Indian men’s apparel industry have witnessed key changes due to the influx of international players. Yet, the increased competition has seen Indian brands holding their own against international labels.

One of the oldest Indian players, Siyaram Silk Mills Ltd., feels international players offer westernised trends that may not necessarily appeal to the average Indian men with their new age cuts.

“The Indian clothing industry is definitely not affected by the west. When international brands come in, they come with a lot of western trends and fashion that is designed to the international taste. The sense of the Indian market is not there as the demographics in India are completely different,” Rahul Akkara, vice president (Marketing), Siyaram’s Silk Mills Ltd, told IANS.

“Indian brands that have been in this business for two-three decades now understand the pulse of the market and, more importantly, the Indian consumer much better than international players,” he added.

One thing is for sure: competition has certainly grown.

“With so many international brands entering India, the business dynamics have changed. Whether Indian brands are affected or not varies from one brand to another. But the competition has certainly grown high,” Shilpi Dhir, owner of Giovani, launched in 2005, told IANS.

The India Menswear Market Analysis 2010-2014 by Venn Research found that total revenue from menswear was $11.8 billion in 2009, representing a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 8.6 percent from 2005 to 2009, the last year for which reliable figures are available.

The growth trajectory of the country’s menswear market is at an all-time high and that’s a reason why many international brands are considering India a good opportunity for investment.

Apart from Siyaram, India’s traditional men’s clothing manufacturers include Madura Garments, Arvind Mills, Provogue, Zodiac Clothing and Raymonds. But the market erupted when many international brands such as Cartier, Giorgio Armani, Kenzo and Prada entered the scene in 2008, targeting mainly the luxury or premium segments.

In 2009, more brands like Beverly Hills Polo Club, Fruit of the Loom, Izod, Polo U.S., Mustang, Tie Rack and Timberland entered the Indian retail market.

Dhir says foreign brands get more clients for items like T-shirts, shirts and trousers, but for complete suits, Indian customers are still loyal to their local players.

“We make suits fitted well for Indian body and our price points are friendly. As far as suiting lines are concerned, we do face competition (from foreign brands). In fact, this competition has given us a push to do more innovative designs,” said Dhir.

According to Jacob John, brand head of Louis Philippe, the presence of international brands has brought about positive and negative changes in the minds of consumers as well as retailers.

“As far as Indian brands are concerned, this has actually resulted in a positive rub off with consumers now expecting more options from Indian brands. At a retail level, newer and exciting formats are being developed in line with international trends and practices, leading to better consumer comfort and delight,” John told IANS.

“The positives definitely outweigh the negatives. While competition has indeed increased, it has kept Indian brands on their toes with a lot of them now constantly looking to improve the consumer experience with their brands. International best practices in retail, service, visual merchandising and processes are being taken on board,” he added.

A brand, irrespective of its Indian or international origin, can draw consumers’ interest only if it knows to tap the right tastes, says Shitanshu Jhunjhunwalla, director, Turtle Limited, a manufacturer and retailer of men’s apparel and accessories.

“A brand is built on its USPs and loyalty. If you can offer the consumer the right products at the right prices, there is always a place for your brand in the market - whether domestic or international,” said Jhunjhunwalla.

(Nivedita can be contacted at nivedita.s@ians.in)

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