How Big is the Fashion Industry in India?

By Ashita Kulshreshtha   views

Are you exploring a career in the fashion industry in India and wondering if it is the right choice? Are you skeptical about the career prospects in the fashion industry in India? This article will help you in making a decision which can be a turning point in your life.

Though the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has impacted all sectors including the fashion industry in India, it is to be remembered that this is only a temporary phase and the industry is expected to revive once the lockdown is lifted. So, if you are a design aspirant, this phase should not deter you from choosing it as a vocation.

As an aspiring fashion designer, one is likely to ask how ‘big’ the fashion industry in India is. It is to be noted that the word ‘big’ is too generic and encompasses various parameters of the industry such as market size, the scale of operations, the number of people employed and many more. This article throws light on each of these aspects.

Legacy: The origin of the fashion industry in India can be traced to antiquity owing to its rich culture and heritage. Various archaeological excavations have unearthed ancient scriptures, costumes, textiles and jewellery especially of the Indus Valley Civilization and Aryan Age which speak volumes of the fashion design trends of that era.

The origin of the Indian fashion industry can be traced to antiquity. The jewellery recovered from the Indus Valley Civilization shows that ancient people had an aesthetic sense

The flagship event of the fashion industry in India, Lakme Fashion Week was conceptualized in 1999 and the inaugural event took place at Taj Palace Convention Centre, New Delhi from 17th August 2000- 23rd August 2000. It provided a platform to 33 designers from across the country to showcase their creations to over 15,000 visitors. Now, it takes place bi-annually at Mumbai. Initiatives such as the ‘Gen Next’ and ‘Emerging Designer’ serve as a launchpad for novices in the field. 

Glimpses from the latest Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2020. The event was first organized in 2000

The 1980 decade witnessed the emergence of the first generation of fashion designers such as Satya Paul. However, Rohit Khosla who co-founded ‘Ensemble’, along with Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla, Tarun Tahiliani, among others in 1987, can be regarded as pioneers in this field.

With a vision to provide a skilled workforce to the fashion industry, the Indian government established the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in 1986 with the aid of the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. Today it has 46 chapters across India. It also boasts prestigious alumni such as Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Ritu Beri, Manish Arora and many more.

NIFT Delhi campus was inaugurated in 1986, the first among the 46 chapters in India

The era of globalization in 1991 further provided an impetus to the fashion industry in India. Today, the fashion industry in India has made inroads globally. Due to the proliferation of technology, the growth of e-commerce retail and innovation, it stands at the cusp of disruption.

Market Size: India is currently the world’s third-largest economy after the United States and China and its burgeoning population provide the market as well as human resources for the Indian fashion industry. It is currently the fourth-largest producer of textiles and garments.

Summarizing the contribution of the Indian textile sector

Apparels and textiles alone continue around 12% percent of India’s export earnings. According to the website of Invest India, exports in the textiles and apparel industry alone are expected to reach $300 bn by 2024-25 resulting in a tripling of Indian market share from 5 percent to 15 percent.

The above graph depicts the growth of textile trade over the years

Experts predict that India is poised to become the world’s six largest market for the fashion industry. The fourth annual State of Fashion report by The Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company estimates that the Indian fashion industry will be worth nearly $60 billion by 2022.

The growth of the fashion industry in India will be fuelled by changing tastes and preferences due to globalization, boost in manufacturing and technological advancements. A report by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry pegs the Indian luxury market alone at approximately $30 billion.

Employment and Job Roles: The Fashion Industry in India is a broad field encompassing a variety of job roles such as Fashion Design, Textile Design, Fashion Technology, Jewellery Design, Fashion Blogging, Fashion Photography, Luxury Brand Management, Fashion Business Management and many more. Aspiring fashion designers should possess a blend of creativity, originality, style and a sound sense of aesthetics. According to website of Invest India, the apparel and textile industry alone employs 45 million people and is the second-largest employer in India. This number is expected to increase to 55 million by 2020. Many Indian designers are striving to revive handloom and khadi. Few people might know that saree is the highest-selling apparel in India accounting for one-third of apparel sales. 

Khadi has attracted top fashion designers in India. It not only upholds the Indian tradition but also supports the artisan community as well as paves the way to a ‘greener’ future
Source: FDCB

The Scale of Operations: Sky is the limit for fashion designers in India. Top designers such as Ritu Kumar, Rohit Bal have been able to experiment boldly and attract buyers by presenting Indian motifs on global forums. Most of these leading Indian designers have a formidable presence in the Gulf catering to the Indian diaspora. Moving a step further, The House of Anita Dongre today which is the parent company of five brands has a global retail presence with a flagship store in New York. It has even received foreign investment to the tune of $20 million.

View of Anita Dongre’s flagship store in New York.She has became a global name with sustainability being a hallmark of her creations

Global reach:  From Tarun Tahiliani becoming the first Indian to showcase his collection at the Milan Fashion Week, there has been no looking back since. Today, the fashion industry in India has given birth to many designers who have showcased their collections abroad. Of them, Manish Arora holds the unique record of showcasing his collection ten times at Paris Fashion Week. 

Indian designer Manish Arora showcasing Autumn/Winter 2019-2020 collection at Paris Fashion Week

Internationally acclaimed designers are also taking inspiration from the fashion industry trends in India. Renowned French designer Jean Paul Gaultier had showcased his creations displaying artfully integrated drape and flow of sari into ski resort coats, quilted vests and hoods in Fall/Winter 2017-2018 collection at Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture runway.

Jean Paul Gaultier’s 2017- 18 collection inspired by the Indian sar

In the Chanel Bombay Paris Collection, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld showcased his versions of long tweed embellished jackets, short saris, embroidered jumpers and dresses. Inspired by Indian ikat weaves, brocade and paisley, John Galliano showcased his collection at the Dior Fall 2009 show. 

Designer Karl Lagerfeld walks the ramp in the Finale of the Chanel Bombay Paris Show

Trends and Prospects: The onset of the 2020 decade in India has brought prominent fashion industry trends such as the use of vivid colours, bold print, sheer, free-flowing silhouettes and chic accessories. With the global concerns over climate change, sustainable design ideas have given a new dimension to the Indian fashion industry. 

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Decoding the 2020 fashion trends- vivid colour palette, bold print and free -flowing silhouette
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The uniqueness of the fashion industry in India lies in the fact that it has adapted curiously to globalization and Westernization. Indian designers have come up with innovative designs that seamlessly weave Indian tradition and ethos. Inspired by actress Meena Kumari’s costumes in Pakeezah, Abu-Jani Sandeep Khosla duo introduced Anarkali-style churidar kurta which represented the fusion of Indo-Western culture in 1988. From thereon, fusion wear has come a long way.

Actress Priyanka Chopra wearing Anarkali churidar kurta- a fusion of Indo-western wear, first introduced in 1988

The Indian fashion industry has progressed from a stage of infancy to a full-fledged take-off. There is no dearth of opportunities for creative and talented designers in India. Besides designing your own label, various garment store chains, fashion houses, jewellery brands, export houses and leather companies recruit fashion professionals.

Also, don’t be surprised if you land up with clothes labelled ‘Made in India’ at a US store. Global brands such as Uniqlo, Ralph Lauren have forayed into the Indian market. Global fashion brands like Zara and Mango (Spain), Promod (France), Benetton (Italy), Esprit, Levi’s and Forever 21 (USA) have invested in India.

Japanese brand Uniqlo, the world third largest fast-fashion retailer, announcing its launch in IndiaSource:

According to Forbes, India’s fashion retail market is expected to grow to US$115 billion by 2026. Hence India is set to become an epicentre of the fashion industry with numerous fashion events taking place every year. Emerging fashion industry trends such as eco-friendly clothing, bespoke creations, 3D printed clothes, use of Artificial Intelligence present one of the exciting times for the fashion industry in India. 

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