AUTHOR

Nandini Tripathi

DATE

19/07/2021

TAGS

Business of Fashion, fashion business management, Fashion Business Management Select

How International Fashion Brands cracked the multimillion dollar Indian Fashion Market

AUTHOR

Nandini Tripathi

DATE

19/07/2021

TAGS

Business of Fashion, fashion business management, Fashion Business Management Select

As India has expanded and grown to become the sixth-largest fashion market in the world (Vogue Business), it was not surprising that there have been an increasing number of international labels vying to carve a niche for themselves within the lucrative Indian fashion industry. However, there are several factors ranging from the nuances of cultural dynamics to local brand loyalty and region specific consumer tastes that needed to be taken into consideration for these international brands to successfully establish themselves in the country. Certain international labels have done just that and, in the process, have managed to crack the multimillion dollar Indian fashion market through the right balance of technique and originality.

India has evolved to become the third largest economy in Asia. In addition to that, India’s middle class demographic has only increased. A report by McKinsey on the ‘State of Fashion’ in 2021 predicted a 1.4% growth of India’s middle class population. Brands, labels and the very concept of luxury itself is often closely correlated with status in the country. However, at the same time and perhaps a little ironically, Indian consumers will only purchase goods that offer the right value for money. Getting this interesting and unique combination right has been key to comprehending the Indian consumer psyche.

India has and continues to be a space where multifarious communities, cultures and traditions interact and intermingle giving rise to a landscape where heritage and contemporariness, tradition and modernity all coalesce. This inadvertently means that the Indian consumer, in all the diversity the term connotes, demands a fluid and dynamic industry to cater to their needs. While the Indian fashion market is a vibrant and constantly evolving space, the Indian wardrobe is also intricately complex. It is a fusion of the formal and the casual, the luxurious and the hand-me-downs. Catering to the needs of such a multi-layered consumer taste is not an easy task. However, it is imperative if fashion labels are to thrive in the Indian landscape.

Canali has partnered with Reliance Brands Limited in India. (https://www.canali.com/en_lu/store_finder/new-delhi-emporio-mall-canali-boutique.html)

The competition amongst international companies for access to this diverse market has not been surprising in the least. The cultural diversity that characterises the Indian consciousness is something that the fashion market has had to respond to. A key strategy that was used by international labels was opting for an exclusively ‘Made for India’ marketing plan. This involved collaborating and working closely together with local designers in order to capture the Indian sensibility and resonate with the consumer. This not only created a wonderful amalgamation of the familiar and the foreign, the local and the international but it also engendered a process that localised global fashion trends. This concept of going ‘Glocal’ subsequently also benefited the economy thereby boding well for the future of the fashion industry among others. Luxury fashion labels like Burberry and Canali have already paved the way ahead as they have partnered with Reliance Brands Limited to make a place for themselves in India’s retail scenario. Canali’s famous ‘Nawab Collection’ is an example of this mix of the Indian and the foreign. Paul Smith and Corneliani adopted the traditional bandhgala in their collections, creating an Indo-Western mélange that fared tremendously well. Corneliani’s India-inspired ‘Court Suit’ caters specifically to the local customer. In the same vein, Italian luxury retailer Bottega Veneta had launched its limited-edition “Knot India” clutch, which was a beautiful blend of traditional embroidery with the famous Bottega weave. Interestingly, reflecting this merging of cultures, the clutch had “India” embossed just below “Made in Italy.” International brands have, as it can be seen, usually partnered with Indian players in order to enter this market. This not only has given them the benefit of local expertise but it also has created the perfect blend of products for a market as niche as India.

While taking into account the socio-cultural landscape of specific regions and of India as a whole, the effects of globalisation are hard to overlook. Trends from across the world are closely followed by the youth of the country. Apart from the luxury brands, the young population of the country often look to trendy western wear that is easy on the pocket. At the same time, however, there is a growing awareness about and a penchant for organic, sustainable and environmentally friendly fashion. Companies like the Japanese Uniqlo offer affordable, casual and sustainable western wear. By going back to basics, Yanai’s Uniqlo caters to its target consumers by focusing on creating lasting, durable and high-quality products that steer clear of the disposable apparels that are bought and discarded in quick succession – something fast fashion offers these days. This is one of the primary reasons it has been able to establish itself so firmly within the Indian market.

For a country like India, fashion design has had varied connotations and purposes. It has always been much more than just a style statement. To make a lasting mark in this expanding multiverse of fashion, foreign brands have had to strike the perfect balance between capturing the Indian essence and bringing something new to the table. While the current pandemic has complicated the ways in which the Indian fashion industry will unfold and unravel as new labels and international brands make their way to the local market, taking these strategies that have worked tremendously well in the past as a starting point it can be said that the future of fashion both within the country and globally looks promising.

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