These two-odd years have been such crucial ones for the business of fashion, especially in India. Customer preferences evolved; brand experiences had to be redesigned while maintaining their core personality traits; communication channels, methods and even vocabulary had to undergo a rich progression of sorts, only to achieve the one goal of staying true and committed to our customers and their steadily advancing needs. It’s been a season of reinventing ourselves while staying contextual to the times we live in.
Even as I look back, it is the trends we’ve observed in the recent past that are most likely to be the fashion of tomorrow. While athleisure increasingly staked claim of our wardrobes over the last decade or so, I think smart casuals, both at home and in the work space, are the next big trend. Athleisure had its moment under the sun without making it entirely mainstream, but smart casuals will become a large category in itself. It will navigate through the formal and social gathering space only to emerge as a crowd favourite. Even as customers straddle work from home and work from office, smart casuals will be the preferred choice of clothing and style, retiring formal wear altogether. While athleisure will not go out of style, it will be trumped by smart casuals.
Customers would invest time to understand who’s making their clothes, where, when and how. There will be a sense of intentionality in fashion. It will grow deeper, enabling robust life choices
Another function of the pandemic has been a sweet union of international and home-grown brands. I do feel that as a country, we are poised to absorb more international brands into the heartland and propel more home-grown brands into the overseas markets. The last few years have shown us the vastness of our ecosystem which will enable this free movement of international and national brands, while earning profits and credibility both. We will see international silhouettes making their way into our style statements just as much as embroidery and handicraft will.
Having said that, currently, the fashion retail industry is well consolidated and so, we will witness the emergence of more brands even as more companies foray into fashion and more international brands make India their home. As of now, there are only 8 to 10 fashion houses that are operating strongly in the fashion retail segment in India, but I do foresee that increasing tremendously in the coming decade. I feel that, too, is less for India given the size of our nation. This emergence and establishment of brands will not be a short-lived wave but a present, continuous situation simply because the market cannot be controlled by a handful of brands, especially given the democratisation of fashion that’s taken deep roots in India.
The industry and the customer alike will do away with ‘plus size’ or ‘petite’ and instead steer towards size inclusivity and even size agnostic fashion. Fashion will simply mean more than what ﬁts or looks good
In my opinion, the top five reasons to cause a value-based trend in India would be:
- RE-LOVING FASHION: Hand-me-downs will metamorphose to re-loving. Customers will not shy away from purchasing and wearing pre-loved fashion and technology will enable this change. While this concept has lived among families and cousins for a while, brands will venture into it, too, in order to spark off a circular economy.
- UNDERSTANDING FASHION: Customers would invest time to understand who’s making their clothes, where, when and how. There will be a sense of intentionality in fashion which I do think is a welcome trend. Fashion will grow deeper, enabling robust life choices.
- SIZE INCLUSIVE AND SIZE AGNOSTIC FASHION: This has been a behind-the-scene, slow change in the making for a while. The industry and the customer alike will do away with ‘plus size’ or ‘petite’ and instead steer towards size inclusivity and even size agnostic fashion. Fashion will simply mean more than what fits or looks good.
- SUSTAINABLE AND AFFORDABLE: Customers are trying to unravel the meaning behind fashion and one such way to do so has been to make sustainable choices. The greatest admitted obstacle to that has been the steep price point and so, ‘sustainable’ and ‘affordable’ would be the key words determining fashion purchases while ensuring business profitability in the near future.
- NOSTALGIC FASHION: Funny to say that the future will hold on to the past, but it will. There is a certain comfort in the familiarity of the past which customers would want to keep a strong grip on with the intense two years the world has had. Dungarees, pop icons and characters will make a comeback to mainstream fashion, even lending a quirky element to smart casuals – the new formals.