Today, denim is not just a bold fashion statement but a wardrobe staple for many women across India. No wonder, the Indian women’s denim market is witnessing tremendous growth in volumes as well as in sales. We analyse the various trends in vogue in women’s denim.
From a symbol of non-conformist, young women’s rebellion in 1960s, denim has traversed a long way and how! Today, denim is not just a bold fashion statement but a wardrobe essential for women across age groups all over the world. And the scenario in India is no different. With time, denim has evolved in every way—styles, fabrics & fits, products, occasions and more. These days, women have plenty of options in denim wear, including jeans, jackets, coats, shirts, skirts, shorts, capris, tunics and even dresses. Besides apparel, denim has also made inroads into women’s other fashion accessories and footwear.
What’s interesting to note is how the women consumers in India have developed over the last few years. The self assured women of today won’t just pick any denim or jeans; they are fashion-savvy and brand-aware, and also know a thing or two about washes, styles and fits. The rising demand and awareness has made denim brands and manufacturers to work harder to meet their expectations and win over them.
Rahul Gupta, Vice President, Jealous 21, notes, “While buying denim, women prioritise on its fit fashion, and innovation.” Echoes Sameer Patel, Chairman, Deal Jeans, “For women, the most important criteria for denim is its fit and they take this factor too seriously in making a selection of the denim product.”
Concurring with their observations, Zubin Thakker, Director, Recap, however, adds, “For women, wearing denim even today signifies a rush of freedom – freedom from conservative hold of society. So for them, a denim purchase may not be as simple as just buying clothes. However for men, wearing denim is a way of life.”
Men COnStItUte neARLY 85 PeRCent OF tHe COUntRY’S DenIM MARKet. HOweVeR, VARIOUS StUDIeS SUGGeSt tHAt wOMen’S weAR wILL DOMInAte AROUnD 25 PeRCent OF tHe MARKet BY 2017.
MARKET AT A GLANCE
The growing fashion consciousness and influence of media and western culture have turned women’s western wear segment into a lucrative and highly evolving market, states Gurcharan Singh, Managing Director, Lotus Jeans. As per him, “Due to rapid urbanisation and higher disposable incomes, the ‘price-sensitive’ Indian consumers have now become more brand- conscious. The women’s denim wear market increased at a CAGR of around 10 percent during 2012-15.”
Apropos the market size, Patel, apprises, “The Indian denim market was estimated to be `17,666 crores in 2015 and is likely to grow at a CAGR of 15.4 percent in the coming years. Denim is a wardrobe staple in women’s wear and over the years, it has dominated this category. Getting something different to this dominant category is what attracted us majorly to the denim segment. Plus, we were aware that we could offer the masses something unique in this very category,” he says.
According to Thakker, the Indian women’s western wear market is estimated to surge at a CAGR of around 10 percent during 2014-17. The total denim wear market is roughly 300 million pieces a year which is expected to double to 600 million pieces by 2017. He further elaborates, “Men constitute nearly 85 percent of the country’s denim market. However, various studies suggest that women’s wear will dominate around 25 percent of the market by 2017. Obviously, at present, the denim wear market is largely concentrated in urban areas, while the tier-II cities are also catching up. The women’s denim category has been steadily growing over the years. Even then, the share of women’s segment is less than 10 percent of the entire denim market.”
Not to mention that like other apparel segments, denim market in India is also largely unorganised!
WOOING WOMEN CONSUMER
Bipin Jain, Managing Director, Madame, reckons that women have a very different thought process about their denims as compared to men. Mostly, men like to go for regular denims, while women prefer to go for all the styles and trends from regular to skinny, high-waist to low-waist and alike. In denims, men prefer blue colour in different shades whereas women like to make style statement with different colours. Singh explains that a woman is a totally different buyer as compared to a man. He also underlines that they are not that brand conscious and want to explore more options before buying anything. Describing the women consumers’ choice criteria, Prem Gupta, Managing Director, Tarama states, “Women choose fits and washes which suit their body depending on the ratio of their height, waist and hips. Basically, the kind of jeans she wears reflects her attitude towards life.”
Moreover, women buyers are often hard to please than men. Patel and Gupta couldn’t agree more! “Yes! Women customers are more difficult to please. Being impulsive buyers, they would want to have larger width of product options and they are quite choosy about the fabric and fit, which is one of the most essential criteria for them to make the decision,” says Patel. Gupta of Jealous 21 feels that, “Because looking good comes as a natural expectation for them, they demand for more options to choose from.”
On the other side, Gupta of Tarama is of the view that women consumers are not that difficult but they are figure conscious and tend to be more selective as to which style looks best on them according to their figure and which pair would enhance their personality. While, Thakker asserts that any discerning customer is hard to please, be it a man or a woman. “But that means, we as a brand, need to strive harder so that our customer goes back happy when they purchase our product,” he adds.
RECENT MARKET DEVELOPMENTS
The overall Indian women’s denim market is witnessing tremendous growth in volumes as well as sales. A host of homegrown and international brands are present across various price points. One of the key factors driving the growth is the increasing acceptance of denim among women from all walks of life.
Elucidating how the women’s denim market has shaped-up in recent times, Gupta of Jealous 21 says that in present times, it’s all about life-wear, comfort fit, comfort look, durability for the young while looking sexy. In short, it’s about being glocal. Today’s generation is a doer and denim wear backs it up in a correct manner. Denim has evolved into many categories, giving customers multiple usage – it can go party, is ergonomic and also an essential wear. Acknowledging that denims have been gaining in sales over the past couple of years, Jain, points out, “Earlier, there were only few types and shades available in the market but today one can find loads of variety like casuals, washed off and skin denims.”
Among all types of denim wear, jeans or trousers are the most popular article in India. Small girls, young and older women of all shapes and sizes like them for their sheer comfiness, functionality and durability. Importantly, women who are not at ease with western wear or their body shapes have also taken to wearing jeans by pairing them with Indian ethnic wears – ‘kurtas and kurtis’. This ‘mix and match’ style is gradually picking up among more traditional and small town women as well.
Further, jeggings, which is a cross between denim and leggings, has also added to denim’s growing popularity. However, Singh, concedes, “The boom in women’s denim wear market was dominated by leggings during 2012-13.”
WHAT’S BEEN TRENDING LATELY?
Nowadays, the top selling denim styles are as diverse as distressed, torn, printed, embellished, high waste, proper ankle length, etc. Other well liked styles include super skinny, cropped, high waste and banana fit. Thakker tells that short skirts and shirts in denim are also in great demand these days. Jain finds jeggings very much in vogue. In fits also, women have a slew of options ranging from skinny to slim-fit to mid-waist, high-waist and low-waist to mid-rise, etc. Gupta of Tarama also mentions that low waist jeans are now being replaced with regular and high waist jeans.
For top selling colours or shades, vintage blue, light blue, black, blue black, grey, etc., are quite popular in women’s denim. Further, a variety of washes are available in women’s denim. Most popular washes include distress, raw, light, denim blue, black, ice, acid, cloud and enzyme washes.
Of late, stretch jeans have become quite popular among women denim lovers. These jeans look and fit like regular jeans but are made of stretch denim fabric that contains a small percentage of elastic synthetic fibre called lycra or spandex and are apt for those who seek relaxed comfort and flexibility. About stretch jeans trend, Patel says, “Women’s stretch denim is more popular as most of the women denim products are made of stretch.” Singh agrees, “Women denim wear have everything to do with stretch as compared to men”. However, he also draws attention to the fact that in the past few years, men’s denims have become more inclined towards stretch.”
Gupta emphasises that a must criterion for a women’s denim is its fit. “Jealous 21 has come up with miracle jeans, which fits like second skin with the promise of good recovery and sexy fit,” he informs. Tarama’s Gupta, however, rings the bell, “The stretch is indispensable till the slim and skinny fit is in. But now, rigid jeans are also making a comeback!”
Embellished denims too have grown into a craze of sorts in recent times. As per Jain, Swarovski, golden chain, zippers and laces are quite popular and most accepted elements used in women’s denim. Patel opines that studs, chains and other embellishments are widely used and accepted. Gupta of Jealous 21 has sequins and distressed effect as top picks, while Singh points out that innovative wash effect is always the main element of denim, while embellishments change from season to season.
EMERGING TRENDS TO WATCH FOR!
Fashion is ever changing and women’s denim styles and fits too keep on evolving. Even denim fabrics, colours and other elements tend to change. Jealous 21’s Gupta foresees high-waist, torn and distressed, clean finish, flares as the new upcoming trends that will find a greater appeal among women denim lovers. Singh roots for high crystal embellishments, bright colour threaded detail, worn out look and sporty look. He also sees the boot cut fit becoming popular in the coming months whereas Gupta of Tarama anticipates that one will see a lot more of slouchy and wide legs in rigid denims in the future.