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Denim apparel market of India

1. Denim Apparel Market of India – Overview
The Indian Denim Apparel market has been exhibiting continuous growth over the years. With new technologies, trends and higher market reach, this sector has promising growth potential. Even in non-metro regions, denim is becoming highly fashionable with an increasing share of the population opting for denim wear over traditional outfits.

The Denim Apparel market of India was valued at US $ 6.15 bn in FY2023 and is expected to further grow at a CAGR of 14% over the 3 years to reach US $ 9.15 bn by FY2026.

The high growth prospects in the denim category are characterised by the high fashion and comfort quotient in the category, increasing focus on stretch and lightweight fabrics, and increasing options in terms of fits, washes, and details, amongst others.

Denim dynamics: Unveiling the denim apparel market of India2. Increasing Share of Women
While the growth in the denim apparel market of India can be witnessed across all consumer segments, women show the highest growth prospects. Women’s denim apparel market is estimated to contribute to 14% of the overall denim apparel in FY2026, up from 11% in FY2023, driven by the increasing participation of women in the workforce, growing adoption of western wear, the emergence of fusion-wear/mix-and-match styles, etc.

Denim dynamics: Unveiling the denim apparel market of India3. Price Segmentation
In terms of price segmentation, the denim market is dominated by the mid to premium segment led by mainstay and domestic brands as well as leading international lifestyle retailers offering high quality and variety at accessible price points. Even the value segment holds a significant share in the market owing to the sizeable unbranded segment as well as the emergence of leading value retail chains like Max Fashion, Zudio, etc. The superpremium and luxury segment is held by leading international brands, which are capitalizing on their legacy brand image as well as the growing trend of premiumization in India.

Denim dynamics: Unveiling the denim apparel market of India4. Casualization of Fashion
The Indian casual wear market has evolved significantly over the years. Casual wear categories such as denim, activewear, and casual shirts are outpacing the growth of formal wear in India. This is reflective of the changing consumer trend and increasing usage of casual wear in offices as well as at home.

The onset of COVID-19 and the resultant ‘Work From Home’ culture gave momentum to the growing trend of casualization, drastically impacting the concept of work-wear, increasing preference towards casual dressing in most corporate spaces and further driving the growth for ‘smart casual-wear’ options targeting young professionals, various formal-wear brands have been launching casualwear and denim focussed sub-brands and collections. For instance, in 2021, Van Heusen launched the ‘Tech Denim’ collection to capitalize on the casualization trend and provide a smart casual wear collection.

5. Increasing Adoption of Mix-n-Match and Fusion wear
Indian women have uniquely blended ethnic fashion with Western wear and mixed both to create their own styles and thus relevant trends to have a diverse wardrobe that comprises a mix of ethnic fashion (sarees, kurtas, leggings) and Western fashion (T-shirts, denim, dresses, etc.).

For instance, denim worn with kurtas is one of the most common combinations. Consumers are seeking versatile clothing that can be worn on multiple occasions, and denim as a category is thus well-positioned for the same, offering comfort and convenience, and at the same time incorporating cultural influences.

Denim dynamics: Unveiling the denim apparel market of India6. Evolving Consumer Preferences are Driving Product Innovations
Sustainable Denim:
Consumers are increasingly seeking denim products that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible. The Indian market has seen the emergence of various eco-friendly and ethical denim brands that are incorporating sustainability into their collections like upcycling denim jeans to make various other garments such as jackets, skirts, and even fashion accessories like bags.

Even in terms of manufacturing, socially responsible brands are employing technologies like ZLD (Zero Liquid Discharge) and ETP (Effluent Treatment Plants), enabling them to treat the water used in the process before discharging it into the environment. Similarly, brands have started putting a higher emphasis on the usage of sustainable raw material alternatives such as greener chemicals as well as recycled yarns and fabrics.

Functional Denim:
There is a surge in the popularity and demand of stretch denim owing to their comfortable fits like leggings and joggers. Leading brands have thus been launching collections with a focus on high comfort and stretch by using materials like ‘Lycra’ and ‘Elastane’ which impart ‘stretchability’ to the garment, giving added comfort to the wearer. Specifically, within womenswear, the category of “Jeggings” has emerged as a result of stretch being incorporated in denim.

Moreover, consumers prefer denim garments treated with special finishes to provide additional benefits such as anti-microbial, anti-odour, etc. Brands are thus using ‘Garment Finishes’ to ensure that the pair of jeans stays fresh for longer durations without the need to wash them frequently.

Colour Variations:
Colour variations in denim have become a significant consumer demand, with individuals seeking a wide range of options beyond traditional indigo. Thus, with every season, brands are launching newer colour options based on the forecasted trends in fashion.

7. High Focus on Non-metro Cities
Owing to increasing brand consciousness and awareness of fashion trends in tier 2+ cities, mainstay denim focussed brands such as Killers, Mufti, and Spykar as well as leading international brands such as Levis and Jack & Jones have been increasing their foray into various tier 2+ cities such as Cuttack, Dehradun, Patiala, capitalizing on the growing population of aspirational buyers in non-metro cities.

Denim dynamics: Unveiling the denim apparel market of India8. Online Landscape for Denim Category in India
Driven by increasing digital penetration, E-commerce is emerging as the fastest-growing channel in the Indian apparel market and currently contributes to more than 20% of the apparel market.

Such a trend has also been witnessed specifically for the denim category, wherein leading online vertical specialists such as Myntra and Ajio are offering denim through their flagship private labels such as Roadster and DNMX.

The D2C space too has witnessed a series of funding and acquisitions for denim fashion brands. In July 2023, ‘Freakins’, an internet-first denim fashion brand, received funding of US $ 4mn in its seed fund round led by Matrix Partners India and Blume Ventures.

Alternately, in December 2021, E-commerce unicorn ‘Mensa Brands’ acquired a D2C denim brand called ‘High Star’ as part of their series of buyouts and acquisitions.

9. Opportunity for Growth of Denim Exports
With a shift towards synthetic blends in denim fabric and the emergence of the ‘China +1’ policy, India has a good potential to explore new markets for denim exports. Domestic manufacturers can increase their share of denim apparel exports to newly added FTA (Free Trade Agreement) partner countries like Australia and UAE.

Even in terms of denim fabric export, Indian denim manufacturers have an opportunity to capitalize on the ‘China +1’ factor and diversify denim fabric export to markets like Mexico, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Turkey where China currently has a dominating share.

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