It is not merely the metros, but today fashion has reached Tier II III cities thanks to the internet boom. It is to be noted that the coming of international brands has only increased competition for the share of the buyer’s wallet with domestic brands re-inventing and changing their positioning and formats to attract the buyers…

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
– Coco Chanel

Today, India is considered as one of the largest economies of the world and retains its fastest- growing economy title ahead of China. Along with rising disposable incomes and the right demographics, India, today, is one of the most retail markets for global retailers. Retail as a business as a choice has seen a sea change in its concept and format in the last decades in India. Where shopping centres have evolved from arcades to the present day crème de la crème malls, fashion has evolved from merely being necessity clothing to a constantly changing choice of making a statement.

This choice is not gender specific or age bound but the fashion apparel retail that includes apparel, footwear, bags, and accessories is today consumed and lived by each one of us and Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi NCR are at the epicentre of this fashion retail wave that is taking the country by storm. It is not merely the metros, but today fashion has reached Tier II III cities thanks to the internet boom. It is to be noted that the coming of international brands has only increased competition for the share of the buyer’s wallet with domestic brands re-inventing and changing their positioning and formats to attract the buyers.

According to Knight Frank Research, modern retail penetration is the highest in the fashion apparel category in India, with a share of 40 percent in the occupied modern retail space of the top seven cities. With an understanding of the demographics, increasing disposable income levels and consumer-spending patterns, one can say it with conviction that fashion retail is slated to grow at an exponential rate in India. The online market place is the latest addition to the retail format, and it is here to stay, thanks to the technology-savvy millennials, India is quickly becoming a global destination for online retailers. With internet users expected to reach 840 million by 2022 and the speed at which this ‘click-and-sell’ model has panned, the reach of fashion and apparel has increased manifold.


Presently, the modern retail penetration in India is abysmally low compared to
the developed and emerging economies.While the share of modern retail is 84 percent, 71 percent, and 53 percent in the US, Singapore and Malaysia, respectively, it is only 19 percent of the value of the total retail spending in the National Capital Region, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad, cumulatively.According to Knight Frank Research, the retail market in India is estimated to grow from 871 billion to Rs 1,718 billion by the end of 2019.


Growth of Internet Users in India
The Indian consumer today is well travelled and knowledgeable and demands the same international standards and experience in retail that one gets in other countries. The world has become a smaller place due to globalisation and India is becoming more permeable to the global fashion trends which are reflecting in the transformation of the spaces where this exchange of style and fashion is taking place. The success of fast fashion brands such as ZARA, H&M and the likes tell a fascinating tale of how the Indian consumer has evolved and opened up to the world.

The only thing that is stopping them is the dearth of quality retail spaces, since the mall culture in India that started with the “Plaza” in the 1990s had no bandwidth to cater to the look and feel and aesthetics required in today’s retail spaces.

So, mainly there are two important aspects that are changing the dynamics of the present fashion retail space; first, is the acceptance of the online platform and the use of innovative technology to retail fashion, and second, is the transformation of physical retail spaces to create “spaces” that provide for experience and comfort for the customer.

Fashion On Your Fingertips: Technology-Enabled Platforms & Innovative Technology Woo The Customer
Fashion today is on your fingertips. Today, technology is being used to retail through the “click and sell” model and also to enhance the experience of the buyer in the physical retail formats. One factor that is strengthening the e-tailing segment in India is the country’s favourable demography. While 1.3 billion people always meant a big consumption market, being one of the youngest nations in the world bodes well for the e-tailing phenomenon.

Approximately 65 percent of the country’s population is below the age of 35 years; therefore, the acceptance of e-tailing is expected to be higher among the younger generation that is more tech savvy and open to experimentation. Access to the internet and the favourable demographics has made it possible for fashion brands to foray into cities and towns which do not have favourable retail spaces. Most of the brands today, either through aggregators or individually, cater to a huge segment of online demand. In fact, the demand is such that some home-grown brands only operate through the online space to retail their products.

Another avenue where innovative technology is being used is to help the brick-and-mortar stores to tag their customers and lure them to the stores. Use of technology like ‘Bluetooth-assisted beacons’ to track mobiles of potential buyers in the vicinity and send them messages about offers is being used by many stores. Other tools for engaging customers involve using artificial intelligence and augmented reality through which the retailers can track down the potential buyers.

To Sell Fashion, You Must Be Fashion!
As rightly stated by Coco Chanel, fashion is not merely dresses but also in the space around us, and this space today need not be a store only! These days fashion retailers are not only transforming their retail spaces in various ways but are also looking out for avenues to collaborate and for sponsorships, with some retailers even organising events to promote their brand. Overcoming the banality of a box format, malls as well, are paying attention to details of aesthetics and service to give a premium feel to the shopping experience of the customer.

Fashion retail spaces are more and more relying on visual merchandising to awaken the senses of the buyer. In simple words, visual merchandising is the arrangement of the store through props, mannequins, fixtures and backdrops that attracts a customer to a store. It also uses sensory elements like music, scents, etc. All these elements put together not only add aesthetic value to the store but also help showcase the products to the buyers.

Fashion retail in a bid to “connect with the customer” is breaking away from the conventional fixed space and is reaching out to the “buyer through the buyer”, by way of social media. This form of retail marketing is a new way fashion retail is expanding its borders and using the buyers who have a good following on social media to showcase their line. This form of marketing is not only helping fashion brands to reach the buyer but also influence him/her through peers who have a good social media standing.

In today’s scenario, fashion retail and retail space are inseparable terms. You cannot sell fashion without being in sync with the space where it is sold. Retailers have realised this fact and are revamping their spaces and taking fashion to the streets to woo the buyer. Not to deny, the importance of technology and artificial intelligence to reach the buyer. All these spaces, online or offline are constantly evolving and together pushing the aspirations of the Indian consumer, averse of age or gender.

As very well put by Zaha Hadid, a British-Iraqi architect,

“Architecture is how the person places herself in the space. Fashion is about how you place the object on the person.”

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