The bottom wear market for India was set up for a revolution with the introduction of knitted leggings almost a decade ago. From woven churidars to knitted churidars (closely resembling leggings), the wardrobe of a woman in India (more so in metros and tier -I and -II cities and towns) went in for a complete transformation. The mix-and-match category saw a momentum as well, based on the easy availability of knitted leggings.
THE CHANGING MARKET DYNAMICS
The fact that Go Colors, a recently launched brand (for bottom wear with a good chunk dedicated to leggings) has managed to spread itself across India with more than 82 exclusive brand outlets and a further presence in more than 1,200 multi-brand outlets, a strong presence in the format of shop-in-shops across 300 outlets besides a presence online through major market place models as well as through their own e-commerce portal, goes to accentuate the strength of this category in India.
Setting the context of the story to follow, Gautam Saraogi, Deputy Managing Director, Go Colors, shares, “The shift from two piece tailored or saree to mix-and-match two piece started a decade back. Over the last 7 to 8 years, the segment has picked up and has grown at a rapid pace, thanks to the growing women work force in corporate India and a large young consuming population.”
He further says, “The legwear segment has been a neglected one. The consumer had to make do with what was dished out by way of private labels by lifestyle brands and in the retail segments, she had to do with the unbranded, local and unorganised segment. Only in the last seven years has the segment seen some serious players entering.”
Leggings for men in India has yet not caught the fancy of shoppers, hence the term ‘legging’ is more seen to be a fit for women’s wear category. Vinod Kumar Gupta, Managing Director, Dollar Missy, shares, “In India, we consider leggings as a women’s wear and a better substitute of churidar. This is the main reason behind the popularity of women’s leggings. In India, there is no demand for men’s leggings.” Dollar Industry’s brand, Dollar Missy, caters to women’s leggings. According to Gupta, “The fastest selling category is the mid-premium segment comes in the price range of `300- `400.”
The stretch and fabric comfort that a legging extends, remain the top two parameters besides the price point when it comes to buying of leggings. Today, people prefer to use leggings made up of premium cotton spandex which provide comfort and snug fit.
Agnes Raja G, Founder and Director, De Moza, aptly reveals, “Legging trend started from the year 2008 and gained customer attention post all popular brands have moved from woven churidars to knitted churidars. And now leggings have become one of the most essential category in women’s wardrobe.” With 12 exclusive brand stores and a presence across 4 multi-brand outlets, De Moza is available in 28 Central stores across India besides a strong online presence. He points out that today, any major retail format (for apparels) would see leggings contributing to 10-15 percent of the space. De Moza has seen a growth of 80 percent in the last three years and that accentuates the strength of this category again!
According to him, the kind of demand leggings have in the market, forces retailers to provide a wide range of space to the legging segment. He adds, “Nowadays, it’s a must for all LFS stores to provide variety of leggings to its customers to smoothly run their outlets.”
Similarly, Manoj Kumar Gupta, who runs the leggings brand Comfort Lady, feels that leggings are the best inexpensive women’s clothing that they can have in their closet. The USP of leggings is that they can be worn during any season and occasion without any hassle. So, retailers also mix-and-match the ethnic wear and western dresses with leggings.
As Saraogi rightly points out, the market for legwear in India has seen a transformation in the last 7-8 years. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this transformation has its root in the introduction of knitted leggings. No MBOs or LFS today can afford to not have a section dedicated to leggings. Usually, this section finds a place in the mix-and-match category where two to three racks are dedicated to leggings and then there is one dedicated to dupattas. Patialas too have started catching the fancy of women but leggings surpass the buying frequency considering that leggings are low on maintenance in terms of washing easy and its no-ironing feature. Besides, leggings extend a formal look as well if teamed up with a right tunic, kurta, kurti, etc.
Lux Lyra advertisements on television came in as a sweet surprise as majority of the brands in the knitted category are strong on their advertisements for men’s undergarments.The brand has rapidly expanded its legwear category for women and has a presence across 10,000 MBOs besides a strong online presence as well.
Udit Todi, Brand Head, Lux Lyra, shares, “The legging market is definitely expanding and escalating rapidly. Since most of the female population in India, even today, prefers to wear Indian attires, the market is ever growing and is here to stay. I think, the trend of leggings picked up with the growing number of working women in the country. This is because leggings are comfortable to wear and easy to carry. Also, it gives you a smart and formal look.”
FABRIC & PRICE FUNDA
The stretch and fabric comfort that a legging extends, remain the top two parameters besides the price point when it comes to buying of leggings. Todi points out, “Today, people prefer to use leggings made up of premium cotton spandex which provide comfort and snug fit.” He adds, “There are segmentations in leggings. The silk leggings that we produce come under super premium product category, while ankle-length leggings, capris and winter leggings comprise the premium category. Economy category mainly consists of our churidar products. As per the current trend, products from economical category, that is, churidars is the fastest selling category.”
Gupta of Comfort Lady, shares, “There are few segments in the market today, which define the quality of the fabric used in leggings but it does not control the buying pattern of women. Premium leggings are very much in demand whereas economy leggings cater to remote zones.”
“Women are very conscious about quality and fashion, preferring fitted clothes for their daily routines to stay fit and healthy. They like stylish leggings, so they are also ready to incur that extra cost for their purchase,” he further shares. According to Gupta of Dollar Missy, in fabric, cotton and lycra are doing well and in terms of designs, printed leggings are trending this season. On the colours for SS’16, he shares, “Black, white, red and royal blue would be the colours for the season.”
THE BRAND STORY
The growth CAGR of Lux Lyra in the last three years has been 60 percent which further reiterates the importance and reach of this category in India. On the range and collection from the brand, Todi shares, “Our major collection comprises various products like capris, churidars, printed leggings, kid’s leggings, winter leggings, etc. Our super premium product, Lyra silk leggings is also an important part of our collection. We are also planning to introduce a complete new range of women’s innerwears and palazzos in the near future.”
Go Colors has over 20 different legwear styles from ethnics like leggings, churidars to Indo-western of harems, patialas and innovations like knitted pants and super stretch jeggings and a range of western wear like palazzos, palazzo pants, super stretch denims, ponte pants and many more.
Talking about Dollar Missy, Gupta shares, “Our leggings are made from 95/5 four way stretch fabric, with the quality of moisture absorbance, super soft and skin friendliness, crafted with body hugging and shape retain technology. We have over 65 shades to choose from; with some very trendy colours like bubble gum, brinjal, parrot green, mango, mauve, fuchsia, fourleaf green, true blue, falsa and so on. Our major collection consists of churidars, ankle lengths and capris. Ankle lengths and capris can be worn as casual wear teamed up with long tees, tops and kurtis. Churidars can be teamed up with kurtas, kurtis and also with long tops.”
Sharing a volume break-up of collection under De Moza, Raja shares, “Printed leggings contribute to about 30 percent, palazzos would be 20 percent, basic leggings in vortex viscose stretch is 30 percent and tops contribute to about 20 percent of our overall sales.”
As the tagline reads “play with colours”, Comfort Lady offers the widest plethora of shades to its customers. Gupta says, “We have always tried to be the trendsetter in leggings by introducing superfine quality fabric, easy stretch and bio-wash treated leggings that can be worn the whole day. Our major collection is leggings which further divides into churidars and ankle lengths. We also offer palazzos, shimmers, capris, printed leggings, camisoles, jeggings and baby leggings.”
The leggings category has given way to a lot of innovation in the legwear category for women, where from leggings, there is also a good presence of jeggings, super stretch denim jeggings to printed leggings. Shares Todi, “Nowadays, the trends of printed leggings with bold prints and patterns are ruling the leggings market. Along with it, leggings with denim finish are also in demand, especially among the young girls.”
Raja shares, “Jacquard, digital printed, velour, velvet, shimmer printed, leather coated are some of the new technologies incorporated in leggings.” On the fabric and design trend, he further says, “Vortex viscose, placement printed and all over printed leggings and palazzos are doing well. Core colours like yellow, green, pink, red and brown family are strong colours for the year.” He forecasts that colours like gold, silver, brown, olive along with accent of neon pink, yellow are strong for F/W 2016.
“As India’s weather is generally hot and humid, hence we make cotton and spandex leggings to give maximum breathability and comfort to the wearer. We offer leggings in basic colours like black, white, red and cream. Women are also showing interest in dark green, rosy pink, blue and orange colours,” shares Gupta of Comfort Lady.
On a concluding note, Saraogi shares, “Improving the stability, quality and comfort in the fabric are the key drivers that the consumer is looking at.” That could be a thread, manufacturers and brands could pick up from here to offer leggings that are just right for women – price wise and quality wise.