New innovations in shirt fabric manufacturing are fast changing theface of the industry. Drastic technological changes in the shirt fabric segment have resulted in increased quantity and quality of the fabrics available in India. Today, due to globalization and liberalization, fabric makers in India face competition not only from domestic but also from international manufacturers…
Shirting Business in India
If there is one thing which is the main contributor to the quality of a shirt, it is the fabric that is used to produce that shirt. Shirt fabrics, or shirtings as they are called by tailors, are of many diﬀerent natures and have their own properties. Cotton is by far the most common fabric for shirts in India. Besides pure cotton, polyester- otton blends cover the major consumption ratio in the market. The trend for linen too has picked up and it is demarcated as a status symbol. Various trends in linen – like cotton-linen – are also working well with the mid- segment market.
Raymond is one of the strongest players in the shirt fabric business in India. Innovations have always speared its growth as Atul Apte, Design Director – Formal and Ceremonial Wear, Raymond Limited (Park Avenue and Raymond Ready To Wear) defines the diﬀerent types and blends of fabrics which are selling in shirts as he says, “In the apparel industry most preferred choice is superfine Giza, Supima cotton as it has a brilliant lustre and looks rich. Second best most preferred fabric is pure linen. In blends cotton linen and cotton silk work very well.”
It is important for manufacturers, retailers and consumers to know emerging trends in fabrics for men’s shirts as men can try diﬀerent shirts fabrics to create variation within their wardrobe.
Atul Agarwal, Director, Vrijesh Natural Fibre & Fabric (Linen Fiesta), feels that India is a market which has consumption for all types of shirt fabrics as he shares, “In general, all the blends sell as in the market, you are trying to cater to diﬀerent price ranges for diﬀerent demographics. From pure polyester to Giza cotton which is very expensive, all sell and even pure linen from 150 lea sells at retail for ₹3,000 a metre.” The shirt industry is oﬀering high quality fabrics in diverse designs and blends as per the latest fashion trends. Shirting fabrics play an extremely important role in a readymade shirt. Fabric type is one of the important factors, as a functional criteria during formation of a readymade garment.
Talking on the variety of the most preferred shirt fabrics, Ramesh Poddar, CMD, Siyaram Silk Mills Ltd., says, “It varies across the geographical locations. In some states cotton blend is preferred more whereas in some states linen blend is the need of the hour. There is a tendency to opt for blended shirting, natural and eco-friendly finishes on the consumer front.”
Amit Dhelia, Director, Artex Fabrics Pvt Ltd defines the diﬀerent types and blends of fabrics that are selling recently in the market as he illustrates, “Customer prefers 4/1 weave satin look, which comes beautifully on the 60’s fabric. Also denim prints are in huge demand. It includes magic prints, aztec prints, shaded prints. Fabric with laser finish is also very much acceptable because of its smoothness.”
The Indian shirting business is distinguished completely according to zones in India. The 50 percent of the shirt fabric is on the formal line which is cotton, blends in cotton and linen. Vimal Jain, Managing Director, Supriya Silk Industries (Deep Blue) shares his opinion, “The taste in shirt fabrics diﬀers from state to state in India. The northern sector is the only market which is fashion conscious and goes in accordance with the seasons. Apart from it the rest of India prefers similar trends.”
There is a gradual shift in many states from 36” shirt fabrics to 58” fabrics. Also we see an increasing demand for 100% cotton shirt fabrics due to affordability
Trends In Shirt Fabrics
There is a steady growth in the Indian men’s wear industry. This is witnessed in last few years as men are becoming more fashion conscious and following the international trends. According to the changing fashions in the men’s garment industry, manufacturers have to adjust their production cycles as per these fashion oriented changes. Nowadays garment represents a status symbol and also makes a fashion statement; therefore importance is given on quality of fabrics and its design.
Easy to iron, and premium non- ron, wrinkle free, easy clean (Use of less or no detergent), Intellifresh (for anti- bacterial/ anti odour) treatments have been key innovations which have been Very well accepted by the consumers. These are more travel friendly and require less maintenance inspite of being 100 percent cotton.
Fabric type is also one of the important factors as the functional criteria during formation into a readymade garment. Shirt fabrics also play important criteria for selection and buying decisions. As Ramesh Poddar defines the current trends in shirt fabrics, “In shirting fabrics the trend is more towards plain sorts, structures, subtle prints etc. The preferred blend is more towards 100 percent cotton, CVC, 100 percent linen, slubs, linen look etc.”
The most preferred shirt fabric would depend on the category in which it is placed. As Vimal Jain explains, “The premium segment in the garment industry prefers cottons due to its properties of being comfortable, soothing to the skin and yet fashionable. As the cotton fabric can be played in both formal and casual segments.”
He further says, “The actual India lies in Tier III cities where people want to buy cotton but their budgets don’t allow them to do so. In this price sensitive markets blends of cotton happens to be a second most preferred option.”
Easy to iron, and premium non-iron, wrinkle free, easy clean (Use of less or no detergent), Intellifresh (for anti- bacterial/ anti odour) treatments have been key innovations which have been Very well accepted by the consumers. These are more travel friendly and require less maintenance inspite of being 100 percent cotton.
Majority of the shirt fabric is being consumed by the ready to wear shirt manufacturers in India. As Atul Apte talks about the trends in the apparel segment, he quotes, “The most preferred trends in the shirt fabrics are chambrays oxfords, fil-a- il, micro dobbies and prints.” He further illustrates as he quotes examples from the trend preferred by two important brands like Park Avenue, Raymond Ready To Wear where the shirt comes with lot of features as he explains, “Nowadays easy care fabrics, wrinkle free and non-iron have seen an excellent sale throughout the season.”
Innovations Leading the Way
We are a shirt wearing nation and there is a strong demand for diﬀerent varieties of fabrics.
Fabrics provide men with the right choice of fabric that suits their lifestyle. Besides colour and patterns, the fabrics also provide shirts with varying textures and give the men, literally, a diﬀerent feel for each fabric. There are lots of innovations happening in the shirt fabric segment, there are smarter categories of fabrics which are leading the way and are being preferred by the consumer.
Atul Apte talks about such innovations and says that the apparel shirts with product plus features make a good mix. He says, “Easy to iron, and premium non- ron, wrinkle free, easy clean (use of less or no detergent), intellifresh (for anti-bacterial/anti odour) treatments have been key innovations which have been very well accepted by the consumers. These are more travel friendly and require less maintenance in-spite of being 100 percent cotton.”
Working atmosphere is changing as companies are allowing men to wear semi formals and casuals at workplace. This has resulted in change of focus of manufacturers as they are also shifting production from formal wear to casual wear. Atul Agarwal showcases an overall pictures as he says, “As far as the innovation is concerned people are going in for finer products. People are going for nanotech and other finishes which enhance the quality and functionality of the fabric. It has still not made a mark as yet in a big way and is coming as a new thing.”
The 4-5% increase or decrease in demand or price has not made much of a difference to the market. It’s the thumb rule for the market
Consumers in India are yet to get an experience of wearing shirts made from high performance fibers. Consumers are becoming fashion conscious and expect desirable, fashionable styles in shirts. Emerging trends indicate that consumers ask for quality and high performance fabrics and innovative design features. Ramesh Poddar Siyaram agrees that the shirt fabric has evolved over the years as he says, “New structures, diﬀerent types of prints, new blends having natural fibres such as Tencel, Modal, Flex are in demand.”
It is Very difficult to demarcate a ration of consumption between formal, casual and party shirts because people cross dress in India. Something which would classify as party wear in Delhi would be day-to- day wear in Andhra. In men’s wear there is no distinct classification
Amit Dhelia says that the innovations for 2016 will be focused on, “Shine yarn developed in Oxford weave, dobbies and plains. Also, abstract prints will be seen soon in the market.” Consumption Patterns Shirts are demarcated as formal, casual and occasional wear. Let’s look at the diﬀerent consumption patterns seen in the following categories:
Formal Shirts: these are sub segmented into two categories for, premium shirts and popular shirts. In Premium formal shirts cotton still remains the front runner as 90 percent of the fabrics consumed in this category are cotton. Linen is another promising fabric which is giving higher level of comfort than cotton. This is gaining as a fashion symbol beyond being restricted to summers. Popular formal shirts is another growing segment where lots of innovative fabrics are being oﬀered. Here also 100 percent cotton becomes the first choice. Blends like poly-viscose, poly-cotton are also defining a good consumption ratio in the shirts category. Apart from this of CVC and silks, mock linen, linen look in polyester cotton fabrics, instead of linen or linen blends are being consumed by the readymade shirt manufacturers.
Casual Shirts: 80-85 percent casual shirts are made of cotton. Poplins and tussar in solid designs in yarn dyed cottons are being consumed. Other fashion fabrics in trends for casual shirts are polyester, viscose and their blends and specialty fibres like lycra, modal, tencel, lyocel, polynosic etc. Linen is other favorite fabric for casuals but restricted only due to higher costs.
Occasion-Led Shirts: There is a wide range of fabrics used for occasional wear shirts. Variety of fabrics like cotton, polyester, polyester blends, polynosics, linen are used, but cotton still leads. Cotton blended with polyester and also polyester viscose is a great combination and will continue to dominate for occasion wear as they provide sheen in the fabric. Spun polyester is an excellent fabric for special events when a heavier look and durable fabric is preferred.
Vimal Jain gives us a market understanding about the ratio of the fabrics going to the diﬀerent segments as he says, “When we talk of the formal lines of shirting fabric it has to be cotton and poly- cotton in which 70 percent ratio will be of poly- cotton and 30 percent of cottons. But when you say casual and semi-formal where the garments are washed 90 percent cotton and the remaining is poly-cotton.”
He further adds, “Linen saw a tremendous growth in 2010 onwards to 2014 and now we are seeing a little saturation where it is consolidating. Linen is a premium fabric and has to be worn and maintained by a certain class. Linen has been tried by lot of youth and other customers in casual segment and they have understood that it is not meant for them.”
There has been stability in terms of pricing in the market. There is demand for all categories of products from Very premium to affordable.
People cross dress in India, as Atul Agarwal is of the opinion that, “It is very diﬃcult to demarcate the ratio of consumption between formal, casual and party shirts because it keeps on changing and one overlaps the other.”
Siyaram Silk Mills predicts that the demand seems to be increasing of late particularly with China facing labour and production cost issues. However, during the last year India too faced a tough situation in its growth story due to various reasons. But still the company managed an increase of 10 percent in its annual sales.
Artex Fabrics has not seen a drastic change in demand from the last 2-3 years. The company supplies over the years have seen a constant growth, with more supplies to corporate brands.
Supriya Silk Industries (Deep Blue) has witnessed growth despite of slowdown in the market. It has grown as a company and is recording a growth of 35 percent CAGR. Even further they expect to grow at the same pace.
Silverline Fashion Fabrics also points out to the slow demand because of financial crunch but he is optimistic about the demand and consumption. The company has recorded a growth of 30 percent.
The growth story of shirt fabric is intact and will not see any major downfall. However the Indian manufacturers have to continuously upscale their production to good quality innovation by adopting the latest technology and trends prevailing across the world.