Denim Might Not Be The Most Suitable Fabric For Humid Tropical India, But With Its Dynamic Leadership Of ‘Freedom Of Expression,’ Denim Wear Indeed Fits Well In A Very Young India. Indian Youth Have Begun Expressing Their Opinion. However, An Analysis Of The Psychographics Of Denim Consumer Segments In India Throws Key Findings On How Certain Age Groups Still Lack Focus. This Is A Perhaps A Huge Opportunity For Denim Brands To Explore

Indulged generation:

Dimpi’s mom captures her photo with a ‘cool’ glare, denim and tee … licking a lolypop amok the crowded mall distantly separated from the hustle bustle of life around them… Dimpi winks to camera… ‘click’… he carefully checks the photos… ‘ye better hae!” (this one is nice)… the photos will be instantly uploaded in Facebook! The proud mother happily keeps clicking her daughter, remembering a time she has missed in her teenage, when she was not allowed to wear a pair of denim due to social restrictions and early marriage.. she lacked of opportunities to indulge…. Her daughter’s glare, denim, pouted lips (popularly known as ‘duck lips’), lollypop, winked eye represents a stereotype model (as seen in internet and glossy ad in magazines) of being ‘cool’ among peers (hence, making mom proud!)… the dopamine rush of becoming virtual exhibitionist… Dimpi belongs to an over informed, over pampered, overtly expressive wonderful mutant generation of Indians who knows the trick of balancing on the slippery rope of ‘making parents happy’ at a time when peers will still consider her ‘being cool’,a generation who keeps indulging in the duality of this subcontinent’s social evolution in transition for past Thus, the dynamics of denim revolves around ‘indulgence’, ‘expression of freedom’ and perception of ‘being young’ which is not ‘age’ specific but mindset oriented. Today, the way a teenager instantly poses for selfie is almost similar to a grown up who also wants to remain young by heart and mind! Unfortunately, the denim brands in India fails to recognize them to provide a denim which will entangle them with youthfulness but will fit over their bulging tummy! Levi’s ‘curve ID skinny fit’ hardly caters to a market like India which is the third most obese country in the world (Lancet medical journal, 2014)! The 35+ age group, who can afford an expensive denim remains empty handed whereas the one who can’t afford (pre teens and teens ) are flooded with options!

The exhibition of freedom and self expression: Denim vs. Khadi

Four young men jumps up… stretched hands towards sky… bodies bent back… bare chested…with a pair of denim. Interestingly, none of the denim has any distinct brand identity! This iconic still from one of the super hit cult movie Rang-De-Basanti creates an image of freedom in the mind of young Indians.

Mr. Hazare, fondly called “anna” inspired millions of youth in India to unite and voice against corruption. His khadi clad image became a symbol of protest… his ‘Gandhi topi’ (cap) synonyms to ‘coolness’ with “I am Anna” printed / hand-painted on them. But, beyond cap, the ‘khadi’ as a clothing / costume never came closer to the uniform of revolution for the youth in contemporary India (unlike the free India movement pre- independence). Instead, tee and denim took over! What went wrong with Khadi? What is so revolutionary about ‘being in a pair of jeans’ ?

Gone are the days where Khadi clad freedom fighters used to rally on street for free India. Due to the continuous negative portrayal of post-freedom political leaders in the movies and the endless scams (in past few decades) that has hit the news, post ‘free media’ and internet boom, ‘khadi’ (indigenous hand spun fabric) has lost its charm as ‘cool’ quant of ‘fighting for freedom’. Rather, the denim has taken over!

In recent time, any youth protest in this country that was spontaneous and self driven has seen “denim” as a unspoken dress code.

If one has recently visited any institution, university or college campus in this sub continent, a look across will confirm that denim is no doubt the youth wear of this country, beyond economic and socio- psychological barriers.

Denim trousers are visually androgynous. This brings in gender non-biasness which is a key factor to propagate a protest / movement. Right from college campus to the streets of Delhi, denim is diminishing the gender gap… indeed a blender that’s successfully and silently exhibiting the emotions and vision of equal rights and protection against the corrupted system. Unfortunately, ‘Khadi’ failed to achieve this in a span of 60 plus years post-independence, hence becoming a strict ‘political wear’ symbolizing corruption and non-active ‘uncool’ system. In other words, politics and the stereotype of ‘corrupted leaders’ killed the coolness of this indigenous clothing. Moreover, khadi beings in ‘respect’ but not seen as ‘friendly’ and part of life. Friendship matters more than the respect among the youth.

In India, socially, Denim is still considered as a bottom wear for them who achieved nothing in their life, in contrast with suites and ties! But, at a time, when dopamine flow in the mind of youth are still high, bringing in sudden emotion and rush toward adventure, a ‘denial’ can become the ‘new adventure’ itself! The Anti rape protest or the meet and protest at One Billion Rising — Sansad Marg in 14 Feb 2013… other than the vision, voice and emotion the visual commonality was “denim”! Kurta / Kurti (long dress) and denim are definitely the visual conformity of the intellectual and socially responsible youth of this country.


Denim and its target segment in India: has forayed into men’s apparel with the launch of ‘Denim Hangout’ and men’s innerwear stores on its marketplace. As economic times stated, with over 1,500 styles in men’s Denim wear and more than 1,300 styles in men’s innerwear from popular Indian and international brands, Amazon India now offers consumers an extensive fashion portfolio, the company said in a release.The Economic Times reported that Genesis Luxury has signed a distribution and marketing deal with Dutch clothing brand G-Star RAW, popular for its denim-wear, for the Indian market. Genesis plans to open 30 points of sale for G-Star in the next five years. A pair of denim will be broadly priced anywhere between Rs 6,000 and Rs 14,000. Mafatlal Industries Ltd, the flagship company of the diversified Arvind Mafatlal Group, today said it has increased its production capacity from 20 million meters to 25 million meters. The company also plans to further raise it to 30 million meters by 2015.

The initiatives are amazing indeed. But who will buy these denim-wear in India? Obviously the teenagers will not buy online or can spend Rs.14,000 for a denim. Neither one who wears the counterfeited denim from Sarojini Nagar (Delhi) or Fashion street (Mumbai) is the target customer. Over it another report states that denim sale is falling in past few months due to popularity of ‘colored cotton trousers’. During an interview with economic times Mr. Suhail Sattar, co-founder and director of Hasbro Clothing, which retails brands such as Basics 029 and Genesis stated “For us, the non-denim trouser segment has grown 60-70% in the past 12 months, while denim has receded,”. For Hasbro, the split between denim and non-denim trousers is 55:45; it was 75:25 a year ago. E-commerce fashion player Jabong is also reporting a similar trend where denims are getting replaced by non-denim cotton trousers, which have grown by 120% in the past year.


As per my research the consumer psychographic of denim market is divided in three segments. In’glo’dians, who wears niche, imported or customize designer denim wear which are otherwise not available in malls / chain stores (mostly imported, customized in flagship stores). Indians are the aspiring individuals (1st generation affluence) consumes local brands, affordable global brands, export surpluses and counterfeits. Bharatiyas buy from flea market, gets their denim tailored in local tailoring shops, wears counterfeits etc.


The invisible market remains among the ‘thundering 30s’. An age group that can afford a pair of original denim, wants to retain and revert to their teen age, has enough to spend and yet to start their family (might be living in, married but without the burden of extended family). Mostly residing in the cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Hydrabad, Delhi etc.

Denim is casual, gender fluid, with attitude and a ‘freedom’ to be in. It’s an eternal fashion statement to exhibit a protagonistic attitude of youth or whoever wants to remain young. The dopamine rush of being in first denim is almost similar to seeping the first beer! The market might bubble up and down but the need of denim as indulgence remains same after centuries.

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