Indian fashion has been renowned since time immemorial for its rich heritage, intricate designs and elegant drapes. Indian clothes are designed to be comfortable and at the same time allow the wearer the chance to emphasize their personality by choosing appropriate designs. Traditional Indian formal attire category is no different. The category of Indian men’s clothing is quite vast since it includes not just the traditional clothes that have been worn in India but also Indo-Western innovations of the last century. This includes Indian versions of western outfits that have been created by Indian designers – specifically, the shirt…
The Indian subcontinent is a vast region comprising of many diﬀerent communities that have their own dressing styles. Indian menswear market includes woven shirts, trousers, denims, winter-wear, innerwear, t-shirts, suits, active-wear, ethnic-wear and daily-wear. Among these, woven shirt is the single largest category, followed by trousers and denim.
Traditional Indian men’s clothing is essentially ethnic-wear, which includes various garments from diﬀerent parts of the country, such as the ‘Kurta-Pajama’- the classic north Indian men’s wear, or the very regal and elegant looking finely embroidered ‘Sherwani’ resembling the kurta in its basic structure but quite diﬀerent in its overall look because of its flattering cut and imposing, coat like fit. On the other hand, the classic Indian men’s wear in south India is the ‘Dhoti’ and ‘Veshti/Mundu’. While these traditional clothing are usually worn for traditional occasions like weddings and festivals, it is the Western and Indo-Western menswear that dominates the wardrobe of the urban Indian men. The typical attire of Indian men in formal oﬃce environment and for business conferences is the combination of shirt, vest, tie, suit and/or blazer with a fitted pair of trousers. Some variations to this is achieved by exploring Indo-Western formal attire like Nehru jackets, Indo-Western shirts and Indo-Western suits. Formal shirts, trousers, and suits dominate the `302.5 billion worth men’s formal western wear market, which is also relatively a more organized sector. Formal shirts dominate the men’s formal western wear market with a share of 53 percent, followed by trousers at 35 percent, and suits at 12 percent. In addition to the readymade garment segment, this category also includes ‘bespoke’ tailoring, which focuses on the quality of the material used, as well as on the overall look and fit of the garment.
‘Formal shirts dominate the men’s formal western wear market with a share of 53 percent, followed by trousers at 35 percent, and suits at 12 percent. In addition to the readymade garment segment, this category also includes ‘bespoke’ tailoring’.
Growth of the Men’s Shirt Market in India
‘Shirt’ as an apparel category, accounts for about 12 percent of the total apparel market in India, and about 29 percent of the total men’s apparel market in India. In 2017, the overall Indian ‘Shirt’ market, (both Men’s and Women’s included), was estimated at `397 billion, and it is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6 percent to be valued at about `694 billion by 2027. Men’s shirts comprises of about 94 percent of the total shirts market in India (with the remaining 6 percent constituted by the women’s shirts market) and is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 5 percent over the next decade.
The men’s shirts market in India is valued at `371 billion, and it is the largest category among men’s apparel accounting for about 28 percent of the total men’s wear market. Around 40 percent of the men’s shirt market currently is constituted by formal and semi-formal shirts. (In comparison, women’s shirt category in India gets a much smaller share of the pie (~2 percent) in the overall women’s apparel category, which is still dominated by ethnic wear. It is still a relatively new segment at nascent stage of penetration and expansion in the country, albeit estimated to be growing at a fast rate of about 14 percent CAGR, owing to increasing women’s participation in the country’s workforce, and growing interest for western wear among women in India, especially in metro and mini-metro cities.)
To begin with, there are some inherent advantages to the menswear category at large – it is easier to sell in large quantities as standardization (in terms of sizes and specifications) is simpler because it tends to be more westernized as compared to women’s wear. The fact that the ‘Shirt’ as an apparel, is more global in its design, style and colors and that it is available in various ready-to-wear forms, is a key driver to its popularity as the go-to formal wear for men. Also, In terms of sizes and specifications, standardization of men’s apparel in general, and shirts in specific, is relatively simpler and easier than that of women’s.
The men’s shirts category remains the largest among menswear in India, in which demand for ‘branded’ shirts has been growing. The market for men’s shirts is under transition in the last few years – shifting from limited colors and designs to much wider and distinct categories of formal and stylish shirts.
Key Factors for Shift in Wardrobe Choice
There has been a drastic population increase in urban towns and cities in the country over the past five years. Almost 10 million people migrate to cities and towns every year. The urban population as a percentage of India’s total population is estimated to increase from the current 32.8 percent (2017) to 35 percent by 2020, in turn driving greater exposure to modern amenities – primarily towards, food and clothing, education, transport and housing. High economic growth and increasing opportunities in the cities have led to urbanization.
Apart from changing lifestyle and working style, urbanization has led to growth in the organized retail sector; this in turn has led to change in consumer buying behavior. In particular the decision making process before buying something has been significantly aﬀected. Rise in urbanization in India has also led to its people having more disposable income as compared to before. Increase in the overall per capita income has resulted in the rise of per capita disposable income in the country; is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7 percent until 2025. Tier-II and III cities will be the upcoming high disposable-income cities with greater purchasing power parity, high Internet penetration, and increasingly brand-conscious young population.
India has a relatively young demographic profile, with a median age of 27.3 years; 850 million of the country’s population will be in the age group of 35 years or below, making India world’s youngest population by 2020. In India, Millennials account for about 34 percent (440 million) of the country’s total population. And, these Indian Millennials are all set to take the center stage in consumer markets and redefine India’s consumption story with their increasing representation (currently 47 percent) in the working age population.
‘The men’s shirts category remains the largest among menswear in India, in which demand for ‘branded’ shirts has been growing. The market for men’s shirts is under transition in the last few years – shifting from limited colors and designs to much wider and distinct categories of formal and stylish shirts’.
Evolving Sartorial Choice of Urban Indian Men
Today’s urban Indian male has undergone a transition in his fashion sense – he no longer confines himself to traditional styles but is open to experimentation with the look of the clothing. The demand for occasion-specific clothing is on the rise within the menswear segment. For instance, the modern Indian man can be seen in Athleisure at the gym; in formal shirts, trousers and suits during oﬃce hours; smart casuals in the evening; and in his daily-wear or sleepwear at night. The demand for ethnic dressing now pivots around special occasions such as marriages and social functions. Even, Indian men with traditional outlook, who would otherwise not experiment much with drastic fashion overhaul, are open to accepting subtle experimentations with fabric design, fiber content, fabric finishing, apparel design, colour, and fit even for their formal wear. Also, many business leaders and professional services companies still consider the classic business attire as a necessity in a serious business environment.
Consequently, Indian men are increasingly embracing the concept of ‘fashion’ seriously as a means of true reflection of their persona, and not just a high-end purchase. The per capita expenditure on apparel stood at `3,100 in 2015 and is expected to reach `8,000 by 2025. Therefore, the total Indian apparel consumption expenditure is expected to grow to `11.7 Lakh Crore (US$ 180 Billion) by 2025.
Search of Variety in Fits & Styles
Thanks to a change in lifestyle and increased emphasis on fitness, Indian men have made a drastic transition to change the stereotypical outlook of the Indian man. The shift to a healthier and fitter lifestyle has made men pay more attention on their appearance. The rising sales of slim-fit shirts and trousers also reflect the trend of experimenting with formal wear. The designing of collars, cuﬀs, etc. are also expected to undergo frequent changes with a view to improve the formal look.
There is no doubt that the overall shirt market in India has witnessed several transitions in fabrics, fits, styles and designs in recent past, and it oﬀers tremendous potential and lucrative new opportunities, as it is witnessing increased demand for personalized shirts. Consequently, retailers have brought in various size segments like slim fits, skinny fits, etc., to cater to various demographics. The country has already witnessed an influx of top international labels such as Gucci, Hugo Boss, and Armani, to mid-upmarket brands like Thomas Pink and Tie Rack along with trendy, street-wear brands such as Diesel, and Superdry flooding the market for ready-to-wear men’s apparel.
‘Fashion startups such as ‘Roposo’ and ‘Voonik’ have launched exclusive platform for men in 2016 with personalized clothing options, for the fashion-conscious Indian men in the market place.’
Aspiring Indian’s Lure of Celebrity Connect
In India, celebrities, especially from the Hindi film Industry (Bollywood) and popular sports like Cricket have played a crucial role in changing consumer behavior and making men more conscious about their appearance. The Indian menswear market has also seen a sudden surge of celebrity endorsement in the recent past and Indian men have started to emphasize a lot on how they look and what they wear. For instance, Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar is believed to be considering taking his menswear and accessories clothing line ‘True Blue’ (a joint venture with Arvind Fashion Brands) to the global market, according to reports in Economic Times. Well- known Indian designers such as Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Anita Dongre and Rohit Bal have noticed this shift and are now tapping into the menswear market by oﬀering styles and designs that match the sensibilities and taste of the modern Indian man.
Heightened Competition from International Brands
The influx of global brands has induced domestic players to significantly improve their own consumer experience and build brand loyalty by producing innovative designs and adopting international best practices in retail, service, visual merchandising and processes. The focus is on developing new and exciting formats, similar to international trends and practices, which would yield more consumer comfort and delight. Fashion startups such as ‘Roposo’ and ‘Voonik’ have launched exclusive platform for
men in 2016 with personalized clothing options, for the fashion-conscious Indian men in the market place. Online shopping portal, ‘Myntra’ too, is investing considerably in expanding their menswear category oﬀering celebrity co-branded brands such as HRX with Hrithik Roshan and other private labels to handle the growing demand for menswear. They are also making use of artificial intelligence and machine learning for a more personalized shopping experience and assisted buying as men require a lot more personalization and adequate recommendation to make buying decisions.
The decision of the Union Cabinet to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail via the automatic route would help more than 200 fashion and apparel brands, which are waiting to enter India. Also in their endeavor to boost exports, Indian government has allowed free trade in ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) region for textiles. Moreover, huge investments are being made by the current Government under Scheme of Integrated Textile Parks (SITP) and Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme to encourage more private equity and training of Indian workforce in the sector.
For new as well as existing Textile and Apparel business establishments in the country, such initiatives bring about a lot of business opportunities. While India has not yet become the Mecca of ‘bespoke’, but luxury menswear brands are slowly but surely catering to the Indian man’s newfound zeal to be dapper.
‘There is a gradual shift happening from ‘formal’ to more ‘casual’ attire within consumer’s wardrobes worldwide, and India is no exception. In the ‘casual wear’ category, t-shirts and casual/semi-formal shirts are gaining more popularity and witnessing market expansion’.
Emerging ‘Bespoke’ Market
The menswear market in India had initially transitioned from tailor-made to ready-made clothing due to the popularity of ready-made clothing among young and working Indian men. But now, the trend of custom-fit clothing in India is also reviving as more men who have been buying premium or luxury readymade clothing brands now want to wear a shirt (or a trouser) that fits them perfectly.
As a result, the premium tailoring segment comprising the fashion designers and the bespoke segment is growing. Uber-rich Indian men in the super premium segment are willing to pay a premium to ensure that their tailor-made clothing reflects their own personality and also sets them apart from the common crowd. In India, the premium brands like Raymond and Louis Philippe, as well as luxury brands like Armani, Versace, Zegna, Cadini, and Canali, are oﬀering made to measure service. Moreover, the premium brands like Van Heusen’s MY FIT and Creyate by Arvind Group have also introduced bespoke tailoring in an attempt to capture the growing trend of custom-fit clothing among Indian men.
Increasing Tilt from ‘Formal’ to ‘Casual’ – Growing Potential for T-Shirt & Semi-Formal/Casual Shirt Market
There is a gradual shift happening from ‘formal’ to more ‘casual’ attire within consumer’s wardrobes worldwide, and India is no exception to the trend. Consequently, in the ‘casual wear’ category, t-shirts and casual/semi-formal shirts are gaining more popularity and witnessing market expansion. In India, T-shirt market comprises of: ‘knit shirts’, ‘polos’, ‘knit tops’ etc. and in 2019, this category is estimated to be valued at about ` 24.9 billion. This market is dominated by the men’s/boys’ segment that contributes 83 percent of the total market.
The overall men’s shirt market in India has huge scope for brands and retailers, provided they manage to cater to the ever changing fashion requirements of both formal and semi-formal shirt customers.
A key driver for increasing popularity of casual shirts and T-Shirts among urban Indian male, is owing to its increasing acceptance by corporates. Many professional services companies, over the years, have relaxed their dress code to allow business casual shirts and t-shirts into their oﬃce premises. Initially, t-shirts were either not allowed or permitted only on Fridays, but gradually, relaxation of such rules have been extended to all working days by some companies and are expected to be followed by many others.
The ratio of woven shirts market in India to T-shirts market is 2.5, i.e., the woven shirts market is 2.5 times of the T-shirts market. The higher market size of woven shirts is because of higher penetration of woven garments in general, owing to traditional factors. On the other hand, T-shirts is relatively new apparel category that came into existence in the twentieth century only and unlike looms knitting industry still remains clustered around selective areas in the country. However, T-shirts market remains dominated by urban India which contribute more than two-thirds of the total market.
T-shirts is also emerging as one of the most sought after categories in online shopping portals. Availability of t-shirts of a wide price range attracts consumers from all price segments and all age groups. Many makers of formal wear such as Arrow, Van Heusen, Raymond and Park Avenue are also now moving into the casual wear segment where they see an opportunity.
Private Labels Promise Opportunities for Value- Conscious Consumers
The slowing of growth and persistent economic pressure has turned the middleclass consumer more value-conscious. Business executives in non-client-facing roles or in the junior to mid-manager levels are now opting to trade down. It is thus expected that some consumers now perceive value solely through aﬀordability. Consequently, private labels, which oﬀer formal clothing at an aﬀordable price, have started witnessing comparatively higher growth. Some brands are also banking upon discounts and promotions to lure bargain hunting customers.
Growing Popularity of Smart Fabrics & Garments
Smart clothing is yet to become main-stream in India after first emerging in 2015, but its slowly witnessing more acceptance and more global companies are toying with the concept of connected garments. For instance, the GPS sports watch maker is dabbling in the world of smart clothing for the first time with a smart compression shirt that’s designed for serious athletes. With heart rate capture points on the front and a pocket on the back for a GPS sensor, users of this shirt will be able to track motion and heart rate metrics in real time.
Another Montreal-based smart clothing startup, ‘Hexoskin Smart’ has recently unveiled its latest connected shirt, which is laced with sensors that monitor heart rate, breathing and movement, and is now fitted with a Bluetooth Smart sensor that can be paired with various fitness apps to capture real-time data on a range of sporty metrics including intensity and recovery, calories burned, fatigue level and sleep quality.
In a Nutshell…
The overall men’s shirt market in India has huge scope for brands and retailers, provided they manage to cater to the ever changing fashion requirements of both formal and semi-formal shirt customers. However, with increased competition, there is emerging need for more eﬀective relationship management and hence the need to provide excellent service. There is also high growth potential for premium and luxury brands oﬀering custom fit shirts, as this gives Indian men personalized clothes with perfect fit combined with a new experience, freshness, and exclusivity which contribute positively to sales and consumer acceptance of brands.