Fashion has ever been influenced by availability of raw materials, the knowledge of creation, geographic limits, socio-economic conditions, religion, socio-cultural and geo-political environmental and many others factors. Some factors are deep rooted and perennial, others are evolving, and may become permanent or otherwise. Ranjini Roy, Head – Branding at Aditya Birla Nuvo, (Chemicals, Insulators and Fertilisers) and Brand Head – Indina Rayon, elaborates.
Fashion is a manner of doing something; generally stated as a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration or behaviour.
Appears rather dry, right? Is this the only definition to a global fashion industry that contributes 2 percent to the world GDP? Is this what defines all the frenzy and the high-energy action that surrounds this textile, clothing, footwear and luxury fashion market?
It really does; but fashion needs to be viewed in the right context and you will gradually visualize the enigma that engulfs this industry. Since time immemorial, fashion has been influenced by raw material inputs availability and knowledge of creation, geographic limits, socio-economic conditions, religion and mythology, culture and entertainment, geo- political environment, technological innovations and many others. While some aspects are deep rooted and perennial, others are evolving, may be permanent or otherwise. All these aspects, thus, need to be considered when understanding fashion. This diversity and magnanimity in the number of parameters poses significant challenges for all associated with this industry.
As in any industry with diversity of high magnitude, the success in fashion industry also lies in getting the basics right. In-depth study of macro global trends and consumer behaviour are two critical aspects that can lead to significant and sustained gains.
MACRO GLOBAL TRENDS
In 2016, a survey conducted by Deloitte Financial Advisory (Global Fashion and Luxury market – Private Equity and Investors Survey 2016) reveals that the four main trends that characterize this sector and are impacting on its evolution are: digital revolution, craftsmanship, contemporary fashion and consolidation of the new fashion capitals.
Digital Revolution is the most discussed in today’s business scenario. It is redefining the way of doing business, most importantly distribution channels for the front-end market and business models for product development and supply chain. Many brands and retailers can boast of unprecedented turnaround times and of reaching consumers through e-commerce.
Craftsmanship is the core of the fashion industry. The research of quality and exclusivity from the end users encourages fashion and luxury corporations to invest in craftsmanship, influencing production and design competencies and skills. This is what renders the element of creativity and art into fashion.
As in any industry with high diversity, the success in fashion industry also lies in getting the Basic right. In-Depth study of macro global trends and consumer behavior are two critical aspects that can lead to significant and sustained gains.
Contemporary Fashion is the third aspect. If we go back to the basic definition of fashion, a key word is the latest style, contemporary, in vogue. The upsurge of ‘Contemporary Fashion’ segment, is most visibly represented by emerging designers launching their own start-ups. Consumers globally are becoming extremely conscious of the way they look and feel. Social media, desire to express one’s individuality, thoughts, etc. lends to contemporary fashion.
Fashion Capitals emerge as fashion evolves by geographies, historical time zones, socio-economic and cultural influences. The growth of mature and emergent fashion capitals, driven by the economic growth of emerging markets, offering the possibility of geographical expansion to key players in the industry is visible also in 2016. While USA,Europe, China and Japan are key, India is an emerging fashion capital.
IMPACT OF GLOBAL MACRO TRENDS ON WOMEN’S WEAR
This entire world of fashion, its influences and influencers translates into textiles and clothing, footwear and luxury fashion; one of the key segments being women’s wear. It is the largest, estimated to account for about 20 percent of the industry. Why this sub segment is critical lies in the definition of fashion itself. The latest style of clothing, hair or decoration is always experimented, adapted and utilized maximum by women.
Women desire new apparel and accessories almost every second, thereby challenging the limits of digital revolution. Women inspire craftsmanship with their dreams of exclusivity. Women do not want something that they wore yesterday. They are redefining contemporary fashion every single day. Women desire enhanced lifestyles, thereby creating fashion capitals.
Raw material is the starting point as it is the input to the kind of fabrics that can be created to up the fashion quotient. The kind of raw material selected impacts the journey of a fashion garment.
TO GET BASICS RIGHT – BEGIN AT THE STARTING POINT
Thus, to create appealing women’s wear, the fashion industry is pushed to its limits every minute. Here, the key starting point is the raw material inputs – the myriad fibres and yarns that go into making of fabrics that in turn metamorphose into what women romanticise. About 90 million metric tons per annum is used globally, comprising of cotton, silk, cellulosics (viscose staple and filament yarn) and synthetics (polyester, acrylic etc.).
This raw material is the starting point as it is the input to the kind of fabrics that can be created to up the fashion quotient. The kind of raw material selected impacts the journey of a fashion garment – right from conceptualization to designing, from craftsmanship to manufacturing, from delivering contemporary designs to communicating trends. Interesting to note here is that any textile ingredient like cotton, silk, cellulosic or synthetics will also have its own equation with the trends mentioned above. Let’s see how it pans out through a simple example. RaysilTM is 100 percent natural yarn of cellulosic origin (viscose filament yarns). Fabrics made of RaysilTM are rich and luxurious that imparts a natural and effortless drape. The demand for RaysilTM is growing across the world owing to its unique property of ‘the look of silk combined with the feel of cotton’. It imparts high comfort mingled with lustre, colour brilliance, softness and smooth fabric feel.
If we were to evaluate RaysilTM in perspective of the four main trends that characterize fashion and are impacting on its evolution, it would answer all aspects beautifully. RaysilTM creates a wide variety of fabrics from georgettes, crepes, chiffons to satins and velvets that is utilized extensively in women’s wear, ranging from Indian ethnic wear to fusion wear across work, casual, occasion and bridal. It stretches from being a very elegant salwar-kameez-dupatta to a very ornate bridal lehanga. Long evening gowns and casual wear like skirts and knee length western wear can also be created from this. While it is evergreen and never goes out of fashion, it being 100 percent natural, the most significant trend of the ensuing century, we can say that RaysilTM lends to contemporary fashion.
RaysilTM also imparts silk like properties to embroidery and is most preferred for its colour brilliance, lustre and fuller, smooth feel. Along with the many variety of fabrics, RaysilTM inspires and satisfies craftsmanship as innumerable styles, embellishments and colours are possible. Also, this fabric easily imparts richness and elegance to apparel, making it the most sort after fabric by designers worldwide. While it has been most widely used in Indian ethnic wear, as India emerges a key fashion capital, RaysilTM has created gorgeous and easy drapes with gowns, western dresses and tops, contributed to redefining six yards into latest cuts and drapes and is popular on scarves and other accessories. It naturally allows the country to take the fashion capital position.
An interesting fact about RaysilTM is that garments made from this exudes richness and drape to such an extent that elegance is detectable by discerning eye of the consumer. This would truly help in showing off garments even on digital media. Also since this is a luxury product, production is streamlined even within textile hubs of the country allowing for ease of distribution and identification, as is the need of the hour in digital revolution.
An evaluation of any raw material input in this manner against global macro trends discussed can surely highlight opportunities and fitment, thus benefiting the industry. Therefore, getting the basics right works straight from raw material selection itself.
ClASSIFICAtIOn OF tHe wOMen FASHIOn BUYeR
- LABEL SEEKERS
Look for ‘What’s the brand?” They are keen on having brands, imported labels and expensive products. Tags that denote ingredient brands like Lycra, Cotton Inc, etc. or brands who claim sustainability aspects appeal more. RaysilTM promotes elegant 100 percent natural fashion, and resonates well with this segment.
- NOVELTY SEEKERS
Are influenced by ‘What’s Uncommon?’ They are exploring options of exclusivity in colour, design and craftsmanship. Unique weaves from RaysilTM attracts them due to its intrinsic uncommonness.
- TREND SEEKERS
The fashion followers, these women are impacted by ‘What’s In?’ They are followers of international trends and everything in vogue. They do not wish to be out of fashion and is concerned even about everything from cuts, designs, colours, prints and fabrics. For this segment, RaysilTM chiffon, the fabric of the royal, worn by royalty in India and abroad is a must have.
- SILHOUTTE SEEKERS
They are the dream buyers for any fabric manufacturer, paranoid by ‘What fits me?’ No trends, it’s individuality about fit and cuts, drapes and fabric feel that they seek. The study found that this group of women is addicted to RaysilTM georgettes, crepes and chiffons as it imparts the best drape.
CONSUMER BEHAVIOR IN WOMEN’S WEAR
One can surely argue that women, while buying clothing and apparel are interested in the cut, style, colour, print, design, embellishments, etc., but how much is she interested in fabrics or, to be more precise, the fibres and yarns that go into the making of the same? Till now, while the relevance of fibres or yarns is more for the manufacturer, women do take interest in fabrics and what goes behind. With proper communication on ingredient brands, this can find relevance amongst consumers.
Indian Rayon, a unit of Aditya Birla Group and manufacturer of RaysilTM recently conducted a study on Consumer Relationship to Fabrics. (Study by The Key). It reveals that women can be broadly categorized into 4 segments on the basis of fashion preferences and apparel buying decisions. Women can be Label Seekers, Novelty Seekers, Trend Seekers and Silhouette Seekers.
THE BASICS OF INCULCATING CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR IN WOMEN’S WEAR
Innovation is the key in creating raw material that suit consumer behaviour. Every consumer group – the label seekers, novelty or trend seekers and the silhouette seekers will all have their specific preference of fabric where innovative textile ingredients are a sure way to success.
THE FUTURE BECKONS IN WOMEN’S WEAR
Women’s wear and fashion, undoubtedly, enigmatic. It is influenced at one level by emerging trends of doing business and on the other by intrinsic consumer behaviour. Spice this up with seasons, global happenings, cultural shifts and consciousness at country levels, conditioning of family, friends and social media and we know we are all drowned in the whirlpool of options, possibilities, uncertainties and challenges. What is important for those who supply is to get the basics right. Start with raw material and concepts that are innovative and sustainable. Then, create a checklist for all emerging trends, perennial intrinsic beliefs and happenings of the front-end market being serviced and consumer behaviour at global and local level. Initiate with raw material (fibres and yarns) selection and the finalization of the fabric. And then, consider cuts, styles, colours and designs. Women’s wear users would surely shower their preference and loyalty on such suppliers and brands in the future. Get the basics right, as they say. And women’s wear is indeed the future.