Western wear is one of the fastest growing categories in the retail industry that attracts consumer across demographics. Western wear is a clothing style derived from 19th century American old west region. It broadly comprises jeans, t-shirts and jackets for men and women. Over the years, this category has diversified significantly providing consumers with a wide variety of fashion trends and products. With the definition of western wear becoming wider, it has embraced casual shirts, trousers, suits, skirts, dresses, etc. This category of clothes is widely accepted by many cultures, as they off er comfort, durability, and variety.
According to a research, the global western wear market size was US $71,132 million in 2016, and is expected to reach US $99,423 million by 2023, registering a CAGR of 4.8 percent during the forecast period. “The western wear segment continues to lead the fashion category in the country with a strong growth for multiple years,” says Vasanth Kumar, Managing Director, Lifestyle International.
A surge in fashion consciousness among Indian consumers has had a positive impact on the country’s western wear consumption. Exposure to international fashion through social media websites such as Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook is one of the major factors that has fueled the growth of the global western wear market, as this form of media is the most used by young fashion-conscious individuals.
“With an abundance of knowledge made available to consumers through social media, their affinity towards global trends has become a key growth driver for the segment. Added to the mix are aspiration and accessibility – the ease with which today’s consumers can shop across channels, including online stores has contributed considerably to the consumption of the category,” he further adds.Aside from this, rapid globalisation, increased brand awareness, and a larger consumer group, have helped raised the demand for western wear across all regions. With rising disposable incomes and the right demographics, India, today, is one of the most important retail markets for global retailers. Retail as a business and fashion as a choice has seen a sea change in its concept and format.
This is reflected in the fact that global brands are announcing the opening of new stores in India. For example, H&M has announced it will open 4 new outlets – at Kochi (TMS Prestige), Nagpur (Trillium Mall), Dehradun(Pinnacle Plaza) and Jalandhar (Model Town). The new H&M stores – spread over approximately 65,000 sq. ft. – will offer western wear fashion inspirations for the whole family, with collections for men, women, teenagers and kids. The world’s largest fashion retailers, which is known for offering high fashion and quality basics at affordable prices, H&M currently operates 42 stores across Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, Amritsar, Indore, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Mohali, Mysore, Ahmedabad and online on Myntra and hm.com.
Similarly, India also became the fashion destination to another global brand, Uniqlo. The first Uniqlo store was opened at Vasant Kunj (Ambience Mall), with new stores promised in Saket (DLF Place) and Gurugram (DLF CyberHub).
According to Umashan Naidoo, Category Head – Men’s Wear & Cosmetics, Westside, “Zara and H&M drive affordable stylish fashion abroad and they are on the cheaper spectrum. In India, consumers consider them a premium treat as they offer a total package from value, style and confidence. Then there are brands such as Massimo Dutti and Mango, which provide fantastic premium westernwear options.”
According to Naidoo, the aforementioned retailers have a clear point of view and are focused on offering what they good at – Western Wear. They are clear about who they are and what they off er and do what’s right for their consumer.
Western Wear: Indian Scenario
Today’s fashion-conscious population is expected to lead to surge in demand for western wear. At present, the demand for casual western wear such as chinos, bright coloured trousers and fashionable shirts is outpacing sales of formal shirts and trousers, partly due to preference of semi-formal apparel at work. Where, formal western wear is mandatory for employees in numerous organisations, many organisations have shown acceptance to casual western wear.
Rise in brand awareness, surge in demand for comfortable wear and better design at affordable prices and increase in female working population with high disposable income have acted as the key drivers to demand in western wear.
“More and more women are working in the corporate sector and with this inclination we see more women adapting western wear in India. In today’s scenario clothing plays a very critical role, and women are experimenting more and more with their sartorial choices and coming out of their comfort zone,” says the Spokesperson for Vero Moda in India.
At Vero Moda, the brand believes in delivering fashion that bring out the best in its customers. It offers an entire range of smart working outfits available from classic shirts and trousers, to tailored pantsuits, coordinated separates, pencil skirts, formal tops, coloured trousers, culottes, etc.
Moreover, the consumption patterns are becoming more experimental in nature as consumers are well-travelled and exposed to international trends. They are adapting to pieces that are unique in terms of design, off er an edge in style and deliver on the dual factors of price and comfort. In India, the past few years have seen the emergence of western wear becoming a fashion staple. In fact, over the last decade, western wear has penetrated deep into markets of metros and mini metros, with growing popularity especially among younger generation. Various factors have contributed to its transformation such as innovations in styling, great designs, new trends and awareness via social media.
“The casual wear market, also referred as ‘street style’ clothing, has brought about a change in the last decade with celebrities and influencers riding the wave of this trend,” states Manjula Tiwari, CEO, Cover Story.
“Today, the casual western wear trend has gained popularity amongst all demographics. It has a stronghold as a wardrobe staple through all age groups as the middle class Indian lifestyle has undergone a lot of changes with more outings, travel, get-togethers, etc., all of which require a casual, yet appealing, fashion formula. The fashion industry has probably not witnessed a force more unrestrained than causal western wear in the past.”
Cover Story specifically creates designs keeping Indian consumers in mind, giving them an edge over their international counterparts. It curates designs keeping in the mind the Indian body type and preferences while maintaining global trends.
Umashan Naidoo adds, “There is a change in lifestyle and Indians are looking for comfort along with contemporary fashion. Pop culture (that includes movies, art and celebrity influence) and exposure to the world either through social media or by taking vacations to new countries has motivated people to become more active and realise that comfort is good for the soul. Today, there is a generation of millennials who are creating new rules and are working in spaces that encourage a casual dress code. Also, the western wear market has more than doubled in the last fi ve years and is getting stronger as organisations are adapting a relaxed and less traditional dress code.”
“Western wear is ageless, and fashion is a state of mind. The youth market is the driving force behind denim, streetwear but there are fashion building blocks from washed back linens, voiles, cotton stretch, viscose, cotton linen blends that is growing amongst a wider spectrum of customer. There is athleisure in casual sphere which endorses a sporty look and may have some technical innovation like “Dry Cool”, a fabric that keeps you dry in summer through absorbing body sweat. Cotton stretches that are styled in an athletic way allow freedom of movement and now massive as a concept in the denim segment. With so many fabrics and trends, western wear can be easily targeted to any age group,” he further states.
Western Wear: Market & Consumer Behaviour
Retail sector is experiencing exponential growth, with development taking place not just in metro cities but also in Tier I, II and III cities and towns. Both domestic and international retailers have vigorously expanded into India’s vast hinterland over the last few years and are re-hashing their retail strategies as well as the understanding of consumers.
It has been witnessed that as a segment western wear is becoming immensely popular in smaller towns. Earlier, western wear was restricted in metropolitan regions only, however with increase in disposable income in Tier II, III and other smaller markets, there has been tremendous growth in these markets. The smaller markets are doing better compared to their counterparts in bigger cites due to increasing demand and paucity of availability of merchandise.
Tier II, III cities, in fact, are now starting to become very crucial markets as metros and Tier I cities are getting saturated. In addition to this, consumer in these markets are now getting more aspirational and lifestyle conscious. Hence, the online platforms are preferred to purchase western wear by these area. They display vast availability of apparels and provide attractive offers. In addition, quick delivery service and flexible return policies by online sites propel sales through this platform.
As Vasanth Kumar rightly puts it, online presence has assured greater accessibility to a plethora of brands and products. “Our web store delivers to over 26,000 pincodes across the country and provides consumers access to great fashion,” he says.
Umashan Naidoo also stresses on the fact that digitisation has helped the fashion industry so much that it has become extremely easy for retailers to reach their target audience, attracting them with great photography and huge discounts.
The growth of e-commerce has definitely given an impetus to the western wear category. With this the exponential growth in the number of potential buyers in India is expected to drive the western wear market. The ease of availability of international trends across multiple platforms and a burgeoning aspiring class, the future for this category looks positive.
This leads to a multitude of design options and silhouettes, cuts and styles that can be incorporated into everyday western dressing. People are moving away from traditional pieces and are curating a stylish and comfortable range of western wear.