Over the years, jackets have evolved parallel to the preferences of the modern Indian consumer. In contrast to times gone by, modern jackets are bulk-free and comfortable, with multi-utility features which make them the numero uno choice among all winter wear categories. These practical features have been successful in elevating the demand and popularity of jackets in recent years, especially among young Millennials and Gen Z’ers, now some of the largest consumer forces across the world.
“Winter wear in India has evolved from basic sweaters and heavy jackets to trendy and fashion forward products like sweatshirts, easy pullovers, all season cardigans complemented with accessory options like muffl ers, gloves fashion caps, etc. The consumption pattern shows light weight winter wear selling more across the country but higher buy of jackets especially Down Jackets and PU showing higher sellthrough in the North and the East,” states Vinit Doshi, Head - Product Planning and Sourcing, Celio.
Jackets are among the main contributors of the winter wear market in India. Along with changing consumer preferences and spike in population density index, growth in per capita spending of consumers has been instrumental in increasing demand of the category in recent years.The jackets segment has also been benefited by the rapid change in modern lifestyle. Along with the modern consumers’ proclivity towards travel and lifestyle, there has been an increased demand for jackets for different purposes such as trekking, bike riding, tours and travels, etc., thereby uplifting its demand in the market.
Moreover, according to Doshi, jackets have gained higher prominence due to their utility value, unlike occasion based categories like suits/blazers which a consumer finds a huge investment for one time wear now.
However, the entire definition of the jacket has undergone a rapid overhaul today. Earlier, jackets were favoured mostly in the winter season, but the category now enjoys demand throughout the year. While they are considered a necessity in the winter, they pretty much serve the purpose of a fashion statement in other seasons. The rise of the ‘casualisation trend’ has also benefited the category in recent years.
“Sales of jackets have definitely gained momentum in the recent years. It’s due to a big shift from formal wear to casual wear that we have witnessed in the last decade or so. The demand has also been driven by the change in lifestyle of people, be sports, travel or just adapting to newer trends,” states Saurabh Singh, Head of Design, Menswear, Being Human.
“Earlier, the market for jackets in India was absolutely necessity based. Over the years, increasing fashion awareness, rising aspirational lifestyle habits and the need for seasonal clothing, have been instrumental in intensifying this category. Nowadays jackets are somewhere between formal and street wear and are used as a fashionable product with high level of comfort,” adds Pragati Srivastava, Director and Brand Head, Parx.
The demand has culminated in the rise in product innovations on a plethora of fronts by brands across the country, providing a huge opportunity for the market to grow to the next level. “The market is changing rapidly with the ongoing expansion of the industry. Advancement in technology has provided today’s businesses with multifaceted advantages resulting in daily economic shifts,” states PremDewan, Retail Head, Corneliani.
Even in the smaller towns and cities of India, consumption of jackets has witnessed a sharp rise in recent years. Experts claim that with disposable income and rising affluence in these geographies, consumers aren’t hesitant to experiment with their fashion choices and step along with their peers from metros and Tier I cities. This has resulted in increased spending on fashion.
“Tier II, III and other smaller markets have grown immensely in the recent past. Indians are ambitious buyers and one can see emerging demand from sleepy towns and cities beyond metros like Ludhiana, Raipur, Chandigarh, etc. A growing number of ‘HENRYs’ (High Earning Not Rich Yet Individuals) spending on luxury goods are largely responsible for the growth of this market. Increased social media penetration along with rise in disposable income has initiated the growth for branded winter wear products across these locations,” says Dewan.
Changing Consumer Preferences
We all from the retail industry are aware how the consumer has evolved tremendously over the years.
Consumers today have specific requirements and expects brands to address them precisely. “Consumer behaviour has gone through a large change in the last 10 years with changing trends and preferences and also due to a larger choice available to them from both Indian and international brands,” agrees Saurabh Singh.
According to Sanjay Vakharia, CEO, Spykar, the modern consumer prefers versatile products, especially when it comes to jackets. “Be they casual or formal, the consumer wants to buy and utilise jackets at multiple occasions. That could be a possible reason that jackets are doing better. Suits and blazers are classic products and are for a very formal occasion, whereas jacket is a very trend-oriented product, which gives the consumer freedom of use. Also, the ease of handling and maintenance could be a possible reason for the rising popularity this category,” he says. Also, increasing penetration mass media has accelerated consumers’ propensity towards high quality winter wear. “With increased internet penetration and exposure, there has been a drastic shift in mind set the consumer and millennials are aware about the changing fashion trends in the international market resulting in increased demand for trendy and a variety of products in apparel categories as compared to the basics bought in the past,” says Doshi.
The modern Indian consumer today is more inclined towards branded winter wear products for he is influenced by commercial advertisements, entertainment channels, movies, and considers them high quality products.
This has compelled companies to focus on adopting various marketing strategies such as celebrity endorsement, product premiumisation, marketing campaign, events, expanding digital presence to connect direct to customers. These factors are likely to accelerate the growth of the winter wear market in the future.
In recent years, the increasing effects of global warming has also influenced the winter wear market across the globe. Especially in the jacket segment, the change has been profound and has given rise to a new trend - lightweight jackets. Millennial and Gen Z consumers want lightweight, breathable, utilitarian jackets that do not restrict movement and also do not compromise on style and elegance.
“Reduced winters have led to the emergence of pre-winter or lightweight jacket categories. Also, it’s easy to pair a light jacket with your everyday clothes, so lot of people prefer to wear these while travelling or during outings,” states Srivastava.
Innovation by Brands
We no longer live in a world where brands can dictate trends and consumers will wait to purchase what is made available to them. It is in fact, the other way around –consumers today expect more than they have ever before, and they want to be heard when it comes to product creation and market processes. In line with this, brands are compelled to exercise rigorous innovations both in product and processes.
Keeping with the times, Corneliani has introduced Connected Style field jackets. Each jacket features a customized power bank which, through electromagnetic induction, enables users to charge their mobile devices seamlessly. To guarantee extreme safety, all the products included in the ‘connected style’ line feature a silver film protecting from radiations.
“Another extension of innovation in fabrics is Techmerino fabric. It is a new nanotechnology which makes the fabric sweat-, wrinkle- and stainfree. It naturally regulates heat and breathability, providing superior fit and comfort. The Wash &Go garments can be washed in a domestic washing machine, in the comfort of your home,” says Dewan.
In line with the expectations of environmentally conscious, contemporary consumers, Corneliani is working on a vision of sustainable and natural elegance. “It is a symbol of responsibility towards people and the environment. Corneliani designs a new ‘circle’ of values and zero impact products, based on responsibility and transparency at every stage of the manufacturing cycle,” reveals Dewan.
Celio too has updated its essentials with more utility-based products. The brand has introduced products like Thermolight jackets, which are lightweight to carry around but also keep the wearer warm in very cold temperatures.
Spykar, meanwhile, has been working on innovations at the utility and styling front. “Jacket with utility features like pocket details, buckle fasteners and concealed loops for headphone wire are new and useful for today’s consumer. Athleisure, light weight jackets in sporty colours and placement prints using different techniques are innovative. Ombre effect and dip-dye is a new visual innovation used in bomber and shell jackets,” says Vakharia.
Spykar’s Autumn/Winter-19/20 collections include Utility, Escapade, Ath-luxe and Neo-classics. While Utility is a range of jackets and gilet with utility features, Escapade is a line of adventure jackets for hiking; camping and moderate adventure activities. Ath-luxe is a line of leisure products with athletic details and sporty look and Neo-classic range is a range of classic evergreen products with a subtle twist and not so loud, trendy details.
Being Human has come up with a range of quilted nylon jackets that are extremely functional and light weight and at the same time very fashionable with bright colour blocks and sporty tape details.