Apparel & Fashion Space Growing Like Never Before

Apparel & Fashion Space Growing Like Never Before

By: Nina Lekhi, MD & Chief Design Curator, Baggit | Tuesday, 21 December 2021

How Do You See The Current Market Landscape Of The Apparel And Fashion Space In India? What Are The Major Gaps You Witness In This Domain?

With the massive digital explosion, the apparel and fashion space is growing like never before. While online mediums provide fantastic reach and taps into consumers sitting in all nooks and corners of the country, the visibility of the products definitely gets affected because of the proliferation of undifferentiated `me too' products.  In every category, you'll see thousands of products vying for your attention and creating more confusion than helping to arrive at a conclusion!! So the consumer is driven either by the best discounts or by the visibility of the products on the first 2-3 pages, which is majorly governed by advertising.

Also The Online Space Is Getting Very Cluttered And The So Called Variety Is Translating Into Duplicity And Quantity.

Trust me there are times when one can't find one good dress after a thumb breaking exercise of scrolling through thousands of products. Variety essentially means diversity and quality. There's a need for good , diverse portfolio based on powerful consumer insights that will ease the decision making process for the buyer and get better conversions for the brand and also lead to a more efficient inventory management. That's why we see a lot of niche fashion brands making it big in this domain that seems saturated but has immense opportunities to offer.

What Are The Major Differences That Can Be Easily Witnessed Across The Apparel And Fashion Domain While Comparing The Pre-Pandemic And Post-Pandemic Scenarios? How Has The Pandemic Impacted The Fashion Domain?

The major difference between pre Covid and post covid is that people are moving away from the frivolous fast fashion trend to a classic fashion mode where it's not about refreshing your wardrobe every season but about owning products that last longer. The average consumer budget came down by 30-40% during the pandemic. There was a sharp decrease in disposable income. Spendings fell by 20-30% on the similar items as compared to the pre covid times. Consumers want to make most of their purchase. This calls for fashionable yet extremely durable, high quality products that are better priced.

Also, fashion industry was severely affected especially the haute couture or even accessories since the usage opportunities were zilch. With a life restricted to four walls, fashion became more about comfort than anything else. But the digital revolution is hard to ignore! While this revolution began pre covid, it got tremendous momentum post covid. With offline channels getting completely knocked down during the lockdown, online was the only 'go to' medium for most brands. The effect of lockdown on online channels was limited plus the bounce back rate of companies online is quicker than offline. People were quite on a shopping spree even during the lockdown since they were getting to shop from the comfort of their drawing room. And brands that could ride the online wave were clear winners. A lot of them clocked in more sales than pre covid times.

Another shift was in the way people began to perceive Indian brands. Imports became costlier because rupee depreciated as compared to yuan, import duties went up, skirmishes with China created support for local brands and the emotional boycott of products sourced from China further helped. Labor cost in China went up and was significantly higher than India. And all these headwinds for brands relying on imports became tailwinds for 'Made In India brands and helped them hold their ground.

As Fashion Accessories Is A Dynamic Domain, Highlight Some Of The Exclusive Trends Currently Reigning In The Market.

Women's handbag category is still underpeneterated. A lot of women are handbag crazy and hoard bags and accessories especially during sale. So there's a minimum level of buying irrespective of the circumstances. But there's a new trend of market polarization where the market is divided into prestige or luxurious brands and mass brands.  The creamy layer of the mid-priced segment is leaning towards high end brands that are offering great quality at irresistible price and the bottom layer of the mid segment is getting attracted to the mass brands purely for a better price. The mid price segment is getting squeezed from both sides. Brands who can occupy the sweet spot and offer a great price value equation will gain the most.

There's Another Important Trend.

While style is a category must-have, safety has become a non negotiable aspect. Consumers now expected more from their handbags turning them into super handbags!! The bags now have to accommodate new items such as sanitizers, wet wipes, water bottles, masks in a way that they're easily accessible. We had to create separate compartments for the new inclusions while maintaining the balance between style & functionality.

Super handbag trend also extended to having multipurpose or multicarry bags- a sling that could convert itself into a waistpouch when you want to go handsfree, a wrist carry bag that looked sleek enough for work days and a work to weekend tote you could stretch the handles of and convert it into a backpack!

With Clothes And Accessories Gradually Becoming Genderless, This Trait Has Been Hugely Embraced By Fashion-Loving Millennials. How Is This Trend Affecting The Fashion Domain?

Genderless fashion is definitely catching up and when you can spot more men wearing pink shirts and t-shirts, it's a sign of a progressive society devoid of stereotypes! For apparels, I would say it has been a gradual change. But for genderless bags, we would have to think harder specially because there is a lot of difference between the primary usage pattern.

For instance, a section for vanity essentials is a must for women while it's almost non existent for men currently. With men's grooming industry booming like anything, you never know, even bags may become more gender fluid than before. Also there are certain kinds of bags which have naturally been agender like the backpacks. But for the fashion domain in general, it's high time we embrace inclusivity and tweak our strategies to blurr the lines between the pinks and the blues!!

While Streetwear Fashion Has Been Progressively Growing In The Last Couple Of Years, The Pandemic Has Definitely Augmented The Shift Towards A More Casual Fashion. What Is Your Take On This?

It seemed like a never ending pyjama party to begin with!  During the pandemic, everyone was either relaxing, lounging or exercising! And 'Work from Anywhere' called for ready to wear, super comfy outfits and more casual workcation bags.

People were literally working from mountains to beaches to forests!! I was one of them too! So sneakers replaced stilettos, backpacks and athleisure duffels replaced formal workbags. While everyone wanted to “look” presentable in the virtual meetings, they wanted to “feel” comfortable at the same time. And who could anyway see that your bottom half is still lounging in pyjamas while only your top half is 'meeting ready!!'

The high drama couture dresses and party wear had reluctantly settled in the wardrobe! Since partying was also from home, people were looking at fun, easy-cosy ensemble. We saw a great demand for casual, convenient sling bags and at Baggit we introduced the absolutely cuddle worthy soft volume slings that perfectly fit the bill!

The Fashion Industry Is Believed To Be Impacting The Environment And Natural Ecosystem By Producing Massive Amounts Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions And Carcinogenic Chemicals, Dyes, Salts, And Heavy Metals. Now That Climatic Changes Are Causing Havoc Around The Globe And Immediate Attention Is Being Demanded To These Issues, How Can Such Situations Be Promptly Addressed?

I think we need to be more proactive than reactive. We need to understand the impact of our actions on the future generations and act accordingly. It's important to come out of the 'chaltahai' and 'dekhlenge' attitude to witness a strong change. Brands needs to develop strategies wherein business and environmental goals are aligned effectively. A lot of brands are persistently following sustainable, responsible fashion and that's the way to go. At Baggit, we are trying to minimise wastage and encourage sustainable fashion at every level. We use 100% vegan or cruelty-free material that's biodegradable and durable enough to last for years rather than hitting the dumping ground within few months of existence.