The Wardrobe War

The shopping room for men is witnessing a battle between homegrown brands and the foreign ones  ( By Srishti Taneja )

After the shopping queens, the bazaar has turned its attention to queuing up the kings. The luxury formal menswear market is at an all time unexpected high in India. This has been inviting more and more luxury retailers to the country. From the way men are stocking up on branded suits, one could not tell that the world was going through a recession just a few years back.

There is a wide section of Indian-origin brands in the country. These have been a part of the Indian market since ages. They have been accepted, trusted and loyalty towards them are spread over generations. The buyers have been long associated with the heart and soul of these brands: namely Raymond, Peter England, Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Wills Lifestyle and Blackberrys. These hold a majority of the market share till date but some new entrants from foreign shores are eating into their pie.


The brand image, crafted over years, the loyalty factor and their presence across smaller towns as well as big cities still help the Indian brands in garnering the bigger share of the market. The same could be concluded on a visit to a Raymond store at one of the malls in the National Capital Region (NCR). A manager at one company showroom in one of New Delhi’s swanky malls tells WCRC Leaders Asia that We are a really big and stable brand and that there has been no such effect on our sales though more and more international brands are flooding our shopping spaces. In fact, our sales have been consistently on the upswing.”

Indian brands aim at building strong retail network and distribution system and the lower prices of their products give them an advantage as compared to those from international stables.boss-1
But a sizeable minority is choosing to opt for the fancy brands from faraway shores. International retailers, especially in the menswear segment, are increasing their presence rapidly. Currently, menswear holds the major chunk of the apparel market at 43 per cent. This share is expected to further increase. Gucci, Armani, Canali, Alfred Dunhill, Burberry, Corneliani are in the competition to clothe the distinguished Indian gentlemen. Some of these brands are generally seen as affordable ones in the developed markets but assume an
aura of luxury in the emerging markets. Their clothes may not be priced reasonably but they appeal to the prestige and status quotient of their target customers.
These brands have not just come into the Indian market and flooded the stores with their western designs. Many have fused western trends with Indian flavours. Hence one comes across something like the Nawab collection at Canali. And these brands have already found their appeal amongst a part of the country’s population that has the highest disposable income and usually live in Tier-1 cities.
Access to knowledge, education, Internet and mobility of men and material is creating awareness amongst people about what’s available in the world. This has increased the demand for foreign designer suits. The Indian elites who used to fly abroad to buy their favourite brands now just have to drive to the nearest luxury shopping centre. These brands have registered steady growth over the years and are likely to touch the 11 percepage16-textnt mark by the end of 2020.
page16-bIndian men are no longer content with quality. They want comfort, fit and perfection. Quite a few international brands have now come up with the option of offering customised merchandise to their select customers. A relatively new entrant in the Indian market, TM Lewin, a UK-based brand for the upper middle segment, offers the service of customising its suits with an endless collection of shirts in flamboyant colours. Jatin Taneja, owner of its Ambience mall store, says, “It’s a myth that all international brands are costly. They just serve a splendid mix of quality and price.” If one looks at the super high segment, there are brands like Ermenegildo Zegna and Canali which again offer their clientele customised tailoring services.
Various companies have been a major instrument in driving luxury into India. Abhay Gupta, founder & CEO of Luxury Connect, which has brought brands like Versace, Gianni, Corneliani, Cadini, etc., says, “An upward movement takes place in terms of brand consumption. Market grows which leads to a growth in the society. The upper end moves to the international brands while the ones buying lower-end domestic brands look forward to an upper segment in the same category. It leads to wholesome growth by increasing the quality and standard of the Indian market.”
Luxury has caught the attention of the youth as well. Young starters at the entry level of corporate world not only indulge in these brands but create an easy influence on other peers as well. Many young, well-off people are hardly found buying Indian brands like Raymond or Van Heusen and rather prefer buying clothes from Zara, French Connection or Tommy Hilfiger. They have fewer liabilities to deal with and thus live in the moment.
Abhishek Vashisth, a recently hired employee at an MNC, says, “My complete formal collection comes from Zara because I feel it’s a trend setter. The best part I like about the brand is its fast changing collection. Every time I visit the store, I surely find something new which fascinates me and compels me to pick it up”. On one hand, the local brands are becoming more committed towards their customers and on the other, international brands are striving to bring the latest tastes and trends to the new market.