Indian ethnic wears outsmart foreign brands

Mumbai: Despite high-end foreign luxury brands bombarding the Indian market with their products, domestic retailers are pushing the `desi` wear as there is an increasing demand for them, especially among women.

"There is a significant rise in demand for women`s ethnic clothing. Organised players are going slow on it, but there is a big gap between the opportunity and what is being delivered today by organised players," Future Group Joint Managing Director Rakesh Biyani said on Tuesday.

"To a very large extent, this segment is catered to by the unorganised sector. Therefore, this is a large opportunity for organised players," he said, speaking at India Fashion Forum here.

According to Technopak Advisors Senior Vice-President Amit Gugnani, the salwar kameez market is estimated to be Rs 20,700 crore and is growing at 10 per cent, while the saree market, valued at Rs 28,900 crore, is growing at 7 per cent.

The unorganised clothing market enjoys nearly 90 per cent market share, he said.

"What still excites me is the traditional ethnic part of the clothing category. A lot of people feel salwar kameez and sarees will be worn only at special occasions and that hasn`t happened. In fact, the salwar kameez market has arguably been growing faster than the western wear market," Kabir Lumba, Managing Director of Dubai-based Landmark Group-run Lifestyle International, said at the forum.

The experts said tier II and III cities present huge opportunities.

"The impact of media is going to be massive. Tier-II and III towns are going to leapfrog. The change in the next five years will be much more than in the past 25 years. That means there is huge opportunity in tier-II and III towns where growth may actually be ahead of the curve," said Reliance Trends Chief Operating Officer Akhilesh Prasad.

Lumba said the brands would have to decide whether they want to be present in all areas or restrict themselves in their expansion.

"Going forward, brands will have to focus a lot more. They will have to become more niche whether its a department store format or whether its a specialty store format."

"I think there will be limited potential for a particular brand. I don`t think we are going to see, in the next five years, a single brand becoming USD 5 billion in size in this country. For companies which have the aspiration to go beyond a size, it will be a portfolio which is required," he observed.