Between tradition and modernityAlthough there are regional differences in draping style, Indian sarees are the most widespread worn by Indian women. The saree is a traditional garment comprised of six yards of cloth, but it has been adapted into trendy new styles and fashions, making it much more than just a traditional dress. Nevertheless, the salwar kameez, a comfortable dress-like cloth, combined with wide trousers and a long stole, dominated India’s women’s apparel market, especially during festivities or family functions such as marriages. Although ethnic wear is usually the first choice for women, western wear such as denim and t-shirts accounted for high growth rates, pushing the women’s apparel market into a different direction. The inflow of global western wear companies such as Zara, Westside or Vero Moda has created a new challenge for traditional retailers in India.
Brand-new retail formsThe retail of clothes in India has been traditionally organized into small family-owned stores selling a variety of patterns and styles which are purchased by means of a tough bargaining process. The products were often locally produced and mostly without a brand tag. With the expansion of malls, organized retail and, most recently e-commerce, the share of unbranded clothes decreased, and branded clothes emerged as new growth drivers of the market. Online platforms like Limeroad, targeting women’s fashion needs, were rewarded with significant success, but could not overpower marketplace retailers such as Amazon.
Overall, changes in the Indian retail structure and fashion preferences have shaped, and continues to shape, the women’s apparel market in the country. The market is constantly giving rise to new opportunities both for traditional attire and the western clothing market. Furthermore, other niche areas of the market are opening doors to growth in other segments, such as women’s underwear.