Their merchandise, especially premium ones, were mostly visible on catwalks and bridal scenes a few years ago. Now, it has turned mainstream and is being worn daily. “The aspiration to dress well and look good is growing and social media is bringing that sharply since everyone wants to be photographed well,” said Siddharth Bindra, managing director at BIBA.
As per the latest filings with the Registrar of Companies, BIBA, TCNS, maker of W and Aurelia brands, and Vedant Fashions, owner of Manyavar, posted sales growth of 19% each. Anita Dongre and Soch posted lower growth at 7% due to limited store expansion.
These brands have almost doubled their sales over the past three years. Sales of these five companies put together were about `3,000 crore last fiscal, more than the apparel sections of both department store chains Shoppers StopNSE -0.86 % and Lifestyle International that sell around a hundred brands, or the overall revenue of Tata’s Westside.
Indian wear, initially largely restricted to the old-age segment, have also found acceptance among younger consumers as companies widened their portfolio to sell fusion clothing — a mix of modern and traditional wear — instead of just ethnic, which are reserved for special occasions.
In India, ethnic wear is the single biggest category in the women’s wear segment with a share of 71%. This is despite global fashion brands such as Zara, H&M and Vero Moda pushing their westernised clothing in their market.
One reason could be the steady use of this attire as de rigueur office wear. “Ethnic wear is still considered formal wear for women,” said Rajiv Suri, managing director at Shoppers Stop.
Second, Indian consumers are increasingly getting steeped in Indian traditions, signalling the potential of burgeoning ethnic wear market, say marketers. “The broader trend is about Indian pride now in a country which is doing well economically and its leader wearing only ethnic wear,” said Ravi Modi, founder of Manyavar. “Even our stores in the US are also doing great business with 40% of customers being non-Asian.”
Another growth trigger is growing popularity of online shopping that has helped these brands reach out to customers in smaller cities. But unlike westernised brands, many of these brands have a strict pricing policy.
“We see brands getting discounted at physical stores due to online competition. But we remained focused on our strategy of no discounting and keeping merchandise mass-priced,” said Manohar Chatlani, founder of Soch Apparels.
This surge in growth will continue, especially as 2018 was a hallmark year as far as weddings go for India’s power couples. During the year, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were spotted wearing India ethnic attire from Anita Dongre’s collection when they visited the country over the past year, according to the latest financial report of The House of Anita Dongre that sells AND, Global Desi and the eponymous designer label.