Menswear's Meteoric Rise In India
Business Traveller India|January 2019

After playing second fiddle to womenswear for decades, the men’s apparel segment in India is expected to clock a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8 per cent by 2020, hitting USD19 billion.

Neeti Mehra

Ornate turbans, ceremonial armaments, ostentatious clothing and exquisite jewellery, India’s erstwhile maharajas’ impeccable sartorial preferences went down the annals of history. The royalty favoured global luxury houses such as Jeanne Paquin, Schiaparelli, Van Cleef & Arpels, Ferragamo as well as Indian artisans. But over the decades, and since independence, menswear has taken a backseat to womenswear in India, not only in terms of style, but also investment. Womenswear not only occupies more retail space, but also reams of newsprint and attention in the mainstream. But things are now changing. According to a report from Edelweiss Broking, the men’s apparel segment in India is expected to clock a CAGR of 8 per cent by 2020, hitting USD19 billion.

Traditionally, the luxe market catered mainly to occasion wear, with a few ready-to-wear stores thrown in the mix. But in recent times, homegrown labels such as Raymond, Kunal Rawal, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Troy Costa, SS HOMME, Bombay Shirt Company jostle for space along with international labels such as Massimo Dutti, Brooks Brothers, Paul Smith, Ermenegildo Zegna. Clearly, menswear in India is coming of age.

THREADS FOR ALL SEASONS

Couturier to Bollywood’s millennials, Kunal Rawal, Founder of the eponymous menswear label that is a melange of Indian heritage in modern silhouettes, says times are finally changing, “Menswear is a nascent but growing market. In recent years it is being viewed as a separate industry rather than just a step-brother to womenswear.” One of the biggest changes has been the shift from occasion specific clothing to threads for all seasons and times, thanks to globalisation, the explosion of social media, the influx of international labels and the appearance of homegrown brands in the domestic retail landscape. Gaurav Mahajan, President-Apparel, Raymond, says, “Men’s wardrobes in India have evolved with the men themselves. Men are doing much more than just shuttling between work and home. There are many more occasions to attend, thus they are sporting wider wardrobes to suit these occasions.” As a result, apparel and accessories are more visibly pronounced, as are grooming and fitness.

Agrees Sanjana Bubber, Co-founder of Bubber Couture, a label which caters to the minimalistic man, the business of menswear has moved beyond the basics. “Men have become more experimental. They have started to express their inner creativity through their clothing,” says Bubber. To cater to this growing demand from the urban Indian male, a host of local sartorial options have cropped up.

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