Indian Fashion Industry

Colorful fashion trends in India

With the end of the 20th century came a lot of hype, which created a more practical and pragmatic environment and gave a more stable picture of the fashion business. In the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the Indian fashion scenario wasn’t exactly colorless. It was exciting, stylish, and very graceful. There were no designers, models, stars, or fashion design labels that the country could show off. The value of a garment was judged by its style and fabric and not by who made it.

It was regarded as ever so chic and fashionable to approach any unfamiliar tailor who could make a garment for a few rupees, providing the perfect fit, finish, and style. The high society lady who wore it was proud to get a good bargain and give her name to the result. In 60s, tight ‘kurtas’, ‘churidars’ and high coiffures were a trend among ladies. It was an era of mischief and celebration in arts, music, art, and cinema. It was manifested by liberation from restriction and acceptance of new materials such as plastic film and coated polyester fabric.

Fashion Industry


The 70s witnessed an increase in the export of traditional materials outside the country and within. Hence, international fashion arrived in India much before the MTV culture with bold colors, flower prints, and bell bottoms. Synthetics turned trendy, and the disco culture affected the fashion scenario. The first fashion store, Ravissant, opened in Mumbai in the early 1980s. At that time, garments were retailed for a four-figure price tag. The ’80s was the era of self-consciousness, and American designers like Calvin Klein became popular. In India, silhouettes became more masculine, and the ‘salwar kameez’ was designed with shoulder pads.

With the evolution of designer stores in Mumbai, the elegant fashion design culture and their heavy price tags were a trend among Indians. Undoubtedly, a garment with a heavy price tag was at the bottom stage of fashion. However, clients were immediately transformed into the high fashion fold, where they were convinced that the word ‘elegant fashion design culture’ meant it had to have a higher price tag. Garments were sold at unbelievable prices only because the designers had decided to get themselves noticed by making showy outfits and getting associated with the right shows, celebrities, and events.

Later, fashion shows shifted to competitive events, each attempting to outdo the other in theme, guest list, and media coverage. For any newcomer, the fashion business was the number one professional art. In the ’90s, the last decade of the millennium, a move towards the drastic pairing down returned with ethnic wear (Today, the ethnic wear market in India accounts for Rs. 9000 crores). This led to the decline and the recession, the push to sell at any cost and stay in the limelight. With heavy cutthroat competition and a sound awareness of the client, the inevitable occurred. The price tags, which had once peaked, began their downside journey.

At those times, the downturn was experienced in the price tags of the garments and the business of fashion shows. More models, choreographers, make-up men, hairstylists, and designers streamed down into their business. The fun and party time in the Indian fashion scenario did not end with this but continued. It was a point where it reached a certain steady level, and from there, at the beginning of the 21st century, with new designers and models and some sensible designing, the fashion hype accelerated its speed.

Indian fashion industry spreads its wings globally.

India is a huge exporter of fabrics and accessories. FFor the global fashion industry, Indian ethnic designs and materials are considered a significant facet for fashion houses and garment manufacturers worldwide. In fabrics, while sourcing for fashion wear, India also plays a vital role as one of the biggest players in the international fashion arena. India’s strengths are not only in its tradition but also in its raw materials. World over, India is the third-largest producer of cotton, the second-largest producer of silk, and the fifth-largest producer of artificial fibers.

In the international market, the Indian garment and fabric industries have many fundamental aspects that are compliant in terms of cost-effectiveness to produce, raw material, quick adjustment for selling, and a wide range of preferences in the designs in the garments like sequin, beadwork, aari or chikkon embroidery, etc., as well as a cheaper skilled workforce. India provides these garments to international fashion houses at competitive prices, shorter lead times, and an effective monopoly in designs that incorporate hand embroidery – accepted worldwide.

India has always been considered a default source in the embroidered garment segment, but the changes oinrthe upee against dthe ollar have further decreased the prices, tttracting buyers. So international fashion houses walk away with customized stuff, and in the end, crafted works are sold cheaply. Regarding the fabrics market, the ranges available in India can attract and confuse the buyer. A basic judgmental expectation in choosing materials is the present trend in the international market. Much of the production tasks take place in parts of the small town of Chapa in the Eastern state of Bihar, a name one would have never even heard of.

Here fabric making is a family industry, the ranges and quality of raw silks churned out here belie the crude production methods and equipment used- hussars, matka silks, phases, you name it, and they can design it. Surat in Gujarat supplies an amazing set of jacquards, moss crepes, and georgette sheers – all fabrics utilized to make dazzling silhouettes demanded worldwide. Another Indian fabric design that has been specially designed for fashion history is the “Madras check,” originally used for the universal “Lungi,” a simple lower body wrap worn in Southern India; this product has now traversed its way onto scarfs, blouses, home furnishings and almost anything one can think of.

Recently, many designers have started using traditional Indian fabrics, designs, and cuts to enhance their fashion collections. Ethnic Indian designs with batik cravats, tie-and-dye, or vegetable block prints are ‘in’ not just in India but worldwide.

In India, folk embroidery is always associated with women. It is a way of self-expression, and they make designs that depict their native culture, religion, and desires. Women embroider clothes for personal use, and those linked with the pastoral profession prepare embroidered animal decorations and decorative covers for horns and foreheads. The Rabaris of Kutch in Gujarat do some of the finest embroidery. Embroidered pieces are made during the festivals and marriages, which are appliqué works called ‘Dharaniya.’ One of the significant styles of Saurashtra is ‘the Heer’ embroidery, which has bold geometric designs woven on silks. The Mutwa women of the Banni area of Kutch have fascinating embroidery. They make fine embroidery works with designed motifs and mirrors in the size of pinheads; the Gracia jats use geometric designs on the yoke of long dresses. Moreover, the finest quilts with appliqué work are also made in Kutch.

GGarmentembellishment with beadwork is another area in demand in the international market. Beads are used to prepare garlands and other accessory items like belts and bags, and these patterns are now available for haute couture evening wear. According to a survey, Indian women have given up their traditional sari for Western wear like t-shirts and shorts in recent times. They feel more comfortable wearing skirts and trousers and salwar kameez. It’s been noted that women spend just $165 million on trousers and skirts, compared to 1.74 billion dollars spent by men on trousers. With more women coming out to work, the (combined) branded trouser and skirts market has been increasing at 7 percent in sales terms. Women feel that Western clothing is more suitable, particularly when working or using public transportation. Many corporate offices are also in favor of their employees wearing Western wear.

In India, Western inspiration is increasing due to the influence of TV and films. Besides, shopping malls selling branded clothes have also mushroomed in India and are fascinating to youngsters. Recently, designer wear has been promoted through stores such as Shopper’s Stop, Pantaloons, Westside, etc. Raymond and TCNS have also set up their exclusive stores for designer wear, such as Be: and W.
The market of the Indian fashion industry

Recently, a report stated that the Indian fashion industry could increase its net worth from Rs 200 crore to Rs 1,000 crore in five to ten years. The worldwide designer wear market is $35 billion, with a 9 percent growth rate, with the Indian fashion industry creating hardly 0.1 percent of the international industry’s net worth.

According to approximations, the total apparel market in India is calculated to be about Rs 20,000 crore. The branded apparel market’s size is nearly one-fourth of this or Rs 5,000 crore. In turn, designer wear covers about 0.2 percent of the branded apparel market.

The largest sales turnover within the designer wear segment is about Rs25 crore, with other well-known names having fewer turnovers of Rs10-15 crore. Given the prospects for growth in the Indian fashion industry, the figures are not very hopeful.

The figure of the fashion industry

  • The organized market for designer apparel is about Rs 250 crore
  • Designer wear calculates to less than 1 percent of the apparel market
  • The global market for designer wear is 5 percent of the total apparel market
  • The global market for the designer wear industry is largely dependent on the small-scale sector
  • Consumers of designer wear have a yearly household income of Rs 10 lakh-plus. There are 3 lakh such households developing at 40-45 percent of the designer wear industry, which is projected to increase to Rs 1,000 crore by 2015.
  • More than 81 percent of the population below 45 is fashion-conscious.

Many fashion designers and management experts foresee an average growth of about 10-12 percent for the Indian fashion industry in the coming years. If infrastructural and logistical bottlenecks and drawbacks are overcome, the growth rate could be more than 15 percent.

India needs more effort to overcome

However, despite the benefits available in India, there are also some disadvantages. India is not a remarkable player in the global market concerning brands because of its inability to add value to products. This is observed because nearly 50 percent of its exports are apparel and made-ups where value addition is essential. Likewise, 75 percent of the domestic apparel market is commoditized and unbranded, and very few Indian brands survive in foreign markets. The Indian market has not made a strong stand, so it is difficult to make Indian brands that can compete with global brands in India.

Another reason for the fashion industry’s inadequate growth is the limited experience of the designers and the platform they are offered. The insignificance stems from the reality that most of the young talent is hired by the bigger names to work in their studios, thus imprinting their work with the label of the big designers. Though performing individual presentations is not a choice for most young talent, a beginner designer’s name fails to come to the forefront because of the limitations of finance. Another thing regarding the ramp is that what the designers offer is barely appropriate to be worn ordinarily. You’ll see a dissimilarity between what is on the ramp and what the Page Three crowd wears. Some believe the fashion is in at present, but the tendency hasn’t changed much as the old ones are returning. We have had short kurtas, long kurtas, flowing skirts, etc., coming back into fashion with only a new variety of designs.

Many management consultants and professionals believe that the Indian fashion industry will be boosted if the newcomers are paid proper attention. What they require is more support so that their work gets due recognition. According to the consultants and professionals, there should be a panel of people who choose designers for showcasing according to their work and not their name or who they’ve worked for earlier. Hence, selection would be purely based on quality. Besides this, the panel of judges should comprise people from the fashion schools rather than designers. It has been observed that the media hype around the big designers and blatant commercialism has hindered business in the Indian fashion industry. No clear-cut picture is provided about the feasibility of the products. Only famous names are being talked of. What they offer is not quite daily wear. The entire focal point of the industry is commercialism. The discussion is only about how much is sold and for what price, not about the designs or styles.

Efforts to develop global fashion brands

India’s isolation in the fashion system has been a serious reason for its failure. It needs innovative designers, a seamless supply chain, control over retail and distribution, and concentration of quality while dealing with some images. While a few have accomplished something in the west, covering Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Zara, Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, etc., India has not been capable of tracking on. Each stakeholder, including designers, exporters, textile players, and retail chains, must come together with the government to ensure that the position of Indian fashion is strong in the coming years.

Various agencies and industry associations can support brand-building practices. Many of these agencies require attractive resources and create a global image of Indian fashion rather than independently promoting particular brands or textile segments.

Efforts to create a strong global image

Large textile players increasingly must target market-facing activities while developing an association with small and medium enterprise (SME) clusters. Such networks would benefit those focusing on demand-making and branding and groups focusing on quality production.

Efforts to create value networks

After the entry of large retail chains like Wal-Mart, Gap, etc., in India, Small-scale manufacturers will find it very difficult to satisfy the demands of these international buyers if they continue to promote their products individually. Therefore, value networks must be created between large textile and apparel companies in India and small-scale manufacturers so that the marketing muscle of the leading players can be utilized for receiving large orders while the bigger players then assign the orders to the small-medium enterprises according to their record of quality and service. For this to be implemented, it will be vital to organize the information on small-medium enterprise clusters perfectly so that supplier selection decisions are made according to the report in the long run, and only the more efficient small-medium enterprise players survive and develop.

Efforts to concentrate on designers and designs

Designers have a fundamental role in the future of the Indian fashion scenario. Hence, there should be an effective process for preparing these designers. This can be done by sponsoring exchange programs with international schools, increasing participation in the world’s fashion capitals, motivating and offering business incubation to new designers, and rewarding efforts through proper design awards. Even in India, well-known designers cannot tap finances from well-organized resources since a vital part of their assets is brands and design talent, which are not measured in money. Hence, it becomes difficult to judge the value. This has severely inhibited their development and capability to raise retail existence across the country and abroad. Likewise, the world’s fashion capitals like Paris, Milan, and New York have no systematic approach to reality. Due to this, designers have to depend on their contacts and relationships for ftooorganizefashion shows and make retail alliances. The French and British governments help designers of their particular countries appreciably in these areas as they understand that value creation through design is the only way to carry on in the competitive landscape of the global fashion industry. The Indian government and related agencies should also sincerely accept this aspect of the textile, apparel, and fashion industry if they need to see India on the global fashion map.

Work in collaboration: designers-corporate efforts.

Designers and many organizations can work globally through various models and with many working relationships. The Indian fashion industry has many views, but only one such model: a designer creating a retail venture with their brand through organized retail chains. There are many other models according to brand ownership and division of operational activities.

Globally, many models of collaboration between designers and corporates are available. For example, Ralph Lauren has agreed with Jones Apparel to produce and retail various Polo brands. Likewise, Armani decided with Zegna for production while competing with them in the marketplace. There are many cases of designer brands co-owned by designers and corporates, such as Gucci-Alexander McQueen and Gucci-Stella McCartney.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.