The Indian apparel market is currently estimated to be around Rs 1 lakh crore, of which about Rs 30,000 crore is ready-to-wear. “Of the total western ready-to-wear market, menswear segment is around 80%,” says Atul Chand, chief executive officer at Wills Lifestyle.
Giorgio Armani gets a lot of shoppers who walk in at the brand’s store hoping to walk out with ready-to-wear suits, but not everyone gets lucky. “We have a lot of shoppers who get upset when the sleeves of a jacket are longer than their hands or shoulders are uncomfortably tight. Even the paunch comes in the way of a perfect fit and then they complain that the brand is not for them,” says a store manager, adding, “Very subtly, we then introduce them to our MTM offering, which works well both for the brand and the client.”
Gucci has also launched its MTM service last year. The brand offers clients fabrics from an exclusive selection; the service provides for customisable options with finishes and details and allows for personal tailoring according to the client’s individual measurements.
So far, local tailors, designers and home-grown menswear brands have been addressing the market. “Made-to-measure is for people looking for a certain degree of personalisation or for whom their body is a challenge,” points out designer Raghavendra Rathore.
Indian designer wear is more affordable compared to international luxury brands in terms of the overall bill size. A made-to-measure suit by an Indian designer can be bought at Rs 50,000 or even less, compared to Rs 1 lakh and above for a suit by a foreign brand.
“Culturally, Indians are used to personalised tailoring. Also, since India is a diverse country with different shapes and sizes, it is imperative for the brands to find solutions to cater to a heterogeneous set of customers,” says Saba Ali, India representative for Altagamma.
Luxury clothing brands do not discuss clients, but many of them admitted in private that the biggest challenge is not demand, but the body shape of Indian men and women.
“But the future looks bright. The next generation wants to look fit, and is working out in gyms and elsewhere. They are also affluent and upwardly mobile,” says Mehul Choksi, chairman of Geetanjali group, who gets all his luxury suits stitched abroad. “We get men above 35 years of age who want to be fitter, but the awareness level is very low. Studies show that Indians need to exercise seven times more in a week than their global counterparts to be at par with them. So, at present, brands are adapting themselves to different Indian sizes and shapes, rather than shoppers working on their bodies,” says Vikram Bhatia, managing director of Fitness First gyms.
This article was originally published in the Economic Times dated 11th April, 2013, written by Vijay Rathore, associated with the Economic Times Bureau, New Delhi.