Customisation is key to entrepreneurship in India’s fashion sector

Last week, I read an article which discussed how global brands, both in luxury and mass market, are growing in India. This is a great sign as today we expect a lot more brands to enter India. This would bring a lot of investment to the country, increase employment and help the retail industry to boom.

On one hand, this phenomenon makes me happy, but on the other hand, there is another aspect that makes me worried. Today I meet so many students from fashion institutes who are eager to launch their own labels after working for some years under a designer or a fashion house. Without a doubt, there is plenty of talent and enthusiasm in this generation. But first, let us ask ourselves a tough question: what is the support system we have for new ideas and talent in India? Only few encouraging initiatives like Vogue Fashion Fund, Let’s Design by Cotton Council of India and a similar initiative by LVMH exist. Though it is a very positive sign, but still there is a long way to go. The only potential market that has a good future for young entrepreneurs is the customisation and bespoke industry, since it is hard for international brands to go on that level of customisation.

Even in this segment, we have more prospective in the luxury industry as the normal psyche of the consumer is to look different on a special occasion. With the increase in budgets on theme-based functions and destination weddings, the scope of customisation is increasing as we speak. This growth is just not confined to apparel in terns of bridal and men’s wear, but also in the fields of accessories, invitation cards and gifting items, among other things.

As per an Assocham study, India’s luxury market is projected to reach $14.7 billion in 2015. The increasing price parity of luxury products with other global cities such as Singapore or Hong Kong, and customised products offerings indicate that the luxury market in India is evolving quickly. A recent survey suggested that attracting consumers to luxury products is not easy anymore as consumers are not lured by high-end foreign labels. They seek a more personalised experience and are willing to shell out extra bucks to get a product of their choice. Looking at these trends, even global brands are willing to put in extra efforts by making customised services available at their exclusive outlets in India.

In a mass market like India, one does need to serve uniqueness especially when the price points are high. Thus, the business model of fashion-based companies or firms (whether international or domestic) needs to keep itself flexible on customisation and strategies accordingly.

(The writer is a Delhi-based fashion designer)

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