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May, 09 2011

BREAKING BARRIERS & THE MYTH

Men's apparel market in India is way ahead of women and kids wear, breaking the myth and general perception that women rules the fashion world. It has emerged bigger and stronger with every passing year. After making a mark in metros, brands are now turni

MEN'S wear market has never been this vibrant as it is now with the flurry of global brands into the Indian marketplace. Going by the statistics, Indian men's wear industry is far more organised than the women's wear and kids wear segment in India. While the bigwigs in the fashion industry are willing to serve all the three segments and rejoice fashion in all its guises, there are other brands/fashionistas that purely serve to men's ever growing market.

Business potential

Men's wear market has a strong hold in the fashion industry. It is dominated by brands like Raymonds, Peter England, Louis Phillippe, Van Heusen, Wills Lifestyle, Provogue, Turtle, Classic Polo, Allen Solly and D’Cot. Nowadays, small towns intend to offer more profitability to the brands, so they are considering tapping the small towns efficiently. Belmonte is India's leading mid-premium brand that brings both fabric and ready-to-wear garments under one label. Talking about the market size in small towns/cities, Naveen Arora, Vice President, Retail, for Belmonte Ready-to-Wear Business, notifies, “As per our estimate, around Rs 30 billion is the men's wear market size in these towns.”

Fashion quotient

As franchising assures good brand visibility and consumer's trust and loyalty, men's wear brands, too, are embarking on this business model to expand. Pointing out the business model they follow, Arora shares, “We have a workable business model, which is either a straight margin or a rent-plus margin model. Minimum guarantee offer goes against the spirit of the business involvement of the associates. The feasibility factor for lock-ins in small cities is done on a case-to-case basis, which is mostly for mall and prime properties.” Despite franchising, D'Cot also works with a lockin period arrangement. Duke Fashion caters to all the three segments of apparel industry. Kuntal Raj Jain, Director, Duke Fashion India Ltd, tells, “Duke dominates the men's wear market, as 90 per cent of our turnover comes from it.”

Fashioning expansion

After high streets and malls in metros, tier II and III cities are appearing to be next attractive destination for franchisors. As these towns have space availability with affordable rentals; they are brimming with opportunities. Another major growth driver behind the brands stepping into smaller towns is the saturation in metro cities owing to skyrocketing real estate rentals and tussle with global brands, which makes it difficult for domestic brands to survive. Besides, there is evolving consumer consciousness towards buying premium branded apparel.

Sapan Surekha, Director, Donear Retail - D'Cot & Donear NXG, informs, “We do market mapping, which covers the size of the town, per capita income, sex ratio and consider many other parameters. Yes, we conduct market feasibility study, wherein we search for an ongoing trend in the market, customer purchasing power and the fashion consciousness.”

“Due to its price advantage, Belmonte has enormous potential to garner huge business in prime market locations of tier II and III towns. Therefore, it's must for us to ensure main market locations. Each of our business/property evaluations are done after thorough market and business potential study,” adds Arora.

Speed-breakers

Operating the brand's franchise in smaller towns is quite challenging for franchisors in terms of understanding the consumer preferences, selecting, recruiting and training the right manpower and competing with the family-owned stores and private labels. Shares Arora, for overcoming training challenges, we have created an online training portal, which is real time and informative too. It helps the fashion associates to address all consumer issues effectively and timely. Belmonte's retail experience and fashion platform is clearly cutting across competition and establishing the brand.”

As per Surekha, “In tier II and III cities, retail is still in a nascent stage, wherein we as a organised retailer has to face stiff competition with local/regional players.”

To counter the challenges, D'Cot continues to offer value for money with an ultimate shopping experience in an air conditioned store, computerised software billing, product warranty and fresh fashion at fair price.

As the competition is getting tougher, making a distinct brand image has become the need of the hour. Arora says, “We have managed to keep a distinct retail identity, which is simplistic and visually merchandising-led retail ambience, retail experience, fashion quotient, persistent advertising on mass media are some of the other steps that the brand has taken to increase demand.”

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