Active wear or athleisure wear saw an increased level of activity in 2017 with companies such as Arvind Lifestyle Brands, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd (ABFRL), Monte Carlo, Indian Terrain and Numero Uno launching and expanding their collections in a bid to cash in on and grow the estimated $3.5 billion segment. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
Active wear or athleisure wear saw an increased level of activity in 2017 with companies such as Arvind Lifestyle Brands, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd (ABFRL), Monte Carlo, Indian Terrain and Numero Uno launching and expanding their collections in a bid to cash in on and grow the estimated $3.5 billion segment. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

Active and ethnic wear categories to mature in 2018

Generic sentiment of staying fit, which is further fuelled by rise in number of yoga centres, gyms, fitness centres behind spotlight on active wear

New Delhi: From new and sub-brand launches to scaling up of existing collections, the Indian apparel market saw two segments stand out in 2017—active wear and ethnic wear.

Active wear or athleisure wear, as defined by industry executives and experts, is sportswear which can be worn casually, outside of gyms. The space saw an increased level of activity in 2017 with companies such as Arvind Lifestyle Brands, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd (ABFRL), Monte Carlo, Indian Terrain and Numero Uno launching and expanding their athleisure wear collections in a bid to cash in on and grow the estimated $3.5 billion segment.

“Both active wear and traditional wear market have seen attraction this year. However, price points remain a challenge. These categories are expected to mature in 2018; the sentiment is very positive," said Rajat Wahi, partner (management consulting) at consulting firm Deloitte India.

While textile maker Arvind Lifestyle Brands launched a new active-wear range under US Polo Association titled USPA Active, ABFRL announced a national rollout of its Van Heusen athleisure range launched in 2016. Ludhiana-based Monte Carlo Fashions Limited also forayed into the active wear segment with a new brand Rock It in November.

“There are not many brands which are operating in the athleisure space. There is a vacuum in the pricing and designing of active wear. That’s why we launched in this category and the response has been very encouraging," said Sandeep Jain, executive director at Monte Carlo Fashions Limited.

Executives in the apparel industry attribute the spotlight on active wear to the generic sentiment of staying fit, which is further fuelled by the rise in the number of yoga centres, gyms and fitness centres across the country.

While athleisure emerged as the next big bet in the apparel space, traditional wear market was not far behind with new collections and store expansions. “2017 has been a good year for ethnic. We have expanded category-wise and collection-wise as well. We have seen robust growth, while the overall market was average during the year. The category is growing and looking at a shift from the unorganized sector to organized," said Siddharath Bindra, managing director at Biba Apparels Ltd.

As of September 2017, total ethnic wear market was estimated at 700 billion, according to data from Deloitte India. While women’s ethnic wear brand Biba Apparels Limited expanded its kidswear line with standalone stores (and forayed into the fashion accessories segment with jewellery), ethnic wear brand Manyavar ramped up expansion with new joint Manyavar Mohey stores (Mohey is the women’s ethnic brand by Manyavar).

During the year, Biba also launched its first television ad campaign, while Manyavar roped in actor Anushka Sharma as one of the brand ambassadors (other one being cricketer Virat Kohli) earlier in November.

The year 2017 also saw multiple celebrities launching their own clothing lines in a bid to cash in on the upcoming and so-far untapped category. Actor Sonam Kapoor and her sister Rhea Kapoor launched their clothing line Rheson earlier in May. While actor Anushka Sharma tied up with Suditi Industries Ltd to launch her brand ‘Nush’, cricketer Virat Kohli launched his brand One8, in collaboration with German sportswear brand Puma.

However, experts feel that both celebrity fashion and active wear categories are yet to mature. “Ethnic wear is a well-seized opportunity but active wear has not done as good as it could have because of the absence of brands operating in the space. A lot of brands have active wear offerings but there are not many full-fledged athleisure brands. The space requires fully focused companies. Celebrity lines also did well during the year; 2018 will see some more maturity in the overall segment," said Arvind Singhal, chairman at consulting firm Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd.

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