Mumbai: Private equity (PE) firm Everstone Capital on Tuesday said it will invest 100 crore for an undisclosed minority stake in Ritu Kumar, a fashion house for women’s clothing.

This is the third PE investment in the women’s apparel space in the past seven months, indicating growing investor interest in such firms.

Although women’s wear dominates garment retail globally, in India, it is men’s wear that leads the segment. An increasing number of working women with disposable incomes is now providing hope to investors that such brands will do well.

“Ethnic clothes have also seeped into the daily wear, and so local fashion brands will not see much competition from their global counterparts. For example, you will not see a Zara (a high street fashion brand) sari or a salwar kameez in the market," said Ankur Bisen, senior vice-president and head, retail at Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd, a New Delhi-based retail consultancy firm. “This is a powerful story which makes these brands attractive, with investors realizing that consumption demand in this sector will not go down,"

Started in 1969, Ritu Kumar has three brands—Ri, a premium bridal and formal wear line, Ritu Kumar, a traditional pret brand offering ethnic daily and semiformal wear, and Label, a fashion pret line. It runs 30 stores and the capital raised will be used to increase the number of outlets across India.

“The modern professional approach of any enterprise is to collaborate with companies such as Everstone, who bring to the table expertise and financial commitment to help in the growth of the brand," founder and director Ritu Kumar said in a statement.

“Combining Ritu Kumar’s great brand heritage, its strong management team and Everstone’s deep understanding and expertise within this space, Ritu Kumar will be poised for continued success and growth," Sameer Sain, co-founder and managing partner of Everstone, said in the statement.

Langham Capital was the financial adviser on the transaction.

In November, PE firm General Atlantic bought a minority stake in AND Designs India Ltd, a retailer, designer and manufacturer of women’s apparel and accessories, for about 150 crore. AND Designs has more than 100 exclusive stores and 300 shop-in-shops in India, including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata.

In December, PE firms Warburg Pincus and Faering Capital invested about 300 crore in Biba Apparels Pvt. Ltd, a firm that makes women and girls’ ethnic wear.

“Diversification into related categories like handbags, shoes, accessories is a natural expansion for successful brands," the India head of a global fund, who has invested in such firms said on condition of anonymity. “Globally, we have apparel brands that do business of $1 billion annually. Why should one doubt that apparel business in India can’t make it big?"

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