NEW DELHI : Shalini Sharma, 33, has her pulse on the latest fashion trends but is averse to splurging on expensive clothes. The Indore resident has long since ditched her churidars for straight pants and finds floral patches on sweaters, as well as suede jackets, trendy.

“I prefer buying from value-fashion stores because they offer the latest design options at a reasonable price," she said. Sharma and a new set of consumers emerging from small cities, having been exposed to the latest fashion trends on the internet, are demanding the latest cuts and designs from apparel makers.

Taking a cue from the changing preference of consumers, value-fashion brands such as Max Fashion, Reliance Trends and Pantaloons are tailoring their collections and even store formats to woo them.


Retail analysts say online retailers have played an important role in raising awareness about the latest fashion trends in small-town India. “They made consumers aware and created demand by making the merchandise available to them," said Ankur Bisen, an analyst who leads the retail division of Technopak Advisors. “Value fashion is an approach where the supply chain of fashion is appended to deliver fresh fashion at a low value, focusing on consumers who are looking to wear branded apparels," he added.

Brands are responding to it by changing the collections frequently, offering the latest designs at competitive prices, while opening more stores in markets where there’s an affinity for branded fashion. Internet access, higher disposable income and a desire to look good have further fuelled the growth of value-fashion brands in small-town India.

“The value space is exploding because even at the lowest end of the pyramid there’s an obsession to wear brands. The youth will not mind spending 50% of their salary on branded clothes and shoes," said Kulin Lalbhai, executive director of Arvind Ltd. Arvind Fashions Ltd, the recently created entity after the demerger from Arvind Ltd, is targeting 2,000 crore in revenues by 2022 from Unlimited, its value-fashion brand.

“There’s a huge opportunity coming from small towns and we are ready for it," said Rajesh Seth, chief operating officer of FBB. “Five years back we actively started working on the product category and merchandise. Three-and-a-half years back, we started transforming our stores from the design and presentation perspective." The Kishore Biyani-led Future Group’s value-fashion venture plans to invest 350 crore to open about 140 exclusive outlets as it aims to double revenue in the next two years. “Ethnic wear has become contemporary, with Indo-western dominating our collections. Athleisure is growing rapidly among the youth."

Women customers have been identified as the key growth driver for value-fashion brands. Unlike globally, where women’s wear led the branded fashion market growth, in India branded fashion was always dominated by men’s wear. However, liberalization, nuclear families and more women entering the workforce have changed the pattern. Women are now buying clothes for office, fitness and lounge wear, among others.

Design leads the conversation at Max n, according to Jiten R. Mahendra, vice-president for marketing. “Our 50-member design team travels across international to look for trends and styles keeping the aesthetics and Indian body type in mind," he said. “In the last three years, we have also started taking cognizance of Bollywood fashion."

Popular ethnic wear brands such as Biba and W are also pushing their value brands Rangriti and Aurelia, respectively, as they see a bigger play in the value space. Last year, these brands hired actors Parineeti Chopra (Rangriti) and Disha Patani (Aurelia) for marketing promotions.

Rangriti launches new collections every three-four weeks and its design team constantly reviews the latest trends. “New range launch maintains freshness and excitement in our stores, encouraging repeat customers to browse in," said Sanjeev Agarwal, chief executive of Rangriti. “This is also important as the purchasing customers are limited in number in smaller cities." Currently, there are 64 stand-alone stores of the brand and it is looking to add 10-15 stores every quarter.

“Value fashion in the ethnic space is going through the roof, with multiple private labels growing," said Technopak’s Bisen, adding that consumers were looking for fresh styles at discounted prices. “The onus is on brands to be present where the consumer is, else they will opt for other brands," he said.

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