Making Fashion-First, Accessibility and Inclusivity the New Normal in 2023
Making Fashion-First, Accessibility and Inclusivity the New Normal in 2023

The Indian footwear market has been on a boom for the last decade and this trend is expected to continue for the coming two decades. With changing patterns of consumption, India has become the second-largest consumer of footwear. While the global footwear market size is $224.6 billion, the Indian footwear market accounted for $23.73 Billion in 2022 and is poised to grow at 6.77 percent annually.

With India’s footwear consumption increasing and ranking third in the world, this boom can be attributed to a favorable growth environment due to technological advancements, an increase in urbanization, a rise in the standards of living, advances in the retail segment, and the government of India recognizing the footwear industry as a priority area.

Post Covid-19, the industry has been witnessing that consumers are actively searching for information related to products and services, both online and offline as they are driven to seek value in their purchases. This has led the brands to effectively communicate their commitments across all channels to be able to tap into the consumers and understand their interests.

During COVID-19, the demand for sports and athleisure footwear skyrocketed as customers moved towards fitness and healthy living. This, in turn, created a shift towards the adoption of a comfort-first approach, especially amongst millennials and Gen-Zs.  From being only a necessity, as protection for the feet, to a fashionable part of one’s outfit, footwear has evolved without compromising on comfort and fitness. This trend is continuously driving growth in terms of volume as well as the average selling price of products. Hence, brands with evidence of progress towards the fashion-first approach, accessibility, diversity, inclusivity, customer centricity, and offering value-for-money products are on the right track for greater achievements in 2023.

The footwear landscape is constantly evolving and undergoing changes. E-commerce emerging as an important channel in the market has made itself a significant factor in the expansion of the organized footwear retail industry. The adoption of digital media and increased retail penetration in Tier II, Tier III, and lower towns across the nation will further contribute to the growth of the organized format. Therefore, in 2023, brands should consistently strive for innovative offerings, while adapting to changing needs and preferences of customers across platforms using tech interventions. They also need to be able to respond quickly to changes in the market and swiftly drop new designs according to current trends.

In the past 2-3 years, the Indian footwear market has seen a significant jump in sneakers as a category; the growth is so remarkable that it has become an important category contributing to making footwear a part of one’s fashion-forward statement. Sneakers have quickly become style statements and representations of one’s identity. The role of youth in the progress of the sneaker industry is growing, and in the next 5 years, the youth will account for more than 55 percent of the total population. Young people, aged between 16 – 28 years, are the primary consumers of sneakers and drive the market demand. They have come together to form the foundation of what we now understand as the sneaker culture.  

Hence, catering to their needs has become essential for footwear brands. As a result, brands are now creating value and making designs to appeal to this set of audiences. The audience is picking up these trends from the west through social media, celebrity endorsements, and cultural influences, and are dictating which brands, models, and designs are popular.

Indian footwear brands are capitalizing on what is making waves among consumers. As a result, many sneaker companies are catering to this demographic by collaborating with popular brands, celebrities, and influencers to create exclusive, limited-release products to further grab consumer attention and stand out in this competitive market. This also instills a sense of belonging in the consumer’s mind.

In 2023, brands must put fashion forwardness, accessibility, and inclusivity at the forefront for the benefit of their most important stakeholder: the consumers. The path to inclusivity is through better pricing solutions, design, and breaking down the exclusivity and restrictive barriers to consumers. The common goal for the Indian footwear industry should be to produce functional, trendy, and well-designed footwear for all demographics, giving consumers a sense of belonging and satisfaction.

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