Ethnic Wear Retailing
Ethnic Wear Retailing

If you take a walk down the busy market street , you will notice hoardes of shops on both sides of the road with their window displays speaking loudly of vibrant clothing. It gives an idea about Indian retailing where ethnic retailing holds a fair share. Well, we don't need to scratch for the reason because in India,  be it a marriage, party, or any other occasion, ethnic wear enjoys limelight at every do. The market has evolved with newer trends coming in and increasing the demand like the old art of embroidery has revived and revamped the fashion circuit, introduction of new fabrics, awareness through fashion shows, advertising etc, wide choice due to added brands, etc . And the trend which was earlier only a domain of women has now extended to men as well. Short kurtas in vibrant colours, some with motifs adorned on them, some embroidered, and in linen and raw silk etc are popular with men. But as a rule, this is a women dominated segment as women’s wear by far, makes the major chunk of market in the ethnic wear. Women are precise and more selective about ethnic wear. And also they are a very important part of Indian tradition. Didn’t our mothers give us those sets of saris and salwaar kurtas in dowry? And remember the zing bang at the marriage do, comprising of aunties and uncles who left no stone unturned to give a reverberating competition. So, we agree that our tradition is incomplete without the interesting ethnic wear and this is what makes the trade hot!!!


Traditional versus Western

In olden days we stuck to only ethnic wear but recently the trend has shifted to corporate wear and western wear due to rising corporate culture and increase in employment of women. This has supposedly shrunk the market of ethnic wear as western wear has penetrated their domain.


Surprisingly, a recent study on average trading density (sales per sq ft per month) across organised retail formats ranks traditional ethnic fashion almost double that of Western fashion brands such as Biba, W and Global Desi have an average trading density of Rs. 1600 psfm compared to Rs. 900 psfpm  for national western fashion brands and Rs 850 ppm for international labels.This only shows that although the market has shrunk it yet enjoys power over Western dressing.


Alina says," The intrusion of western wear has only raised the demand for ethnic wear as its exclusivity cannot be denied. If western market has shaken the trust in ethnic wear, this has also paved the way for exports, so the figure is balanced".

Pricing and Market share

The price range in women’s ethnic wear is very high compared to the men’s segment. There is no ceiling at all. It could start from 1500 and go up to a couple of lakhs and even more if it is designer stuff.

Asheeta Chhabra, director of Chhabra 555 shares,” At our stores, the price range is largely determined by the product line and the ongoing season. Suits usually sell within the price range of Rs.` 1,500 to 7,000’, Saris sells between ` 3,000 to 10,000’ and Lehengas sell between ` 20,000 to  35,000’.

Sunil Chainani of Fab India reasons that, unlike Western wear for which display is integral to showcase styles and cuts, ethnic wear is largely stacked on shelves. “This often tends to move up the rate of sales due to greater variety”, he says. Traditional ethnic wear chains operate at price points between Rs 1,500 and Rs 4,000 on average.

There is a trend to rope in designers to create different designs which are ahead of time. For example, news has it in the fashion circle that chief designer Manish has tied up with other reputed designers like Sumit Verma and Krishna Mehta to keep in touch with emerging fashion trends and designs for CTC Mall in Delhi.

Expert view

The Indian women’s wear market is estimated at Rs. 50,000 crore approximately as of 2009, according to Technopak. “There is a huge opportunity for national players to enter in the market. However, the sector poses various problems such as tastes and preferences which vary across states and fashion trends that change fast”, says Baqar Naqvi, associate vice president, of retail & consumer goods at Technopak.

According to Chhabra, “The Indian retail market, which is the fifth largest retail destination globally, has been ranked as the most attractive emerging market for investment in the retail sector by the eighth annual Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), in 2009. The CII-AT Kearney retail study shows that retailing is the largest contributing sector to the country's GDP. The retail sector contributes about 10 percent to the GDP compared to 8 percent in China, 6 percent in Brazil and a matching 10 percent in the US.

All these factors reflect upon the opportunities available in this sector for new entrants. With rising consumer demand and greater disposable income, the US$ 400 billion Indian retail sector is expected to reach US$ 550 billion by 2014. Population expansion, the increasing wealth of individuals, and the rapid construction of organized retail infrastructure are key factors behind the forecast growth. The organized retail sector, which currently accounts for around 5 percent of the Indian retail market, is all set to witness a maximum number of large format malls and branded retail stores in South India, followed by North, West, and East in the next two years. Tier II cities like Noida, Amritsar, Kochi, and Ghaziabad, are emerging as the favored destinations for the retail sector with their huge growth potential”.

Sales forecast

Sales have seen a significant upswing this year, spurred by the decline of the effects of the recent recession. The market for salwar suits in most cities is increasing with people often preferring to wear suits even to their workplace. Various categories in the saree and lehenga section have also seen an upswing. An overall year-on-year growth of 10-20% should be expected.

Stay on top – Get the daily news from Indian Retailer in your inbox
Also Worth Reading