Not all things are made to perfection but humans, striving to have the best of all things, desire exactly that and this has led to the advent of bespoke clothing segment in India. Shunning the mass-produced, one-size-fits-all options available, a new category is gradually taking over the apparel industry which quintessentially offers personalized clothing options to the discerning. Though bespoke has been in India since generations and Indian population had been dressing up in tailored clothes until the late 1990, the emergence of ready to wear garments with the entry and expansion of foreign and domestic apparel brands in the country almost outpaced the bespoke category. Years passed by and the bespoke came back to prominence with little upgradations here and there. And this re-emergence accompanied better quality and also better fit than the ordinary tailored garments and going forward witnessed many startups entering the segment. Also, startups in the bespoke segment have an advantage with lower inventory and debt on their books compared to the bigger companies.
The Overall Market Scenario
India is more close to customized clothing than any other country ever will be. While it started with traditional tailoring where one would bring in their own fabric and instruct their local tailor on the intricacies of the garment, organized bespoke segment soon took over.These organized players in the bespoke category offer the best of fabrics from around the world, designs and a perfect fit and definitely comes at a premium price which makes the category an extension of the luxury market. According to a Technopak analysis, customized services account for 15 percent of the Rs.1,300crores luxury apparel and accessories market in the country. Akshay Narvekar, Founder, Bombay Shirt Company, agrees, “More and more people are becoming aware of bespoke clothing and getting impressed by the outcome of it. Bespoke clothing makes an individual look sharp and comfortable. As time is ticking, we can see a wide number of audiences opting for it.”The acceptance and popularity of bespoke garments is fundamentally growing with market shifting to customized tailoring segment which is ultimately narrowing the price difference between the two. “From business point of view, this is the right time for brands to enter the bespoke category. People today demand a sense of ownership in their garments and pride in wearing something that is made from scratch to suit their personal style. There is a lot of good times for bespoke brands in India as we move ahead,” maintains Akshat Singh, Co-Founder, Mr Button.
Evolution of Bespoke Clothing Segment
With its exquisite detail and luxurious fabrics, bespoke clothing was once reserved only for wealthy style connoisseurs but today, it is becoming a growing trend among professional men with rising awareness. Quateel Ahmad, Mentor, Bespocut, apprises, “Despite the advent of readymade garment brands, fashion conscious, quality conscious and style conscious people always preferred to have tailored clothing which gave them greater control over what they wore. Bespoke clothing emerged keeping the cognoscenti in mind. Today it is making a strong comeback and the wheel is turning in favour of the segment.”While this market is witnessing a huge surge, it hasn’t become a national phenomenon yet. The nature of bespoke business is that it needs a lot of personalized attention which definitely requires scaling of business and scaling a bespoke business is a challenging task as the business needs a robust training program, which is another roadblock in the industry.RohanKhattar, Co-Founder, Minizmo, maintains, “I am not sure if any apparel was a national phenomenon at any point.Over time, this segment is going to grow and if its available at a competitive price, people will be attracted towards it because no readymade garment with standard fit can overpower the charm ofpersonalized fit and design that bespoke offers.” Meanwhile, Ahmad also opines that tailoring has always been a national phenomenon in India and “it was not the lack of demand but the shortage of skilled labour that has caused more people to opt for readymade clothing”.
The Potential of the Segment
Although the bespoke clothing segment is mostly unorganized, it has a huge potential waiting to be tapped. Globally, the concept of bespoke is commonly understood as dominated by menswear unlike the kids and women categories which is either not a sound value proposition or is too fragmented for organized players. Quateel Ahmad asserts, “Bespoke services in women’s segment is definitely a market that is worth tapping especially in India, as there are many women working in environments where western wear is the norm and they have to make do with either very expensive brands or with fast fashion brands that do not have the permanence of class with them.” There is a big gap in the market for women’s custom clothing and this will evolve with time. According to RohanKhattar, “women are not very brand loyal and tend to switch over a lot”, but if bespoke brands enter the category offering the right fit, this will prove to be a much larger market than men’s.
Furthermore, the luxury quotient of the segment also requires luxurious experience in terms of store ambience and service. RohanKhattar says, “An experience centre works best in this category. A technology driven store also helps in keeping the customer engaged and going. I think there is no specific size for the store that makes a mark but it totally depends on what kind of experience one wants to give to the customers.”Even as most made to measure and bespoke boutiques and brands are limited to metropolitan cities, believing that there is not much potential in smaller cities is a misconception. “There is a huge demand of made to measure garments in tier-II cities as well. We are planning on entering this market very soon.These regions are fairly new to the trend and are slowly absorbing it with time,” apprises Akshat Singh.
Moving ahead, bespoke clothing will become a rage soon with more and more people opting for cleaner, custom- made clothing rather than ready to wear garments. “With technology, mass customisation and bespoke creation will be more sophisticated and this will speed up the evolution of the customer preferences in favour of bespoke. We have seen garment retailers, designers and tailors offer bespoke clothing and accessories and it will remain a mainstay in our country especially for elaborate occasions like weddings,” informs Quateel Ahmad. Also, Indian men today have a lot of disposable income in their hands and a distinct taste of style which is ultimately attracting them towards bespoke clothing, thereby giving further boost to the category.