India has the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world. The entrepreneurial spirit further fuelled by initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhan Bharat’, are seeing the birth of homegrown brands throughout the country.
The textile sector in particular is one of India’s oldest and largest industries. It has seen a boom and as of FY19, the domestic apparel and textile market stood at US $ 100 billion. While a majority still gets pegged for international exports, Indian apparel brands are finding a niche for themselves in a market that was previously dominated by those very international brands sourcing from here. This dichotomy in the textile sector is now being acknowledged by the millennial generation who are riding high on the sentiment of going ‘Vocal for Local’, accelerated further by the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic. We do make world-class textiles and designs. The time has come to repurpose this to the local market as well with the Indian origin of the product and brand being worn with pride.
If we look back at history, Indian textiles have always been envy of many dynasties and kingdoms. Our rich heritage has always brought attention to our fabrics, which have had a global recall value. From the early civilization when the Silk Route became a way to traverse through the richness India provided when it came to textiles, dyeing materials, shawls to the pre-independence era where the Swadeshi movement took prominence and khadi became the go-to fabric for Indians. This was a way of encouraging the self-reliant ideology which India needed the most at that time. It worked well and Indian hand-made fabrics became fashionable, not only in the country, but also globally.
Today, Indian textile companies are matching their global counterparts in providing the finest of materials and clothing at competitive prices, which can be easily customized according to the needs of the Indian customer. Additionally, homegrown brands are offering myriad options when it comes to comfort and style. By building a relationship with customers through e-commerce platforms, community building on social media and with brands taking the D2C approach, Indian apparel companies are involving their consumers into the very process of brand building, hence making the customer the focal point.
Interestingly, some of the biggest fashion houses in the world source their raw materials and fabrics from India, given the richness they offer and the different weaves, styles, textures that our country is known for.
If we look back at the 90s or early 2000, there was a boom of foreign brands entering Indian markets, giving stiff competition to local clothing and textile brands and companies. Very quickly, foreign brands became synonymous with quality, trust and premium wear. It was considered fashionable to own anything from a popular fashion house or designer.
Slowly, that myth is bursting. With the rise of a powerful working force in India, including the youth and millennials, who have disposable income to spend, homegrown brands are again gaining leverage. Most come with experience and exposure of having travelled and worked with large international brands to understand what suits the Indian consumer. There is a deep sentiment of going back to our roots and connecting to our culture. As Indians, we have had exposure to different kinds of fabrics from an early era. We know what suits us best for summer, winter or any season of the year. This is something local brands are using to their advantage to create fabrics and clothes that best suit a global Indian across purpose and occasion.
This is an added bonus when it comes to creating premium wear where there is no compromise on either quality or comfort. Homegrown brands are also going the extra mile where everything can be customized with the click of a finger and this, in a way, has brought the focus back to local brands. Today, we see the same sense of consciousness and a rising awareness as customers want to know where their clothes are made, what is the quality of fabric that is being used and what is the process involved in the making of any garment.
Today, the consumer has come around a full circle from the early royal patronage towards local craftsmen to the modern millennials who are clearly vocal for local.
- This article is penned by Dhruv Toshniwal, Co-Founder, The Pant Project.