This Vital Tool Will Give Your Indian Brand an Edge Over Others
This Vital Tool Will Give Your Indian Brand an Edge Over Others
Ever wondered, how garments matching the mood of the season are in stores just when you want them…? Surely you have and that is not by mere coincidence. In fact, there are people who work around the clock to understand and forecast what people would want to wear two years on!
Forecasting is a technical and research oriented process, which involves an in depth study of current topics trending world-wide, in the fields of art, culture, design, technology, films and television, music, healthcare and politics to predict the trends that would project themselves in the future. On an average, trends are predicted two seasons prior to give the industry ample time to work around them.
While forecasting has driven fashion in the western world, the concept is fairly new to India and given the Indian cultural ethos that are very different from those of its counterparts, forecasting agencies are finding it hard to get a foothold in the fashion cycle of the country.
The very soul of India lies in its rich cultural and social diversity, which is prominent in its diversity, sociological structures and broad economic spectrum—and to top it all, we have varied climatic and regional miscellany, which cannot be defined by one uniform forecast specific to all. Which leaves us with a blaring concern –
Does global forecasting truly classify for India?
Hundreds of fashion-forecasting companies make a living by providing seasonal predictions. The industry swears by the forecasting companies like Pantone, WGSN, Promostyl, etc. but all these homogenous bodies focus on western influenced trends that are not necessarily relevant to India and its diversity. Though in the recent past a noticeable commonality has emerged in the way metro cities dress-up, mostly inspired by international fashion.
With a 1.25 billion plus population, there are still no tailor-made forecasts to suit Indian sensibilities in its totality. Western forecasts aren’t commercially viable as they are not predicted keeping the Indian market in mind. Also, events broadly classify fashion in our country for Indian wear rendering seasonal outfits unsuccessful. For instance, Bridal wear is in demand throughout the year.
For both national and international brands looking to enter the domestic market, it is critical to understand the regional trends and consumer psyche – i.e.; what is common and regional across the Indian consumer segment. There is no specific team, which studies or analyses the Indian consumer in detail, leaving many trends suitable only for metro and two-tier cities
This is where major forecasting companies that have tried to tap the Indian market have failed.
Identifying your target market by age, income and geographical locations no longer suffice, as taking into consideration their lifestyle, their purchasing power and the decisions they stem from, their aspirations, beliefs and the occasions that lead to purchase, are all critical while coming up with a product that would sell well.
In the past and for decades, the tailoring concept has dominated and thrived in India; people have approached tailors and asked them what’s trending or referenced a look they saw in the movies, television or events they attended to create something personalised and customised. It will take time to move beyond and accept universal concepts of fashion and trends as society breaks itself free from preconceived notions and ideas.
The only forecast that resonates well with the Indian market is the Colour Forecast, but even that has certain loopholes embedded in itself. For instance, the Indian skin tone varies from light to wheat-ish to dark, and what tone of which colour suits which skin, is another crucial topic to be taken into consideration while putting the forecast into play, here.
Lack of professionals in forecasting, delaying the acceptance of fashion forecasting
Trends require a certain skill set to be translated into fashion preferences. This process cannot be carried out blindly and demands relative education in the field, to be converted successfully. This is where majority of companies’ lack, as it entails higher commercials, which have to be borne on the part of brands and designers. Owing to the costs involved, a huge chunk of domestic players don’t have an adequately sized team to translate the forecast inspirations into actual designs. Lack of fashion education is also a big hindrance, as it eliminates any chance at improvising, leading designers and brands to blindly follow instead of creating something specific for the domestic market that will sit well with its sensibilities.
Some globally viable trends can get good business for brands/retailers if a product development team is skilled enough to translate it according to the target market/customer. The concept of fashion trickling down almost instantaneously from the runways to the street are not unknown in India, as metros are now well exposed to the phenomenon. Thanks to Foreign Direct Investment and the blurring lines across the globe owing to social media platforms like Instagram, international trends are reaching metro cities at the speed of light. Segmentations like athleisure, work attire, travel gear, casual chic, lounge wear, etc. have been introduced in the domestic market and are a major part of consumers’ buying preferences, which are giving rise to more domestic brands.
Yet, all said and done the market segment for these trends is still very small and niche… and certainly not justifying viability for international forecasting agencies at this point of time.
India is an upcoming and potential market for fashion, with international designers and forecasters regularly featuring Indian influences in their collections and trend reports/forecasts. This is a green signal for us to have reports that are country-specific to us, built over a common platform that cater to designers and brands alike.
Smaller modules addressing different regions on the basis of climate, skin colour, sociological structures, purchasing power, aspirations and lifestyle would chart a clearer map on decoding the Indian market considerably. Are Forecasting Agencies listening?
“Interesting international brands are entering the Indian market now, therefore it is critical to understand the balance between common and regional trends to get really good business,” Prem Sadhwani, Group Manager for Product Development at Aditya Birla