Monthly Archives: February 2017

New Media : A new platform for the fashion industry

Social media has opened doors to new and emerging designers with small budgets to push their creativity and contribute to the fashion world by actively staying plugged-in. Designers and brands now market themselves directly to clients through the social media and gradually build brand loyalty because of the user-friendly and accessible nature of social media, write Mahesh Shaw and Mehak Mittal.

New Media is a catch term of the 21st Century. Very broadly, new media is something related to the internet and the interplay among technology, images, and sound. It is about making things digital, and has characteristics of being manipulated, networkable, dense, compressible and interactive. The various forms of new media are internet, websites, computer multimedia, computer games, CD-ROMS and DVDs. The population of internet users is increasing at a very fast rate. According to a nationally representative survey by the Pew Research Centre’s Internet and American Life Project, some 70 per cent of American adults aged 18 and older have speed-broadband connection at home as of May 2013. India has the 3rd largest internet user population after China and the US as per the report.

The internet is one of the forms of new media which we use extensively. We say humans are social animals. We now say humans are digital animals. We tweet, re-tweet, share, post, upload, comment, like, follow and update 24/7. For us, being social means going digital in the world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr and LinkedIn which are the most commonly used social media networks. Not only is our social life getting digitalised, our entire lifestyle is also getting progressively influenced by the internet. People chat, have online discussions and forums on micro-blogging sites, read books, magazines, and newspapers on the web, shop online, email, and surf various search engines for anything and everything they want to know either on their phones or tablets. Social media is the most popular form of new media used for virtual communication, which allows us to stay connected to all of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances with the click of a button.

Social media and fashion

The fashion industry uses social media as a promising platform to connect with consumers directly. Social media is used by brands of all categories. It has also played a major role in helping the fashion industry reach out to a much wider customer base with lesser costs and more presence in the digital world. All fashion brands and designers have a Facebook page, and a Twitter and an Instagram accounts. Brands have also started previewing their collections exclusively on Pinterest.

To drive growth, to be more exclusive, and to augment the user’s online brand experience, luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, and Burberry have launched their own social networks. Chanel along with its social networking site has also launched an application with Apple where it allows users to catch up on the latest news, watch exclusive ready-to-wear shows, browse through looks, and also locate stores nearby. DKNY used Instagram to interact one-to-one with fans.

Burberry used Snapchat to reveal its spring/summer 2016 collections a full day before it hits the catwalk. Tommy Hilfiger posts 360 degree videos to Twitter.

A great example of interactive communication with customers is Burberry’s “Art of the Trench” campaign where people were encouraged to upload images of themselves wearing Burberry’s signature item-their trenchcoat. The photographer and blogger of The Sartorialist took pictures of people on streets wearing trenchcoats. This allowed them to communicate and connect with customers at a new and real level.

Social media has opened doors to new and emerging designers with small budgets to push their creativity and contribute to the fashion world by actively staying plugged-in. Designers and fashion brands now market themselves directly to clients through the social media and gradually build brand loyalty because of the user-friendly and accessible nature of social media. Recently, Masaba Gupta and Oscar De La Renta live streamed their fashion shows on Instagram and Pinterest. Designer Misha Nonoo used Instagram to showcase her full spring/summer collections 2016.

There was a time when a designer’s inspiration came from his/her travels or maybe sometimes a muse. Now, a designer prefers to make a quick trip through some online sites, with the followers being their travelling buddies. As Clare WaightKeller of Chloe observed: “A mood board that would have taken a few weeks of solid research can now be assembled in an afternoon on Instagram. The fashion industry’s pace today has made it hard to find time for travel beyond the virtual kind, with exploratory trips and gallery visits increasingly difficult to squeeze into the dizzying demand for collections.”

Blogs and fashion

Blogs are personal websites, “usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video, where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.” At present, there are millions of fashion blogs worldwide that are updated regularly with new fashion trends. The blog’s effectiveness is due to its strong individual, personal, popular, and elitist point of view. Its engaging experience offers readers the opportunity to voice opinions and challenge fashion critics.

Updates by fashion bloggers these days also encourage the involvement of readers in the fashion making process as they impact consumer purchasing decisions. A positive review from these influential individuals is something that an advertising agency also cannot buy. Commenting on the widespread blogger noise, blogger BryanBoy says, “If I send a tweet, within a few seconds readers will be responding and it engages them with the designer.”

As more brands and designers offer live streaming and online replays of their shows, the average person can both appreciate and enjoy the whole experience. Instagram and Facebook updates posted by the spectators straight from the runway, help people relate and engage themselves just like the ones sitting and enjoying the shows live. This way everyone has the same access to the fashion domain, changing the nature of the fashion weeks. Of course, an online stream can never replace the grand experience and marvel of watching a fashion show live but it definitely gives designers and brands much greater exposure. And since the internet has become such an indispensable part of our lives these days, we say Go Digital!

The days to come

Social media, blogs, live streaming channels, and mobile applications are very much present in the fashion industry. Brands and designers can easily connect with consumer on a personal basis. They can understand their requirements, and take reviews and feedback. Word of mouth on the Internet spreads like virus. It helps increase brand awareness, loyalty and promotion to a wider consumer base. The diverse social network platforms give us the gift of endless accessibility to each and every show happening all around the world. Even designers from the most obscure towns and cities have easy access to the hottest fashion trends, all thanks to the latest technology, which has directed immense change in the way people accept and buy fashion.

Fashion Industry in the eastern State

In spite of its overwhelming presence in newspapers, magazines and on television, the fashion industry in India is young. The first professional fashion show was held in this country just over 20 years ago.

The word ‘fashion’ brings on images of glamour. The onset of the worldwide fashion market in India has given a thrust to the fashion industry. This has attracted so many young people to this industry.

Today, there are a couple of hundred Indian fashion designers peddling designs and wares. Some are well known and are expanding, slowly but surely, into the international market. India’s romance with fashion design has just begun and is bound to grow by leaps and bounds. Glamour has caught on. Young women want to emulate models and the designer wear of Hindi film stars.

Fusion of Indian and western looks are all the rage. Then, there is everything from pure ethnic wear, highly suitable for Indian bridal collections to purely Western style designer wear for the red carpet. India loves fashion!

India hosts its own fashion weeks in Delhi and Mumbai which seem to be getting bigger and better every year. The names are getting known as well – Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, Ritu Kumar, Manish Malhotra, Ritu Beri, Manish Arora, Satya Paul, Rocky S — the list just keeps growing.

Market Size

The Indian fashion industry is expected to reach US$ 400 million in a couple of years with vigorous growth of over 10 per cent year-on-year. While this is tiny compared to the global industry, it is not too bad for an industry in this stage of infancy.

The reason India’s fashion industry will have a bright future is that it has a large young population. This, combined with increasing disposable incomes, has led to an increase in consumerism. So, those who can afford are looking for high quality and originality. They love brand names. Hence, we can say that the future of fashion industry in India looks promising.

Potential

This industry offers an abundance of opportunities for artistic, hard-working and enthusiastic people. The scenario for fashion design graduates looks good, thanks to the enormous and still increasing demand for stylish clothes and the quantity of exports.

After successful accomplishment of the graduate course, one can be self-employed. On the other hand, several garment store chains, export houses, leather companies, textile mills, boutiques, fashion show organizers and jewellery houses recruit professionals fascinated with a career in fashion designing.

The fashion industry relies a lot on India’s authentic, beautiful history and rich, diverse culture, to make its unique clothing. Growing recognition of this industry, which hinges on its cultural style, has many of us wondering just when and if the Indian fashion industry will get the green light to go international.

The Indian fashion industry is still in its early years. Lakme Fashion Week has been running for 13 successive years. In markets such as New York, Milan and Paris, the fashion industry was established decades ago. The Indian fashion industrycan still nurture and push its popularity, but it may take a bit more to establish itself and its roots internationally. The clothing made by the country’s elite fashion designers is not only beautiful, but unique, exquisite, and one-of-a-kind.

Time will tell when the fashion industry will break that international barrier.

Street Style for Kids

One look at photographs of Harper Beckham, Suri Cruise or Dannielynn Birkhead who modelled for Guess and you know that street fashion is not a passing fad. Children, as much as youth, breathe it.

Street style for kids is big business today. Funky, quirky and jazzed up with glamour accessories team up with the carefully casual look for girls and boys.

Street style has always been there. It is only since the mid-1950s that its importance has been recognised, appreciated and emulated. Street fashion is considered to have emerged not from studios, but from the grassroots. It is generally linked with youth culture, and is often seen in major urban centres even though smaller towns have their own smaller hubs.

Theories about origin of street fashion

The Trickle Up Theory involves innovation or a picky style that begins on the streets, worn by lower income groups. It is picked up by designers and projected to upper class spheres which purchase the designs.

A typical example of this is the T-shirt. From a modest start, the Tee has turned into an emblem of global fashion. It has become not just a fashion and cultural icon, but a message board where people can express their feelings in the form of slogans, symbols and logos. Messages focus on the wider audience of popular culture, or are directed at subcultures, politics, economics, social issues and more.

Major subcultures affecting kids fashion industry

Most major youth subcultures have had been associated with street fashion adopted by today’s kids who are not only stylish, but decide their style. Despite naysayers, children have become a cult classic with the tag of cool city kid.

Earlier, fashion riarily to adults requirements. Today, with the exposure children get, they are conscious of their looks and aesthetics. The fashion industry now caters to children’s designer clothing. Young children now enjoy a mixed and widespread range of fashion attire, which helps them to position a fashion trend of their own. You can now find vibrant, effervescent, exclusive, creative, exciting, and striking clothes for both girls and boys.

The children’s fashion industry has grown and evolved into a stand-alone genre with its own trends and creative milestones.

Brands primarily concentrating on kids’ street fashion include Nico Nico, Lot801, Agatha Cub, Primary, Meme, Freshly Picked, The Mini Classy, Boy + Girl, Indikidual, Rags to Raches and Loola.

Earlier, fashion riarily to adults requirements. Today, with the exposure children get, they are conscious of their looks and aesthetics. The fashion industry now caters to children’s designer clothing. Young children now enjoy a mixed and widespread range of fashion attire, which helps them to position a fashion trend of their own. You can now find vibrant, effervescent, exclusive, creative, exciting, and striking clothes for both girls and boys.

The children’s fashion industry has grown and evolved into a stand-alone genre with its own trends and creative milestones.

Brands primarily concentrating on kids’ street fashion include Nico Nico, Lot801, Agatha Cub, Primary, Meme, Freshly Picked, The Mini Classy, Boy + Girl, Indikidual, Rags to Raches and Loola.

 

Developments of 2016 that will shape fashion

The textiles and apparel industry is a dynamic one, much happens here through the year. We bring to you 10 select developments of 2016 which we believe will have a bearing on 2017. By Subir Ghosh developments of 2016 that will shape fashion 10 Brexit. Trump. TPP, RCEP. Amazon. Innumerable keywords kept cropping up through 2016, but not all of these will shape fashion, nay the textiles and apparel industry, in 2017. But some will dictate the direction that the fashion industry takes in the years to come, and the process starts with 2017.

  Myntra’s acquisition of Jabong

In July, Flipkart’s Myntra pipped Snapdeal to the post by acquiring online fashion store Jabong for $70 million. Though Jabong itself had been on a downswing since 2013 when it was valued at $508 million, the acquisition of the portal by Flipkart- Myntra was the biggest news in the Indian fashion world since their own merger in 2014. The Flipkart-Myntra-Jabong ecosystem now holds sway over two-third of the high-margin online fashion market, and signals the beginning of the consolidation period in e-commerce.

 Automation is in, stealthily

When leading fabric and fashion retailer Raymond truncated its workforce by a third across 16 manufacturing units in September, it surprisingly didn’t send industry observers into a tizzy. The move by Raymond was the first by a big company towards a direction that experts have been talking about for a while, and the reasons behind the Raymond decision were simple: a need to cut costs and an equal need to increase efficiency. Textiles 4.0 is in, and it’s been a silent move so far. The textiles apparel industry in India, however, will need to maintain a balance since the sector is one of the biggest employers in the country. Words of caution had come earlier in a Texprocil study which had emphasised on the need for job creation.

 Election of Trump and TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was expected to run into rough weather the day Donald Trump were to be elected as US President. This did happen and Trump was quick to declare that among the first things he would do after being sworn in would be to pull out of the TPP. Though some negotiating countries still want to go ahead, without the US the TPP is a non-starter and would certainly have little influence on global trade. The death of the TPP would be good news for India which had been left out, but with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) still a far cry, the trade front is going to remain uncertain.

 Oil prices are rising again

India was able to save on over 100,000 crore the previous financial year because of the drop in the price of the Indian basket of crude oil. Now, oil prices are beginning to rise again: in January, Brent crude oil had dipped to $27.88 a barrel, but in December prices were around $55 a barrel levels; this had followed the decision of major petroleum producers in September to cut down on production. While higher crude prices have a direct bearing on inflation and therefore on consumer spending too indirectly, oil prices will be closely monitored by the Indian textiles-apparel industry, which in any case had not been able to make the best of the oil price slump interregnum because of the dissuading duties on man-made fibres (MMF).

 The aftermath of Brexit

The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, popularly referred to as the Brexit referendum, saw investors worldwide lose more than the equivalent of $2 trillion in June. But to fill in the huge gap created in the global textiles and apparel industry by Brexit, India has to react quickly. The EU is a major destination for Indian exporters, accounting for 37 per cent of the total 111,236 crore worth of readymade garment exports in 2015-16. The UK market constituted a 40 per cent chunk of this. But, since most of the garments that British brands and stores sell are imported (produced abroad), companies will not be able to stop importing. Indian exporters, therefore, can make the best of this only if they can score over China in cost-competitiveness and better lead times. For that to happen, India will need to ink at least a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with the UK. As it is, the India-EU free trade agreement (FTA) is still a long way from materialising, and Vietnam as been reaping rich dividends from its preferential status with the EU. The UK is a major destination for Vietnam too, but that country will now need to tread carefully. Vietnam is member of the TPP, which itself is in jeopardy now with Brexit and Trump.

  Waiting for GST

The wait continues, but most likely the Goods and Services Tax (GST) may be rolled out by the middle of the year, having missed the April 1, 2017 deadline for all practical purposes. GST is seen as the last mile of a long journey of reforms of indirect taxes in India and the impact of GST on the textiles sector will be significant. Since the central GST and state GST rates are likely to be higher than the corresponding textile sector revenue neutral rates (RNRs); textile prices are expected to go up. This will adversely affect demand for textile products. According to a ministry study, the adverse effect of a price rise on demand will be neutralised by a positive income effect if the GST rate applicable to all textile segments is kept at 12 per cent. Demand for khadi and handloom, cotton textiles and carpets would be adversely affected while there will be a net positive effect on other sectors. This will lead to substitution effects thereby encouraging greater use of man-made fibre based textiles and blends that use relatively more of synthetic fibres.

 The Amazon factor

When it was launched sometime in 2014, Amazon India had a lot of catching up to do with the Flipkart juggernaut rolling on unhindered. In a very short time, it has managed to catch up, and is now running neck and neck with the Flipkart-Myntra- Jabong triumvirate. The launch of Amazon Fashion and Amazon’s own fashion label in 2016 is a virtual extension of Amazon’s own strategies as well as the compulsions offered by the fashion segment in online retail. What Amazon did to the publishing/ books industry is now legion, but whether it will be able to do the same with the apparel industry is a different question altogether. But Amazon India has been working on visibility and establishing itself as a brand with a fashion face. Amazon India became the title sponsor of the Fashion Design Council of India’s India Fashion Week in 2015; this year it firmly entrenched itself therein. The online fashion landscape stays changed forever.

  Demonetisation’s side-effects

How soon the Indian economy can recover from the obvious slump that has set in because of the demonetisation of 500 and 1000 currency notes is a matter of speculation. But what is certain is that the long supply chain of the textiles and apparel industry is under severe pressure. Demonetisation in India-the world’s biggest producer and second largest exporter of cotton-is already exacerbating global supply and may prompt importers like Bangladesh to look for alternative sources to stock up immediately. Industry, which usually starts importing cotton around April-May, has already started doing so. Cotton arrivals have already dipped by almost one-third, and farmers are not going all out to sell cotton because the preferred mode of transaction is cash. This has affected cotton exports too as sourcing has become difficult, leading to both cancellations as well as a dip in forward contracts. Cotton farmers can hold on to stocks, but the supply chain is long and most workers/weavers/spinners are still paid in cash, and there are reports of powerloom units closing down because of the unavailability of cotton. However, the economy may well eventually recover in 2017.

 The Chinese trade front

Ongoing global recession or not, the China factor still directly and indirectly dictates what the rest of the world does. The textiles ministry has been contemplating imposing a duty on cloth being imported from China in a bid to save the powerloom sector, but this may well throw RCEP negotiations into turmoil. India has been able to get some concessions in the ongoing parleys with much difficulty towards a trade pact that is likely to be dominated by China. For its part, India had approved duty concessions to six countries under the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) in September. And on the RCEP front, India may remove 65 per cent of the tariff lines for China. This is less than the 80 per cent it is offering to other participating countries, but is still a marked improvement over the 42.5 per cent it had offered earlier. So, this is going to be tricky terrain for India. This year Bangladesh overtook China as the biggest importer of Indian cotton, but one cannot disregard the fact that China still holds a card close to its chest: the huge stockpile of cotton.

  A package towards a policy

The textile package announced by the Union government in June was seen by many as a stitch in time. The ₹6,000 crore package was a much-needed whiff of fresh air for a desperate industry that had been gasping for breath. The promises, made in terms of numbers, were certainly ambitious: jobs for 1 crore people, mostly women; $30 billion in exports; and investment worth ₹74,000 crore. All that in a matter of three years. But now with the side-effects of demonetisation and a rise in crude oil prices, the textiles ministry has a tough job cut out for itself. The Foreign Trade Policy that was announced midway through the year too might need some course corrections, all the more so because of the TPP-RCEP trajectories. This is where the need for a National Textiles Policy (NTP) becomes all the more significant and critical. Two and half years ago, the choice of words would have been “long-awaited”; now its’ “much needed.”