CBME Fair: Seminar on kids’ wear industry adds zing

The CBME fair that took place in Mumbai recently, was well attended by big names from the kids’ wear industry. The second day’s top attraction was a seminar organized by DFU Publications on the topic ‘Paradigm Shift- WHAT’s NEXT in Kidswear’. It focused on the opportunities in kids’ wear market in India, and challenges it faces.

Focus on opportunities in kids’ wear market

The seminar, with its two sessions, attracted industry experts along with other stakeholders, retailers, distributors and many more. The topic for the first session was: ‘The entry of global brands and their strategies and the divide between organized and unorganized markets in India’. The discussion also encompassed the luxury market. Well known names from the industry including Manish Saksena, Advisor, Tommy Hilfiger and Amazon.in, Kunal Mehta, VP (Marketing and Business Development) Being Human, Apeksha Patel, CEO, Deal Jeans, Brijesh Jathan, Senior Manager (E-commerce and Large Format Retail) Pepe Jeans and Varun More, Director, Apple Eye among others participated.

The moderator, Sanjay Chawla, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, DFU Publications, initiated the discussions. In his comments Manish Saksena said the market is like a playground. A new market may not have benchmarks. So it’s about hits and misses and there are chances of errors. “There are factors like price-sensitivity and less of brand consciousness. The market is largely driven by the unorganized sector given the mid segment is the largest segment even today. Supply is growing faster than demand. I see cautious growth happening. Young girls wear dress up differently for a music class, badminton class, for chilling out or for an occasion.”

Echoing similar views, Mehta said “Kids’ wear is still at a nascent stage and people still buy clothes one size bigger for their children. Being Human is three years old in this category and has grown steadily. This year, we will open two more stores.” Brijesh Jathan from Pepe Jeans was optimistic about the kids’ wear segment as he said they have launched a kids’ wear line only two seasons ago and the response has been encouraging. “We have a strong kids’ wear line globally and replicate the same designs and styles in India. Everything is produced in India and prices are competitive.”

Expressing similar sentiments, Apeksha Patel from Deal Jeans said, “If you cater to girls of four to 16 years of age, you will go wrong. Because dressing a 16-year-old is not the same as dressing a four-year-old. Indian parents see reflections of themselves in their children. They want them to wear designer or branded clothes. Earlier, players had operational issues. They went too fast and fizzled out. But we have learnt from them.” Varun More from Apple Eye stressed on the need for having a good understanding of the market and said giving more options would create an investment issue rather than returns issue. When a customer comes to the store and buys something new, he may not buy it immediately. So a new product has a certain shelf life.”

Niche market growing in kids’ wear

The second session also drew industry bigwigs including Neha Sachar Mittal and Ankur Mittal from Kidology, Mridumesh Kumar Roy from The Children’s Place and R K Dugar from East India Garment Manufacturers Exporters Federation were some of them. Discussions for the most part focused on the niche market in kids’ segment, its salability and scalability, redefining it in order to make it more accessible to the mainstream. Mittal, said the market for kids’ wear is huge but unpredictable. “We are a bridge to luxury brand. Most of our products are in the Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000 range, but we also focus on the above Rs 15,000 range. The consumers are open to spend on kids’ wear nowadays given that people from small towns come to malls and stuff their suitcases with luxury goods,” he opined.

Contrary to Mittal’s views, India Business Head of The Children’s Place, Mridumesh Kumar Roy, said luxury is profitable though, its scalability is limited and the need of the hour is to redefine it in order to make it more economical. “The Indian economy is like a pyramid, narrow at the top. As you go up the income scale, the space at the top is narrow. It depends on where you want to be. There is a challenge of scale versus profitability. There are some companies with a huge presence but a wafer thin profitability,” he said, while questioning why should a customer pay Rs 1,000 for a product that takes Rs 250 to make? The unorganized market can give the product for Rs 250. So the customer finds the choice easy between this and a brand. In India, the luxury market is very fragmented.

Taking a completely different argument, East India Garment Manufacturers Exporters Federation’s Secretary, R K Dugar, opined the whole concept of luxury is subjective. “At one time people would get Lacoste shirts on their trip home. But when the brand came to India, the same set of people moved on to some other brand. It wasn’t a luxury any more for them. I think, the luxury market will take time to evolve,” he opined.

Photo: dfu


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