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Menswear market in India fastest growing apparel segment In 2010, GQ's annual best-dressed 50 in Britain had the then

PM-in-waiting David Cameron at No. 8. Simply for knowing "the importance of a good suit and tie". Apparently a good suit, and tie, makes you successful, gains you an in into coveted lists and heck, even wins you the elections. Since then, Cameron might have slid on the subsequent lists but was lauded, by what many people treat as a style Bible, as the ambassador for suits. For the record, the man has a proclivity for 3,500 Saville Row suits. The Mecca of bespoke might not be here in India but the experience is, courtesy the luxury menswear brands that are catering to the Indian man's newfound zeal to be dapper. The men's ready-to-wear gets a new sheen and spin thanks to a host of luxury brands available. Gucci, Hugo Boss, Salvatore Ferragamo, Armani, Versace, Brioni, Ermenegildo Zegna, Canali, Corneliani, Alfred Dunhill, Cadini, are all in the race to clothe the new sartorially savvy Indian man. The Men are Buying According to Technopak Advisors, a retail consultancy, the entire textile and apparel industry (2010 estimates), including domestic and exports, is pegged at Rs 3,27,000 crore and is expected to grow by 11% to Rs 10,32,000 crore by 2020. Currently menswear is the major chunk of the market at 43% (Rs 72,000 crore) and is growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9%. The menswear market in India is the fastest growing apparel segment. The India Menswear Market Analysis 2010-2014 by Venn Research found that total revenue from menswear was $11.8 billion in 2009, representing a CAGR of 8.6% from 2005 to 2009. Industry estimates peg the formal suits, jackets and blazers segment at Rs 4,500 crore. Clearly the men want to look dapper. The fact that it's the fastest growing luxury segment is no surprise, points out Pinaki Ranjan Mishra, partner & national leader, retail & consumer products at Ernst & Young, a consultancy. "The men's apparel is more westernised unlike women where even in the high-end you would see many of them opting for Indianwear. Hence, standardisation of products is simpler and easier," he says. Then again, the men have always been the prime spenders and are now finding avenues to explore. Mishra says: "Even in case of equal spending power, by nature women might buy more jewellery while men show a preference for technology and apparel." As the man about in business Abhay Gupta, executive director of Blues Clothing Company that promotes exclusive menswear brands like Cadini, Corneliani, Versace Collection and operates in four cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore), agrees with Mishra, but adds that men are fundamentally quick shoppers.

"They take faster decisions and have more brand loyalty," he says. Then again, he adds, the fact that westernised wear does offer more standardisation for men than women, not only for style but for colours too. "In terms of sizes and specifications, men's ready-to-wear is simpler and unlike womenwear, there are fewer attributes to customise," he says.

The Dandy March Twenty-five-year-old Delhi businessman Vikram Sawhney is the type of customer Gupta and others are looking at. Sawhney was introduced to the impeccable Italian cut by his Dubai-based friends. And as the saying goes, "Once you go Italian, you can't go back", he was shopping for luxury ready-to-wear on his trips abroad. Image consultant and grooming coach to various corporates Yatan Ahluwalia notes that over the past few years, men under 25 and over 35 have become a major consumer base for luxury ready-to-wear. There's a marked shift from tailoring to ready-to-wear brands. "With an increase in disposable income and a greater brand consciousness, the market is set to double over the next few years," he says. London-based designer brand Paul Smith, which is planning to open its third store in Mumbai's Palladium Annexe in June 2012 in addition to its existing two in Delhi and Bangalore, has noticed the demand shifting from simple businesswear to lifestyle space with occasion-based formalwear. "A lot of young customers are now interested in dressing up more formally. While earlier a majority of the demand for high-end tailoring came from senior management and business owners. Now a lot of young men are treating a good suit or jacket as an investment, essential for a work wardrobe," says a spokesperson of Paul Smith India. Gupta says there's not one type of luxury buyer. He classifies them into four categories: the old money brought up in the lap of luxury and needs no introductions to the brands; the new professionals who have made money, are well-travelled and developing some brand loyalty; the entry to luxury category that will start with the lesser-priced brand and will move up the value chain and the aspiring class that waits for the end of season sales to get an in into luxury. Ahluwalia contends the label is still the deciding factor. "Indian men base their buying decision on exclusivity and brand recognition and very rarely on design innovation," he says. Agrees Mishra, who says that branding is critical in shaping buying decisions. For instance, if an Armani shirt with a visible logo was sold along with one where the branding is not clear, Indians by nature would pick the one with the obvious branding. The Price is Right

According to Technopak, the luxury market in India is set to reach $30 billion by 2015. Little wonder then that the men are being wooed by the western sartorialists. The latest cuts, colours, fabrics are here, fresh from the foreign runways. But a luxury suit comes at a price.

The suits start at Rs 70,000 with the likes of Paul Smith and can go up to Rs 1,60,000 and above for brands like Corneliani, Versace Collection and Canali. The entry to luxury brands like Boggi Milano and Cadini can come for Rs 25,000. But if you are looking to go bespoke, then we are talking `20-25 lakh for a suit. But then you just don't buy the brand, you buy into the philosophy. Brioni, the Italian suitmakers favoured by the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Bill Clinton and Lakshmi Mittal, has been around since 1945. Each Brioni suit is cut and stitched at a factory in Penne, Italy. In fact, the company claims that no one can cut a Brioni suit without undergoing training for at least four years with one year of specialisation. Ermenegildo Zegna, retailing for Rs 11,000 for a tie to Rs 1,50,000, was founded in 1910. In fact, Zegna owes nearly 49% of its 2010 revenue of s963 million to the Asia-Pacific region. At Zegna you can choose from 800 exclusive fabrics that are a blend of linen, cashmere, wool and silk. Even their summer suits are a natural fabric blend that makes them breathable for the season. Paul Smith offers quirky aside to each of their design. Expect surprising lapel details or a contrast cuff, the brand likes to keep things surprising. "The real challenge for luxury brands starts after opening the first store. There's a dearth of premium malls and scaling up becomes a problem as real estate becomes difficult to come by," says Mishra of E&Y. The Way They Shop With premium tag comes premium service. To build loyalty, all luxury brands offer services that will make any man feel like a king. After all, relationship management and personalised services are the only ways to maintain stickiness as the competition intensifies. Most brands from Salvatore Ferragamo to Paul Smith to Canali to Corneliani offer personal shopping. Your personal shopper is your very own stylist who will take you through the new line, suggest what will suit you and in some places also offers colour consultancies. While you'd usually be dismissive of a salesman, a personal shopper is a status symbol. Some like Ferragamo also offer exclusive previews of their forthcoming range to special clients. Zegna has launched an exclusive service called Su Misura, which is their custom-tailored service making it possible

to produce tailor-made suits, leather garments, jackets, pants, coats, shirts, ties shoes and belts, according to the customer's size and needs. The delivery time is four weeks in any Zegna store.

Paul Smith and Canali offer home shopping. It's the delivery at the doorstep aimed at on-the-go professionals. In addition, Canali organises a made-to-measure event where their master stylist comes to India, once or twice a year for consultation. According to industry estimates, personal shopping service contributes 15% of the total sales in India. Value-added services aside, Ahluwalia says, for luxury brands to stay relevant in India, they should make India-specific clothes, using fabrics and materials suited to our climate, and styles, cuts and colours that cater to the average Indian built and skin tone. "What works in Paris or Milan, can't always be worn in New Delhi or Mumbai," he says. Maybe the brands are listening. Zegna has already launched its Indian bandhgala jacket and Canali too has added Indian influences to its designs. Going Indian is a fair strategy to address the market, as formalwear goes beyond offices in India. But the brands have to be cautious and not become fuddy-duddy. And if you are paying a packet to buy Italian, you can't end up looking too Indian. That would be a fashion faux pas. Luxury Lexicon If you are shopping for luxury menswear, know these terms or be branded a boor. Bespoke: In simpler English, it means customised tailoring. It is the height of exclusivity. Bespoke is an English term and an English tradition. Here the clothes are made according to the customer's specifications and request. Made-to-measure: The difference from bespoke, besides the price, is that it has some standardisation. It's what you call a tailored suit. Fit is better than the ready-to-wear variant and more expensive. Off the Shelf: It's what you would call off the rack. Basically you walk in, pick your size and walk out to a dinner party or the typical workday, no nip-tuck required. For most it's the entry-into-luxury clothing. Personal Shopping: Your personal shopper is the showroom assistant. They are the ones who tell you what's in, will it look good on you, help you pair it and also keep in touch with you regarding new lines, offerings, etc. Source: The Economic Times 13th Feb 2012