Have unspeakably low tolerance for clothes-shopping. This isn’t about crude male stereotypes; it’s just something I do annually en masse under coercion from the missus, with as much gusto as you’d summon up before a prostate exam. As I’m shunted from one dressing room to the next, buckling under the collective weight of an entire rack of tightened-noose collar shirts and blood flow-arresting skinny trousers that the missus deems trendy, I comfortingly chant Mark Twain’s words: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
As it turns out, the Indian consumer these days couldn’t agree more with the writer’s take on the
significance of all things sartorial. Our policy wonks changed up the consumer price index in 2011, summarising consumption under a representative basket of five sections, which includes clothing. It’s interesting to note that since then, the weightage of clothing on the index has seen a marked increase in both rural and urban India. Just a month ago, Raymond CEO Sanjay Behl reportedly forecasted double digit growth—close to 12 percent—in the textile industry. Much of this boom is driven by higher disposable incomes, coupled with the expansion of online clothing retail and pernickety customer tastes. You’ve only to look at Jabong’s skyrocketing revenues to get a sense of how high the pile of chips stacked on the table is. Plus, there’s always room for new players—Bangalore-based start-up Wooplr, for instance, has
whetted investor appetites with their innovative app, which has taken the idea of roving fashion catalogues to the next level, creating a social platform for consumer engagement where users share details of their latest purchases.
While the hub of start-up activity in the sector might seem to converge towards the online space, there are always nifty innovators working with offline ideas as well. Last year, Jonathan Michael started what he calls “an incubator for fashion designers”. The 24-year-old co-founded JM School of Designer Tailoring with a plan to revitalise boutique culture. Figuring out that many of the city’s best-kept-secret boutiques of a previous generation needed a makeover,
his start-up runs short courses on garment design and construction, but dovetailed with sessions on practical entrepreneurship to help novice designers navigate the niche market. Participants include 23 and 50-year-olds, from across different educational and professional backgrounds. The idea, he believes, is to grow a shopping culture built on super-customised, luxury experiences and yet accessible, through boutiques. A place where even harrowed shoppers like yours truly could feel at home.