The webinar #3 organized by DFU Publications-DFU LIVE on May 30 on the theme: ‘New Categories Dikhao, Sales Badhao’ (Emerging New Categories for Apparel Retailers, Post-Covid), saw experts stressing on the significant growth in loungewear during and post lockdown. The speakers also highlighted how masks and antivirus products could be a part of apparel retailers’ portfolio post-lockdown.
Athleisure market sees a spurt
“Loungewear, pajamas and athleisure products which had a small and insignificant presence in our product portfolio saw demand jump from 2 to 33 per cent in the last three weeks, wherever we started store operations,” said Akhil Jain, ED, Madame, “Be it online or offline stores that opened or MBOs and distributor trade channels, everybody is demanding these products. The share of nightwear sales was almost 50 per cent during the lockdown.” Perceiving good demand, Madame has decided to increase production volumes of these items for Q2 and Q3. As Jain says, “The category was small for brands like us but it has a big market for all players including small and unorganized players and could be a long term game.”
Referring to loungewear Kamal Khushlani, Founder and MD, Mufti, a men’s jeans and casual wear brand observed, “It has never been a category for us, though we have athleisure in our product basket. Athleisure is a big category with 60 per cent share in consumers’ wardrobe internationally, it has also been growing in India albeit a little slowly. Now, due to the lockdown and people being stuck at home and working from home, the need for comfort clothing will definitely win over style.”
He feels, COVID-19 has set a kind of insecurity about finances in consumer’s mind therefore splurging on fashion is going to be less. “It is difficult to predict long term trend. While on one hand casual clothing may be affected but on the other consumer’s who had only formalwear in their wardrobes are going to add atheisure and casualwear, hence an opportunity there.”
Raj Kumar Jain, MD, Bonjour and Vami went on to explain, “Loungewear has generally been a small but growing category. Due to the lockdown and work from home culture, the category has seen good demand and has started growing as stores are opening.”
Elaborating further on the subject Sanjay Chawla, Moderator and Editor in Chief DFU Publications observed, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a special nomenclature for the growing new portfolio of products like loungwear, pajamas, nighwear, sleepwear and activewear as: ‘Homewear or Relaxwear’?” The panel agreed broadly but felt before creating a marketing effort on this, they needed to be sure about its longevity and consistent growth.
Masks add value to retailers product offering
Speaking on the subject ‘Is Mask the new Fashion Accessory’, Bobby Arora, Director Status Quo explained instead of treating masks as a fashion accessory, it should be seen as a necessity as it is mandatory to wear a mask before moving out, “Hence, consumers will have to have six to eight masks in their wardrobe. Though it is not really comfortable to wear a mask, but we all will have to be accustomed to wearing them,” he opined. Talking about cloth and fashion masks, he said, “The N95 and surgical masks are single use masks, although meant for a purposeful consumption but are not cost effective, whereas our masks are reusable and washable. They are not only cost effective but also contribute towards a social cause as we need to secure surgical masks for critical use, considering the undersupply.”
Speaking further on the business of masks Arora emphasized, “Though it wouldn’t be right to attach any number to the business, fashion masks will add to a retailers’ revenue. These may not contribute significantly but if retailers reach out to customers with product offerings that is more of a need, it helps not only in getting the customer to the shop but also increase walk-ins and the opportunity to sell other articles.”
Jain felt retailers could even stock some PPE kits for special purpose usage like taking a flight etc. However, for hygiene products, he believed it is better to limit it to super stores or medical stores as these are like any other FMCG product.
One of the panelists, a distributor from Ludhiana, Rocky Sharma, also expressed his concern about disposable goods like masks and PPE coveralls, since these could cause great damage to the environment and the need for timely measure by authorities to tackle them.
The experts also answered numerous questions put up by participants. The webinar got a huge response with over 1,500 attendees through Zoom and Facebook live and live streaming on: DFUpublications.com/live