A minor category in the huge Indian apparel market, loungewear has suddenly gained traction with the evolution of work from home culture to curb spread of COVID-19 pandemic. “Everybody has started looking at it as one of the most promising categories in India,” says Rajkumar Jain, Managing Director, Bonjour at a recent webinar by DFU Publications-DFU LIVE on: ‘New Categories Dikhao, Sales Badhao’ (Emerging New Categories for Apparel Retailers, Post-Covid).
Future demand to focus on comfort rather than style
Sharing similar views Akhil Jain, Executive Director, Madame went on to say, “Things might just normal become after the fourth quarter. Hence, there is no need to re-categorize it as work from home apparel as most women buyers may not sit back at home once the lockdown is lifted. We will be able to estimate actual growth in this category only in the next 6 months.”
Comfort will supersede style feels Kamal Khushlani, Managing Director, Mufti. He believes though there are enough marketers selling loungewear as comfort wear and work from home apparels, designers will now have to think whether to design the upper part of outfit or lower to label it in that category. “Demand for clothes will be more need-based rather than style-based,” he points out. As COVID-19 is like an internal recession, there is bound to be a great number of job losses and it will take some time for consumer confidence to regain and with disposable incomes to spend.
Changing retail scenario
India’s fight to curb the COVID-19 pandemic is also drastically changing the retail environment in the country with offline retailers facing many new challenges felt the experts. Elaborating on this Khushalani said, “Retailers are under tremendous pressure to ensure their customer feel comfortable in stores. They have to ensure that each store is sanitized, well-maintained and infection-free. They also have to ensure the staff is clean and healthy. Retailers who also have online operations have to make their virtual spaces comfortable for consumers and develop e-commerce facilities in the next three years.”