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Workwear segment poised for huge growth, say experts

Shweta Jain, Indiaretailing.com

Mumbai, March 14, 2012

The session on “Workwear Market Scenario in India” on the second day of the ongoing InFashion 2012 at Mumbai focussed on the consumption potential of the workwear segment and highlighted how the general attitude towards “uniformed people” has to change for the category to evolve. The panelists said that though the consumption of workwear in the country is low, it has a lot of potential to multiply.

A six-member panel discussion moderated by Devangshu Dutta, Chief Executive, Third Eyesight, revealed the necessity to follow three main actions – identification, branding and uniformity – to enhance and grow the segment. Sharing their thoughts were prominent personalities from the fashion retail industry, such as Sunil Tibrewal, COO, Uniform QMAX; Vikas Todi, Director, SPARSH Textiles; Mukesh Vijaywargi, President, Klopman; Anupam Bansal, MD, Liberty; Sejal Shah, M10Uniforms, and; Kishore Kothari, Director, Ranjit Silk Mill.

India in increasingly becoming a significant player in the world economy and is witnessing a rise in employment figures in the organized sector. In this backdrop, the future of the workwear segment in the country is certainly bright. A major growth factor for the industry is businesses that have begun to focus on branding, such as schools, hospital, and hotels. As these continue to grow and open multiple branches across the country, they create demand for uniforms, boosting the prospects for the workwear segment.

“Comfort is a primary factor for all workwear, so colours, fabrics and functionality play a pivotal role in the equation and have to be designed according to the requirements of the job,” said Tibrewal of Uniform QMAX.

Todi of Sparsh Textiles said people are increasingly ready to spend on uniforms because the mental attitudes and financial issues that prevented the growth of the sector earlier are improving. The panelists were of the view that education, awareness and cultural change are some of the important aspects that have to be promoted among the consumers to create a positive outlook towards workwear. In the current market scenario, uniforms are considered as something forced upon people, rather than accepted by them on their own, they felt.

To give a boost to the workwear segment, the speakers stressed on promoting the concept of uniforms in tier II and III towns of India which are the hubs of many industries. The need of the hour is to create awareness where there is a potential market, but there is also the concern about duplication in design that needs to be address, they said.

Throwing light on another aspect of the segment, Bansal from Liberty said that their company makes three kinds of shoes under the workwear category: safety shoes such as weight-bearing ones and non-piercing gum boots which are need-driven but their awareness is low; uniform shoes which are for corporate use, and; school shoes which are gradually becoming fashionable and trendy.

The industry experts believed that workwear could be more technology driven, offering innovations such as stain-free, anti-creasing, and fire-resistant products to make them more functional. Also, promotional events are a huge opportunity to players in this category. In events such as the Indian Premier League, a huge amount of knitted fabrics was consumed to manufacture the tees and jerseys of cricket players, they pointed out.

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