India is one of the largest fashion markets in the world and this is only growing with time. According to a report by India Business of Fashion, the segment is expected to grow at nearly 11 per cent CAGR in 2017-21 period to reach US $ 85 billion by 2021. While the fashion brands and retailers are running the second largest retail industry in the country, they are no more interested in restricting themselves to just clothes and fashion, but are wandering from the wardrobe to the living rooms and all over the home. These brands are now selling a lifestyle that bodes well with their existing apparel collection and is helping them become a one-stop shop for the discerning consumers.
The scenario is not just apparel brands exploring home furnishings and lifestyle segment but the other way round too. A number of brands in the home and lifestyle category too are exploring the apparel segment, Good Earth being one which started operations with crockery and select décor items and later went on to add apparel as well in its product basket.
Raymond, Fabindia, Chumbak, Dandelion, Vajorand many global brands like H&M, Zara, among others are catering to both fashion and home needs of its consumers. While it is evident that apparel and home merchandise have come to complement each other with a number of Indian as well as international brands exploring the two categories at once, what really attracted the apparel brands towards home category and the lifestyle and home furnishings brands towards the apparel segment is really the market potential and growth prospects they exhibit.
A natural progression or a forced push?
Home furnishing market is growing on the account of rising demand for contemporary designs, increasing number of households, growing demand for branded and custom designed furniture and increasing availability of innovative and affordable home furnishing products in the country. Over the last five years, India has emerged as one of the fastest growing markets for home furnishing products in APAC.
As the consumers are warming up to the idea of evolved home spaces and more so, during the current times when they are spending most of their times at their homes, it made sense for apparel brands to explore the segment by launching a collection or a sub-brand offering home merchandise and utilising an existing customer base to sell homeware successfully.
The question still remains if this brand extension is a natural progression or a forced push. Fashion’s move in on home segment is to do with the inspiration culture, growth of lifestyle and culture on social media and with how a house has become an extension of people’s style and personality. In that sense, it was the next logical step for brands in these two segments to explore and leverage the growth potential of both – apparel and home – and offer a one-stop solution to the discerning consumer base.
“We, at Dandelion, are at a different position and being a sleepwear brand, we have already literally made it to your bedroom, we are already part of your most intimate conversation and daily routine and so, it was a natural extension of the brand and we entered into the home segment with our dream essentials to make our living space a safe haven without the distraction of our anxieties during the current times,” avers Samyukta Nair, Founder, Dandelion.
Besides being a rapidly evolving market, home furnishing industry has witnessed a surge in demand during the current times since a lot of people now are spending more time inside their homes.
Linda Lee, Brand Head, Vajor, asserts, “India is a dynamic economy and a rapidly evolving market, where consumer profile and preferences as well as competitive scenarios keep changing. Due to Covid impact, while the businesses remained shut for the lockdown duration, but post unlock, home furnishings segment experienced significant jump as people were spending more time inside their homes. Also, Government’s efforts to strengthen local businesses gave a push to small business. However, staying on top of trends and accurate analysis will be paramount now more than ever to manage uncertainty, changing and continuously adapting to new and evolving market conditions. Vajor has been adorning walls of several homes in India and worldwide since 2016 and has created a niche for itself in the Bohemian and free spirited home style décor. Since the pandemic, the décor segment has seen a substantial upward growth and we have registered an upswing by 40-50 per cent during the lockdown phases.”
Profitable step or not?
Even as the overall apparel industry is still reeling under the impact of Covid with lower sales numbers, wary consumers, risk of infection, these brands are keeping the engines running with their home merchandise and this has proved to be the best time for these apparel brands to be part of the overall home furnishing and décor segment.
Dandelion launched its home collection which includes collection of candles, cushions and throw pillows, bedding and gifts, during the pandemic and has been receiving great response from its consumer base while Vajor has registered an impressive surge in demand for its home products. “We offer wall arts and hangings, floor rugs and runners and kitchen ware. Macramé and jute décor products have been a huge hit during this year, for us. For us, apparel has been our maximum revenue generator, but post the lockdown, the home décor segment has doubled wherein it used to contribute to around 25 per cent of the total business and now it has reached to 50 per cent of the total business generated this year,” informs Linda Lee.
The home range offered by the apparel brands has a set consumer base who are generally in the age group of 25-45 years, majorly residing in Tier-1 city, are independent and free spirited and aware and would like their homes to reflect the same personality. Dandelion has curated its home collection keeping in mind the current situation and to make positivity a tangible part of every day.
The brand is offering collection of 5 intents in 5 jewel colours – Faith, Gratitude, Abundance, Kindness and Balance. The collection draws from an international aesthetic informed by inherently Indian moods and hues. “While it’s fairly new, we have noticed that our candles and dream pillows embroidered with these beautiful words are doing really well and are speaking well to our audience. We are hoping for the range to contribute to at least 7-10 per cent of our business, going forward,” says Samyukta Nair. The average order value at Dandelion is between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 4,000 and for Vajor, it’s between Rs. 1,800 and Rs. 2,000.
Challenges and Road Ahead
While the concept of extending the brand to a flourishing segment and utilising the brand name and the ready customer base to make it successful is definitely enticing, but this sure requires a lot of patience to understand this new category, a lot of new strategies, optimising the supply chain logistics that benefits the bottom line and ensures a positive ROI from the new line, etc. And continuously working towards achieving this is the one and only way forward.
With people getting aware and conscious about their surroundings, more when people are spending a lot more time at their homes, home furnishing and décor segment is gaining unprecedented momentum and apparel brands are eagerly exploring this category with their range of home products. And this has not only been the case in urban set up but consumers have become aspirational in Tier-2 and Tier-3 regions as well and the demand for these merchandise has been coming from the small towns too.
True, there are pure play brands in the home segment and there has been competition but for apparel brands extending into the category, it’s about offering the consumers an extension of their personality through décor and lifestyle items.
Talking about the challenges, Samyukta Nair says, “Having a unique concept and design language and storytelling, we do not see much competition against other players in the segment. There is of course the unorganised sector and there are people copying designs, etc., but on a larger scale, quality and consistency triumphs everything. India is welcoming some of the great international brands in the category like IKEA, Muji, etc. and these are offering extremely unique designs at a competitive price point which has really expanded the overall segment and consumers are now becoming more open to greater designs and good quality when shopping for furnishing and décor products.”
The times are changing and starting this year, if not earlier, more people are getting into lifestyle and experiences and today, home décor has really become a way for people to express themselves and home owners have become extremely conscious for stylish interiors and beautiful indoors. Furthermore, the growth of the segment is not limited to just new houses but has even crept into the psyche of those who are looking to redo their home or office space; the potential is immense now that we are in the age and time where experience is paramount.