Homeware category globally is growing at a phenomenal rate with overall consumption witnessing a double digit growth on the back of factors like consumers vying for the entire lifestyle, the growth of interiors and lifestyle culture on social media, a customer base with enough disposable income and the edge of trend-focused ranges, among other things. And fashion retailers were fast enough to catch this growing trend and dived into the category in order to grab a piece of this potential market. This was the most logical step on their way to become a one-stop shop for the consumers looking for an entire lifestyle and not just a dress.
Furthermore, with revenues in the furniture and homeware segment amounting to US $ 1,97,629 million in the last fiscal, according to Statista, the annual growth rate for the market is expected to reach 10 per cent for the period of 2019 to 2023, resulting in a market volume of US $ 2,89,338 million by 2023. Brands at both the national and international level have been vying to engage in this playfield, a news that is worrying for the mass department stores which were once the only haven for all things decor. The demand for homes to be as stylish as their residents have pushed designers and brands to up their game and the idea that every brand is a lifestyle package, has given rise to new opportunities, blurring the lines between fashion apparel and interiors even further.
Homeware and furniture can’t be deemed as a novel facet to venture into now since the likes of Zara had already launched Zara Home in 2003 and H&M gained a foothold in the market with H&M Home in 2009. Therefore, this prospective domain has been attracting eyeballs since the past few decades.
The influence of fashion brands entering the industry
When it comes to the international market, luxury segment is having its moment. The luxury brands are not only pandering to their customer base but have expanded to the masses too, like the Virgil Abloh-designed collection at Ikea. Apart from this, the advent of these new collaborations is brought on by social media. Visual social media sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr continually feature ‘homeinspo’ and decor pages to inspire a younger market to personalise their spaces. The social media coverage on homewares has encouraged consumers to refresh their home décor with every new space they move into or even revamp their current home with each season.
Zara Home is an epitome of a brand capitalising this market to the fullest, with its homepage giving the browser a tour around a home decorated with its latest collections. Zara Home also uses Instagram and Pinterest successfully with the latter having dedicated boards for each collection linking products directly on its website. Meanwhile, department stores like House of Fraser and Debenhams are losing out on market share by doing little in comparison to emphasise on new collections missing potential for recurring spend each season.
Primark is using social media in a unique way by partnering with popular YouTuber and lifestyle blogger Gabriella Lindley to reach younger audience and help instill the idea of periodically recreating their bedroom looks — an idea that has successfully helped drive up sales. Department stores may employ the likes of Kylie Minogue and Holly Willoughby in their campaigns but the reach, genuity and direct loyalty of a Youtuber remains unmatched.
From models traversing down the ramp modelling blankets, plates and cushions for MatchesFashion.com to airline Finnair collaborating with designer Marimekko to leverage the airline’s Scandinavian identity in Asia with special tableware, blankets, pillows, headrest covers and paper products, brands have found innovative ways to keep the audience on edge. While some might be venturing into completely different fields, luxury designers feel like they are expanding their plethora of services to their customers.
A fashion house that recognised the potential of homeware was Italian luxury brand Fendi, which forayed into this segment launching the Fendi Casa Home Collection back in 1989. Now an acclaimed favourite of the elite worldwide, the brand aims to ‘dress up’ the house as elegantly in furs and leathers as it dresses up its clients. The brand is involved in creating beautiful interior spaces.
Hermès is one of the oldest names in the world of luxury. The launch of its La Maison collection at Milan showcased the works of Enzo Mari, Antonio Citterio and RDAI Studio, a complete homeware collection including textiles, wallpapers, ceramics and furniture. Enzo Mari designed a desk, a chair and a small storage coffer, combining high quality materials such as Canaletto walnut and Hermès’ signature leather.
Designers with their creative airs have the passion to be the best interior decorators. Donna Karan is one such designer. Her love of interior design and architecture has helped her launch Donna Karan Home which features distinctive bedding and bath collections, along with the more recent PureDKNY- an eco-friendly home collection made from 100 per cent organic cotton. This arm of Donna Karan’s business has also collaborated with Lenox – a US market leader in quality table top, giftware and collectibles – to produce a collection of home décor and tablewares. Another designer pursuing this passion is Ralph Lauren. Being the first American brand to launch homeware, Ralph Lauren Home now manufactures and retails furniture, lighting, fabric, wall covering, floor covering, bedding, tableware and even paints.
The latest fashion label to step up to the plate and release its own decor line is Italian luxury brand, Gucci. The brand offerings of furniture and decorative homeware is designed by creative director Alessandro Michele and features the label’s distinctive motifs, patterns and codes.
Percolating down to the Indian market
The precedence that lies in fashion brands designing your homes is that they have a deep sense of the aesthetic that their customers prefer. Indian homeware and furnishings market has an annual growth rate that is higher than that at a global level with a CAGR of 16.2 per cent from 2019-2023, resulting in a market volume of US $ 3,724 million by 2023. This presents a unique opportunity for fashion brands to find a niche in a sphere that is growing at a phenomenal rate.
If the surfeit of foreign brands and designers, monetising off this segment wasn’t enough to convince Indian retailers to come onboard the wagon, there are a few examples right here in India.
Raymond, which is known as a front runner in the textile and apparel industry, is not far behind with its brand Raymond Home retailing home textiles in over 2,000 MBOs across the country.
Ace Indian designer Sabyasachi has been drawn to collaborate with Pottery Barn for his ability to transform ancient textiles into modern silhouettes, using indigenous techniques like hand dyeing, embroidery and blocking print. From tableware, textiles to homeware, many of the fabric and plate patterns were meticulously produced by hand by Indian artists exclusively to create a vintage-inspired collection for a global audience.
Ritu Kumar is the latest entry into this segment with her collection of homeware and textile created out of indigenous fabrics, paying homage to the country’s heritage.
The entry of designers and brands at all levels ranging from mass to the elite has predominantly gained success by evolving with their customers’ needs.
Department stores are more at risk from fashion retailers entering homewares, as although their core customers tend to be older, there is some cross over with those in their late 20s or early 30s likely to shop at both. Stores like Debenhams in particular – which are investing in fashionable homewares – need to try and boost the trendy appeal of their brands by tapping the current wave of social media optimally. Pinterest, in particular, should be the prime focus due to it being adopted by many middle-aged female users (its core target market) that often use the site specifically for home inspiration. Besides, the focus should be on creating aspirational looks for home decor, similar to how influencers drive up sales for fashion brands, and link products to buy through social media.
Changing demographics, trend-focused ranges and growth of culture and lifestyle inspiration on social media provide an opportunity to the local retailers to catch up or become obsolete in a day, specially in today’s time when trends for homeware are moving as fast as the fashion world.