Valued at about US $ 6,69,875 million in 2019 as per statista.com, the womens’ and girls’ apparel segment is expected to enjoy an annual growth of 4.2 per cent (CAGR 2019-2023), emblematic of the demand it has garnered in the last few years. This demand comes with the need to serve fast changing trends that give the consumers novelty and originality and are yet carefully bound with the two key words that are currently the decision makers of the success of a brand: ‘sustainability’ and ‘ethical fashion’. This thus makes the major fashion stakeholders go for an option that provides a sense of change with the least efforts possible, which is where prints come into the picture.
An explosion of bold aesthetics subtly camouflaged against soft silhouettes and feminine details is the direction that the womenswear industry is steering towards. At the heart of this gradual change, which is slowly translating monochrome minimalism into eclectic exaggeration, are clean, crisp silhouettes that are taken from drab to glam using a plethora of vibrant prints. Midi lengths are indeed performing well, but the pastel lily and muddy peach florals are what transform the micro trend of midi dresses into a vintage fashion movement.
The Indian manufacturing segment is known for surface decoration and value addition, which makes the prints industry a major affinity quotient for several buyers. The manufacturers, empowered with an in-depth knowledge of ongoing trends and the machinery intelligence to achieve those trends, are proactive, as they serve the prints trends rather than awaiting the buyer’s directions. This advancement has led to adoption of many trends on the prints’ front. Spring/Summer 2020 is going to be all about vibrant prints, with many classics being revamped or mixed with each other to create freshness, as fashion today is not just about the straightforward trickledown and bubble-up trends; it has become a well-oiled cycle with each part enhancing, yet challenging the last.
Apparel Resources India talked to several Indian stakeholders, right from the top retailers to thriving manufacturers about their take on the trends that will dictate the womenswear prints market.
The classics revamped
Following the mantra that fashion is cyclic, many prints are making a comeback, while the existing ones are being revamped using different mediums, colours and mix and match of motifs. The biggest trend of the seasons gone by were animal prints. The lowest percentages of full price sellout for the S/S ’19 season made many believe that the trend has reached its saturation point, but the numbers tell a different story.
As per a report by Edited, the print thrived in the first two quarters of 2019, with a 226 per cent increase in women’s tops and dresses Y-o-Y, while also recording that the leopard print and snake print products showed an increase of 345 per cent and 427 per cent, respectively, since 2016. Anbhay Sadh of Nehklank Textiles, corroborates the same, “For Spring/Summer 2020, the trends they captured included a strong inclination towards animal patterns in a big way as big retailers like Zara are doing well with them. We are currently selling big numbers when it comes to cheetah prints and zebra stripes in earthy tones.”
Several other motifs are also being talked about by the stakeholders of the industry. As per Akhil Duggar Jain, the Executive Director of the successful manufacturer Jain Amar Clothing Pvt. Ltd. (JACPL) which boasts of successful retail ventures such as Madame, the next two seasons will be all about reimagined classics. He also adds that the most common motif of womenswear, the florals, will now be micro-sized but will be of dense repeats.
For Fall 2020, Akhil asserts that the florals will take a darker form, called the shadow florals with placement prints, and that the abstract spots and dots along with paisleys will come to the fore.
“Floral prints are performing well, but we try to change their look as freshness is the key, so instead of giving clichéd petals over flowers, we present small geometric shapes in floral hues and add leaves to them. In addition to that, we mix it with embroidery to amp it up.” ANUSHRUTI SANADHYA Director, Creative and Design
Reliance’s e-commerce shopping platform Ajio is becoming the front runner in the womenswear prints space. Ajio’s womenswear design manager, Divya Joshi discusses about what will trickle down from the runways to the shelves stating, “Looking at the runways, PV and other fashion forecasts, polkas in conventional and experimental formats will be big while florals will continue as ditsy and bunched and with an abstract garden aesthetic. There is a lot of nomadic and global fusion prints influence, specially seeing the resort collections of many designers such as Christian Dior. Citrus and large fruit motifs will be the highlight of the summer tropical conversational prints.”
Pros & Pros is a Pune-based fashion consultancy for design and retail, and the two founders, Anand Arora and Poorva Soman, utilise their rich experience in the fashion retail business to bring the manufacturers of India at par with the ongoing trends. With their S/S ’20 display at IIGF 2019, they talk about the revamp of florals and camouflage prints. “Florals are always constant, but to amp them up this season, they will have a painted look, an aesthetic created by a water-colour finish for an abstract overall result,” says Poorva.
The natural touch
Stepping on the pedestal of sustainability, many manufacturers and brands are now returning to natural dyes and hand-printing methods, especially owing to the employment this generates in the different artisan clusters across India. Maati, a sustainable fashion brand by Neha Kabra, uses dyes directly sourced from nature, right from yellows coming from turmeric to black from iron oxide. Many designers such as Neha are going forward and meeting several artisans, to create capsules that spotlight block prints and hand-done fabric manipulation prints.
Keeping up the ’70s nostalgia, tie and dye technique is one of the major trends coming to the fore, lining the runways and retail windows alike. Amrich, the label that champions the traditional dyeing technique of shibori, and its Co-founder, Amit Vijaya, discuss the way this technique is gaining traction.
“Since we as designers get bored of seeing the same textile technique being used in the same format, we try bringing in some novelty and newness to it. We are doing a lot of stitch shibori, and we work on a lot of fabric manipulation in terms of pleating and geometric folding which traditionally we would use for clamp dyeing; nowadays, we also take it into stitching – stitch resist as well as machine stitch resist. This gives a lot of textural value to textiles and you can play with it making it graphic or subtle; it allows us to be more experimental as designers,” Amit tells AR.
“For the coming season, we are seeing that tie and dye will be tweaked to give a cloudy finish, with colours such as pastel peaches and blues, with a range of cloudy patterns, bleaching effects, while on the other hand, nautical will steer away from conventional anchor motifs to move on to ropes and floaties where the ropes and stripes are spliced. Logomania will return in a more discreet form, with overlapping fonts, irregular and distorted type slogans and the classic stripes will take on more colour variations, from pastels to experimental deeper sunset shades with vertical and horizontal ombres.” AKHIL DUGGAR JAIN Executive Director, Jain Amar Clothing Pvt. Ltd. (JACPL)
Print garment manufacturer Shree Dayal Fashions boasts of a plethora of patented prints, which gives it an edge over its competitors. The brand manufactures several items in the same print and creates groups for each print. Its products include tops, dresses, blouses, skirts, trousers, garment sets, kaftans, shorts, shirts, cover-ups and pants. Mukesh Sharma of Shree Dayal Fashions says, “The business also creates prints using the age-old tie and dye method in original and fresh way. For the upcoming season, the company is largely working with Indian prints, as buyers are willing to invest in them and we add new designs every 2-3 months.” To add freshness to the mix, the manufacturers mix tie and dyes over white background prints such as scarf prints, chain prints, folk-inspired prints and it is promising a good demand by the buyers.
Mixed media mania
As prints are used to elevate the overall design language of the garment, several other techniques are being superimposed with prints to make the value addition quotient higher. Anushruti Sanadhya is the Director of Creative and Design for the kidswear segment of the Jaipur based manufacturer, Art & Craft Exclusives, and the company taps its printing as well as embroidery prowess to create fashion forward garments.
The manufacturers are very much in sync with the current trends and showcase their designs in the form of small groups and clusters; if there is a print, they will showcase it in multiple forms such as dresses, separates and small accessories. “If a buyer picks up one of the styles, we immediately show them the others in the same print; this way, they grow an affinity towards multiple styles,” she explains.
“Camouflage utility is a print that has been there since the past seasons, and this season, we will see this trend taking cues from streetwear, combined with athleisure, and the camouflage print will be in colours such as green-beige classic combo, monochromatic blues, reds, pinks and the very popular ones, neon orange and neon green combos. This keeps the overall look very easy and comfortable and will somehow make people relate to the nature more.” POORVA SOMAN Co-founder, Pros & Pros
Many manufacturers are also trying to make prints mainstream over unusual mediums, such as denims, leather, and even PVC. One such market leader is Oswal Denims, the denim champion under the umbrella of Nahar Group of Industries. This year, its main focus was on denim, and it achieved this via its two units in Chandigarh and Bhopal, with a capacity of around 45-50 million pieces per year.
“Having this kind of experience, we excel in not just denims but also printed denims as well as we can do printing over denims in various colours. Shirting is where the printed denim stands out, as we have a range of Tencel shirts with contrasting prints that are very popular with the buyers owing to our ability of doing tone-on-tone colours very well,” says Jayanta Sanyal, the General Manager of the company. “The motifs that we see are in demand over denims are ditsy florals, where you see a minimal floral motif in an all over print format, or sometimes mixed with tropical leaves etc., in contrasting colours, along with classics such as polka dots,” he adds.
Diversification in prints is achievable through a plain change of motif, colours, medium or the dye itself, giving the industry stakeholder a chance to sustain the fabrics, silhouettes and pattern details for longer periods. Prints thus play a major role in directing the womenswear trends. Seeing the way consumers are filling their bags, making prints a part of their identity, a sturdy growth path lies ahead for the prints segment in the coming season.