- Dresses have been the biggest gainer from India in 2008
- In the EU alone, dresses saw a 17.71% increase in the first quarter
- During the period Jan-May ’08, the increase in ladies dresses have been 2.44% in the recession-ridden US, which speaks of the strength of India in this category
- Price flexibility that allows FOBs from $ 2 onwards for a dress has attracted buyers to India
Undoubtedly, ladies dresses have been the biggest pull at the recently concluded IIGF with almost every exporter showcasing a wide range of dress options for buyers at different price points. In fact, the variety available with exhibitors was indeed interesting and the fashion shows also focussed mostly on dresses. Cotton, chiffon, voile, viscose and blends thereof were the most popular fabrics in demand. The silhouettes were varying to suit different body structures and fashion trends. Among the hottest trends were the monochromatic look; Dobby is smoked till the gathered waistline with insert laces at bottom which speaks much of the trends for S/S ’09.
Waistline emphasis followed by the missing bodyline is one of the prominent features for this season. Tie-n-Dye is important in all aspects as was seen in many collections. Dip-Dye, Garment-Dye and Over-Dye were other added techniques to highlight the colours apart from the Tie-n-Dye technique. Black on White is back and was seen in abundance in many collections. Tunic top-dresses were also trendy silhouettes for Spring ’09. Multi-layering frills, bellowing dresses, camisole-dress enhanced with laces and satin trims, gathering and tonal highlights were also important trends seen.
Interesting for the buyer was the choice available at different price points. At Poshaak Niryat, the average price for a cotton dress with discharge print is around $ 6.5. “We have a range from $ 3.75 to $ 15 depending on the work done on the garment,” says Pushkar Raj, Poshaak Niryat, Jaipur. By changing the thread counts on the fabric or repositioning the print, the cost can be worked out to the suitability of the buyer. Combination of fabrics and technique application can give fresh appeal to any concept while also improvising on the price.
Working mostly with the European industry, Shikhar Exports has in its range beachwear and dresses in chiffon and cotton with most of the offerings priced between Euro 3-6 and more than the fabric it is the embellishment on the garment, which fetches a price in this exotic collection. “Everything counts from what is being used as embellishments to how much value addition is in use. Depending on the price point that the buyer is looking at, we can give options. Price is also dependent on the quantities that a buyer is looking at,” says Rajeev Sadh, who is comfortable working with volumes in the range of 2000-3000 per style.
Most of the exporters are working in a defined price band, which conveys to the buyer the quality, creativity and market segment the exporter is targeting. In the upper range a dress would be priced between Euro 6-25. A silk printed dress at GAD Fashions priced at Euro 16 is among the average range that buyers are looking at in silk. Another dress with heavy embellishments again in silk is priced at Euro 30. With such a wide range to choose from buyers are able to find a product, which matches their purchasing power while keeping in mind the preferences of their client base.
Another exporter who is working for the hi-end market, Bharat Exports, has in his range evening dresses above $ 25. A black embellished dress in silver work priced at FOB $ 28 caught many buyers attention at the Fair. But then there were many takers for more economically priced dresses like the $ 10 printed knit dress at Daksh International or the simple cotton dress at Amrita Fashions for $ 5.
For those working for retail chains it is easier to get a price for the value that is incorporated in the garment. However, wholesalers and importers negotiate hard on prices as they have to further cost the garment to their buyers. This is perhaps the reason that many of the small and medium exporters prefer working with the stores directly. “Most of the buyers look for unique work but do not want to pay the price which is a real challenge for us,” says Shailaja Ahuja, Jawahar Exports. The price ranges for dresses available with them vary from $ 9 to $ 18 as they are having innovative application of design in surface textures and embroidery in handwork which cannot be compromised with.
It is very difficult to determine price of handwork as lot of aspects are involved in it. Interestingly, prices depend a lot on the time a particular type of work requires. Tie & Dye depends on two things, firstly, number of colours used and the intricacy of the design. However, on an average it costs Rs 15 to Rs 50 to get that done. For simple and ombre tie & dye labour, cost vary from Rs 30 to Rs 150. The price for getting patchwork done depends on the size of the patch and on an average Rs 25 per metre is charged. For instance a product with Bandhej and ombre work would require around Rs 125. In such a case it is difficult to cost a final product.
No doubt handwork always cost more and exporters like Tushar Handworks who are creating new collections every season based on hand techniques are very clear on their costing strategy “We cannot rework on our costing because a major portion of the work is outsourced and nothing can be done on that front,” says Tushar. A dress with patchwork and crochet work is priced at $ 11.90 and Tushar is confident that the pricing justifies the work on the garment.