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Retailers join party as baby fashion grows out of infancy

Traditionally in India, baby garments like rompers, dresses, and inner-wear were purchased from small stores while branded garments were bought by the wealthy.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Oct 09, 2019, 12.30 PM IST
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Reuters
New-born-baby-reuters
Market estimate is that the sale of baby and toddler wear went up from Rs 5,790 cr in 2016 to Rs 8,950 cr in 2019.
Baby fashion category has ballooned to treble its size in the past year as about half a dozen leading retailers and brands launched infant apparel over the past few quarters to cash in the growing shift from unorganised market.

Companies including Flipkart, Puma India, Myntra and Amazon have launched dedicated infant lines for ages up to 2 years as well as new-parent programmes, and on-boarded more baby brands that draw sales primarily from tier-2 and -3 cities.

Traditionally in India, baby garments like rompers, dresses, and inner-wear were purchased from small stores while branded garments were bought by the wealthy. The propensity to buy branded garments with rise of double income households, desire of millennial parents to don brands and wanting their babies to keep up with trends, and social media craze that has new parents making babies look their best for photographs have been instrumental in bolstering the market.

With India being home to an estimated 120 million children in the 0-4 year age group, retailers believe the growth rate of the infant-wear market is now drawing parallels to the one seen in the kidswear market. The huge consumer base is thus making small garments big business for retailers.

“Our infant category saw high traction this year. We registered a threedigit growth for both our infant and toddler segments during H1 as compared to the previous year. We are seeing over 55% of our sales coming from tier-2 and beyond. These markets are expected to drive the future growth for this segment,” said Amar Nagaram, head, Myntra Jabong.

Myntra, which has 40 dedicated brands and 100 national brands that carry infant wear in their assortment, is planning to soon onboard dedicated organic clothing brands and winter collection for babies.

The estimated shelf life of baby wear (0-2 years) is about six months, relatively less than kids segment (3-14 years). Babies grow out of size quickly and that sends parents shopping more frequently, creating a pull factor for ecommerce players.

Walmart-owned Flipkart saw 2X growth in ethnic and festive wear for kids before Durga Puja. The platform, which stocks dedicated brands like US Polo, Gini & Jony, Crocs and private infant label Miss & Chief, launched a parents club programme to scale up the kidswear segment across tiers.

“The baby fashion sales are witnessing 100% year-on-year (YoY) growth. Tier-2 and -3 cities have been major growth drivers with Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh among the top markets,” said Dev Iyer, vice president at Flipkart Fashion.

As per Euromonitor, children’s wear market for ages 0-14 years in India is projected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 17.9% from 2018 to 2023, faster than dominant menswear and womenswear categories’ 14.6% and 12.6%, respectively.

Market estimate is that the sale of baby and toddler wear went up from ?5,790 crore in 2016 to ?8,950 crore in 2019.

Due to the growth potential of this segment, many international brands like Gap, Zara, Carter and Mothercare have entered India in the past few years.

“The baby apparel market is largely unorganised with low brand play and mostly led by seller labels. We continue to see a good overlap of customers from our consumables and baby products business, and hence, to us it continues to be a huge opportunity,” said an Amazon spokesperson.

Puma India launched a baby and toddler line for 0-3 years comprising joggers, infant sets and padded jackets in February through omnichannel format. It plans to open shop-inshops for kids along with infant collection in the next season.

According to Abhishek Ganguly, MD of Puma India, the kidswear category recorded a growth of 18%, with baby and toddler wear registering the strongest growth of 24% in 2018. “We are seeing 30% YoY growth with the sales growth double of men’s and women’s category in tier-1 and -2 cities. Launching infants’ line was key to growing the overall category as the brand expects a 100% YoY growth over the next two-three years,” said Ganguly.

Arvind Fashions, responsible for bringing down dedicated lines such as Baby Gap, The Children’s Place and private label called Donuts Kids Clothing, has seen good sales in gifting. While the retailer admits that a large segment continues to be driven by the unorganised sector in India, it is confident of an upbeat future in the branded space.

“Four years ago, the same was said about kids clothing. Today, branded kids clothes are witnessing growing sales. The next stage will see people willing to pay premium price for baby apparel. Good price position without compromising on quality and increased per capita income among young couples will drive the shift towards branded infant apparel,” said J Suresh, CEO of Arvind Fashions.

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