Jean-ius move

Jean-ius move

In the midst of ongoing global uncertainty and the era of fast fashion, Divya Shetty explores how denim companies are harnessing new technologies and trends to stay ahead in the market.

Popularly known as jeans, denims has established itself as a staple textile in the international fashion industry. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the denim sector has positioned itself as one of the most rapidly recovering segments. Projections suggest that the denim market could reach a value of $ 70 billion by 2030. Denim has transformed the fashion landscape, celebrated for its adaptability, comfort, and durability, making it a favoured option among global consumers.  

Today’s consumer, in order to be more relevant in social media, is buying more clothes which is leading to fast fashion. “The constant need for self-presentation is fuelling the demand for frequent clothing changes, driving the popularity of fast fashion. This trend has led to the emergence of numerous retailers in India, such as Reliance, Zudio, Shopper Stop, D Mart, as well as Zara,” says Aamir Akhtar, Group President & CEO Textiles, Jindal Wordwide. In order to seize this burgeoning opportunity, denim manufacturers are continuously innovating their denim offerings to remain competitive in this market. “At Jindal, we’ve introduced a new line of digitally printed products to swiftly produce diverse designs in small quantities, aligning with the fast fashion paradigm,” adds Akhtar.

In vogue

Denim manufacturers are constantly making innovative strides by closely observing consumer preferences. These trends encompass:

Knitted denims: The popularity of knitted denim is rapidly growing within the fashion industry, marking a transformative evolution that blends the timeless charm of denim with the advancements in knitting technology. “Unlike traditional woven denim, knitted denim offers unparalleled stretch, which enhances wearer comfort without compromising the iconic denim look. This fabric type is particularly noteworthy for its production efficiency; it consumes less energy and generates less waste compared to traditional methods, aligning with increasing environmental consciousness.,” informs Akhil Jain, Executive Director, Madame. Knitted denim meets the demands of modern lifestyles, offering versatility suitable for a range of occasions, from casual attire to more formal denim styles.

Knitted woven denim, has gained prominence in the market over the past 7-8 years. These kinds of denim denim present a knit appearance but are not strictly a knitted fabric. “Exemplified by its precision, innovation, and quality (PIQ) attributes, involves a more intricate weaving process resulting in a distinctive fabric with a unique aesthetic compared to conventional denim. This type of denim has garnered significant favour within the Indian market, with domestic players and national brands alike embracing it. Presently, our product holds a prominent position in this segment, reflecting the preferences of customers and solidifying our leading status within the denim market,” explains Suketu Shah, CEO, LNJ Denim.

Sustainable denims: As the market undergoes evolution, there’s a corresponding shift in consumer mindset. Both consumers and brands worldwide are increasingly demanding environmentally friendly products. Even the denim dyeing companies are strictly adhering to the policies. “The denim industry is shifting towards sustainable dyeing methods to reduce its environmental impact, including the use of credle to credle certified dyes , natural dyes, eco-friendly dyeing processes, and water-saving technologies. Denim Fabric dyeing DyStar launched a new pre-treatment to finishing range of dyes and aux  called as Lava dye OZN dyes and package- this is the most preferable solution in denim industry to achieve advanced used look or faded look or dischargeable look. Starting from fabric dyeing till garment washing,” shares Dr Sanjay Katode, Assistant Manager-Business Development, Laundry and Auxiliaries.

Our company is introducing innovative collection to meet the evolving demands of consumers in the denim market, focusing on sustainability. This new collection includes the use of tear-resistant paper and organic dyes, which demonstrate our commitment to reducing environmental impact. This approach differentiates our offerings from traditional denim products and aligns with the growing consumer interest in eco-friendly and ethically produced apparel,” elucidates Jain.

Coloured fabric: With consumer preferences changing every 3-5 years, the trend of coloured denims is back in fashion. “Consumers are showing a preference for a wider range of colours beyond traditional blues, such as khakis, different hues of blue, black, beige, and olive green. This shift has led to non-denim products transitioning into denim variants to meet consumer demand,” informs Shah. Furthermore, the era where skinny jeans were the top choice for buyers is a thing of the past. Nowadays, there’s a surge in demand for puddle jeans (trousers with hems deliberately left extra-long to create a pooling effect on the floor), leading to an increased need for denim fabrics from manufacturers.

Light-weight denims: Widespread humidity around the world has resulted in an increased demand for lightweight jeans.Lightweight jeans offer a host of benefits that make them a popular choice among consumers. Firstly, they provide enhanced comfort due to their softer and more flexible nature, making them ideal for all-day wear and warmer climates. Their breathability ensures better airflow, keeping the wearer cool and comfortable even during physical activity. Additionally, their lighter weight allows for greater ease of movement, catering to activities that require flexibility. These jeans are also highly versatile, easily transitioning from casual to more formal settings with the right styling. Hence, multinational brands are now focusing on producing jeans that are lightweight and stretchable.

Challenges ahead

The denim industry is facing a myriad of challenges in the current global landscape. One pressing issue is the soaring logistics costs, exacerbated by on-going conflicts such as the Russia-Ukraine war and the Red Sea crisis. These geopolitical tensions disrupt supply chains, leading to increased transportation expenses and supply chain bottlenecks. The ripple effects are felt throughout the denim industry, impacting production timelines and profitability. “Due to these uncertainties, shipping lanes struggle to adhere to schedules, leading to extended lead times. While there’s a push for fast fashion on one front, external factors are causing delays which are beyond the control of garment manufacturers,” opines Akhtar. Shah also adds, The wars has resulted in significant increases in costs, such as container fees rising by $ 5,000 per container, placing a considerable burden on suppliers.”

Moreover, there is a concerning trend of sluggish demand for denim products in the Indian market, despite India’s status as one of the world’s most populous countries. Despite its large population, India accounts for just 5 per cent of the global denim market, indicating a notable disparity between its potential and actual consumption. Challenges arise for denim manufacturers as Indian consumers opt for regional attires like dhoti, salwar suits, and sarees, diverting attention away from denim and hindering growth prospects in the market.

Furthermore, the industry grapples with overcapacity issues worsened by global crises. With international markets facing disruptions and uncertainties, denim companies are increasingly diverting their excess inventory to domestic markets. This dumping of surplus stocks meant for international distribution saturates domestic markets, leading to intensified competition and pricing pressures. The overcapacity problem further strains manufacturers’ profitability and creates an imbalance in supply and demand dynamics.

What’s the next move?

In addition to the challenges mentioned above, denim and garment manufacturers find hope amidst adversity, as they continue to innovate at a rapid pace. With new advancements emerging regularly, manufacturers remain steadfast in their commitment to addressing customer needs. Specifically, garment manufacturers are placing a heightened emphasis on customisation as a means to foster customer loyalty and engagement. With the advent of AI, the brands have also personalised the shopping experiences of the buyers. The big companies are also leveraging the blockchain technology to enhance transparency in their supply chain, allowing consumers to trace the journey of their garments from cotton field to closet.

The manufacturers on the other hand, are using novel technologies like, “The use of laser technology to create finishes and designs on denim, for instance, has drastically reduced the need for water and chemicals that are traditionally used in denim processing. At Madame, we are investing in these technologies to ensure our denim not only meets fashion standards but environmental too. This approach not only places us at the cutting edge of denim trends but also fosters a deeper connection with our consumers, who appreciate the ability to express their unique style,” shares Jain.

These innovations are making the Indian market immune to global adversity. Despite a long lean spell, the textile industry is starting to see signs of revival with demand in key markets increasing. According to the Apparel Exports Promotion Council, the past two months have seen a recovery, and the apparel industry expects to reach $20 billion in exports in FY25 (from $14.5 billion in FY24). Reasons for this bullishness are the anticipated Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to be signed by India with the EU and the UK.

The remarkable upswing in figures has ignited excitement within the industry, leaving everyone eagerly anticipating the next move from denim and garment manufacturers as they strive to outmaneuver each other in the exhilarating quest for denim dominance.

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