A Wardrobe For Working Women

Updated: Oct 20 2002, 05:30am hrs
For once, it seems like its a womans world. Saluting the spirit of womanhood, more and more companies are coming out with clothes for women, ranging from semi-formals to formals.

New range W. might be the answer for those Indian women who are not comfortable wearing western outfits to office, but would still like to wear branded outfits. W. is Indias first pret volume range and was unveiled recently in Delhi. The retail store of the same name is not utterly coincidentally in Delhis Lajpat Nagar, where middle class women often go in search of fabrics, dyers and tailors. Accordingly, no W. kurta is priced at more than Rs 499.

Says Vijay K Mishra, chief executive officer of TCNS, the export house that has launched the label, We realised the potential of this wear and the launch was preceded with a year of research on customer preferences, market size and product testing. The W. line is currently available only in Delhi, but will hit 38 stores across eight Indian metros within the next three years.

The W. outlet stocks salwar kameezes primarily, and it plans to add accessories like costume jewellery, footwear and bags soon. The garments are simple and dont boast of very fine fabrics or designs. The USP is the tailoring. The tops or kurtas come in understated, stylish cuts and bold, geometric patterns. Each kurta comes in variable lengths and fittings and has a dupatta and salwar or slim pants to match it. The slim pants, salwars or churidars come in an elastic fit and hence are very light to wear.

A western approach has been given to an essentially Indian garment, claims Mr Mishra. The range has been conceived with the assistance of Jane Nerves, a US based designer, who spent six months here to structure the range. And the clothes are completely bereft of any beads, baubles or frills. While all this makes the clothes extremely practical, they may not attract that segment of the market that still prefers that extra flourish on their clothes.

So far, Indian wear has eluded brands due to lack of standardisation, observes Mr Mishra. This, coupled with the presence of garage boutiques and the much talked about diverse regional preferences, has been enough to deter the large organised players.

Allen Solly, which revolutionised casual formal wear for men with its Friday Dressing concept, has recently introduced its international range for women, called Allen Solly Womenswear. The collection bridges the gap for Indian women looking for fashionable, readymade, quality apparel, which offers comfort as well as a cosmopolitan identity, says Vikram Rao, group executive president, Fabric and Apparel, Allen Solly.

We were inundated with requests for the Womenswear range from our channel partners. We saw women buy Allen Solly trousers for themselves. This set us thinking on this new category of clothing for women in India. Unfortunately, there was no authentic data on the market structure. Woven tops, trousers and knitted tops emerged as the key product categories, especially among working women of all ages, explains Mr Rao.

The new range is targeted at self-assured working women in the group earning more than Rs 8,000 per month, looking for alternative clothes. This is because the growing number of women in the Indian workforce is a segment we do not want to overlook. Also, our surveys and statistics on Indian work culture and social ergonomics are factors that have helped us in finalising our designs for the growing female workforce, he adds.

Allen Solly Womenswear offers three essential advantages to the customer: high quality fabric, a variety of colours and designs and unbeatable prices. It incorporates a complete wardrobe of woven and knitted tops and trousers. The fabrics used are cotton and cotton blends and new age performance fabrics like tencel, polynosics, lycra, rayon blends and soft acrylic.

The Allen Solly Womenswear collection has its focus on autumn and winter wear. It will also offer semiformal and casual jackets, made from premium quality fabrics such as polyester, micro and fleece. Tops at Allen Solly are priced between Rs 499 and Rs 999, jackets between Rs 899 and Rs 1,599.

Reebok is also looking at women. It has launched an exciting collection of fitness apparel and footwear exclusively for them. The collection is being launched under a five bright apparel line, each different in its functionality, style, colour and fabric. The lines are the Instructor Line, Fitness Line, Sports Line, Balance Collection and the Diamond Collection. The items include tees, pants, half pants, yoga suits and bicycling shorts. Prices range from Rs 299 to Rs 1,299, and the fabrics are cotton lycra, polyester cotton and polyester feather touch.

In the footwear segment, Reebok has launched attractive models designed for various aspects of womens personal fitness such as running, aerobics and cross-training.