Retailing in India: The Big Fashion Indian Wedding

The evolved, modern Indian bride and groom, well-informed of global fashion trends, are driving the experience economy of the wedding fashion market
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Posted April 5, 2019

Traditional Indian weddings are known for their grandeur, scale of celebration, splendor of festive attire, show of wealth – and the huge guest list. According to a KPMG report, the marriage services industry in India is estimated to be worth approximately $53.77 billion USD, cutting across categories like beauty, fashion, gifting, jewelry, travel and hospitality.

Indian wedding planning experts peg the average cost of a wedding at $65,000 USD with 500 guests and at least four planned events. As reported in Business of Fashion, an average Indian spends a staggering one-fifth of the wealth accumulated in a lifetime on a son or daughter’s wedding, second only to the investment made in the family home! A good 60 percent of this in spent on gold, which contributes to the more than 400 tons of gold consumed annually in India, worth about $25 billion!

According to the BBC News, there are more than 10 million weddings in India every year, out of which about 2000 are high-end, multi-day extravaganzas attended by celebrities and thousands of invited guests. One can imagine the need for wedding clothing for the family and guests during the wedding season, which peaks from late October to early December every year.

Designers, fashion brands and retailers have traditionally benefitted from this in the made-to-measure, customized and ready-to-wear segments with a large portion of revenues coming from wedding shoppers. This segment is largely dominated by regional players that have a rich heritage of crafting exquisite wedding garments and shopping experiences for the wedding parties.

The leaders of the pack are those that have periodically invested in design in order to stay relevant. Let’s look at inspiring examples of retailers that have retained their position as preferred destinations for wedding shopping in India by offering beautifully crafted merchandise and high-quality personalized service in inspiring, regal environments.  

SRI SAI KANCHI

Sri Sai Kanchi, a traditional regional retailer, boasts decades of mastery in traditionally woven sarees inspired by south Indian culture, rooted in regional temple art and architecture. Recently, the retailer unveiled a wedding specialty store that offers crafted occasion wear sarees. A material palette of stone, tile inlays, carved wood, brass and woven fabrics complement the store interior, inspired by the silhouettes of temple architecture. “Wireframe sculptures” from reinforced concrete steel bars that envelop stone to columns that complement traditional sadarali temple flooring, temple bell-styled lighting and traditional wood-carved fixtures, add an artsy, cultural twist to the brand’s narrative.  

 

KOSKII

Koskii meaning “girl” in the Nawayati language of coastal Karnataka, is a label that traces its roots back 100 years. Today, the brand is managed by its fourth generation and offers bespoke bridal and occasion wear, such as lehengas, traditional salwars, sarees and elegant gowns. Recently it launched Koskii Tower, its flagship store spread across 10,000 square feet, featuring the brand story crafted in the most evocative symbol of royalty – the Haveli – in an architectural interpretation befitting the contemporary woman. Every element of the store is crafted to “love the lehenghas” in spatial cues, from the grand façade leading into the ornate and opulent interiors.

 

NEERU’S EMPORIO

After enjoying more than three decades of dominance in ethnic Indian fashion, Neeru’s is a chain of 52 stores across India. Recently, the brand launched a flagship wedding destination store in Hyderabad spread over 25,000 square feet. The specialty store offers an experience inspired from the princely and vintage heritage of the brand, with design cues reminiscent of Hyderabad's Falaknuma Palace as well as 20th century western university architecture. The palatial interiors are created from a palette of plush marble, gold foiling, lacquered surfaces and Victorian prints that act as an inspiring backdrop for the ensembles of wedding finery presented in the store and on the royal wedding procession mannequin cluster. 

Today, India has thousands of tailors, hundreds of bridal-wear designers and a few globally acclaimed couture designer labels that make bridal fashion accessible to every discerning wedding shopper in the country. There is steep growth in the number of evolved modern Indian brides and grooms, who are well informed on global fashion trends and make customized fashion choices for their own weddings. As long as this phenomenon is on the rise, consumers will see more competition in this segment, which will drive the bar of wedding shopping experience up in Indian retail environments.

Surender has more than two decades of experience in the Indian retail industry in retail strategy, store design, planning and development, retail marketing, visual merchandising, writing and academia. He’s held senior positions at leading retailers like Shoppers Stop, Reliance Retail, Mahindra Retail and as a senior retail consultant working with leading retailers and brands in India. Reach him at surenderg.retail@gmail.com.