BENGALURU: The changing shape of the Indian male is prompting a change in his wardrobe too. Slim-fit shirts and trousers have replaced regular fits at the workplace as the younger generation gets more fitness conscious and dons clothes that flatter their gym-toned bods.
Slim-fit apparel for men now makes up about 80% of sales at Lifestyle International, the departmental store chain, compared to a decade ago when it was just 15%. Managing director Kabir Lumba calls this growing demand as "the new normal" among brands that have a healthy mix of young customers. "Regular fit is now the irregular one and companies are offering it as an exception," he says. However, regular/relaxed fits still sell well in conservative markets such as Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.
The change, say industry executives, is driven by millennials who perceive regular fits as "baggy". In fact, the slim silhouette now extends to suits with Daniel "Bond" Craig setting the trend in "Skyfall" in his seductively tight suit. Nagesh C, senior vice president of design and visual merchandising at Pantaloons, says Italian fashion inspired the snug shift. "I remember when I had first introduced slim fit in Van Heusen a decade ago, it was just a fad. And most Indian men were uncomfortable adapting to it because of tummy fat," says Nagesh.
But now, says J Suresh, managing director and CEO of Arvind Lifestyle Brands, the demand cuts across age groups as everyone wants to look younger and trimmer. The company has seen a 30% growth in slim fits sales annually, while the growth of regulars has dipped to 5-10% from 10-15% six years ago.
A quick look at Lifestyle's portal showed there were 98 regular shirts compared to 180 slim; 39 regular trousers compared to 61 slim.
'Regular fit is mostly for those above 40'
A store manager of Pantaloons in Bengaluru says on an average about 15 people look for slim shirts compared to just five for regular. "It (regular) is mostly for people above 40 whose torso is not cut out," he said. An Allen Solly store on MG Road reports that out of every 10 shirts sold daily, 6-7 are slim fits.
Lifestyle's Lumba doesn't see the trend changing for the next two-three years. Beyond that, he adds, is hard to predict, as fashion is fickle.