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Now, clothes for large size customers

By Maitreyee Handique
September 05, 2003 10:36 IST
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For Delhi-based Nisha Somaia, the reason to launch Revolution, went beyond fattening her business bottomline.

"I've always been on the heavier side. So is my mother. So whenever either of us travelled abroad, we bought clothes for each other as we could never find our size in India," she says.

With the slogan 'Breaking the size barrier' and 'Fashion that measures up,' beginning July 2001, she was quick to tap the niche big-sized clothes market and introduced trendy casual and formal wear for large women -- with figures in the 53-50-54 inch bracket.

"Revolution does not focus on the aneroxics. It caters to women who had to go to the men's section to shop," she adds.

Similarly, at Volumes, a boutique that operates out of south Delhi, size is no limit.

"We've even done clothes with 64 inch chest size," says Meet Thakur of G Sun India Ltd that runs Volumes. Volumes for "Big and Beautiful people," was set up four years ago when Thakur discovered that his mother could never find clothes that fit her.

Interestingly, while clothing choices for big-size women may still be few and far between, men's wear brands are increasingly introducing extra large clothes in an attempt to offer an alternative to the neighbourhood darzi.

Allen Solly, a brand of Madura Garments introduced its jumbo range -- 46 inch shirt and 50-inch trouser one year back. This month, it plans to add the Big & Mighty range to its Louis Philippe and Van Heusen brands.

"While it's difficult to estimate the market size as most of these customers wear custom-tailored clothes, it'll be established once they start coming to the stores," says H Vishak, retail head, Madura Garments.

The Indian apparels market is estimated at Rs 67,000 crore (Rs 670 billion), of which branded wear is roughly Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion).

Similarly, Gurgaon-based Blackberry, a brand of Mohan Clothing Company, introduced its double XL Admiral range with maximum waist size of 46 inch. Delhi-based Freelook Apparels Ltd stocks not just double but triple XL shirts sizes for bulky people.

"We keep clothes only for the men's section right now. Good fit is important even more so for people with bigger paunches for these customers tend to be loyal," says Sunil Goklani, marketing manager, Freelook.

"Very often, especially from north India, we get requests to make even larger clothes," says Manu Sharma, marketing manager at Color Plus, which has introduced 48-inch trousers.

But most of the companies view big clothes as odd-sized, and admit that they stock few products and even fewer styles.

"Essentially, the economies of scale don't justify large sizes. If you make a 50-inch trouser, the cost goes up phenomenally and so does the consumption of fabric," points out Sharma. So Color Plus stocks 48-inch trousers and the bigger clothes are made on request.

Besides, no garment brand has really undertaken a size study of any import.

Retailogix India Ltd, which launched the W brand for women, claims it is among the few to have carried out any anthropometric research, measuring more than 1,000 women, cutting across ethnic communities.

"As opposed to one-size-fits-all, we culled five different fits. Our wear is statistically researched to fit 96 per cent of customers," says its CEO, Vijay Misra.

Still, W, which hired an American consultant to do the study, keeps two large sizes -- W Large and W Grand -- which haven't exceeded beyond waist size 50 inch and bust 42 inch.

Sumit Sharma, manager, retail operations at Indus Clothing Ltd, the franchisee for the Lee Cooper brand says that though it does some merchandise for double XL size with 46-inch collar size, it has limited big size stock, "between 5 and 7 per cent of total product width and keep the styling basic as it is safe."

This is where Somaia, whose five stores in Delhi and Mumbai are projected to touch a turnover of Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million) this year, begs to differ.

"Even if we can capture one per cent of one billion people, it's worth it," she says.

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