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Italian fashion riding on Indian wealth, targeting overweight people

Corneliani is offering a custom-made service selling "odd-sized" suits, trousers and overcoats to local men

Italian fashion riding on Indian wealth, targeting overweight people

Claudia Astarita

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The World Health Organization predicts that about 31% of adult men in India will be overweight by 2015, 9% more than ten years ago. This change is deeply influencing Italian brands targeting the Indian fashion market, not only for men.

The Italian suits maker Corneliani, a company used to sell its outfits in Asia, Europe and the United States for US$ 2,000, has eventually understood what is preventing it from achieving the same success in India: fat. Belly fat.

The only reason why Corneliani was losing business in India was linked to the fact that it could not please most of businessmen, celebrities and politicians' needs as its suits could not be worn by overweight costumers. Everything changed when Corneliani started offering a custom-made service, and the Italian brand gave Indian shoppers the chance to order what they call "odd-sized" suits, trousers and overcoats. Indeed, Indian rich people tend to be overweight, but their main problem is the belly, as the rest of the body tends to remains "normal". Accordingly, a made-to-measure service is crucial to offer them a perfect garment.

The consultant Technopak Advisors Pvt has recently estimated that India's branded apparel market might more than double to US$18 billion in 2017, recommending fashion brands to approach this market as soon as possible. However, while many companies have already done it with mixed results, Corneliani has found the best strategy to get the most out of it, targeting rich niche shoppers, such as those buying large sizes.

Large and extra large sizes are needed for women as well, whose demand is rising very fast. Most of Indian retailers say that about 20% of men and women's clothing is for XL and XXL sizes, 5% more than only six months ago. Some people say that this percentage raised so rapidly not only because people are getting fatter, but also because many people that could not find clothes suitable for their size have now started buying them since the variety of what is offered by the market has increased. This condition is giving all brands interested in creating special design for the Indian market the chance to enter it. Indeed, Ermenegildo Zegna, Canali, Giorgio Armani and Gucci have done it already.

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