Attired in tailored jackets, straight-cut trousers and well-ironed shirts, corporate executives stride into their offices and unassumingly make heads turn.
If the above statement conjures up an image of only the young 20-something male office-goers, then it’s time you get a taste of the real world.
For, this seems to be the attire of today’s new-age woman who is surprisingly quite at home in the attire that is now, no longer the domain of male species.
And branded garment manufacturers are not complaining either. “This trend of wearing western garments for corporate purposes, I believe, started in the late 90s and early 2000,” points out Sartaj Singh Mehta, design head, Allen Solly, Madura Garments.
“In fact, compared with the last year, there has been an overall growth of about 60 per cent in corporate wear for women,” he adds.
So what has triggered this growth? Is it the growing influence of western culture or the comfort level in western clothes? Mehta has an interesting theory that he vouches for.
“Media is one of the major factors for this growth. Whether you watch CNBC or Aaj Tak, you see smartly dressed young women anchoring or reporting in western formals,” he says.
And with most news channels being watched by 40-plus generation, he adds, the acceptance level of this dress code among the elderly is on the rise.
“This apart, the fact remains that more women work today. They are graduating from management schools and are joining workplaces that have a significantly broadminded work culture,” Mehta explains.
“Women are, anyways, more style and value conscious today, and do not mind experimenting with designs and colours,” he adds.
Says, Barsha Panda who works with the corporate communications deparment at the Hyderabad- based Satyam Computer Services, “Most women that I see at the workplace are attired in western garments. In fact, during customer presentations, although there is no dress code, women prefer wearing western formals such as jackets and trousers.”
Pastels and browns, she adds, are the most preferred colours for corporate wear.
This trend has made major garment retailers and manufacturers sport new collections in western formals.
Shoppers’ Stop, for instance, is augmenting its collection of international brand Austin Reed to cater to the new tastes of working women.
“In the last six to eight months we have seen a major change in the purchasing pattern of women who are increasingly going for western formals,” says Samir Agrawal, customer care associate and manager (operations), Shoppers’ Stop Ltd.
“Besides the fact that western garments are more comfortable for working women, there are other factors such as increasing purchasing power and, therefore, more disposable income, that are triggering this trend,” Agrawal points out. Shoppers’ Stop stocks western formals from various brands such as Black Berry’s, Eliza Donatein and Stop.
“On a daily basis, we get at least 15 female customers for western formals,” says a customer care executive at Shoppers’ Stop. Besides trousers and jackets, formal skirts are also increasingly becoming popular, she adds.
“This trend, in fact, is spawning sales of laptop bags and formal footwear for women too,” Agrawal says. Incidentally, now laptop bags come under the unisex products category, he adds.
What finally appears is that women are managing to erase the dividing line that thus far defined the male and female domains. The fact that it shows even in the clothes and accessories that they flaunt is just incidental.