Interview with Lubeina Shahpurwala

Face2Face
Lubeina Shahpurwala
Lubeina Shahpurwala
Co-founder
Mustang Socks
Mustang Socks

The socks segment dominated the global hosiery market in 2015 with a share of over 69 per cent.

Mustang is one of the biggest manufacturers of socks in India and holds a market share of about 50 per cent in the organised sector. Lubeina Shahpurwala, Partner, Mustang Socks, describes how the category has evolved from staple menswear item to fashion accessory.

What is the size of the market for socks globally? At what rate is it growing?

Socks are a common element of our wardrobe. They are too widely used to be called just a commodity. In 2014, the global socks market was valued at 5.6 billion USD and an expected 8.5 per cent increase from 2015 - 2023. As you can see the socks market holds a negligible spot in the apparel industry. The socks market aims to eventually contribute to the overall apparel industry. The competition of a socks manufacturer relies on the accessibility and thereby channels of distribution, through which the commodity can reach the end consumer. Now the sock trend has extended from a traditional to a luxury application.

In-fact socks also constitute a varied market entailing athletic, casual and specialty socks to name a few. Until recently, many man-made fibres such as polyester and nylon have also been explored to substitute existing high quality cotton socks.

What is the size of the market for socks in India?

Socks Industry in India is an unregulated market. India's population is the second largest at a census of 1.252 billion, which gives the brands/manufacturers a bigger marketplace to innovate themselves and cater to a wider audience.

There has been a positive acceptance of socks brands in the last couple of years in India. And brands are adopting newer ways to market their products. Sports as a sector are now also demanding or progressing into a need for specialised athletic socks. Luxury retailers are setting a large margin for a segment of the population with high disposable income. They are not just limited to only sales strategies but also the rotation of festivities and fashion statements. As is the market, consumers are evolving; their tastes are changing and funnelled to minute requirements such as designs, colours and occasional suiting.

What is the percentage share of socks in the legwear market?

It's not surprising that style-conscious millennial (aged between 23 to 34 years) are increasingly spending their money on hosiery. According to a recent survey by Report Buyer in terms of revenue, the socks segment dominated the global hosiery market in 2015 with a share of more than 69 per cent.

Today, with the introduction of innovative designs and varied segments in socks, pantyhose, sheers, opaque's, stockings, tights, leggings and several others socks, will continue to dominate the legwear market with increasing demand from working populations and emergence of women hosiery retail brands.

Which are your major markets in India and abroad?

Today, our product and brand enjoy a massive goodwill with customers in the Indian market. Our products are available over 100 cities spread across 8000 stores, including an online retail platform as an extension of our product distribution channel. We would like to extend our parameters towards US, which is in progress. Currently, we export to England, Italy and the Middle East like UAE, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. We aspire to have our products reach every corner in the world.

What kind of fabrics, prints, and colours are trending in the export markets?

Cotton, polyester and nylon still dominate the socks export market; even though woollen socks fall behind, but new performance fibres are also becoming popular.

The socks category is also witnessing a rash of innovations globally. Which innovations do you incorporate in your product line?

For almost three decades now, Mustang as a brand has been pioneering in the segment of fashion retail with our innovative product line in socks. In order to remain one of the primary market players, we're constantly innovating across three main segments in terms of product, design and variants. In the product segment we pioneered the launch of cotton spandex socks way back in 1992. Made from a special yarn, these socks feature fibres with engineered cross-section enabling moisture to reach the fabric's outer surface where it evaporates quickly. In terms of design we added quirky motifs, themes and bold colours in our latest autumn winter 2016 collection and even created an exclusive range of mismatched socks that created a lot of buzz amongst the youth. And in the variants segment, we went into character licensing - where we introduced a whole new fun element to our collection by launching Jungle Book, Disney, Avengers and Motu Patlu themed socks for children.

Published on: 09/11/2016

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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