In 1926, the first ‘Polo’ was worn by Rene Lacoste, Grand Slam Tennis champion. Since then, polo tees have been a standard clothing for tennis, then known popularly as ‘the tennis shirt’. Over the latter half of the 20th century, as clothing in golf became more casual, polos were adopted universally as standard golf attire.
Today, in the 21st century, Polos are synonymous not just with sports like tennis & golf. They are now worn to offices as smart casuals for work, casual evening outings and more.
Worldwide ‘Polos’ are accepted in a different way by consumers across various demographics. Consumer search insights show a varied response from respective markets and regions for this product over the last 4 years.
. Definitely an all-time riser in the USA, as seen over the last 4 years, polos market with regards to demand and search is the highest. Within Men’s apparel category analytics suggest +20% YOY rise during Spring Summer months. In the United Kingdom, 2015 – the year of the Polo, saw incredible demand through search trends. However, the same seems to be stabilizing as seen in the graph above, showing longer periods of consistent search.
In India, the trend amongst shoppers is very different as seen in analytics. The graph is a declining one, with a minor recovery of +10% over same time LY. Is this due to lack of innovation, seen in Polos in the west and not in Indian Retail?
Let’s uncover one such emerging trend under Polos that we see has the potential to re-invent and revive this product category.
From the Shows
Spring 2018 Mens collection covered the Polo in Flat knit variations that included jacquard, stripes, textured, variegated rib and much more. Linen blends, lightweight cotton, hand-crafted knit looks (esp. from Etro), and drop needle stripe patterns are some interesting variations from designers.
Street Style shows off
Some of the above Runway looks of Polo knits were already spotted on the Fashion week Streets, seen outfitting fashion forward influencers and fashion show attendees.
Internationally, flat Knit lightweight jersey polos seen during March and June 2017 shows are rendered in the right blend that gives breathability for Summers with temperatures as high as 35Degrees.In India, Aamir Khan is also seen wearing a similar variation in solid. This could be a twist on the muscle fit polos that were popular last year.
Products are detailed with the trendy looks of Vertical and Retro stripes, V-split buttonless placket with collars and Seasonal solid colours.
Seen trending during Spring transitional period and parts of the last hit of Summer are these Flat knit polos from UK and US brands. Polos with vertical stripes, micro jacquard patterns, lightweight Linen solids and organic cotton are top ranked on Stylumia retail insights – International pages.
This product trend was completely missing in Indian Retail.
Flat knit Polos trend for Spring Summer can be viewed much like the Sweatshirt trend of last two years for Indian Retail. Just like the way Sweatshirts, re-interpreted in medium to lightweight knits, became popular for Spring & Trans-seasonal hits in 2016/2017 Indian Retail, lightweight flat knit polos too carry the potential to occupy that space.
While woven shirts are the rising stars for Global Fashion, Indian tropical climate has always favoured knit structures like pique, open knits and cotton blends.This trend will redefine the use case of Polos, expanding its shelf-life to other seasons. Updating some of the existing polos to incorporate emerging trends like this, could help renew customers interest in Polos once again.