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Six decades have now passed since Independence. And the textile sector has had a key significance for India, even before Mahatma Gandhi launched the revolutionary Swadeshi movement. But while liberalisation & organized retailing have enhanced the prospects, Indian apparel is yet to achieve its rightful place on the world map. Will we ever be able to catch up?
Think of the word ‘apparel’ and you are pushed back into a psychedelic state of mind, with your highly intensified receptors almost blinding you with the fl ashy, theatrically lit ramp. Then you could feel overpowered by the razzle-dazzle brought forward by the troupe of bedazzling models (not forgetting those goose bumps) & struck dumb (and deaf) by the overwhelmingly stupefying proceedings. The applause follows them all – and there you’re left wondering if there could be a better showcasing opportunity to the hundreds of beauties that just passed by… leaving you in a trance (well, almost)! At the end of it all, something plays on your bewitched mind; a question – “did I miss something?” And it’s already the next day before you realise that it was in all sincerity meant to be a fashion parade to showcase something which can crudely be referred to as ‘textiles talent’!
Think what you want to, but textile honchos around the world take advantage of this craze with the case in the Indian context being no different as the real ‘models’ of India Inc. gear-up fast for a ‘creativity-filled’ autumn ahead. And with multi-million dollar game plans, the industry is teeming with players ready to create a splash, well realising the potential of the fiercely growing Indian textiles market – a fact corroborated by global equity giant Blackstone Group’s 50% stake buyout in Gokaldas Exports on August 21, 2007 for a handsome Rs.6.76 billion. The fact of the matter is that, currently, one can only witness ‘growth’ smeared all over the Indian textile mart as Ravi Thakran, President (Asia-Pacific) of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LMVH) justifies, “Today, India stands first in terms of setting up production units... To top it all, it also enables the investing party to have a grip on the fast growing home market...” All this only further testify es why more and more foreign entities are sensing bright prospects for their investments in garments manufacturing & outsourcing business in India.
As per CRISIL, the Indian textiles sector is forecasted to touch a sprawling $110 billion in net revenues (domestic sales & exports) by 2012 – a dazzling appreciation of 479% when compared to the $19 billion during 2006-07. Exports, too, are predicted to escalate to a breathtaking $50 billion by 2010! Keeping in mind the immensely fertile development, it comes as a little surprise that Indian textile titans are relentlessly upgrading their manufacturing infrastructure and pumping in resources on a large scale to make India the world’s next fashion capital. Sure enough, India will have to bite the bullet in order to achieve this feat as there are various challengers even in this regard. However, Gianluca Bollani, Fashion Coordinator of Corneliani votes for India as far as offerings are concerned as he maintains, “Compared to other Asian countries, India has a unique offering in the textile world and those are value added products like special cotton yarns, fabrics, made-ups et al. Most Italian fashion houses today resort to India for these value added products.”
Well, whether it makes it to the top is still a question subject to many constraints, but there’s still another carrot and that’s the domestic haute couture market, which is currently steaming ahead at an annual growth rate of a noteworthy 10% (as per CII). No wonder, the Ambanis and Wadias are fast getting their acts together with primo brands – Vimal & Bombay Dyeing, respectively. But with other relatively smaller players already capturing a major share of the market – although in a fragmented fashion – both globally & in Indian sub-continent, the question remains – “Isn’t it an act too late?”
Well, ill-strategies and utterly discouraging government norms forced many textile mills to close shop during the 1970s & 80s, which was also considered a rampant fragmentation period in the textile industry as D.K. Nair, Secretary General, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) exclaimed, “Many textile mills in the mid-1980s couldn’t even dare to diversify. Then there were labour laws at that time, which always supported the labourers (unions) and never looked at the problems faced by manufacturers...” However, what ultimately resulted was a plethora of unorganised players coming together with their aggressive growth strategies... And today, these are the very entities which are minting colossal profits, promising to take on the world of textiles by storm & challenging global titans!
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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2007
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