It is a known fact that the textile value chain has been under great stress since the last few years. Bringing forth the problems being faced by this value chain both at the local and the global level, as also debating what could be the best possible solutions… was the main agenda of the Global Textiles Conclave (GTC) 2018, held at Vigyan Bhawan, Delhi, recently. The biggest-ever conclave for the Indian textile and apparel industry till date, GTC was part of The Confederation of Indian Textile Industry’s (CITI) diamond jubilee celebration. The two- day long thought-provoking event covered the entire textile value chain from ‘FARM to FASHION’, and was based on the theme of ‘Disruptions and Innovations for Sustainable Growth’.
More than 30 expert speakers from across the globe exchanged ideas and shared their experiences … and the common theme during all discussions was the importance of being aligned to new technology, being innovative in products and processes and remaining sustainable at every step/process. This perception was reiterated despite the plethora of challenges at personal, national and international level. The Indian textile and apparel industry has a bright future and every company has to gear up to be a part of this growth story.
In line with the resolve to be in sync with the changing dynamics of the business, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India, during his inaugural address, urged the industry to modernise. “Our textile industry must take lead in industry 4.0, in view of the distinct advantage enjoyed by us in the IT sector,” he emphasised, further adding that the industry should fully tap the potential of IoT cloud, artificial intelligence, big data and analytics.
In her address, Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Minister of Textiles expressed gratitude to the industry captains for supporting the Government in streamlining GST reforms. She also urged the industry to tap the potential in technical textiles which has been identified as a sunrise sector. During the valedictory address, Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation motivated the audience by saying that the third industrial policy after independence will be launched soon and notably it will be very beneficial for the apparel and textile industry. Aditi Das Rout, Trade Advisor, Ministry of Textiles informed that to increase apparel and textile trade, the Government is focusing on countries like Indonesia, Vietnam through ASEAN, as also Russia and South Korea in order to get the maximum mileage.
Commensurating with the event, CITI launched an innovation contest named INNOTEX 2018, months before its Diamond Jubilee Celebrations and the contest was said to be the first-of-a-kind in the history of Indian textile and clothing industry. The contest sought applications for innovations in design, method, process, product and cost in any of the textile related areas starting from ginning till garmenting including technical textiles. The criteria for the awards were: Commercialisation Viability, Uniqueness & Need for Innovation, Scalability for Growth & Use and Usefulness of the Innovation/Impact Generated. CITI received a number of applications and out of those, the names of three winners were declared during the event and were awarded by the Suresh Prabhu.
Sessions hold attention with their depth…
In the first session chaired by Prem Malik, ex-CITI Chairman and Vice Chairman, NSL Textiles wherein industry stalwarts shared their views on the Future of Indian Textiles and Apparel, all the speakers emphasised that the industry has to gear up and accept that old traditional ways of working would no longer bring in growth. Suresh Kotak, Chairman Kotak &Co., a pioneer in cotton firmly believes that with the sustainability movement getting bigger, cotton products will again find a larger market demand, as man-made options will become less attractive. However, Shekhar Agarwal, Vice Chairman, RSWM Ltd. and Rakesh Mehra, Vice Chairman, Banswara Syntex Ltd, both of them being players primarily in the man-made segment, felt that it was about innovating the processes to make man-made sustainable and not about rejecting the same. “We have a very small share in the global market in man-made segment and we need to strengthen the supply chain to take advantage of the demand for such products in the West,” reasoned Agarwal.
In the same session, Rahul Mehta, President CMAI emphasised the growing importance of the domestic market, while Neeraj Jain, JMD, Vardhman Textiles Ltd. cautioned the industry on being laidback… “Opportunities can only be grabbed by keeping pace with industry trends and Vardhman believes that that is the only way to grow,” said Neeraj. Emphasising the importance of the supply chain working as a cohesive force, P. Nataraj, Chairman SIMA and MD, KPR Mills Ltd stated that it was more relevant today for them than ever before to be transparent and share knowledge and technologies to march ahead.
During the session on ‘Disrupting Current Paradigms and Reimagining Textiles Supply Chains to Make Them Future Ready’, Md. Siddiqur Rahman, President, BGMEA and Govind Venuprasad, Coordinator – Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA), International Trade Centre (ITC) had an interesting discussion on why an Indian company should invest in Bangladesh or in Ethiopia or any African country. “We are the closest neighbours of India and Bangladesh has huge potential for yarn and fabric companies to set up units, so Indian companies should come to Bangladesh,” said Siddiqur Rahman. While Govind Venuprasad was of the view, “If you are targeting the whole world as a market, Africa is the best place for you, but if you are limited to Indian or Bangladeshi market, a manufacturing unit in Bangladesh may be a good option.” Lokesh Parashar, President, Federation of Buying Agents insisted that Indian companies should follow buyers’ focus or requirement and invest accordingly. He also added that buyers are more willing for more collective approach while the majority of Indian exporters are not so geared up. “My buyer wanted to manage his distribution till store by Indian exporters but exporters denied for the same,” he added.
SK Gupta, President – Corporate, Raymond Limited also shared his experience of having factories in Ethiopia and further shared that now the company is targeting African countries as retail market and will soon open 40 to 50 stores there. SN Modani, MD, Sangam India Limited also stated that he is planning to invest in Ethiopia.
In another interesting session, ‘Improving Profitability of India’s Textile and Apparel Industry’, Sunil Goenka, JMD, Texport Syndicate insisted that labour laws and dependency on import of fabric from China are still major challenges hampering the profitability of Indian apparel exporters. The issue of the fibre-neutral policy was also a point of discussion among various speakers like SK Khandelia, President & CEO, Sutlej Textiles & Industries Ltd, and DL Sharma, Vice Chairman, CITI. Dinesh Nolkha, MD, Nitin Spinners Ltd shared that as their company is growing at the rate of 20 per cent CAGR since more than a decade, it is focusing on its core strength which is spinning and cotton. BM Sharma, JMD, RSWM Ltd. highlighted that as far as the preferential markets are concerned, they are just supplying 30 per cent to the core market, so it should not be a reason of big worry. He also discussed about the policy changes which have happened frequently in the recent years.
Talking about things on a global perspective, the session ‘Sustaining Growth for T&A Manufacturers in a World of Slowing Economic Growth’ fetched the attraction of audience as Tanuja Sinha Roy, South Asia Head, JCPenny; Mark Green, Executive VP, PVH Far East, HK and Felix Fernando, Chairman, Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association shared their views. Scaling up factories, versatility, focus on sustainability and capabilities to work on shorter lead time were some of the core points especially with regard to Indian apparel factories. Speakers were also of the opinion that fast fashion is sustainable. In an honest admission, Gautam Nair, MD, Matrix Clothing, Gurgaon shared that exporters are equally responsible for their degrowth, not the Government only. “SMEs have to play their role in order to expand in non-traditional hubs such as Jharkhand, Odisha etc. to become competitive. It is not the ‘JAAGIR’ of large-scale exporters only,” he insisted.
With the experience of being associated with the Indian retailers who are thriving while competing against the international bigwigs in the booming domestic market, Venu Nair CMO, Tata Trend Ltd; Siddharath Bindra, MD, Biba Apparels; and Nitin Mohan, Founder and Director of Blackberrys Menswear gave an insight into how the retail market is now in for good times ahead. Venu Nair stated that the rise of the Indian retailers against international brands comes from their experience with the domestic market which makes them understand the needs of the customers in a much better way – bifurcating the diverse Indian customer base and catering to their varied needs accordingly as per different requirements. He also mentioned that omnichannel presence of different brands will ensure better sales as e-commerce and bricks and mortar go hand in hand. Siddharth Bindra mentioned the evident conversion of the unorganised sector to organised market as people’s income is rising along with their aspiration, making the Tier-2 market open to brands.
Sanjay Sinha, India/SA Leader- IBM Watson Data & AI Platforms stated that the industry is looking beyond the overseas fashion industry and creating its own designs. In an interesting development regarding AI, IBM Watson is identifying the trend of fashion from social mentions, Instagram images as well as from the cluster where the style is trending.
- Sanjay Jain, President CITI and the man behind this event thanked everyone for making the conclave such a success and a beehive of knowledge.
- Expert speakers insisted that 3D, IOT, AI, Blockchain, Big data, machine-to-machine communication, machine learning… are the need of the hour to keep ahead
- Textile Secretary Raghvendra Singh; Punit Lalbhai, ED, Arvind Limited explained opportunities in technical textiles in India
- Suresh Kotak, (‘Cotton Man of India’) CMD of Kotak Industries was honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award.
- J. Krishna Kishore, CEO, Ex-officio Secretary, Economic Development Board, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh gave an interesting presentation on how Andhra Pradesh is ‘Weaving the Future of Textiles’.
- MOU for mutual cooperation was also signed between BGMEA and CITI.