The raging COVID-19, the new official name for the deadly Coronavirus, has become a global concern with not only multiple countries being affected but also the global economy taking a hard hit. In 2003, the SARS pandemic caused approximately US $ 40 billion losses to the world economy at a time when China accounted for only 4 per cent of global GDP. However, now that China contributes 18 per cent towards global GDP, the pandemic could have 3-4 times greater effect.
Immediate concerns are related to the disrupted business dependent on China and while Coronavirus is still haunting supply chains in many industries including garment manufacturing, European technology manufacturers that have made China their base too are feeling the pinch. So, even as retailers and brands search for a China plus strategy for sourcing, technology manufacturers are looking at other options including India and Bangladesh to set up alternate factories.
This could, in the long run, be a very beneficial move from an Indian perspective as very little garment related technology is manufactured in the country despite its strength in IT and AI-related technologies which is the backbone of development today. It is too early to come to a conclusive result on what will actually happen once the pandemic calms down, but the idea has certainly been germinated.
In the meanwhile, some of the Chinese technology providers have stepped up to fight the situation and are extending their support, any way they can. JACK has donated RMB 5,00,000 to the Government, while SGG Richpeace urgently formed a technical team two weeks back to develop a fully automatic production line for medical disposable masks, in order to increase the production capacity of masks in China. This shows the preparedness of companies in China.
Even as every eye is trained on China, business however continues at a slow pace. To understand how Chinese garment manufacturers are viewing the situation, we interviewed Vincent Djen, Director, Cheng Kung Garments, Shenzhen under our ‘People’ segment, in which he shared a lot information about his company, the current market landscape in China as well as the use of technology level in manufacturing there.
At the same time, it is equally important to keep an eye on the developments in Bangladesh, as the country is no longer only a basic commodity manufacturer. Of late we can see a lot of companies diversifying into value-addition. They are using relevant technology to produce more fashion items such as heavy denim jackets, lingerie, ladies’ dresses and fine gauge sweaters. In this issue, we have covered three big companies – Fashion Flash Ltd., Meghna Knit and Mahdeen Group – which are leading the way.
While manufacturing has always been the focus, for technology an area that is now really coming up fast is fashion retail technology. In the current issue of StitchWorld, the team looks at the latest offerings in this segment which include Facial Recognition and Footfall Counter concepts. In-store experience enhancement and Customer Engagement are also vastly talked about in these articles.