– By Pawan Gupta
It’s no secret that India has once again set itself an ambitious goal to achieve, the nation is gearing up to acclaim the goal of $50 billion in exports by 2030, poised to become the global Apparel export powerhouse. However, in the recent past, India’s obscure performance in the exports from the apparel sector has raised serious doubts about the nation being able to achieve its goal. One of the most prominent reasons for India’s unostentatious performance is the heavy reliance on a few markets like the USA and EU, making India’s apparel export susceptible to recession and downtrend in these markets.
Over the past few months, these developed economies have been vulnerable to degrading demand, escalating inflation and high levels of inventories. Simultaneously, they have witnessed and experienced the Ukraine-Russian conflict, which in turn has severely impacted India’s exports from the apparel sector. Thus, the need for robust infrastructure developments in this sector is no longer a luxury but a dire requirement that can propel and fortify India’s position as a reliable and competitive global apparel export player.
Government-Driven Key Initiatives
Taking into account the significant 4.9% contribution of the apparel sector to total exports in India, the Apparel Export Promotion Council (APEC) has put greater emphasis on the apparel industry’s need to focus on market and product diversification. The government is dedicated to paving the way for India to emerge as an international player by playing a pivotal role in the global supply chain. In order to enhance the industry’s competitiveness, the government is creating a conducive environment for increasing the ease of doing exports. Additionally, the government has signed trade agreements with countries like UAE and Australia, which will help prioritize market and product diversification, boosting the apparel exports sector.
Although the Indian Apparel industry shows remarkable prowess throughout its complete value chain that covers an extensive range of apparel segments from natural to synthetic fibres but infrastructure improvements in design, technology and quality can help it reach the benchmark it needs for global success.
Expanding the Base
One of the major roadblocks in its apparel growth story is the miniscule share of manmade garments in its export basket, which in contrast to other leading export countries is significantly low. While natural fabrics are considered the backbone of the country, with the Indian industry being heavily reliant on cotton-based products, it hampers the nation’s ability to diversify as other potential partner countries like Japan’s import requirements are primarily in MMF and synthetic fibre garments.
Recognizing the potential for growth in the Man-made Fibre (MMF) sector, the global mill fibre consumption is moving towards MMF and the Product Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. This will accelerate the production of MMF fabric and will enable India to venture into markets like Japan and cater the burgeoning global demand.
Quality-Centric Rigorous Testing
India’s lack of emphasis on quality testing across the value chain is a grave issue posing a blockade to India’s search for Global Apparel Export supremacy. Major international sourcing houses and countries have extremely concrete standards for the garments they source and poor quality is a dominant reason for declining growth and reputation. To mitigate this issue, there is a pressing need to establish a quality control framework in India to gain the confidence of international buyers.
Additionally, manufacturers must prioritize regular testing at various stages of production and conduct thorough final product inspections. It requires building state of the art quality control labs across prominent garment clusters in the country to audit and verify companies as attested and authentic quality suppliers.
Digital Textile Technology
Advancements in Digital Textile technologies have propelled developments in digital printing, fabric weaving and other processes allowing the production of widespread fabrics with greater accuracy, consistency and cost-efficiency. While digital printing has allowed for vibrancy in colours printed onto fabrics, inkjet printing has opened doors for the rapid production of printed fabrics. This revolution has made it possible to source garments seamlessly and produce fabrics with a variety of properties like water-repellant, fire-resistant and antimicrobial.
Imbuing fabrics with such properties is a key element in facilitating apparel exports, as it makes them suitable, functional and aesthetically pleasing for certain conditions in particular geographical regions, unlocking doors to greater exports with newer geographies.
There is great excitement and zeal in the Indian apparel export industry to foray into newer markets. Holistic strategies combined with in-depth research of fashion and design trends, robust mechanisms for quality and regulatory compliance will provide an edge to the Indian industry by aligning them with international testing standards and norms. India can go a long way in establishing trust and do the trick for becoming the global apparel export powerhouse.
(Pawan Gupta is the CEO & Co-Founder of Fashinza.)
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