'High time denim sector achieves breakthrough in R&D' – Dr Roy
Led by Arvind Mills of Ahmedabad, the denim industry in India took off after the mid-eighties. Subsequently, a good number of textile manufacturing and marketing units like Soma Textiles, Raymond, KG Denim, Malwa Group, Aarvee Denim, Nahar Group, Chiripal Group, LNJ Denim, Century Denim and others totaling to twenty three in number made the sector a sizeable one that was recognized by international branded denim jeans players.
Denims in the form of jeans and other dresses found an impressive way to enter the wardrobes of urban and very recently the semi-urban style/fashion conscious consumers. Denims historically pass through cycles of ups and downs but eventually come out unscathed. However, the current all pervasive economic meltdown has adversely affected the export led Indian textile industry deeply and naturally the denim sector, too could not escape from its clutches.
The timing of the global changes was somewhat unfortunate as at that stage Indian textile industry was poised for an upswing, backed up by the then sensible MSP, a good cotton crop, depreciating currency and industry's willingness to invest in new technology and set up more manufacturing units. Fibre2fashion took the initiative to speak to Dr Roy, the pioneer of denim in India and former Chief Executive Officer of Arvind Mills Group, the mill that started the denim revolution in India, under his tutelage.
Dr. Roy is a PhD in Textiles from University of Manchester and has over 40 years of experience in industry, research and teaching and at present, he is working as an independent management consultant for textile industries globally. He participated in ITMA 2003 at Birmingham where he was invited for a special session on China. He was the Deputy Chairman for the first Textile Council at Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
We began the interview by asking Dr Roy to comment on the current scenario prevailing in the denim sector and share his rich experience to suggest strategic moves to help the denim industry overcome the impact of this Tsunami like crisis, to which Dr Roy explained in detail by saying, “Yes, the present downturn has certainly taken toll of the Indian textile industry particularly, on the export front where denim is perhaps the single largest traded product and that too as 100 percent processed goods (not grey or semi-processed).
He added, “The situation is similar for all other denim producing countries and a slowing down at the retail level, non-clearance of prevailing stocks and all combined in turn have negatively impacted the denim manufacturing sector and pushed the industry to explore on four major fronts”. Listing out the areas of concerns he said;
1) Competition from the lower end of the domestic commodity market which uses Polyester Textured filaments as weft leading to a product group not heard of in the denim business in the past and these fake denims, having blue warp but not Indigo-dyed particularly from the decentralized Poly-blend sector have been giving a run to the organized sector, although, specialty filaments like T-400 from Dupont and Invista, which offer functional advantages have been used in the value -added segment.