It is important to maintain a level of quality for every industry or business to get increased sales and better name amongst consumers and fellow companies. Especially for the business engaged in export business has to sustain a high level of quality to ensure better business globally. Companies who are into export business hold the prestige of the country, and due to this generally quality control standards for export are set strictly. It becomes mandatory to have good quality control of their products as export houses earn foreign exchange for the country. In the garment industry quality control is practiced right from the initial stage of sourcing raw materials to the stage of final finished garment. In this industry, product quality is calculated in terms of quality and standard of fibres, fabric construction, yarn, surface designs, color fastness and the final finished garment products. The quality expectations for export are related to the type of customer segments and the retail outlets.


There are a number of factors on which quality fitness of garment industry is based such as - performance, durability, reliability, visual and perceived quality of the garment. The national regulatory quality certification and international quality programmes like ISO 9000 series lay down the broad quality parameters based on which companies maintain the export quality in the garment and apparel industry. Quality needs to be defined in terms of a particular frame work of cost. Here some of main fabric properties that are taken into consideration for garment manufacturing for export basis:

  • Overall look of the garment.

  • Right formation of the garment.

  • Feel and fall of the garment.

  • Physical properties.

  • Colour fastness of the garment.

  • Finishing properties

  • Final produced garments presentation.

Sourcing of Fabrics


There are certain problems that could be faced by garment manufacturers when sourcing for certain fabrics. Therefore, prevention should be taken for it beforehand to minimize the problems. The apparel exporters source cotton fabrics mainly from powerlooms, mills and handloom sectors. Each of these sectors presents their own unique set of problems to the garment exporters. Some set of problems like missing ends and picks, color variation, unreliable supplies and irregular weaves might be present while sourcing cotton from the handloom sectors. But the handloom sector is significant source of heavier cotton. Broken ends and reed marks, difference in width, thick and thin places and massive variation in costing are the common problems faced in powerloom cotton sourcing. The major problem in mill made fabric sourcing is to meet huge demands from the mills. The orders for fabrics have to be made well in advance and the long time taken for producing the fabric is a matter of concern for apparel exporters. Generally the mills hesitate to take small orders which pose a problem for small scale exporters.

It is not that sourcing problem is only confined to cotton fabrics but other fabrics as well. There are some sorts of problems faced by silk garment exporters, in silk garment industry. Some of the problems that could be faced by silk garment exporters are as follows:

  • Shortage of silk yarn imports in the quantities required, as a result delivery is delayed.

  • During manufacturing process, silk material is very vulnerable to stains as well as in other processes like stocking, staining results in rejection so a lot of care has to taken during these procedures.

  • Roll length of the silk yarn is often insufficient

  • Color fastness of dyed silk material is sometimes not satisfactory.

  • Chances of warp breakage are also present


Basic Thumb Rules for Garment Exporters


For a garment exporter there are many strategies and rules that are required to be followed to achieve good business. The product quality, fabric quality, delivery, packaging, price, and presentation are some of the many aspects that need to be taken care of in garment export business. Listed below are some rules that are advisable for garment exporters:

  • The exporters have to take care of quality, excuses are not entertained in international market for negligence for low quality garments, new or existing exporters for both it is mandatory to use design, technology and quality as major upgradation tools.

  • Besides the good quality of the garment, the pricing, packaging, delivery, etc has to be also taken care of.

  • The apparel displayed in the catalogue should match with the final apparel delivered.

  • It is essential to perform as per the promises given to the buyer, or else it creates very bad impression and results in loss of business and reputation.

  • Quality reassurance is required at every point in international market.

  • High standard labels on the garment and proper documentation are also important aspects as these things also create good impression.

  • On time delivery of garments is as essential as its quality.

  • If your competitor has the better quality of garment in same pricing, it is better to also enhance your garment quality.

  • Garment exporters have to carefully frame out the quality standards before entering into international market, or else if anything goes wrong it could harm the organization.

  • The apparel quality should match the samples shown during taking the orders.

  • After quality assurance is done, the garment exporters should know to negotiate a premium price.

Quality is a multi-dimensional aspect. Based on the many aspects of quality, the garment exporters are supposed to work:

  • Quality of the production.

  • Quality of the design of the garment.

  • Purchasing functions' quality should also be maintained.

  • Quality of final inspection should be superior.

  • Quality of the sales has to be also maintained.

  • Quality of marketing of the final product is also important as the quality of the garment itself.


There are certain quality related problems in garment manufacturing that should not be overlooked:


Sewing defects - Like open seams, wrong stitching techniques used, same colour garment, but usage of different colour threads on the garment, miss out of stitches in between, creasing of the garment, erroneous thread tension and raw edges are some sewing defects that could occur so should be taken care of.


Color effects - Colour defects that could occur are - difference of the colour of final produced garment to the sample shown, accessories used are of wrong colour combination and mismatching of dye amongst the pieces.


Sizing defects - Wrong gradation of sizes, difference in measurement of a garment part from other, for example- sleeves of 'XL' size but body of 'L' size. Such defects do not occur has to be seen too.


Garment defects - During manufacturing process defects could occur like - faulty zippers, irregular hemming, loose buttons, raw edges, improper button holes, uneven parts, inappropriate trimming, and difference in fabric colours.


Testing Protocols


Testing protocols are the summaries of applicable requirements that cover all facets of performance, evaluating labelled claims as well as safety and quality. Due to ever increasing fashion trend, construction, different fibre, style, colour and finish dominate the apparel world to cater to the requirements of various categories of customers. But no single universal characterisation protocol is available in the garment trade to cover the entire product range. Testing protocol changes depending on the fibre and fabric type, weight, style, finish, accessories used, accessories used country of export, and above all intended end use of the product.


It is also vital to bear in mind that all standards and regulations encapsulated in the protocol have one or both of the following aims: safety and quality. While quality is related more towards general consumer satisfaction, safety is an important concern as product not meeting regulations can jeopardize the health of the purchaser. Thus, characterisation of apparels that are earmarked for export is essential to satisfy both the regulation and performance requirement.

Any deviation in production with respect to the product specification and quality as per the required minimum performance standard goes against the interest of consumers, the ultimate end users whose expectations are always been regarded as vital in commercial decision-making process of an apparel retailer. Due to the above consequences, the brand image gets affected owing to poor presentation and performance of an apparel product under question.


Conclusion


Ultimately, quality is a question of customer satisfaction. Superior quality increases the value of a product or service, builds up good reputation for the apparel exporter and establishes brand name, which in turn results into high sales, foreign exchange for the country and customer satisfaction. The perceived quality of a garment is the result of a number of aspects which together help achieve the desired level of satisfaction for the customer. Hence quality control in terms of apparel, pre-sales service, delivery, post-sales service, pricing, etc are essential for any garment exporter.


Global business in Garment sector is dependent on quality characterisation because major buyers want to ensure about the quality of the merchandise prior to the delivery to the consumers. In this sector quality control is practiced right from the initial stage of sourcing raw material to the final stage of finished garment. The final product quality is assured in terms of fibres, yarns, fabric construction, colour fastness, durability surface design, garment construction, and final finished item.


In today's competitive business of apparel export, characterisation of quality is an important and indispensable aspect. Global standards in apparel are technology driven, benchmarked by the major buyers and ultimately product oriented. Tolerance in the degree of product proficiency cannot be ignored since too slack standards may allow excessively inferior merchandise to pass through, whilst, standard that are too rigid and may result in acceptable merchandise being unnecessarily rejected. Thus, quality evaluation of garments as per international standards norms is essential for export.