The way forward for manufacturers in South India is to take maximum benefit of the textiles heritage of the region and combine it with modern manufacturing techniques.

India's textiles and apparel sector is one of the oldest industries of the country's economy dating back several centuries. The industry continues to be a major participant in the country's economic growth in this century. In foreign trade, India's overall textiles and apparel exports during financial year (FY) 2017-18 stood at $37 billion and are expected to grow to $80 billion by 2025.

A major contributor to this growth will be and have been the southern states-Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

Thalaiva of Textiles

South India in the last century has developed itself into a major textile hub, and Tamil Nadu has been at the forefront of this textiles revolution. The state alone represents 46 per cent of India's entire spinning capacity, 60 per cent of yarn exports, 20 per cent of weaving and 70 per cent of the knitted apparel production capability. The state has four major textile cities which carry the onus-Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Salem and Erode. These are the contributors to the growth in the state.

Coimbatore, an industrial town in the western region of the state, is known as the cotton town. It has a flare of cotton production because of its rich black soil which suits cotton growing. The city is also known as the Manchester of South India and manufactures blended and cotton yarns. The spinning industry is well supported by a strong weaving base which consists of 15-20 largescale weavers including Akshaya Textiles, Gobald, KPM Textiles, KG Denim, Prime Textiles, Southern Textiles, Hindustan Textiles, Lakshmi Mills, Gangotri and Premier.

About 50 km to the east of Coimbatore, the town of Tiruppur is known as the knit city and has many cotton ginning units that cater to the main cotton markets of Tamil Nadu. Tiruppur contributes more than 45 per cent of knitwear exports from India. The products produced by the manufacturing units in the town generally include cardigans, t-shirts, jerseys, undergarments, pullovers, blouses, skirts, sportswear and trousers. These knitwear units form 80 per cent of the total exports from Tiruppur.

These units are usually largescale units that have a vertical integration. The raw material for these units is the yarn manufactured by the spinning mills of Coimbatore and the conversion of this yarn to knitted garments are undertaken in the garment manufacturing units. This type of business model helps manufacturers to have a strong hold on the supply chain and keep themselves cost-effective.