Most Indian ready-to-wear labels do not have the wherewithal or their own design studios to produce the garments, leave alone manufacture them-the needful is done by fashion vendors. A peek into the world of fashion vendors who keep the labels fluttering.

The ready-to-wear (RTW) segment, especially in ethnic womenswear or indutvas, has been booming with stores and brands offering round the year collections to women. But while some brands and retailers may have their in-house design studios, most Indian RTW labels prefer vendors who not only present stylish collections season after season, but also have great facilities to produce them.

Order quantities vary from a few hundred to a few thousand per style and come in a variety of colours. Fabrics and embellishments remain the basis, along with prompt deliveries. The competition among vendors is keen-there is obviously a race to grab the biggest piece of the fashion pie. Four women running super-efficient factories and catering to the needs of top stores and brands reveal their stories on what it is like to be a successful vendor, and still remain in business.

Nupur Poddar

NAV Aesthetics Llp

She was one of the most talented design graduates to have emerged from the Premlila Vithaldas Polytechnic, SNDT Women's University, Mumbai in 1990. Nupur Poddar's career graph was always on a steady rise-first as the creative head of the multi-designer fashion store Eternia in Mumbai, and then in 2004 as supplier of indutva garments to top stores and womenswear brands like Shristi, Morpankh, Navras, Ethnicity, Haute Curry, Kashish and Vark.

In 2018, Poddar launched Nav Aesthetics LLP with an 8,000 sq ft factory, a staff strength of 100 and 70 machines. Poddar is the designing force of her company with an in-house quality control (QC) team, which coordinates with the brands' QC inspectors to ensure perfect garments.

As a vendor to top womenswear brands, Poddar's regular collections are eagerly awaited and the brands make their seasonal selections from the styles she creates. "We take orders of a minimum of 600 pieces per style, which can go up to 20,000," informs Poddar. With women's indutvas as her fort, Poddar's collections comprise mix-and-match kurtas, kurtis, palazzos, dhoti and kurti sets, kurta and dupatta sets, dupattas and the salwar-kameezdupatta trios.

Fabrics form the basis of the garments, and sourcing is done from various parts of India. "Fabrics are sourced from Surat, Varanasi, Bhiwandi and Erode, while laces are also from Surat. Embroidery is normally outsourced from Surat and Mumbai, while printing is done in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Surat. Tassels, which are an integral part of the designs, are procured in Mumbai. We don't get fabrics specially woven. The favoured fabrics are cotton and polycotton and orders are completed in 90 days. The minimum lead time for 1,000 pieces is also 90 days," adds Poddar.

When catering to so many brands, confidentiality is of utmost importance; so, she confides, "Once a design is selected by one fashion house, we do not show it to another."