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GM-Innovation and Strategy Hela Clothing
Quality is embedded in our production process
A $200 million company focusing on apparel manufacturing, design and innovation, Hela Clothing is headquartered in Sri Lanka and has 12 factories in four countries-one each in Kenya, Ethiopia and Mexico and the remaining in Sri Lanka. Providing design-to-deliver solutions in the intimate, sleep and casual wear product ranges, its two main clusters Hela Intimates and Hela Casual produce intimatewear, activewear, casualwear and kidswear. Buddhi Paranamana, General Manager-Innovation and Strategy, talks about technological innovation in innerwear.
What is the global market size of intimates and casuals? How do you see your market segment growing in the next few years locally and globally?
The market size of the global apparel industry is estimated to be $1.4 trillion by the end of 2021 based on reports published by the World Bank and Euromonitor. High-value products such as sports and intimatewear are among the fastest growing segments in the apparel market. Where the CAGR of all segments in the apparel industry averages at 4.5 per cent, the CAGR of the intimates segment will be around 5 per cent over the next three years.
What are the growth prospects of the global product lifecycle management in the apparel market for 2018-2022?
With the increasing demand of 'speed to market', brands are challenging vendors to improve their product lifecycle management. There has been an increase in third party service providers catering to provide product lifecycle management tools. The future of such tools will include artificial intelligence to streamline supply and demand in a better way.
What factors do you keep in mind while designing the garments?
There are three areas to consider when designing. The first is asking ourselves who the brand's iconic customer is, and the kind of lifestyle they lead. Second, a brand caters to customers across the world and therefore, the product should cater to that unique identity and global marketspace. Finally, it should be based on the latest trends of the existing demand in the market.
Tell us about the latest collection of Hela Intimates.
The latest collection is focused mostly around underwear and sleepwear. Out of the underwear portion, the larger product range is in women's products focusing on higher quality fabric finishes. The men's underwear segment is focused on functional fabrics and added support for a better fit.
And the latest collection of Hela Casual?
The casualwear collection continues to provide affordable products in the kids' range with a focus on back-to-school clothing. A new range was introduced for women's bottoms using space dye technology in the fabrication.
What is the retail presence of Hela Intimates and Hela Casual?
Products manufactured by Hela Clothing can be found in all major retail stores in the US and UK, such as Macy's, Nordstrom, TJ Maxx, Costco, Tesco, etc.
What are the latest technological innovations used at your units?
A number of semi-automated machines are being used in the manufacturing lines-ranging from waistband elastic cutting and placing to folding and packing. We also focus on automating the information flow in production modules at the quality checking points by using touchscreen-based input devices. This information is then visualised in real time for better decision making and error proofing. For designing, we are equipped with industry standard CAD software and tools.
How do you ensure the quality of garments?
Quality is embedded in our development and production process. Our quality assurance happens at the fabric mill, where fabric technologists develop and produce the fabric in collaboration with the mill adhering to our customers' quality levels. Quality assurance checks are carried out at the GRN point for all raw materials (fabric, trims, elastics, thread and all other components), when laying the fabric, after cutting the fabric, when sewing, after sewing, and just before the goods are shipped to the customer.
How scalable is customisation in mass production?
Scalability of customisation depends on a number of variables. If it's a simple digital print, that can be scaled up with the use of advance printers available today. However, if the customisation includes multiple raw materials, there is a limitation to scalability related to the amount of raw materials in stock.
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