What are your five-fold measures to resolve these issues?
As I said, all the stakeholders need to be heard. A roadmap towards sustainability and compliance should be built and published after taking into view all their issues and requirements. The funds for this must be set aside and expenditure must be mapped out at the same time. Within the industry, the stakeholders should be encouraged to self-regulate and report progress transparently. Compliance is already a big bugbear - adding sustainability to the equation adds to the financial load.
Factory owners are grappling with all kinds of problems. Cost of materials especially cotton yarn, obscure laws relating to imports, labour and antiquated machinery is already a problem. Real estate cost is escalating every day. Importers come to India because of low costs. If there is so much suspense related to costs and laws, the whole exercise is about surviving. Who can worry about planet earth then? Importers also need to shoulder some of the financial burden - instead of coming in like a boss and ordering compliance. Let them contribute towards provident fund, toilets and azo-free dyes.
When we negotiate with our trading countries, I would like to see the government telling them to get down and dirty, instead of ordering compliance and else.
Finally, the corruption quotient needs to be addressed and cleaned quickly. Neither the customers nor the factories believe that if funds are put in, it will be all put to the use that it was contributed for. If the use of funds is transparently reported online, anyone can audit the use of the same. The results will be clearly shown for the world to inspect. Then more and more people will be happy to get involved.
Emerging manufacturing hubs in your industry are:
I think the traditional manufacturing hubs like those in Maharashtra, (Mumbai) are declining. But those in Bhiwandi, Ichalkaranji, etc are progressing. Others like Surat, Tirupur, Ludhiana, Panipat, Noida and Okhla continue to thrive. Some states are working to revive older textile centres like Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. But I don't know if there is much visible progress.
Who are your clients?
We are now selling only in India. We have stopped exports since 2013. We are selling through portals like Myntra, Jabong, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon, Limeroad, etc, and have just started with distributors and large format stores. The brand Ira Soleil is a fusion ethnic womenswear line. The product is unique, and so far we are in a kind of monopoly situation - both in terms of materials used and the distinct design or styling.
What is the budget allocated towards R&D?
The budget is variable. But I think we spend upwards of 5 per cent on sampling and development.
Which markets do you plan to penetrate into in the near future?
We are right now talking to distributors in Germany and the UK. But every western market is on our radar. Indian flavour is in demand, and we sell very well on Amazon to non-Indians, and are very gung-ho about this.
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