Sri Lanka Apparel also known as Joint Apparel Association Forum, is the apex body of all Textile and Apparel Associations and was set out in the ‘Five Year Strategic Plan’. This ‘Five Year Strategic Plan’ was developed by the specially appointed Task Force of the Apparel Industry, with the participation of all other stakeholders such as the Garment Industry, the Government and Industry Associations. Eight committees were established to implement the strategic initiatives of the Five Year Plan, and a Secretariat, to support the eight Committees and oversee the implementation of the strategy. Sri Lanka Apparel through Garments without Guilt global campaign is championing the cause of ethical apparel manufacturing and sourcing. The campaign has been well received by global apparel industry, partner buyers, international media, and international consumers at large. Mr Kumar Mirchandani is the Chairman of Sub-committee on Image Building – Sri Lanka Apparel (JAAF). Mr Mirchandani joined the apparel industry in 1983, on his return from FIT, New York where he studied Apparel Production Mangagement. His first job was writing cutting tickets for an Outerwear factory in the Free Trade Zone, Katunayake, Sri Lanka. He served on the Committees of the Free Trade Zone Manufacturers Association for many years before he began representing Favourite Group on the management council of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association of which he is currently the Chairman. Any spare time, he spents either playing Golf or his Les Paul guitar In a talk with Face2Face team Mr Kumar Mirchandani speaks at length about Srilankan apparel industry and his association’s activities in industry’s welfare.
Welcome to Face2Face Channel, Mr Mirchandani! Please provide us brief on the activities and responsibilities that are entrusted to JAAF as a steward of SriLankan Apparel industry.
The Joint Apparel Association Forum was established in 2002 as the apex of the industry encompassing all industry trade associations. Responsible for formulating and implementing a strategic plan for the industry, this process is driven by eight sub-committees headed by industry leaders. The eight areas of focus are – marketing, logistics and infrastructure, backward integration, small and medium-scale enterprises, human resources, technology and productivity, labour, trade and finance. The JAAF is also instrumental in positioning Sri Lanka Apparel as an ethical sourcing destination through its ‘Garments without Guilt’ campaign.
JAAF is also now known as 'Sri Lanka Apparel'
Please also help us understand the role this industry plays in economic growth of your country.
The country’s apparel exports in 2008 was at US$ 3.3 billion, approximately 270 factories employing about 1 million people directly and indirectly and contributing nearly 10% to the GDP. In approximate terms the industry value addition now stands at 60%. Industry is also the second largest foreign exchange earner for the country.
Well, that indeed is a significant share. Your association quotes ‘Sri Lanka- A Global Apparel Destination like no other’. What makes it so?
We are a small island economy of just 21 million people and a GDP of $42 billion, yet Sri Lanka Apparel supplies over 1% of the clothing needs of the European and American consumers. Sri Lanka Apparel had its modest beginnings in the early 70’s and grew rapidly enjoying the benefits of the MFA assured guaranteed market access. In the last three and a half decades, with exposure to sophisticated customers and retailers and focused reinvestment back into the industry, Sri Lankan entrepreneurs transformed themselves from mere tailors to total solutions specialists.
With these world class manufacturing facilities backed by a highly competent workforce, Sri Lanka Apparel gained international repute as reliable and quality manufacturers with an emphasis on innovation. Over time, Sri Lanka Apparel built its competencies around five key product groups: intimate apparel, casualwear, active and sportswear and children’s wear. In fact, Sri Lanka is seen to be emerging as the ‘lingerie capital of the world’.
As a leading innovator in the global supply chain, commanding the confidence and trust of leading international brands such as Victoria’s Secret, GAP, Marks & Spencer, NIKE, Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger, Triumph, Ann Taylor and many more, Sri Lanka Apparel is now at the forefront of ethical manufacturing, an area receiving great global attention and preference supported by sophisticated operations servicing high-end niche categories.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.