Interview with Arvind Sharma

Arvind Sharma
Arvind Sharma
Vice President - Planning, Outsourcing and Market Support
JCT Limited
JCT Limited

How do you see the future of consumption of manmade fabric vis-a-vis natural?

The consumption of manmade fabric has been growing significantly over the last couple of years. Brands have contributed to a large extent in this scenario. Most big sports brands like Adidas, Nike and Puma have a major chunk of garments of manmade fibres in their product portfolio. Globally, major fashion brands have manmade fibre collections, and the same is true for India. Manmade fibres are best suited for conversion into fashionable garments. Over the last 10 years, cotton production has been ranging between 24 and 27 million tonnes. With pressure on land for food cultivation, it is evident that the incremental fibre demand will have to be met by manmade fibres in the future. It is estimated that King Cotton will have growth constraints in the future. I believe India has not tapped its potential in utilising the vast resources of available natural fibre. If intelligently planned, the EBITDA and PAT margins in natural fibres can go beyond 20 per cent. It is an irony that margins in manmade fibres are on the higher side. India has a robust banking and legal system. With these inherent strengths, India needs to grow faster rather than limping or falling in the category of gradual growth. With 65 per cent of the Indian population falling in the category of youth --- the predominant market driving force, initiatives have to be taken to enhance the market growth of natural fibres. Why are we dependent on exports when it comes to King Cotton? We have a market size of over 1.2 crore prospective customers. The global kidswear market is close to US$ 200 billion. It is growing at the rate of 15 per cent. What better opportunity can we have? Let us make our newborn children wear natural fibre and fabric, which will add to their comfort and well-being. The world bridalwear market is in the range of US$ 60 billion. What better place to enhance our market share than India, where marriages are celebrated like once-in-a-life occasion? The average American household spends about US$ 2,000 on apparel, footwear and related products. Going by conservative and rather pessimistic estimates, if we assume that the average Indian spends ₹ 2,000 to ₹ 2,500 per annum on apparel and only 50 per cent of it is from natural fibres, we will have an estimate that cotton fabric consumption does not match our available organised mill capacity.

Do single-material fabrics or blends sell more?

The Indian market was governed by blended fabrics. Pure fabric, be it 100 per cent cotton or any other premium fibre, has always been considered an elite product. We come across cotton-polyester blended fabrics in all daily wear. The usage of 100 per cent cotton fabric was limited to certain specific brands, and almost all local unorganised players relied heavily on blended fabrics. The school uniform segment in India and the majority of institutional fabrics are blended. Over the last four to five years, prices of cotton have swung upward. We have come across different studies where synthetic fabrics are not recommended by medical and health-conscious experts. What we need to understand is what was right yesterday is a disaster today, and what is right today may be a disaster tomorrow. Emulation has never been successful. Innovation has always been the key to success. With no less than our Prime Minister promoting khadi, a new era of natural fibre is about to begin. With cotton prices expected to stabilise over a period of time, days of single material fabrics are bound to come. With the industry showing signs of recovery, India is being projected as an exception in an otherwise dull market. It appears that we are in the process of creating our own Desi brands, which will command a respectable share in the world fashion market. Technology is also playing its part. With specialised finishes available, single material fabric is expected to have double digit growth. Fabrics which contain over 95 per cent of parent constituent fibre like cotton Lycra will have to be considered a single material fabric. This is because the core properties of the basic fibre are predominant in this type of slightly-blended fabrics. Since cotton is blended with Lycra in more than 50 per cent of the bottomwear market, we expect the share of synthetics and blended fabrics to decrease in this segment. One of the major areas where textile conglomerates will have to concentrate on, is market penetration. It is rather ironic that companies are being forced to market their products in far off places instead of selling it in our backyards. India is a land of villages. The textile market was, and to a great extent still is, in the hands of a predominant few wholesale players who majorly rely on seconds, leftovers and surpluses. In fact, the price of the purchased fabric by these wholesalers is in the same range as of the blended fabrics. In some instances, it is cheaper. The mill sector or all the textile conglomerates will have to group together and ensure that the single-fibre fabric like cotton is available at a competitive price to the people of India. The rest will be history. You can call it the Textile Revolution just like the Green Revolution, or just like the success story of Amul in Gujarat. Which country has a market of over 120 crore people, out of which 65 per cent are young and who prefer to choose clothes that have a soothing effect?. With abundant availability of raw materials like cotton, wool, silk and jute as well as skilled work force, let us make our country a sourcing hub. It won't be just Make in India. It will be Make in India, Use in India and the entire world, show the world and let it be the world's envy and India's pride. Imagine a scenario where our single-fibre fabrics are asked at premium prices and our brand value surpasses Louis Vuitton!
Published on: 28/12/2015

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.

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