Interview with Arvind Sharma

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

What latest trends dominate the fabric industry in India?

India is the second largest producer of textile and garments in the world. The Indian textile and apparel industry is expected to grow to a size of US$ 223 billion by 2021, according to a report by Technopak Advisors. This industry accounts for almost 24 per cent of the world's spindle capacity and 8 per cent of global rotor capacity. The textile industry has made a major contribution to the national economy in terms of direct and indirect employment generation and net foreign exchange earnings. As mentioned earlier, the textile sector contributes about 14 per cent to industrial production, four per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 27 per cent to the country's foreign exchange inflows. It provides direct employment to over 45 million people. The textile sector is the second largest provider of employment after agriculture. Thus, growth and all round development of this industry has a direct bearing on the improvement of India's economy. Trends in the textile industry revolve and will continue to revolve around the following five aspects: 1. Contact 2. Probe 3. Schismatic 4. Transcendental 5. Defence Contact: A combination of natural and synthetic yarns is emerging and will continue. This trend is about pushing limits, and fabrics responding to the challenge and delivering the desired level of performance - whether it is protecting the body directly through high-compression fabrics, keeping it warm or just simple protective elements of keeping the wind and rain out. It is no longer confined to only the outdoor market. It is also influencing the streetwear and the growing leisure market which is taking the business by storm. Some noteworthy trends worth mentioning here are: 1. Cotton, wool and modal 2. Recycled nylon and polyester 3. Spandex or elastane for performance fit with stretch and recovery 4. Caffeine and mineral embedded yarns and finishes 5. Eco-friendly multiple protection - windproof, waterproof, breathable and moisture management 6. Featherweight moisture management fabrics - moisture wicking and quick dry 7. Brush the technical side of fabrics for super soft touch against the skin in base layers 8. Seamless and clean cut fabrics for reduced production processes Probe: Rethinking old traditions and delivering new concepts is pivotal to Probe. Fabrics and trims are incredibly light, but will maintain high-levels of function. For appearance, look to the semi-dull and iridescent finishes in creating a new visual appeal. Consider metallics through to liquid waxy finishes for a robotic shell look. Bi-stretch wovens can be lustered or delustered through pattern formation in creating something little bit different and unique. Some noteworthy points are enumerated as follows: 1. Space-dyed yarns bring detail to surfaces 2. Silver fabrics and finishes for added permanent performance 3. New generation fibres in creating light-weight fabrics with anti-tear appeal 4. Reflective trims - consider new colour ways 5. Crisp and compact rip stops 6. Ultra light fleece for second layers 7. Super light but maintaining high levels of performance in knits and wovens 8. All sectors of the outdoor market from synthetic base layers through to ultra-light, multi-functional outer layers with bi-stretch Schismatic: A rebellious and free-thinking mood of today's generation inspires this textile trend. It is not quite about breaking the rules, but about bending them. To mention few noteworthy points: 1. Natural fibres - recycled cotton, BCI cotton, merino wool 2. Modal and viscose 3. Recycled nylon and polyester 4. Dull synthetic yarns for a matte appearance 5. Eco-friendly matte lamination and coatings 6. Aramid fibres for lightweight robust finishes 7. Brushed surfaces on knits and wovens 8. Reworked camouflage and urban-inspired prints in delustered effects on bright surfaces 9. High performance denim - tough, slubby structures but with invisible function and soft hand 10. Rugged fleece for second layers or bonded onto wovens for double-sided outer layers 11. Wool and cotton mesh - blend with polyester for lighter results TRANSCENDENTAL: Extreme lightweight products that still deliver high levels of performance, enhancing the wearer's performance and capability are expected to be integral to the market. There are interesting new fibres coming through which will suit this textile trend. But light doesn't just refer to weight. We also need to look at light diffraction and a new generation of luminosity that compliments the more matte appeal of the core of this textile trend. Some points worth mentioning are: 1. Super bright new tri-global aspects 2. Phosphorescent yarns and finishes 3. Mercerized cotton 4. New look wool combinations through synthetic blending 5. Viscose and modal 6. Surfaces in knits and wovens are micro and perfect in appearance 7. Micro fine gauge knits with opacity 8. Look to pushing finer count natural base layers in pure or blended compositions 9. Make the impossible possible - really work with ingredients and move out of the comfort zone 10. Super light rip stops 11. High performing bi-stretch shell fabrics Defence: Protective in its appeal, tough fabrics and components add value to the final sportswear product through anti-abrasive features which lead to longevity. Core stability through to multiple finishing, aramid fibres and dense structures work alongside safety aspects, especially appealing in the trim sector. Tough and robust, ranging in a variety of fibre content, enhanced finishes to final fabric weights are boosted further with softer touch and comfort appeal when worn. What is being increasingly developed is the correlation between natural and synthetic sources in creating tougher and protective element. Inspiration pulls from natural protection through to high-tech protective features, which in turn incorporates both natural and synthetic fibres in creating the protective aspect. Tough yarns and innovative structures lighten the load but deliver a truly carapace effect, whether it is from base layer through to outer. Look to anatomical zoning of performance from core stability through to moisture management or added thermal regulation. Some points to note: 1. High tenacity nylon yarn 2. Thermoregulation fabric 3. Chlorine resistant spandex/elastane 4. Tough and robust fabrics - micro light rip stops through to raised relief warp knit 5. Abrasion resistant fabrics - softer and lighter in wovens and knit 6. FIR yarn 7. Protective elements - this can range from prints or trim through to the actual fabric 8. Tough-look trims

How is the technical textile industry faring in India? How do you see its future?

Technical textile is the sunrise segment of the global textile industry. With increasing competition and diminishing margin in the production of conventional textiles, textile manufacturers in industrialised countries have switched over to the production of value-added technical textiles. As the use of technical textiles is dictated by need, its pricing normally offers good margin. The technical textile industry is estimated to account for over 50 per cent of the total textile activity in certain industrialised countries. Since price margins on paper look very attractive in the beginning, many companies have joined the bandwagon on the pretext of high value of products. But performance has not remained as per expectations. Specialised products need special focus. You cannot have two businesses running simultaneously under one belt. Every company wants to be identified as one which has initiated technical textiles. Just keeping a few people to market this product and running these products along with conventional products will not be successful in the long run. One needs to have broader vision with short-term focused missions. The problem with the textile industry is that every company wants to have a bigger share of the market pie. In their eagerness to do so, they keep adding products. They fail to do justice to any product and tend to lose focus. One cannot master the technique of specific products whilst producing basic products. We all know how Toyota was able to develop a niche brand called Lexus. One can develop a specialised product only after emerging out of the shadow of routine one. It cannot go hand-in-hand. But still technical textile is an emerging area for investment in India. As mentioned, the potential of technical textile in India is still untapped. Technical textile represents a multi-disciplinary field with numerous end-use applications. The production of different items in the technical textile industry has been slowly but steadily increasing in the country. However, there is a lack of information about the status of the technical textile industry. The awareness on technical textile among prospective entrepreneurs and consumers is very less. With an increase in disposable income, the consumption of technical textile is expected to increase. Based on past trends of growth and estimated end-user segment growth, the working group on technical textile for the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) projected the market size to reach ? 1,58,540 crore by 2016-17 at a year-on-year growth rate of 20 per cent during the 12th Five Year Plan. USA is the largest consumer of technical textile, followed by Western Europe and Japan. However, the technical textile industry is maturing in a significant way in developed world, resulting in moderate growth in these economies. In contrast, China, India and other countries in Asia, America and Eastern Europe are expected to experience a healthy growth in the near future. Asia is emerging as a powerhouse of both production as well as consumption of technical textile. China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and India have great potential to make an impact in this industry in the coming decade.

What has been your growth percentage in the last two years and what is expected of the coming two?

With meticulous planning and smart marketing, any textile has the potential to grow five-fold over the next ten years in India. Each company will have to add an e-commerce portfolio under its belt to reap this growth benefit. With vigorous cotton-cutting practices, the need of the hour will be to penetrate the market vigorously with competitive prices. JCT has had a handsome growth of over 20 per cent in the last three years. The last two years were appreciable, and we plan to keep the momentum. Our thrust areas are: 1. Focus is on increasing volumes with optimum utilisation and better realisation 2. Entering new markets, both in traditional and new products 3. Entering new product line and establishing new earning avenues without any appreciable investment 4. Innovative textiles division 5. Standardisation of vendors 6. System driven and planning driven work 7. Initiating and implementing micro-planning to the level of shop floor

What is the budget allocated for R&D?

High R&D expenditure is no assurance for success. R&D as percentage of sales is the wrong criterion for determining the size of the R&D budget. In fact, increasing the R&D budget to meet the competitors' level will often lead to wasted resources and will divert top management's attention from the critical areas. The budget should be determined based on the amount required to meet the R&D objectives and strategies. The product portfolio that the company is supposed to target should always remain in focus. Some guidelines which we follow while arriving at our R&D budget are shared as follows: A significant portion to the tune of 20 per cent of the R&D budget is kept for the support of current products. Another 20 per cent is kept for the enhancement or value addition of these current products. Next 20 per cent is kept for addition of new products, or for expanding the market portfolio of the firm. Next 15 per cent is put aside for the development and maintenance of technological and management infrastructure required to support R&D. Another 15 per cent is kept for managing external R&D activities including selection and management of licensing and other technological alliances. For any textile company, some amount has to go to utilise e-com or online sales boom. I consider this a part of R&D expense nowadays. You have got to target your clients, expand your client base and consolidate your client base, if you want to enjoy the fruits of obvious online growth. Your smart phone is going to your trusted friend with whom you will spend your maximum time. What better way to promote your products than this medium? Mobile apps are here to grow and textile giants should tap this potential.
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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