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Interview with M.K.Singh

Managing Director,
Kufner South East Asia & UAE
Kufner South East Asia & UAE

In the European market, we are facing a growing sensitivity in terms of critical chemical substances in textiles...
M K Singh, the MD of Kufner South East Asia & UAE, enlightens about sustainability in manufacturing of interlinings in an interview with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Manushi Gandhi. Synopsis: Kufner Textile Group was established in 1862 and is headquartered in Germany. It is a globally operating manufacturer of woven, knitted, nonwoven, canvas interlinings and technical textiles - for fashion and technical application. The company claims to be the only company in interlinings that produces all product groups in-house like Canvas, Wovens, Knits and Nonwovens. Its head office in India is located in Bangalore, Karnataka. Mr. M K Singh is the Managing Director of Kufner South East Asia & UAE since June 2010. He joined the company as Business Head of Indian Subcontinent in 2008. Prior to this he worked as General Manager with A.P.Fashions Pvt Ltd (100% EOU), Bangalore. He graduated from Calcutta University in B.COM (Hons). Excerpts:

As there has been rising awareness about sustainability, have you observed any change in the nature of demands of your buyers? Are they demanding for eco-friendly interlinings?

In the European market, we are facing a growing sensitivity in terms of critical chemical substances in textiles since the last 15 years. In the last 7 years, this awareness and sensitivity has become more important. Today, Oeko-Tex standard100 is state of the art and considered as a well established standard and at least a minimum requirement. No buyer is ready to accept products without Oeko-Tex certificate. Apart from this, the European Community started a program called REACH to eliminate harmful chemicals from the market. Every year REACH bans usage of many of critical chemicals and forces the industries to develop alternative solutions and switch to them. European buyers insist to get letter of confirmation that all products are according to REACH as well as acc. to Oeko-Tex.

According to you, how do South East Asian & UAE’s apparel markets differ from the rest? What kinds of transitions have been observed in these markets over the last few years?

It seems... due to the fact that China is becoming more expensive, it has lost the attraction for the worldwide garment industries. Indonesia and Vietnam seem to be the winners of this tendency. This is a great chance to develop the industries in Bangladesh as well. UAE could probably become an interesting platform for European customers as well.

Sir, Please tell us some thing about the history of Kufner and what have been the innovations by the company over the years?

Kufner is accompanying the garment industries, our company has a lot of ground braking innovations which had an essential impact to enable tailors and garment technicians in creating innovative and fancy fashion. Moreover, state of the art, the coated interlining, was invented our company. Later on the double dot coating, a two component adhesive with advanced performance is the brake through of this technology in the world of garments. At the very first beginning of the 20th century, Kufner had already done great developments like the spinning process for horse hairs to an endless yarn. Besides of product like the warp inserted nonwoven and the tuning kit for a jacket, The “light and shape” canvas, we were the first to combine the interlining with a certain lining function by providing printed interlining. This was an idea which was picked up immediately from the Italian fashion market to create new interesting styles and looks for jackets. There are lots of interesting projects running to combine technical functions together with fashionable garments. It is still our passion to share the success with our partners...our customers.

At Kufner, what is the importance of sustainability and ethical business practices? What kinds of efforts have been taken by the company in this direction?

Founded in 1862, Kufner has a very long tradition driving the business from one generation to the next. The concept for successful business for over 150 years now is to balance out the requirements and needs of the company’s employees as well as our customers and the management / stakeholders. Our focus is to built a safe and healthy environment and set up a frame for responsible business. I believe reliability and trust is very hard to achieve... but very easy to lose. Considering this, in the year 2000 our management started to implement an environmental management system according to ISO 14001. The whole Kufner Group is committed to consider the best practice in technology, logistics, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Reducing carbon footprint, waste management systems, REACH are some examples of a continuously improvement processes which are audited every year and get certified from an independent organization called TUV.

"Sustainability is just a new marketing strategy for some companies to increase the profit margins." Please present your views on this statement.

Of course some marketing experts are tempted to use the sensitivity and certain fears of consumers to consider “sustainability” as a selling argument. But all effective efforts in terms of sustainability are not really suitable to generate quick business and high profits. Promises without contents lead to the loss of trust and can ruin the brand image. We consider sustainability as an investment for today and the future. Continues improvement processes are effective in a middle and long term perspective. We expect that there will be a time in the near future where companies without a well based environmental philosophy will find themselves caught in serious problems. Neither the governments nor the consumers will have any acceptance for compromises and “accidents” which can adversely affect human health and the future generation.

As the global apparel industry is growing rapidly, how has been the market for interlining in last years? What has been the growth rate?

The situation on the interlining market was rather different. Some companies could follow the changes in the garment industries better, some could not. We consider it’s growth in the last years of about 5%, as a healthy and therefore as sustainable and stable for the future.

On the basis of end use application, Can you please differentiate between woven interlinings and nonwoven interlinings?

For a simple and economical re-enforcement, nonwoven interlinings are an important solution. Creating good looking and “real” shape as well as added value on light and comfortable jackets, woven interlinings are indispensable.

Which materials should be used in a wise manner, while manufacturing interlinings to reduce environmental footprint?

There are natural and synthetic fibres used as reinforcing and shape creating elements in the fashion industries. We don’t think that it’s possible to eliminate synthetic fibres completely in the near future. An explosive growth of natural fibres to replace synthetics would lead to monocultures with all their extremely negative impacts to the nature. For both kinds of textile systems, there is still a lot of room for improvement to save energy and natural resources. The recycling industry has still not got the meaning it should have. The logistics around this important business field gives a wide room for improvement. Too many natural resources are still getting lost in a garbage bin instead of being separated and recycled.

What are the technological advancements in nonwovens interlinings which reduce environmental threats?

The textile machine industry invented a lot of solutions in the last years to save energy and to reduce the loss of material. The efficiency of nonwoven machines has become extremely high and this leads to a better utilization of energy and raw material. Today, nonwovens are considered as a mass product. For interlining purpose, customers require and expect more and more customized solutions to create attractive garments. The challenge for the future is to combine individual nonwoven solutions in smaller quantities together with effective production processes.
Published on: 23/01/2014

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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