Interview with Mr Prahalad R Agarwala

Mr Prahalad R Agarwala
Mr Prahalad R Agarwala
Rupa & Co. Ltd
Rupa & Co. Ltd

What sentiments govern the knitwear (hosiery) markets in shore & offshore?

During the past few years, there has been a significant rise in corporate interest towards the inner wear segment for various reasons. One of the reasons being the huge domestic market that today demands for better quality products and the growing export prospects.

Inner wear is becoming increasingly a fashion accessory. The future of the inner wear market looks hot and positive as more MNC’s are stepping into the arena with their unparalleled marketing strategies and their latest product range.

However, the undergarment sector in India, until recently was one of the few markets that did not witness the entry of multinationals. With globalization of the Indian economy, international innerwear giants have entered Indian markets. Thus, the market, with the entry of new brands is set for a buoyant trend.

In addition, the role of the media cannot be ignored. In a market like that of India, where competition is on the uptrend, the role of effective communication plays a vital role (apart from design innovations, quality and distribution) in making the brand a success.

The knitted garment sector (Hosiery) constitutes about 25% of the total production textile & garment industry that makes backbone of India’s economy. Hosiery items include a wide range of products though mainly concentrated on innerwear and casual wear.

Today there is a global market for knitwear products; however, most of this international market remains untapped by India. India has great potential to expand into the global knitwear market, as its products are competitive particularly from a price standpoint. India is the second largest producer of cotton. Hence, cotton garment exports will grow and develop in the coming times.

Which regions in India remain potent to grow in the sector?

The industry is showing a positive trend over the past few years and the growth is exponential.

In the early days of the knitwear evolution, Ludhiana and Calcutta were the prime production centers. But today Tirupur which was at one time a small shanty township in south India has developed into a major production centre and accounts for nearly Rs. 11000 crores of knitwear exports. This amounts to nearly 40 per cent of India’s total knitwear outflow. Tirupur has developed into a legend because of historical reasons and an abundant availability to high quality cotton and skilled labor force. India has a competitive edge in the manufacturing of readymade garments including knitwear.

Hosiery industry in West Bengal also has a huge growth potential; latest technology of knitting and process is being installed day by day in the state. This industry mainly consists of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and it plays a vital role in the economy of West Bengal in view of its decentralized nature, labor-intensive character, job creation capacity and the prospects for earning exchange through exports.

What are consumption trends in Indian market?

As our climate is tropical throughout the country, our consumption of cotton innerwear is very high.

When one talks of casual wear the first item that one thinks of is knitwear and that normally means of T-shirt would have been termed as a vest and would have been relegated into the underwear department.

Today, come summer and it is time for cotton knitwear and every year there is a seasonal spurt of T-shirt manufacturers who take advantage of the season in India and abroad. 65% of Indian population is young, below 35 years.

Since 1980 the knitwear market in India for the local and export sections has acquired a new and fashionable dimension. Initially a garment worn on the playgrounds- the T-shirt began to attain a certain amount of dignity as world and Indian designers looked at it with newfound respect. It is therefore not surprising to see cotton knitwear at informal functions or even in offices. Indian exports for knitwear are already quite phenomenal since India is able to provide reasonably priced fashion knits for the world markets.

The main items of export in knitwear are elegant men’s T-shirts, fancy ladies T-shirts with exquisite embroidery and sequined work, night shirts for ladies and men’s pyjamas sets and sportswear and jogging suit and boxer sets.

Please also tell us about dimensions of sector globally and Indian stake in its various sub-segments-

Global Industry Analysts (GIA) has released a comprehensive report on the global hosiery sector, which forecasts the market will reach US$20.3 billion by 2015.

The innerwear market in India is currently valued at Rs. 11600 crore in value terms. From these pie of Rs. 11600 crore 35% to 45% share is of organized market and rest belongs to unorganized market.

The women Lingerie comprises of Rs. 6960 crore. The Indian lingerie industry is poised for a great leap ahead due to the growing domestic demand coupled with huge export potential. There are more than 1000 Indian brands present, but only 200 are active nationwide. The remaining caters to markets in the vicinity of their manufacture.

The Last decade has witnessed inflow of many multinational brands in the Indian innerwear market. Many foreign companies have already set up or are in the process of setting up their manufacturing units in India in collaboration with local players. India’s vast resources, skilled work force and infrastructure attract a lot of foreign investment in the field of innerwear.

Published on: 04/04/2011

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

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