The Apparel export basket from India contains an interesting assortment of products, some of which are our inherent strengths while others have the potential to grow in the next couple of years. One such product category on which there seems to be a consensus among manufacturers, technologists, and consultants, that India has the potential to be competitive is the bottoms category, in both the US and the E U markets. This category consists of a wide variety of garments ranging from the classic trousers to boxer shorts in various fabrics and price segments. Notwithstanding that 97 percent of quota is utilized Every year in this category, there are still same areas, which need to be strengthened to succeed in the global market. Quotas, no doubt, are the biggest constraints today, but once quotas go, the three major constraints that will hamper India’s capabilities are consistent qualities, price competitiveness, and fit. These issues are linked with the larger areas of productivity and fabric limitations. While technology and its proper application are a must to overcome most of the constraints, the fabric will remain a vulnerable area for the middle segment with no immediate solution in sight.
There are four crucial aspects involved in the production of quality trousers. Known as the elementary Fabric Feel Finish and Fit, which define a vendor’s capability of handling this product, while the three Feel Finish and Fit can be achieved by a combination of human skills and state of the-art technology. The fourth component the fabric which accounts for 60% of the garment is not entirely in the hands of the manufacture-exporter Many potential buyer reason out that the major constraint for the growth of this category especially for the high-value middle segment mass market is the lack of competitiveness in fabric This has compelled several buyers to shift orders in bottoms and trousers from India to other more competitive countries. But does India have any strength in this fast growing segment of apparel.
In genetic terms India does have some strength in bottoms otherwise quotas for this category would not have been utilized to almost 97% Obviously a lot of people are already shipping bottoms from here. There are broadly three categories in bottoms: the low value casual shorts the middle market good casual bottom and the high value classic trousers Speaking specifically of categories within bottoms, one categories within bottoms, one category which I think India is very strong in, is the first category of basic yarn dyed shorts madras shorts and surfer shorts which are casual shorts yarn dyed sleeping pajamas etc. In fact some of the buyers do a lot of shipping from India, which they cannot do from anywhere else in the world.
The world market prefers madras check shorts and power loom fabric causal shorts. India is basically strong in this category because there is good fabric range available for this category. The pricing for casual shorts works out to be very reasonable because the fabric, which is easily available in India costs at an average between Rupees 50 to Rupees 60 per meter One needs approximately 1.3 meters of fabric to cut out one pair of shorts and the fob value of the short would not be more than $4-4.5 which is very competitive.
Weak Mass Middle Market
The second category in bottoms, which is the middle market product is of good casual bottoms which are chino pants chino shorts in twill and canvases with different types of washes. This is where India is quite weak and three are only few factories which are exporting in this quota category. Which do largely for labels like Banana Republic, Gap Old Navy etc. The fabric for this category is not available at competitive prices in India and most of it comes from China.
The fabric used in this category is basically twill and canvas, both of which are uncompetitive in price in India For this reason basic twill shorts, which buyers are doing for the middle market and the discounters cannot be done in India at all The price of canvas available in India is around Rupees 140($3) per meter whereas from China it would cost around $1.6 per yard Broken twill are around Rupees 150-160 ($3.4) per meter as against $1.6-1.7 per yard from China. In a basic 20 by 16 or 16 by 12 peach twill it would cost at least Rupees 100-110 meter from any good mill Hence what we are talking about is more than $ 2 per meter as against just $110 1.35 per yard from China and that too in better quality in Chinese twill you would not and variation in terms of weight handling packing or delivery The deliveries being much faster there is more time for lab dip approvals. In India even some of the well-known mills give the delivers so late that buyers do not think of placing orders with them. In cash of other mills the fabric is too expensive and deliveries are a long drawn out process In case of bulk fabric there are too many shade lots in the bulk and the widths are uneven making it a very difficult to work with such mills.
I would say the quality of the fabric from China is better. On their fabric lab print can be available within 7 days and it takes approximately 12 days for approval and within 30 days the bulk fabric is ready for delivery in rolls. Each roll is neatly packed in cellophane with stickers Indicating number of yards on it and the roll size is generally 70-80 yards per roll The whole bulk is similar and the packing list has lots marked on them It is so much easier to work with imported fabric than to face problems of consistent quality in fabric procurement in India.
Formal Bottom wear
The third category of bottom is formal wear, which is like dress made bottom, the one we would wear with blazers and suits would say the fabric for this category is much stronger than fabric and the canvases. Company like the Reliance Rajasthan Spinning and many of them-bigger ones-do a lot of materials for the classic range of trousers however very few exporters are manufacturing such I value trousers and think even theses mils realize that in India only a very few plants have the technology to do such sophisticated trousers so they display their new products in the global market and it is easier to get the new developments from new York and Toronto them to get them in Delhi or from Mumbai these big mils have good presence Canada and the US and many buyers are now sending a lot of fabrics from India to others parts of Asia and Canada for production in India only a couple of factories. Imperial clothing in Bangalore have state of the-art plants, which are very good. T C N S, I believe as plants in Chennai, which is also well enquired, but it is just six or seven plants which you can count on your fingertips. Hence in this category it is the manufacturing technology, which is lacking and not the fabrics, which is a sad part.
In category number one, which is like yarn dyed shorts, yarn dyed pajamas etc the margins are very low but the orders are easily available. Here India has the fabrics as also the technology. So most of exporter is built up on this category, which is the casual bottom, like constructed chino plants and shorts you have means to make it but you don’t have fabric. Hence the market gets lots. The third category is the formal bottoms where you have fabrics but do not have plants to manufacture high quality precision trousers.
In casual bottoms the second category, which is chino shorts and bottoms I thinks the biggest competitors, is obviously China. But then again China is obviously our biggest competitor otherwise also Vietnam is a very strong competitor now because a pair of twilled shorts. Which in India would not be for less than $4.50 to 4.70 Vietnam would do it at $3.5 additionally it also has the advantage of quota -free access to the US. Their plants are also having very good capacities. Bangladesh is not so competitive now because of the quota price and they are at some price range as India. Japan has hardly any plants, which can do this kind of volume U.A.E, Oman are bit more expensive Kenya is again a big competitor. So I think as of now, when we talk about losing out in terms of this products category, we are talking about Vietnam, Kenya, and U.A.E, OMAN and Bahrain etc. to some extent I would not consider Malaysia or Indonesia as competitor India because they are making more complicated trousers with better quality fabrics, better labels and more sophisticated.