India’s only national sourcing fair – IIGF – into its 55th year had booths of almost 400 exhibitors in various categories, but as usual the show was dominated by women’s wear. The most sought-after and obvious trend at the exhibition was the ‘scarf’, which was seen adoring many booths at the recently concluded event. The fact that not only were the scarves visible in large numbers, but they were also in many different looks and fabrics which explains why this category received good business, making those working in scarves the ‘most satisfied’ set of participants.
Since scarves manufacturing is relatively easy compared to apparels, it attracts many start-ups. Two such young companies were showcasing at the event. Situated in Noida, Vanya Fashion and Accessories, started almost 1½ years ago is mainly doing scarves, stoles, pareos, etc. and reason was as simple as that. “Our social community is very much involved in similar business so it was easy for us to source the raw material and get guidance on the accessory business. We started with scarves and once we have established a foothold in the market, we will move towards garmenting also,” says Saransh Sadh, Director of the company. From Mumbai, Anekk Sadh, Partner of Avenue Fashonz who worked for 8 years with other companies before turning entrepreneur just 6 months ago had on display scarves in equal focus as his collection of ladies garments. “Being new, I don’t know what buyers can like more, so I tried to do apparel as well as scarves with a lot of variety,” reasons Anekk.
With new suppliers joining the wagon, is there not a fear of excess supply, especially when most of the scarves manufacturers claim that business is almost 20 per cent slow? From the response of established players it would seem that these new entrants are not spoiling market, but in fact adding a fresh dimension to the product category. Akarsh Sadh, Partner, Indira Exports, Ghaziabad says, “Fresh players in the market is one of the biggest reasons that we are focusing more on product development; to offer more and more new designs and ensure that we remain relevant and ahead in the segment.” The Sedex and SA 8,000 certified company also has a unit in Surat. Despite this positive approach, all manufacturers do agree that with number of suppliers on the rise, it gives another strong reason to buyers for reducing prices. “Competition has increased to that level where every cent counts, in that way, fresh suppliers are impacting the business a lot,” says Bipin Kumar, MD, SR International, Delhi. He also adds that many of the buyers he met during the show were sounding a little confused, as they could not apprehend why some booths were displaying wool scarves at an exhibition targeted at the summer season.
In this competitive environment where demand is definitely growing, but so also is the supply, what is the solution for survival – to maintain the same level of business with smart pricing or go for growth as usual; companies have opted various ways to survive, either based on suitability to their business model or as per their core strength. Central Himalayan Shawls, Delhi has opted to get into domestic retail, Aloka Exports, Noida which claims PD as its strength, is banking on the same for growth, while Adiba Fashions, Mumbai seeks change in Government policies as the only tool. Sumit Jain of Central Himalayan Shawls who joined the business two years ago, is enthusiastic about the new initiative in domestic retail. “We have everything to support our PD, be it the latest digital printing or traditional techniques in embroidery and printing, as we are into this business from 1978 and have over the years expanded on the value additions that we can offer. Now the only growth path for us is developing new markets, so why not domestic. Very soon our products will be seen in the local market with same quality that we are offering to our international buyers,” says an enthusiastic Sumit.
At the Aloka Exports booth the collection of scarves was an amazing range of differential fabrics. The company has beautifully played with fabrics to give various touches and feel, be it man-made or natural, Shashank Jain, Business Head of the company, strongly believes that it pays to be innovative. “It does not matter how many players are there in the market, what they are offering, what price they have, it is our product which speaks for itself. We have the products which are rarely found with other exporters and we consistently innovate for the same,” says Shashank. Having a completely different and strong opinion on how to survive, Muhammed Shaikh, Director, Adiba Fashions says, “Everyone is now involved in PD, looking to develop new markets or indulge in any other initiatives that could boost business, but the truth is that until and unless the Government doesn’t come forward to support the industry, nothing can be improved.” He gives the example of high interest rates that are killing exporters in India. “Our competitor countries have plenty of incentives compare to us,” he bemoans.
Despite the competitive woes, the thing which each one of the exhibitors agreed upon was that the scarves market has finally showed signs of picking up and even buyers at the fair were very positive; many claimed that orders were negotiated. Another very positive feedback that the exhibitors got from various buyers was that business especially in Europe was looking up in garment and fashion accessories segment in general also.
AEPC PUTS FORWARD THE KEY 7 DEMANDS
Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State for Textiles (I/C), inaugurated the 55th India International Garment Fair and assured support to the apparel exporters, but nothing concrete was indicated. Virender Uppal, Chairman, AEPC, put forward the key 7 demands that have earlier also been brought to his notice. Uppal also cautioned that the apparel exports to non-traditional markets which used to constitute 35-40% share in India’s garment exports are poised to receive a setback due to withdrawal of the Chapter 3 benefits. The AEPC has strongly taken up the issue with the Government. Sanjay Kumar Panda, Secretary Textiles hoped that the new textile policy, which is as of now pending Cabinet approval, will be declared in August. AEPC claimed that IIGF attracted 305 buyers, of which 202 are from the traditional markets and 103 are from the non-traditional markets.
STAND-OUT TRENDS IN SCARVES AT THE IIGF
- Scarves with laces of various kinds even with the quirky pom pom type laces.
- A lot of digital prints were seen with emphasis on textures of various kinds and floral of various sizes be it all-over print or gaping.
- Rather than the usage of typical blacks, whites and beige, more vibrant colours were used such as the likes of purple and yellow.
- Much of shibori or similar effect was also seen in a stylized manner.
- Bagru printing too has taken a new twist with hand block printing clubbed with tie&dye techniques to give it an edgy and modernized look.
- Fringes were seen not only in scarves but also on handbags.
- Scarves in rayon, and rayon and viscose mix were exhibited in large numbers; cotton scarves were fewer in number.
- Scarves with brushed effect were seen at some stalls and in them mostly pastel colours were used but still no blacks, whites or beige.