Demand from Western markets has helped India’s textile sector stay afloat amid pandemic

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By Puja Gupta

New Delhi – Clothing is one of the basic needs of human existence, which is why even during the lockdown, the clothing industry saw constant demand. Demand from Western markets has helped India’s textile industry stay afloat, says Avinash Mane, Commercial Director, South Asia, Lenzing Group.

Mane shares his perspective on the challenges facing the Indian textile industry due to the pandemic and the role technology must play in the future of the garment industry.

Q: How has the Indian textile industry responded to the challenges faced by Covid-19 over the past year?

A: The textile sector is one of the biggest contributors to the national economy and a major generator of jobs. India’s textile sector is unique as it is one of the best in the world, producing around 15 percent of total industrial production and contributing around 30 percent of total exports.

The industry has faced its share of challenges over the past year. While domestic retailing took a hiatus last summer, export orders from the European and American region have also dried up. But despite the problems, the industry has remained afloat. Especially after the first wave where orders from Western countries started pouring in. The recovery, driven by exports, was visible from the start of this year. Clothing is one of the basic needs of human existence, which is why even during the lockdown, the online clothing industry saw constant demand.

According to a recent report by the Indian Assessment and Research Agency (Ind-Ra), the unavailability of inputs such as fabrics, yarns etc. due to foreclosure restrictions may have a short term impact on final production in the sector, however, it is unlikely to have an impact on the Indian textile sector.

As mentioned, demand from western markets has helped India’s textile sector stay afloat. Ind-Ra said that due to strong export markets, the first quarter of the current fiscal year may not be a “lost quarter” for the textile industry. Covid-19 and the lockdown have also been a deep learning experience for the textile industry which has responded with agility by establishing an adequate inventory and we believe this will help the sector to rebound sooner than expected.

Recently, Lenzing announced its trading results for the first quarter. The group experienced good growth for its lyocell and modal fibers TENCEL as well as the viscose fibers LENZING ECOVERO. The Indian region has been a key contributor to this.

The sector has also received promising support from the government through innovative projects such as the planned textile mega parks, giving it the necessary impetus to become competitive, attracting large investments through the creation of world-class infrastructure.

Q: Do you think the Indian textile industry is doing better than other regions in terms of activity? If yes, why ?

A: The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted the untapped textile potential of the South Asian region. It has enabled countries like India, Bangladesh and Indonesia to become a potential global hub for textiles and clothing exports. The availability of abundant and cheap labor, water and other raw materials for textile manufacturing processes, large cotton production, proximity to growing markets have further contributed to this.

Q: The Covid-19 has given birth to a new type of consumer, pushing products and services to recreate themselves. Do you believe this is also true for promotional textile clothing? Please specify.

A: The Covid-19 crisis has created a more conscious consumer. There has been a significant change in consumer attitudes and purchasing behavior and most of them are expected to stay after the pandemic. Containment has forced consumers to analyze their purchasing habits, including cost awareness, preference for local products, assessing the impact of their purchases, which ultimately leads to making sustainable choices.

Consumer preferences have strongly realigned, shifting from lifestyle to health, hygiene and personal care. The value of hygiene has increased dramatically, paving the way for products that promote hygiene and provide consumers with greater safety against the virus.

Interestingly, fiber characteristics such as microbial resistance have become a key focus for textile manufacturers and brands. These were previously seen as additional features, the use of which was limited to special segments like sportswear.

Clothing brands have expanded their portfolio to add masks as they become a staple. The demand from the medical industry has dramatically increased the demand for non-woven fabric. These are key ingredients in the creation of masks, wipes and PPE kits. We expect this demand to continue in the near future and contribute to the sector.

Q: Do you think technology will have a bigger role in the textile industry in a post-Covid-19 era?

A: We believe that technology will play a key role in reviving, rejuvenating and revitalizing India’s textile industry. Without a doubt, the support of technology is vital for any industry, but when it comes to textiles it becomes even more important.

Consumers want to know the origin and path of their products. This increases the demand for traceability from brands and consumers, further driving the growing use of AI and IoT in the industry. To meet this demand, Lenzing collaborated with TextileGenesis and introduced a brand new blockchain-enabled supply chain traceability platform in 2020. (IANS)


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