May 05, 2023

Increased thrust on product development is the focus of denim players

In recent months, Indian denim fabric manufacturers are continuously facing short-term and long-term challenges due to uncertain overseas markets, overall export of denim fabric being impacted negatively and this has forced mills to focus more on the domestic market. However, with a large number of denim fabric manufacturers, the demand for denim has not grown proportionately in the domestic market, so sentiments are not much upbeat for mills. Emerging unorganised players are another cause of worry but the interesting aspect is that in the long term, the companies are optimistic about increasing their market share with a growing thrust on product development.

In various textile clusters, there are a growing number of such firms that have few looms but have started producing denim fabric. They outsource the processing of fabric from unorganised players like themselves. Though the majority of these kinds of firms have some quality issues, they can sell at comparatively low prices. Their clients are mainly garment manufacturers in the domestic market that cater to Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities or rural areas. These unorganised players are cost-effective and also provide quality products which have added to the woes of the highly competitive domestic market.

Agreeing with this, Piyush Chandarana, Business Head of Vishal Denim, an Ahmedabad-based vertical integrated company, states that most of the organised players can't reduce the price despite their firm commitment to quality because of these types of players.

From established players to emerging mills, one thing that runs common for all the denim manufacturers is the emphasis on product development as despite the cost factor, more products and newer offerings always attract everyone.

For companies like KG Fabriks, apart from product development, thrust on sustainability is a continuous process.

"In our continuous endeavour towards sustainability, we further reduced the usage of water in our denim fabric production. We use a maximum of 6 litres to make a metre of denim. More than 60 per cent of the energy needed for fabric processing is derived from renewable energy resources like wind and solar. With our i-Wash and i-Top proprietary technologies, we see more than 80 per cent dye uptake happen in yarn," says Srihari Balakrishnan, MD of the company.

He further adds that they have installed a PET bottle recycling plant in the name of Kannapiran Polymers Ltd., to recycle used plastic bottles and plastic containers, thus leading to CO2 saving of about 15 million kilos or equivalent to 90,000 trees planted.

The company's latest Higg FEM score of 87 per cent asserts its relentless efforts towards sustainability.

Jindal Worldwide recently launched Denim Eye, a denim collection inspired by the latest trends in the fashion industry and it was developed based on feedback from fashion students from top Indian institutes who spotted real-time denim trends in the country.

Vishal Denim recently increased its thrust on denim for womenswear, added more colours and going forward is geared up to offer pre-shrink denim fabric. "Shrinkage is an issue in denim fabric and as an effort to overcome that, we will use fabric which has no shrinkage and rather than opting for traditional washing which requires water, stones or sand to wash the jeans, laser wash can serve the purpose," states Piyush.

Unlike many other denim mills, Vishal Denim also has a wider-width loom which is an added advantage for the company.

Premo Denim, Sonipat has also increased its product development and now offers almost 20 designs every month which is almost double than its earlier offerings. "The overall demand had not grown much but as of now we have more offerings for the clients, so they are buying a little more," says Yash.

Future Textile Manufacturing Co (Bright Denim) is also working to improve colour strength. Sarthak Shah, Head-Sales of the company tells, "Normally after a few washes, colour gets dull and whiteness emerges in indigo, as a solution we have given a base of brown and yellow which increases colour brightness." The company has also enhanced its offering by adding fabric of 9 and 10 ounces for Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities where demand is more for heavy fabric. Using Ultra Lycra is another step taken by the company to improve flexibility in the fabric.

Though the increased efforts on product development have resulted in more costing, but to grab the market share, the companies are managing this cost.

As far as blends are concerned, multi-fibres like Tencel and linen blended denim are in trend now. The majority of the companies are using blends to overcome the increased cost and normally blends like 80:20 (cotton: polyester) prevail in the market. But at the same time, companies like Bright Denim are offering only 100 per cent cotton-based denim fabric as Sarthak is of the view, "Irrespective of market trend of blends, we want to stick to our strategy of working in only 100 per cent cotton and we will continue with the same."

Despite various challenges, as usual, companies are hopeful for further growth and they have a few interesting reasons too. Yash Singh, MD, Premo Denim, who entered into denim fabric manufacturing just three years ago believes that after a long time, now the major issue seems to have settled down, be it high cotton price, inflation in the Indian market as well as overseas, so in the coming months, there should be good demand of denim.

Piyush Chandarana adds that India's competitor countries in the denim segment like Bangladesh and Pakistan are facing dollar crisis and companies in these countries can't open Letters of Credit (LC) and once the global demand rises, India should definitely get advantage of this.

It is worth mentioning here there are various reports claiming that Bangladesh has seen a decrease in its foreign exchange reserves and its local currency Taka has depreciated against the dollar by over 20 per cent in the last six-seven months.

Such reasons are creating high hopes for denim manufacturers and these include market-specific as well as social reasons too.

Due to the overall change in the social scenario and the growing impact of social media now in India, people in the age group of 35 to 40+ in smaller cities are also using more denim which was not there earlier. It is a new customer base for the denim segment. To give more options to consumers, denim fabric is now being used more in products like leggings and sportswear as denim is more comfortable due to its high stretchability.

Source: Market and Apparel Resources

Competition tight in the domestic market Piyush Chandarana, Business Head of Vishal Denim, Thrust on more offerings Srihari Balakrishnan, MD Jindal Worldwide Premo Denim Sonipat Future Textile Manufacturing Co (Bright Denim) Sarthak Shah, Head-Sales Reasons of hope for further growth Yash Singh MD Premo Denim, Leading Indian denim mills and their capacity Serial Number Company Name Capacity (million metres per annum)