Challenging times for apparel industry…or are they?

Apparel-ClothingI am not sure if it is our sins finally catching up with us, or our inability to meet the challenge of a new Medium.

Probably a bit of both.

But the end result is quite clear – the domestic Industry is going through one of its most trying periods in recent times. Retail is slow – very slow; Online is booming, but is largely discount driven. New equations are emerging, new questions are being raised – will a brand kill its image and positioning by heavy online discounting? Will it destroy its own offline distribution by its online foray? Does success online ensure a breakdown in offline channels? Are exclusive lines the answer? Or is it sub brands? Is online selling only successful in its ‘discounting’ avatar or can it also do well with a full price model?

Nobody really knows the answers. All players are seeking their own wisdom and own formulae – and hoping it will help them survive, if not grow.

In the meantime, the industry is reacting in the manner it knows best – by offering steep discounts! In 2013, the EOSS started nearly 15 to 20 days earlier than usual, by end December. In 2014, the discounting – though not called EOSS –started towards the end of November. December saw a full-fledged war. And I guess in the coming years, the Diwali season will see the peak of discounting!

The export front, for a change, is seeing much better times.

The gradual easing out of China from low-cost manufacturing, the increasing cost of production and compliance issues in Bangladesh, and the stable Dollar-Rupee ratio are all having a positive impact. We are back on a double digit growth path, and 2014 is likely to show a near about 17% growth over the 2013 in dollar terms – much higher than seen in many years. This despite no major economic revival seen in either US or EU. These are good signs.

I began by saying that the domestic industry is going through one of its most trying periods in recent times.

Maybe I should say its most challenging times? Or perhaps its most exciting times? Take your pick!

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Rahul Mehta

Rahul Mehta

Rahul Mehta is the President of CMAI and MD of the Creative Group, one of the top most companies in the apparel industry of India, began his business career in 1982. He has, at various times, been on the Board of Governors of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Managing Committee Member of the Apparel Export Promotion Council of India (AEPC) and Managing Committee of the Indian Merchants Chamber of Commerce (IMC).
Rahul Mehta

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