The 41st India International Garment Fair will go down in the history of AEPC as a milestone for its success in bringing the Fair from the familiar folds of Pragati Maidan to the beautifully laid out Apparel House in Gurgaon with facilities to match internationally acclaimed Fairs around the world. Taking off on a slow and shaky start, the event ended on a very positive upbeat mood. For the first time participants both at the showroom and hangar area were satisfied with the response generated at the Fair. Official statistics show that 928 international buyers and 706 buying agencies registered at the counter, significantly more then the last edition.
It was very heartening to see Rakesh Vaid, Chairman, AEPC, closely monitoring the Fair on all four days. The hands on approach speaks well for the change that is happening at the AEPC with members of the governing body taking active interest in the promotion of the industry and working unitedly to achieve growth in the running financial and continue to grow subsequently. In an exclusive interview to Apparel Online on the eve of the Fair, Vaid had said, “The changeover from five-star hotels to Pragati Maidan was under my supervision in the late 80s and this second major shift is also happening in my management, so it is very important for me personally to ensure that all teething problems are overcome during my tenure and the event reaches global proportions thereafter.”
Though the first day was a day of confusion, both for the buyers and the exhibitors, as things settled down the venue became a busy business area. “Many buyers wrote orders with us on day four,” said Ruchika Nathhany, Skcon International, who had a stall in the hangar area. Many other exporters conveyed the same thought. The exporters hope that the Fair would be an even bigger success in the next edition once the loose ends that emerged from the maiden Fair were tied up. “It is definitely a good move and it will give a more permanent and serious feel to the IIGF,” said Tushar at Tushar Handworks, also from the hangar area.
At the showroom section, many exporters felt that having a permanent structure with options to display in more sophisticated environment had given them an edge that was earlier missing. “I received buyers who might never have visited my stall in Pragati Maidan, which speaks volumes for the change in Venue,” said Rajiv Kapoor, Affordable Exports. Even for the big exporters who were displaying for the first time, it was a good experience. “It was interesting to interact with buyers from Europe and understand what they are looking for. Though they do not have good volumes to offer to companies like us, but sharing market inputs is also very essential for international business,” said Gaurav Gulati, Modelama Exports. Added Vandana Sabharwal, Orient Craft, “Initially we were skeptical, but I am happy that we did participate as it was a good platform to know what is happening in the world market.”
Buyers too expressed satisfaction at the new venue. “The venue is much more professional with better infrastructure giving it a bigger appeal,” said Elif Ertuerk from ELF & E, Turkey. However, some regular buyers found the venue too formal. “The earlier venue imparted the feel of a Fair while the ambience at the Apparel House is like a shopping mall,” said Lucia Manuel from Spain. But on an average the buyers took to the venue and were happy with the change. Even the buying offices in India thought that the new venue was an improvement for the Fair and the selling efforts of the industry. “The change has given roots to IIGF and brought together the big, middle and small exporters for the convenience of buyers looking at combination of options in product range, fabric type and varying order sizes from small quantities to large volumes,” said Sunil Asani, The Children’s Place.
The increase in buyer interest is also attributed to the rising prices in China. “As the situation stands today we prefer to buy most of our requirements from India now,” said Villaret and Oliver Sari, wholesalers from France. “The combination of quality and price that we see in knits is workable though we would have liked to see more players with larger capacities in knit,” added Piotr Kowalik from Trawena, Poland, who had come to India for the first time. Earlier it was only China that could give this combination. Even DP Singh from Li & Fung looking after the Karstadt Quelle account, mentioned that with China becoming an expensive sourcing base their buyers were increasingly looking at India for bigger share of the sourcing platter.
Among the interesting trends that emerged at the Fair, was a large attendance of visitors from Eastern Europe and the UAE. Almost 30% of buyers came from Eastern Europe, an increase from about 15% from the last edition. Most of the exporters were excited by the new market opportunity and many reported new buyer contacts from these countries.
“We have seen many buyers from Turkey, they have not only shown interest in our range but also placed some orders,” said Harpal Singh, Shri Durga Exports Inc. From a trend perspective dresses were the most displayed and demanded garment with almost all buyers happy with the choice that varied from a $ 3 cotton printed offering to a Euro 25 plus chiffon dress with embellishments.
The Secretary Textiles, AK Singh, who took the opportunity to rubbish rumours of withdrawing incentives granted to the industry earlier in the year, inaugurated the Fair. Acknowledging that the sector suffers from two major disadvantages – poor infrastructure and outdated machinery, and obsolete technology, Singh informed that the ministry, to rectify these anomalies, is looking at developing textile hubs with the cooperation of various State Governments and governmental agencies. “Projects worth Rs 86,000 crore have been sanctioned so far under TUF this year.’’ He further pointed out, and hoped, that he would help the textile industry improve upon the quality of its products with the help of modern technology. On the more contentious labour issues, Singh said the industry was tackling the problem at an individual level. He expressed confidence in the garment industry and called for 100% self-auditing by companies.
Besides regular buyers, the Fair was also visited by delegations from Pakistan, Myanmar, Botswana and Kazakhstan. The organizers could heave a sigh of relief. “We have received good feedbacks from the participants, and buyers have also appreciated our efforts and are happy with the range available at the Fair,” said HKL Magu, Chairman, Apparel Management Committee. Lalit Thukral, Convener, IIGF was a happy man, “The response has been even better than we expected and the management team led by Rakesh Vaid has taken the first step towards truly creating a global garment fair at par with the best in the world.”
Though how much business was generated from the Fair is still to be analysed, the satisfaction on the faces of the exhibitors and buyers was a pleasant sight that augurs well for the future. The words of Pradeepp Arora, SPS International, a Delhi-based buying agency, reflects the sentiments of a majority of visitors, “The buyers have liked the concept as they are able to meet such a huge vendor base in one go. Most of them have placed orders and are looking forward to come again for the next edition. They are also happy to see the way the Fair has been organized and were impressed with the international feel and look.”