Brilliant planning, flawless execution, extraordinary networking opportunities, unique mix of manufacturers and products, all-encompassing knowledge platforms!
These were some of the terms used by Neeraj Nagpal (Chief Business Officer- Shoppers Stop); Anindya Ray (Chief Sourcing Officer of Arvind Fashions Ltd.); Rakhi Vashisht (Director Raw Material Sourcing of Target); Suman Chowdhury (COO and Co-founder, Clovia Lingerie) and Aanshul Grover (Sourcing Head, Bestseller- Jack & Jones), to describe the second edition of the much-awaited Apparel Sourcing Week (ASW) 2022, which concluded on a successful note in Bengaluru on 2nd July 2022.
That the two-day sourcing event, held at the iconic Sheraton Grand Whitefield, would be a hit was pretty much evident early on as feelers came in thick and fast.
The sheer number of registrations and feedback of the stakeholders concerned including the exhibitors (who received tremendous business leads and enquiries at the inaugural edition of ASW, most of which translated into business later), keenly looking forward to the second edition to forge long-standing and fruitful relations with new buyers, brands and retailers, if at all, were telltale signs of what was to be expected in the two days of ASW.
Curated on the building blocks of Opportunity, Knowledge, Inspiration and Networking, little did one foresee that ASW 2022 would assume a different hue altogether to give the industry a new direction keeping with the changing dynamics.
Regional collaboration – name of the game!
Sourcing these days is not about any specific country; it’s more about a region, and what it can offer to the buyers as a whole!
Thanks to decades-long strong presence in the manufacturing hubs of Asia, especially in India and Bangladesh through its much-read print vertical of Apparel Online magazines, the organiser of ASW, Apparel Resources (AR) has been a strong propagator of putting up a regional front to reign in the opportunities on offer, which was aptly manifested in this two-day event.
The stakeholders too, holding the same views, only strengthened ASW’s resolve to take the issue of regional cooperation and identity to the next level.
“Enhanced bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and India can go a long way in strengthening the position of both the countries in the value chain while also help establish South Asia as the hub for apparel and textile innovations,” aptly put Muhammad Imran, Bangladesh’s High Commissioner, throwing open the event, oozing confidence that ASW has the wherewithal to create the right kind of regional synergies to benefit the stakeholders concerned from both the nations.
The High Commissioner’s views were strongly seconded by Mohd. Kamaluddin, the Chairman of BGMEA Standing Committee on Trade Fair, who said Bangladesh and India can work together to garner a major share in the US $ 700 billion global MMF-based apparel market.
“Also, BGMEA is working with factories to increase collaborations with designers, investors and textile companies located outside Bangladesh,” further added Kamaluddin referring towards possible avenues of Indian involvement from Bangladesh’s perspective.
That India boasts of a vibrant fashion retail sector, which is set to touch US $ 88.48 billion, making it the third largest after USA and China, added a new dimension to the issue of regional collaboration.
“We strongly feel connecting with Bangladeshi suppliers is going to help us in a lot of areas as the manufacturing community in Bangladesh is comparatively advanced and we see a natural link happening with our manufacturing partners in Bangladesh,” opined Mohit Mathur, Chief Sourcing Officer at Ace Turtle, which is set to increase sourcing from Bangladesh even as it announced to establish 100 more omnichannel-enabled Lee & Wrangler stores by March 2023.
Similar were the views shared by Vasanth Kumar, Head of Sourcing and Merchandising, DaMensch Apparel, which is one of the fastest-growing start-ups in Indian fashion retail.
“Currently, we are sourcing raw material from China and Taiwan, but not the final products. As we are enhancing the product basket and adding outerwear, considering all aspects including competitive price-points, sourcing from Bangladesh is very much on the cards,” stated Vasanth.
‘Buyers and exhibitors of all hues’ were a major highlight of ASW
Carefully handpicked by Team AR based on the parameters of delivery, commitment, proficiency and compliance, ASW 2022 had a rich mix of suppliers from across Asia, especially from Bangladesh and India, which meant the exceptional turnout of the buyers who visited ASW 2022 including from overseas destinations like Dubai, Australia, Hong Kong, etc., for their diverse requirements, found the right match at the two-day event.
“It was nice to come across so many different kinds of manufacturers,” underlined Dhanasekeran. R, Assistant Buying Manager of Dubai-based Lifestyle International Pvt Ltd., Landmark Group, who felt some of the Bangladeshi suppliers could afford to be little more price-competitive nevertheless.
However, the buyers from India in particular took the attention off their overseas counterparts, thanks to the diverse programmes that they had turned up with for the prospective suppliers.
As expected, orders’ queries in equally varied range were also in the mix of things.
If queries for MOQs of over 5,000 pieces delighted big names like Pacific Jeans, Indian Designs, Mahmud Group, Laguna Clothing and Adarsh Knitwear, entities like Pop Station benefited the most from visitation of emerging start-ups which wanted to source smaller quantities in the initial run.
“As we have created a flexible business model, we can accommodate almost every order size from any type of buyers,” opined Niket Lulla, CEO, Pop Station (India) adding the queries for buyers were taken care of with utmost sincerity.
Said Syed Tanvir, MD, of Chittagong-based premium denim jeans manufacturer, Pacific Jeans, “One of the leading Indian brands had discussed to start sourcing from us for the upcoming season,” while Faheem Ahamed, MD, Welstand Apparel from Dhaka was more than elated to bag decent orders from the Indian buyers during the two days of ASW.
KAS Group, which is sourcing apparels in substantial quantities from both Bangladesh and India and has lately started sourcing kid’s textile toys and pet clothing too, had a piece of advice for the vendors in both the countries.
“The demand of such products is massive in the global retail market; they (vendors) need to actively look at these products categories,” advised Arjun Puri, Director of KAS Group Asia.
Knowledge sharing and networking opportunities – icing on the cake
It’s not just hardcore business, like the inaugural edition, ASW 2022 had an equally power-packed line up of industry-focused seminars, ideative sessions, bridging talks, open houses and endless networking opportunities including the invite-only networking night, which witnessed the who’s who of the industry letting their hair down over a drink or two and share some light-hearted moments at the comedy show presented by famous stand-up artiste Atul Khatri!
The 15-plus knowledge sessions conducted and participated by more than 65 well-heeled industry experts in their respective domains to deliberate on issues pertaining to the future of fashion, upcycling and sustainability, D2C opportunities in fashion, mitigating the risks in sourcing, etc., were not just informative but also shed new light on the various emerging aspects pertaining to the issues concerned.
“In today’s context, when everything is changing very fast in light of the pandemic and the existing market dynamics, the forum of ASW is a great place to facilitate meaningful dialogue,” observed Neetu Jotwani, SVP, House of brands, Myntra, who has been a part of couple of very exciting panel discussions, which was echoed equally strongly by Suparna Malhotra, Vice President of the Newtimes Group of Companies.
AR SHERO Awards – an ode to women empowerment
Amidst all the hectic business discussions and closing of business deals, the second edition of ASW took time out to acknowledge, salute and celebrate the unparalleled success of the women leaders of the industry through the AR SHERO Awards.
Amongst the winners in different categories were Sonia Sethi, Head of Sourcing & Supply Chain Management, Lucy & Yak Ltd.; Ambereen Javid, Creative Head, Indian Designs Exports; Neetu Jotwani, SVP – House of Brands Myntra; Suparna Malhotra, Vice President, Newtimes Group of Companies; Rakhi Vashisht, Director-Raw Material Assurance-Target; Suchita Oswal, Vice Chairperson & Joint Managing Director-Vardhman Textiles; and Jyoti Saikia, CEO,Triburg Consultants Partner, Co-CEO, TriburgImtiara.
To put it in a sentence, ASW ’22 ticked all the boxes that one could perceive off, making it one-of-its-kind platform that not only facilitates business, but also addresses all conceivable issues pertaining to manufacturing, fashion and retail.
“ASW is creating newer opportunities for the world’s biggest brands to do business and meet new partners, ensuring the sharpest innovators hit the stage,” stated Mayank Mohindra, the proud CEO of ASW, promising to be back soon with more such endeavours to help the industry scale new heights.
ASW in a nutshell
- Over 5,000 visitors from the apparel and fashion industry visited the show, spread over 60,000 sq. ft. area, on 1st and 2nd July.
- Over 100 apparel and textile exhibitors from Asia got business opportunities and became engaged in meaningful interactions with buyers.
- 65+ speakers from fashion industry graced the panel discussions, bridging talks and ideative sessions which were attended by hundreds of industry people.
- AR SHERO Awards were given to eminent women professionals of the fashion industry to recognise their hard work and efforts.
- 80 students from different fashion institutes got opportunities to know the industry inside-out as they wholeheartedly volunteered in the event’s activities.
- Pre-Registered buyers’ turnout proved to be as high as 97 per cent – a NEW BENCHMARK for B2B events. Of total registration done for ASW second edition, the number of pre-registered visitors was 70 per cent, while the remaining 30 per cent was contributed by visitors who registered themselves on-site.
Major brands/retailers which visited ASW 2022
Aditya Birla Group; Apparel Group (Dubai); Landmark Group; Reliance Brands (including AJIO); Arvind Brands; Target; Kmart; Bestseller; Next; Inditex Sourcing; H&M; Future Lifestyle; Decathlon; M&S; UCB; Zivame; Killer Jeans; Nykaa; Octave; House of Zelena; Snapdeal; Myntra; Moglix; Gannet Fisher; Mothercare; Being Human; and Amazon
Major queries that kept exhibitors busy for two days
- The queries for hemp-made garments were dominant in the event as confirmed by some exhibitors such as Crony Group (Abanti Colour Tex). Majority of emerging and promising start-ups as well as established brands that have sustainability as their key focus demanded for it and this benefited the apparel exhibitors who already had hemp-made garments in their portfolio and the companies like Vardhman that have huge production of hemp fabrics.
- One of the most observed categories of buyers was those of start-up companies that had substantial plans to grow. Buyers from some promising start-ups showed great presence on both days and many searched for various products especially denims, as reported by Mahmud Group of Bangladesh. “Most of them were searching for denims made out of Tencel fibres. Also, the fake knit that is dobby knit was the one about which the enquiries were quite significant. The company was able to build connections in India and initiate business with a lot of retailers and start-ups companie during two days,” claimed Kunal Joshi, Design Head, Mahmud Group.
- Start-ups in particular looked for BCI-approved cotton T-shirts, fine gauge sweaters. A start-up from Kerala – Ellazea – even inquired about padded jackets, sheer tops for women, and T-shirts in high GSM. “All these products are our specialty and we’re delighted to know buyers paid attention to our high-end products,” commented Ashish Sharma, Founder, Threadmill Clothing (Bangladesh).
- Many visitors seemed to show an interest in the intricately embroidered shawls and short kurtis as well as the seamless sweaters made by the companies such as Knit Studio while Grassroots by Anita Dongre scouted for manufacturers that can produce flat knitted dresses for their A/W 2023 line. They said that their focus is also on sustainability and using yarns made from natural fibres. The buyers also wanted to know where the raw materials were sourced from in the products that were made out of wool. A majority of the visitors were unfamiliar and unaware about the possibilities of complete garment production using computerised flat knitting, so the factories that had such machines were having upper hand in buyer acquisition. A brand was even curious to know how the cables on the sweaters are made, and how chunky knits are produced on the machine, so discussions of such kind kept exhibitors on their toes as they got to know the potential brands and retailers in the subcontinent.