INDIAN APPAREL MANUFACTURERS TAPPING ON ATHLEISURE REVOLUTION
Last year, Merriam-Webster updated its dictionary with the newest addition of the fashion term – ‘Athleisure’, which means ‘casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use’. Making a place for itself in the dictionary has marked its presence forever in the fashion world. Comfortable yet powerful not only sums up the entire meaning of ‘athleisure’, but also puts spotlight on the booming popularity of fitness among the consumers. A report by Fortune reveals that Americans are being drawn to athleisure in larger numbers every year. In 2015, while the whole of retail sales were flat for the year, sales of athletic wear were up by 12 per cent. The fashion trend is galloping not only in the US market but in the Indian market as well. Team StitchWorld unravels some of the sportswear exporters, who have sensed the need of athletic leisure clothing for Indian consumers and launched their own labels.
Athleisure is the new black!
If we talk out about the 90s dubbed by ‘grunge, minimalism, and miniskirts,’ Paris Hilton pink track suit proved to be a blip from the mainstream fashion. But her eye for style picked up momentum when Beyonce was spotted wearing a rich ruby track piece. Trickling down to current sportychic or bohemian look, athleisure was always a hidden ‘forever trend’.
Riding high on the wave of changing consumer lifestyle and preferences, all major retailers such as Nike, Puma, Adidas, H& M, Lululemon, Under Armour, etc., are coming up with the latest trends in athleisure wear with a portfolio of sports bra, T-shirts, jogger pants, track pants, tops, and more.
‘Fashion is comfortability’ is no longer a myth as it is the perfect concoction of comfort, fashion essence and performance. Fitting seamlessly into the consumers’ fast-paced lifestyle, athleisure apparel brings in board qualities like quick drying, odour resistance, moisture wicking and durability. According to The NPD Group, US activewear sales totalled US $ 45.9 billion in 2016, up by 11 per cent from last year and far
According to Euromonitor report, from 2015 to 2016, the Indian sportswear market grew by 22 per cent, outpacing the segment’s global increase of 7 per cent. By 2020, it is expected to grow at 12 per cent CAGR with sales expected to reach US $ 8 billion.
outperformed the traditional apparel sector overall.
Thanks to the busy-bee millennials, athleisure is now a synonym for relaxed all- day clothing which will soon evade the difference between formal and casual wear. Avoiding the FOMO, athleisure is a perfect choice when in doubt.
Athleisure ‘trickling across’ India
A definite bend towards healthy lifestyle and fitness has created the need for an apparel that can be worn allday-long. The recent comfort trend has not only captivated the US market, but has also expanded its reach to the Chinese and Indian markets as well. Adding health and wellness routines to their busy schedules, Indian youth knows the complete in-and- out of the trend and is completely in love with it. According to a Euromonitor report, from 2015 to 2016, the Indian sportswear market grew by 22 per cent, outpacing the segment’s global increase of 7 per cent. By 2020, it is expected to grow at 12 per cent CAGR with sales expected to reach US
$ 8 billion.
We sense the ‘euphoria’
Identifying the global trend of athleisure, Indian apparel exporters catering to major sportswear retailers have realized that Indian youth is swaying towards the new enthusiasm for fitness. “The changing trend is making the country’s sportswear sector extremely attractive for the apparel manufacturers. Though it takes lots of efforts to be a proficient sportswear manufacturer, especially in a country like India where sportswear market has already been grabbed by the international top brands such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok,” states Mohit Singhal, Director, Creative Clothex.
Indian consumers have always felt the need for a sportswear label that not only falls into their comfort level but also within their price range. European, US or UK brands already have their strong presence in the Indian Tier I and Tier II cities without any competition from domestic brands. “I have always felt the need to bridge the gap between high- end sportswear brand and low- end sportswear brand prevailing in the market. That’s why I have launched my own sportswear label,” shares Roshan Baid, Director, Paragon Apparels.
With their immense outlook on the global athleisure market and India’s rising awareness coupled with demand in this domain, both these business experts have launched their own unique range of sportswear to boost domestic sports market in India.
Alcis by Paragon Apparels
All major retailers such as Nike, Puma, Adidas, H&M, Lululemon, Under Armour, etc., are coming up with the latest trends in athleisure apparels.
Paragon Apparels, an integrated sportswear manufacturer, has launched its own sportswear label named ‘Alcis’ for the Indian market. Alcis was basically a pair of twin male gods worshipped by Naharvali, a tribe of ancient Germanic people. The brand signifies strength and vitality and its logo takes inspiration from a runner’s stance, i.e., the starting position for any race. With a vision to revolutionize the sports performance of the apparel market through innovation, Alcis targets consumers of 16-30 years of age and the extended target is up to 40. Additionally, being the proud manufacturing partner of IPL, NBA, FIFA Russia, and FIFA U-17 World Cup India, Paragon is integrating the same quality standard and international technology into its new label at Indian prices.
“Quality is paramount where we don’t want to compromise on even a single aspect,” shares Roshan. The same was evident in the beautifully and systematically arranged fabric rolls packed in racks. To easily find the availability of a fabric roll at a given time, a checklist is displayed on each of the rack, which eases the time wasted in finding a fabric roll. Furthermore, neatly packed fabric rolls not only maintain the cleanliness factor but also ease movement in the fabric storage room, eliminating blockages.
The fabric sourced from Paragon’s own textile mill is treated with anti-microbial, anti- odour, anti- oil, moisture wicking, water-repellent, anti-wrinkle finishes and is perfect for the country’s youth, who have the passion to create a lifestyle of health, fitness and sports. Abiding by the quality aspect, the fabric uses fabric relaxing machine by Hi-Tech to spread the fabric that needs to be laid before passing on to the next stage of process, i.e. spreading. Sewing section of 18 lines on a floor maintains a zig-zag production system that eases the movement of material between one point to another. Working on 60: 40 UBT Juki sewing machines, the sewing operators work according to the SAM generated with the help of GSD software. “It is irrelevant to have 100 per cent UBT machines in use when some of the operations do not even need the feature of UBT. That’s why we have a ratio of 60: 40. If we talk about working with SAM value generated through GSD, the maximum efficiency that can be pulled out from a line reaches up to 45 per cent, which in a realistic scenario is a very good efficiency. GSD calculates SAM value, considering the maximum efficiency of operators that could only be achieved with A+ rating workers, but in a line, we have workers of all ratings,” reasons Sridhar Mallela, CEO, Paragon Apparels.
A perfect quality garment is a combination of best production management practices and latest technology, and Paragon has all these ingredients available in its ‘kitchen’ to serve the exact desirable ‘garment’ on a customer’s platter.
The company has implemented traffic light system in each sewing line to keep a track on the operations that might be an obstacle in the smooth operation of the line. What makes these traffic lights different from what’s there in other facilities are the quirky smileys. The green traffic light card has a big smiley imprinted on it, while yellow shows a worried smiley, and red displays a sad smiley. “Who would like to see a sad or worried smiley in front of him? This keeps the workers motivated to work without defects,” says Sridhar.
Always ready for an order, even in low quantity, the company manages its shopfloor accordingly. “For low- quantity orders, we have set up a modular line which caters to that particular style only,” informs the CEO of Paragon Apparels.
Not only in the sewing
process, the management also makes its way towards the finishing operation. Different storage areas for different sizes labelled as XS, S,L, M, and XL clearly demark the size sorting to avoid any mixing of sizes.
Paragon Apparels uses
H& H welding and bonding machines to manufacture seamless garments, which are essential for performance sportswear. Used to bond shoulder seams and side seams, the H& H machines have worked very well for the company. Aesthetically designed athleisure built with the highest quality incorporates the laser cutting technology to create designs and look which make a garment appealing. The logo of the brand which is the symbol of exclusiveness for a garment is also taken care of in the factory itself. A 20-head Barudan embroidery machine fulfils the need of embroidering the brand’s logo on the garment.
Aurro Sports by Creative Clothex
Revolving around the tagline – ‘Creating aspiration in domestics sportswear market’, Creative Clothex launched its sportswear brand ‘Aurro Sports’ in January last year. Smooth construction, comfort, performance and aesthetics are the features demanded by today’s fitness conscious customers. Creative Clothex, being well cognizant about these factors, has addressed these by procuring fabrics that have features like perspiration management, UV protection and anti-bacterial finish. “Working on these characteristics will enable us to make garments which can be worn five months in a year, whereas the current market in India is offering only those garments which are useful only from November to January season,” shares Mohit.
Today, where all domestic brands source fabrics locally in order to be costcompetitive and rightly serve the target market, Creative Clothex already has an edge over them as it imports fabric from Taiwan. “India does not produce quality polyester fabric. If domestic sportswear manufacturers invest in polyester-based fabric technology, a lot of business from China, Vietnam and Taiwan will shift to India. We are the only sportswear brand in the country that sources fabric from other countries,” avers Mohit. Fabric sourced from Taiwan results in reduction of 7- 8 per cent of wastage, which in turn is profitable for the company.
Quality required in athleisure needs technological advancement and this pushed Creative Clothex to add seamless technology to its range. The company will also use hot air welding machines and ultrasonic welding machines from H& H Asia Group Ltd., which will enable it to manufacture high- end garments with seamless welding and bonding technology, thus eliminating fraying of fabric and chances of irritating seams. “Using bonding and welding machines means providing aesthetics and comfort to the wearer. Even the zipper fixing operation will be carried out with the help of adhesive tape, thus a cleaner finish with no stitch line would be achieved,” confirms a proud Mohit. With a fair amount of knowledge about the technological developments that can be added in the production line, he further shares, “Creative Clothex is ready to invest in the technology for sportswear and outdoor apparels for both aesthetic look and functional applications. Simply put, technological advancement is the need of today’s sportswear sector, starting from fabric to final product.”
The company also plans to adopt quality control tools such as 8D defect analysis tool and traffic light system in manufacturing units to control quality of processes visually along with laser cutting technology with the help of Sri Lankan technicians. Referring to his company’s stress on quality, Mohit concludes, “We are not going to compromise on product quality even if we have to increase manufacturing cost by 30 per cent.”
Creative Clothex will use hot air welding and ultrasonic welding machines from H&H Asia Group Ltd., which will enable it to manufacture high- end garments with seamless welding and bonding technology.
Systematically arranged fabric rolls in fabric storage area of Paragon Apparels
Sewing floor at Paragon Apparels maintains a zig-zag production system
Quirky traffic light system cards
Alcis is an athleisure brand offered by Paragon Apparels
Roshan Baid, Director, Paragon Apparels
Athleisure trend is grabbing millennials’ attention
Aurro Sports launched by Creative Clothex caters to demands of fitness conscious customers
Mohit Singhal, Director, Creative Clothex