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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

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