LIVA: REVOLUTIONISING CONVENTIONAL FABRIC IN FASHION RETAIL
Comfortable, soft, cent percent natural and ecofriendly, this ultra-modern fabric is charting a new course in fashion by embossing a strong presence in the fashion retail segment…
Since its launch in 2015, Liva has defied all norms of conventional fabric. Comfortable, soft, cent percent natural and eco-friendly, this ultra-modern fabric is charting a new course in fashion by embossing a strong presence in the fashion retail segment. IMAGES Business of Fashion talks to Manohar Samuel, President – Marketing & Business Development, Birla Cellulose, Grasim Industries Limited about the innovation that the brand has brought to the Indian fashion industry. Excerpts from the exclusive chat…
Tell us about the different segments of fashion that
Liva covers. Also tell us about any specific product categories that Liva has helped to revolutionise in terms of innovation.
Liva is present in all the segments of women’s wear. We especially see that Liva has made a good ingredient with the kurti segment which is the largest product profile as on date in the women’s wear category. In this segment, the earlier focus was natural fluid fashion, coming out with regular fibers like viscose, modal, etc. But now things have drastically changed, and we have gone into blends and lot of structured fabrics have come into play.
When I talk about blends it’s the viscose rich polyester blend, which is really into higher technologically driven finishing that we have launched this season. It has better
moisture management and gives great finishes with performances that are unique.
Saree is another category where the potential is very high, and the Indian consumer is getting to know more about innovation. We have a nylon filament yarn blend which is uniquely twisted to give a handle which is very different with its drape and fluidity. We also blend this with other fabrics like modal which give it a lustrous look preferred by the high-end market. Also our research and development has been successful in yielding different finishes which gives comfort levels and manageability with a slew of additional features.
We have also developed a two way fabric where one can see the process of different dying properties with different fibers. Then there is ponte, which is a poly-filament yarn and has really picked up in the jeggings categories. If you look at stoles as a category, there are variety of sizes and styles in which it is worn. Stolls was produced in 2/40/20s now it has gone by 60/60 counts printed stoles. Nevertheless the pairing of stoles with different types of women’s dressing has given the ability to manufacturers to keep innovating.
We also are launching in the men’s wear category. Poly-viscose is already there as a long standing product. However, our innovation is to play more with colours. We also have given a ceremonial wear tilt which is fast growing and catching up in India. So jacquards and the play of these colours have been good and fabrics have been developed along the need of the industry.
Throw some light on your design and product development capabilities.
Insights from the market that come from retail stores is our priority, followed by insights from the design centers that our designers visit routinely.
As a progressive company, our capability is organically built in our system. The first one is
Textile Research and Application Development Center (TRADC) – this is where we have the product capabilities worked out on. We put paramount emphasis on consumer insights because Liva is a consumer brand. Our internal design team is instrumental in working very closely at the ground level to get the design right as per the exact needs of the industry. Our designers work with design institutions and designers of leading brands across the industry which has resulted in much larger co-created designs.
We work closely with trend forecasting agencies like WGSN to ensure that our products align as per the latest trends and industry standards. Apart from all these, we also have our Liva Accredited Partner Forum (LAPF) which ensures our association which some of the most innovative fabricators of the industry.
LIVA’S RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN YIELDING DIFFERENT FINISHES WHICH GIVES COMFORT LEVELS AND MANAGEABILITY WITH A SLEW OF ADDITIONAL FEATURES.
Technology is becoming the biggest enforcer today, how well do you use this at your production stage?
Let me split this answer into two parts—technology at the fiber stage and technology at the value chain.
We, as a fiber company would definitely play a role in bringing out newer fiber, but at the same time the partnership across spinning, fabricating and processing chain itself will enhance what the consumer wants. From the fiber stage, wet spinning technology will remain the key focus and we will keep adding additives to it so that it benefits the entire value chain and most importantly the consumer. An example of this is the dyed fiber which has an anti-bacterial finish, making it stay fresh forever.
We have also built technologies at the sustainability stage which would put us in a higher pedestal. The company has made huge investments towards a sustainable modus operandi along with working with global brands and NGOs.
Some of the biggest partnerships are with our spinning center Aditya Birla Yarn (ABY). They have a development center that can give a differentiated comparison of these yarns with the same sort of fabrics—which gives us an edge to understand and put forth a consumer research on the said product. We have started warp knitting with our Modal yarn with a polyester filament yarn blend and it has given a fabric similar to scuba which is knitted fabric but comes out like a woven role.
Tell us about some of your clients in the domestic market.
We already are working with big lifestyle brands like Biba, W, Aurelia and big format brands like Fbb, Reliance Retail, Pantaloon, Lifestyle, Max, etc., which are always there with us. But I am particularly happy to let you know that from the last two years, we have been able to get some really young brands on board. Let me give you a good example – a young legging’s brand called Prisma from Tirupur is only doing Liva leggings and it shells out close to 2.5 lakh pieces a month. These are the brands which have caught on the consumer’s attention and have worked dexterously on all the aspects of the Liva eco-system.
Do you also have international brands that use your products?
Absolutely! We have some of the best brands of the globe on our roster including, H&M, M&S, Next, Gap, and a lot of other international brands that we work with from India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and China. India however remains the biggest working arrangement for us but some of these brands have their buying offices located in Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
In this age of fast fashion, how well are your product ideas linked to sustainability?
Primarily, sustainability is caring for the earth and its resources—which is something that we value at Liva. And let me tell you something; we work with a numerous fast fashion brands and they are very conscious on the lines of sustainability as well. However, today the part which is being of major concern and talk is the excessive usage of fast fashion which really does not take care of the reduce, recycle or reuse philosophy. Personally, I have a slightly balanced view here as it is, ultimately, driven by the consumer. So if the consumer wants more I don’t think anybody would be stopping, sharing and providing solutions to the consumer needs. But on the other hand, we need to have a balance as to what we offer as fast fashion, which clearly means that we need to be environmentally righteous.
Decode your future of working on product development and the new initiatives being taken by your brand for us.
We have two areas of working on the product end. One is the consumer insights, which leads us to a product. Next is that we are leveraging some of the best technologies available so as to add value to our customers’ purchases. We have strengthened our relations with the design community and the insights that come to us from them are being screened with a sustainability outlook.