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Covid-19 And Textile Industry

Working on finishes below during development and production will surely help to build up trust with the consumer.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

The world is challenging Covid-19 Pandemic, which has not left any part of the world to face it. One side lives are been lost as a result of Pandemic, other largest consequence that the world is facing big downfall in the economy too. 

This economic crisis has attacked various business in and around the world. All sort of Travel, Hospitality, Hotels, Restaurants, Bar, Package food, retail, e-commerce, Automobile etc. One of the severely affected industry is Textile Manufacturing too. Which is the second largest employment creating industry after agriculture? 

If we see below chart except people working in agriculture, rest all would be affected due to pandemic situation around the world. Means more than 5 billion people are living with an unknown future. This is the current panic situation ahead of the whole world.

The slew of measures being taken by the government to fight the coronavirus pandemic has put textile manufacturers in a spot. While on the one hand, the sector is struggling to continue with its production schedule as offtake has almost come to a halt, on the other the pressure to repay its dues to banks is alarming.

The textiles industry in India was estimated at more than US$ 100 billion in January 2020. It is the second-largest employer after agriculture, providing employment to over 45 million people directly and 60 million people indirectly. These include manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers and exporters of Cotton Textiles, Handlooms, Woolen Textiles as well as those engaged in the manufacturing of textile machinery and equipment, dyes and raw materials, delivery of finished textiles, fabrics and garments. While the yarn is mostly produced in the mills, fabrics are produced in the Shuttleless looms, power loom, knitting m.c's and handloom sectors. The textile industry indirectly contributed around 5 per cent to GDP. The sector contributed around 14 per cent to the overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP).

Among the massive impact that coronavirus has had on the economies, fashion is one of the hardest-hit industries.

Stating that the situation is taking a turn for the worse due to closure of malls and retail showrooms, it’s said, “The textile and clothing sector is labour and capital intensive. A majority of workers are migrant labourer’s; they have now started to return to their native places. With the total disruption in workflow and production schedule, the industry is facing its worst-ever crisis.

In the export area, now that Covid-19 has taken over key buying areas like Europe and the USA the impact will be severe especially on the suppliers of luxury fabrics and embroidery. For suppliers to fast fashion/mass retail, there might still be hope in the aftermath but initially, at least there will be smaller orders and very tight margins. 

Coming to domestic suppliers. Depending on how the Covid-19 scenario evolves in India, we are looking at very low consumer sentiment and therefore much less consumption this year. Retailers and brands have already started halting production lines, delayed season releases and cut buying budgets to prepare for these eventualities. Of Course, with few garments being made there will be less demand for fabrics so overall the situation is looking gloomy. 

• The economic carnage brought forth by forced shutdowns and changes in consumer attitudes to discretionary purchases, such as clothing, may lead to the winnowing out of weaker players.
 • Experts are worried about the impact that this black swan event will have on the domestic apparel industry in India.

. According to specialists, once the dust settles on the immediate crisis, the apparel industry faces a recessionary market. One of the reasons for this is the prospect of long-lasting changing consumer behaviour due to social distancing and the preference for sanitized products.

Will consumers want to march into crowded malls to do their shopping, as they nonchalantly did before? Moreover, the most critical part of an apparel purchase in a market like India is trial. As Spanish sustainable textile technology provider Jeanologia’s founder Enrique Silla explicates; after the Covid-19 crisis is over, consumers will be uncomfortable to touch and feel garments in retail stores, jittery about who would have touched it before them. 

He suggests, “The world will not be the same after Covid-19. For the textile industry is very important to recover the trust of the consumer. Only through sanitizing, brands will be able to speed up regaining consumers’ trust, guaranteeing the fast recovery of our industry.”

Further, as per experts, it is being widely speculated that a significant number of people in the world are bound to lose their jobs (and are already being laid off by their employers) as a means to cut costs amid the health exigency. In fact, according to a recent note from the International Labour Organisation titled ‘Covid-19 and the World of Work: Impact and Policy Responses’, the coronavirus crisis will have a far-reaching impact on labour market outcomes. The UN body estimates that the virus will be pushing millions of people into unemployment, underemployment and working poverty, with almost 25 million jobs being lost worldwide as a result of Covid-19.

This would mean income losses for workers and subsequently translate into a fall in consumption of non-essential goods and services like garments, in turn affecting the prospects for businesses and economies. There will be no urgency to buy apparel as consumers are primarily focusing on grocery, medicines and staples purchase. This is also due to the uncertain economic scenario prevailing all over the world, limited product options and late & expensive deliveries, reduction in occasions to go out & hence the need for new clothes.

A recent report calibrated by Wazir Advisors – Impact of COVID-19 Scenario on European and the US Apparel Market – estimates that the combined apparel consumption of EU and the US might fall to about US$ 308 billion, 40-45% lower than the 2020 projected consumptions. This will be a tough time for Indian apparel exporters as about 60% of the country’s apparel exports are destined for EU and the US markets.

Without fresh export orders and a restarting of the economy, many garment producers will be either forced to shut shop entirely or inflict stringent cost-cutting measures, including layoffs. CMAI anticipates as many as one crore job cuts in the textiles sector. Add to that the fact that last month, millions of migrants were compelled to flee from cities to their homes to evade death from hunger due to the plunge in economic activity.

From manufacturing through to retail, the garment industry employs close to 25 million people. If the current situation continues beyond a month from now, nearly a quarter of the jobs in the industry will be lost, according to the Clothing Manufacturers’ Association of India (CMAI). Recovery, the CMAI predicts, will take at least 10 months to a year. Without government support, it adds, the industry cannot survive this unprecedented crisis.

However, on the brighter side, a number of countries around the world, such as the USA & Japan, have decided to learn lessons from this calamity and look for alternate production sources other than China. India should capitalize on this situation and present itself as a credible alternative to increase its textile and apparel exports share. Further, manufacturers need to maximize their internal capabilities and focus on building their efficiencies if they want to emerge as a better option than competitors like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia. They must also incorporate digital strategy in the buying process. They should also think about markets other than the US & Europe such as Japan and South Korea.

The biggest shifts in fashion have historically not come from runway trends but followed events such as wars that disrupt society on a huge scale, says Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, a fashion historian and author of Worn on This Day: The Clothes That Made History. Their effects ripple through supply chains, the economy, social behaviour, and daily life, often accelerating and normalizing changes already underway.

Now the demand for Hygiene textile would be very high. No product whether its apparel wear or home textiles, knitted or woven, adults or kids, formal or casual, will have to have inbuild Hygiene in it. This trust-building up will be key with consumers to regain business at the earliest.

Working on finishes below during development and production will surely help to build up trust with the consumer.

Apparel and home textile Industry would focus on a combination of below finishes

  • Anti microbial/Anti viral/ Anti Bacteria
  • Water repellents
  • Hydrophilic
  • Wrinkle-free
  • Anti-odour, Anti Sweating 
  • Anti-pilling(to avoid entrapping of Microbial) 
  • PU coated Denims
  • Soil release and few more

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Vikas Chachra

The author is Founder & CEO of SOFOCOL (Solutions for Colours), a renowned consultant in the field of textile processing and new hygiene products build up. Having experience of 30+ years in domain.

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