Madura Fashion and Lifestyle’s new pathbreaking and revolutionary knowledge management center in Bengaluru is a step towards empowering the brand with all the ready information to create value in to the group’s apparel business. Know what KMC is all about.
Madura Fashion and Lifestyle (MFL) has created an envious niche for itself in the industry with brands – Louis Phillippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Peter England and many more. What helps the company maintain a leadership position in the market rests with the activities and initiatives it undertakes to empower all the stakeholders – employees being the most important. Setting the context for the story to follow, Ashish Dikshit, chief executive officer, MFL reveals, “Our KMC is part of a continuous effort to maintain market leadership. It is poised to deliver value and growth for almost all functions in the apparel business as it forays into areas of visual merchandising and retail, beyond product innovation and design.”
Launched in January 2012, the center was set up to build a centralized knowledge repository to help foster a culture of creativity and innovation across functions in the apparel field. Highlighting the need for such a set-up, Dr Naresh Tyagi, head – product development and quality assurance, MFL shares, “The idea is to offer a space to explore technological and design aspects of textiles and apparel. KMC is a blend of fashion, design and technology. Its aim is to facilitate innovation and development through trends, fashion, knowledge and processes in order to create value for the apparel business. The objective is to gather global knowledge and amass it in a knowledge repository to be leveraged to create innovations and adopt best practices.”
What makes the center attractive for the team to get involved is not only the in-exhaustive collection of trends, vendor information, knowledge sharing programs but also the sheer size and ambiance that doesn’t fail to attract! Located in the head office of MFL at Whitefield, an upmarket suburb of Bengaluru, this 6,500 sq.ft. facility has 11 studios, each a state-of-the-art facility. The manpower manning the center are textile engineers from premier institutes and fashion graduates from prestigious institutes such as NIFT and NID. KMC works in collaboration with over 30 industry experts across more than 8 countries to garner knowledge and technology.
The entire center is aimed to enthrall the consumer with fresh and innovative options that extend towards benchmarking of products, going deep within to understand technical details and how best a particular trend/ fabric/ innovation can be put to use. With fashion in India almost coming to be at par with what is in-vogue internationally, it goes without saying that fashion forecasts and fabric innovations should be well studied and the collection brought out has to be in sync with what the season demands. Vendor and supplier management is the key to ensuring a smooth supply chain management and it always help to have a constant dialogue with vendors and suppliers to not only learn from them on what they have to offer but also share with them the learning a brand has so that they can be empowered to produce trims and fabrics as per the expectations. KMC offers a platform for all these activities.
Dr Tyagi elaborates, “Consumer knowledge will be a key source of input for our brands to respond effectively and develop products and communication in-line with consumer needs. It will aid in continuous evolution of our brands and ensure the relevance of our products to the consumer. This is in line with MFL’s vision that promises to passionately satisfy consumer needs.”
Decoding the Studio Set-Up
At the heart of the KMC are its studios – the ‘pearls’ of KMC. These are equipped with essential tools and technology to provide platforms for design, product development and sourcing. They allow brand creative and merchandise teams to access ready references, and research and development (R&D) work. The studios have dedicated Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), who excel in their field of work and are equipped to advice on queries regarding their respective studios. The studios collaborate with Global Subject Matter Experts (GSMEs), which are the best companies from across the globe, for that particular specialisation. Users can unleash their creativity by simulating colours, fabrics, trims and garments in various methods and styles, with the guidance and help of the SMEs. Dr Tyagi highlights, “Our KMC is unique in the Indian apparel segment, providing technical expertise in the most organised way to our brands. “The SME in each studio brings years of experience and creativity in their fields of expertise. We use the best and most advanced technology to provide end-to-end solutions by addressing all the aspects of apparel making.”
THE DESIGN GARDEN is an area with an inspiration aura to help colleagues conceive, conceptualise and create their designs and collections. The theme ‘Ecolect’ – Ecological Intellect – is supported by the ambience with neutral colours and wall graphics. An ‘Innovation wall’ in the Design Garden area is a space that displays global innovations that have changed our lives. The idea is to be inspired and innovate.
THE COLOUR & YARN STUDIO has a collection of colour palettes from the world’s best colour companies – Huntsman International, Pantone and Dystar – which are GSMEs in the colour zone. This collaboration helps colleagues in the MFL creative teams derive the best in- class products and services. The GSMEs for yarn are Australian Wool Innovations and Vardhman Textiles.
THE TRIMS STUDIO houses samples of functional, branding, packing and packaging trims (eg. buttons, sewing threads and interlinings) that are essential components of any apparel. The trims are displayed category-wise and a detailed database of vendors’ names and quality is readily available. The GSMEs here are Gutermann, Coats and Medeira for threads, Freudenberg group, Kufner International, Hansel Textil GmbH and Helsa & Co for rims in constructed garments like suits. The packing and packaging GSMEs are Avery Dennison and Manetti, and YKK for zippers.
THE FABRIC STUDIOS have a wide spread of fabrics for shirts, trousers, suits, blazers, knitwear, women’s wear and ceremonial wear. The repository of fabrics helps teams create new lines of apparel based on specific requirements. For instance, a line of office wear shirts or a new shiny party trousers collection. The GSMEs for woven fabrics are Luthai, Sunrise Younger, Arvind Mills, Raymond Zambiati, Nissimbo, Sunshine and Vardhman. KMC collaborates with Invista, Dow Chemicals and Huntsman for knit fabrics.
THE INSPIRATION STUDIO has a collection of fabrics from a number of textile sources that serve to provide creative inspiration to our brand creative teams. The GSMEs are Cotonofi cio Albini, Albiate, Reda, VBC, Nissimbo and Deveaux Sa. The studio permits teams to work on developing products that are close to International trends and fashion adapted for domestic markets.
THE TECHNOLOGY STUDIO is updated with the latest fibers, fabrics and finishes from our GSMEs Huntsmann International, Dystar, Nanotex, Clariant and Schoeller Textil AG to support ideation and experimentation of innovations in our apparel and textile products.
THE FIT STUDIO helps consolidate and analyze fits across different products. It aids in marker making and pattern development for unique as well as complicated benchmark styles. CAD software is used to create virtual prototypes of garments by aligning different fabrics with different body types and styles. Opti Tex is the GSME providing information and technical updates in the field of virtual prototyping.
TECHNICAL CONSTRUCTION STUDIO is a place where emerging trends of styling and construction are captured. It helps develop new products across all categories. This studio is meant for product engineering and technical assistance for manufacturing support and quality upgradation. It is the epicenter of product benchmarking exercises where MFL products are compared with competition samples as well as inspirational brands. The studio has a wide range of samples and mock-ups for ready reference. It also has an archive of technical case studies related to the construction and styling of garments.
THE PRODUCT STUDIO works as a repository for benchmark analysis by category, fabric types, price points and product attributes. The collection of samples has been done in three broad segments: past, present and future. Shop- In-Shop (mock stores), a dedicated space in the studio, signifies our brand identity and is widely utilised for trial runs of product displays. The studio has retail window spaces and has used the brands of MFL – Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Peter England and People. Visual merchandising teams can perform mock runs of the new look of retail stores here.
The studio also has a concept wall called the ‘Hall of Fame’, which is an archive centre of the historic best products of MFL in terms of revenue generation, market acceptance and trends. The third space in the Product Studio is the ‘Icon’ area where aspirational, breakthrough and innovative products from various international brands and companies are collected. This is designed as a space where inspiration may be drawn and revolutionary products created.
THE EFFECTS STUDIO can create surface treatments and wash recipes to provide a unique look to garments e.g. stonewash and vintage look. This studio has a collection of the world’s best washed samples, especially in the category of denims and casuals. It serves as a knowledge repository for the brand creative and merchandise teams.
The team can refer to swatches, mock-ups and samples for the desired ‘hand feel’ and ‘look’ of the product. The GSMEs here are Jeanologia and Clariant. To conclude, consumer connection is about understanding the evolving requisites of consumers with reference to the products, through regular interactions to aid new product development. Co-creation of products with customers is a way forward in the evolved terms of business today and the KMC enables such practices. The centre also serves as a repository of consumer knowledge for product development, marketing communication, buying and merchandising.