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The world wants denim from India

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With various shades and textures of denim splashed across the table, Aamir Akhtar, CEO – Denim Fabrics, is working with his young designers in the swanky Arvind Ltd’s design studio to finalise the `Arvind Meets Kato` collection for global buyers.

Akhtar, himself seems to be virtually living on denim ever since global retailer Wal-Mart has come to him to supply one-million metres of denim per month. “Arvind has witnessed a 13% jump in business from its denim business in the current fiscal due to aggressive buying by global brands and retailers like Wal-Mart, GAP and Levis,” he explains. Supplying 70 million metres of denim fabric annually to the best brands, the company is slated to add about 10 million metres more in this quarter.

With China, a global denim heavyweight supplying 3 billion metres of denim annually but slowly retreating its steps from denim production owing to a cotton crunch, the likes of Wal-Mart, VF Corporation, GAP and H&M have begun flocking India to source the fabric.

While Wal-Mart India spokesperson asserted that its “suppliers in Asia have provided high-quality products at competitive prices for many years", a senior sourcing executive of a retail giant added: “We have already begun sourcing agressively from India foreseeing good retail demand. With trouble brewing in Bangladesh over labour, more business would come to India in days to come.”

Although producing 650 million metres of denim per annum, India’s core strength lies in its denim powerhouses like Arvind Ltd, Aarvee Denims and Exports Ltd, Modern Denim Ltd, Mafatlal Denim, Soma Textiles and Industries Ltd, KG Denim and Raymond UCO Denim who have pulled up their socks to attend to the denim call. Contributing 13% to the world textile trade, the $55-60 billion denim market is poised for 3-5% growth globally.

With the brands and retailers shifting their manufacturing from traditional players like the US, Mexico, Turkey and Italy, to low-cost destinations, India has woken up to cement its denim dream. “India is nowhere close to China in terms of numbers. However, problems in the Chinese economy are providing an impetus to India’s denim story. Indian denim players with a foresight have added close to 80 million metres capacities in recent past,” observes the father of denim in India PR Roy.

Just about 10 km away from Arvind, yet another “handsome” order from Wal-Mart has triggered Aarvee Denims and Exports Ltd to pump in Rs 150 crore to ramp up its production from 60 million metres to 96 million metres by December 2011. “There is no time to lose,” notes Ashish Shah, MD, Aarvee.

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