How important are design studios in garment export houses?
Every buying house in the west has a well-equipped design
studio. But not many Indian textile and clothing exporters have invested in
design studios. Reena Mital and Sapna Dogra find out if design
studios are really important for the Indian industry.
in the industry believe that the Indian textile and clothing industry is only
a jobworking hub for the international buyers, and so design capability is not
really important. However, this outlook is undergoing a fast change in a severely
competitive global market, and the industry is realising the importance of showcasing
design capability, to secure high value orders.
Speaking to Express Textile, Mr Vijay Aggarwal, Creative Garments, said, It
is important to show the international buyers that we have not just the design
capability, but are well equipped to develop samples, and fulfill orders as
per their requirements. And for all this, a design studio manned by skilled
and professionally trained designers, and equipped with IT applications is important.
Fortunately, the industry has begun realising this, and a number of exporters
have set up very good design studios.
Says Mr Krishnakumar, CEO, Texport International, It is very imperative
that exporters have their design studios, where they can be innovative with
designs. I dont think we will ever reach a stage where our designs would
be accepted completely by the westerners, as all fashion and developments happen
there. However, exporters can at least show how innovative they can be with
existing designs, how they can modify designs, add their signature to the designs,
etc. Unfortunately, most of the times, we only end up copying designs completely.
There is a change happening in the industry, but I believe that for another
6-7 years at least, things may continue to remain the same.
According to him, another reason why exporters are unable to enter into this
segment is because of the very rigid attitudes of the designers. Designers
refuse to blend with the requirements of the buyers and exporters. Where is
the point in creating 500 designs, none of which would be accepted by the buyers.
They do not want to understand the buyers vision.
There are two types of design studios - the hardcore design studios that are
attached to big houses like Benetton, Colourplus, Orient Craft, and those that
work independently and companies get their work outsourced from them.
Says Mr Rahul Mehta, director, Creative Impex, This could well be the
future for our exporters. Design studios could become the main line of business
for some exporters. The concept here is to lend the design studio facilities
to the international designers, who could come down here to develop the design
trends, etc, using the skills of the Indian designers. This way, design development
becomes cost effective for the international buyers and brands, and the Indian
exporters and designers also get exposure to international methods of styling,
trend forecasting, etc. My company in Delhi is already doing something on this
line. It is learnt that Orient Craft and Gokuldas have also begun working
on similar lines.
Ram International is also thinking of setting up a design
studio. Says Ms Kavita Goyal of Ram International, Today, we end up showing
the same designs to our various customers. With a design studio, we can change
the designs as per the needs of our customers. We will not have to share the
designs with different buyers, and this way we will not have to reveal all our
designs to all our buyers. Buyers too are looking for exclusivity. We hope to
have this in place within the next six months.
According to Ms Sandhya Raman, director apparels, Desmania Pvt Ltd, a design
studio in New Delhi, In todays scenario design studios are a must
for exporters because these are cost effective, innovative and huge time savers.
Having an in-house design department is cumbersome and after a while the designs
become repetitive and dreary. Design studios work with a number of companies,
and offer design expertise to a company for a particular season, for a particular
product. They are more creative because they are not bound by any limitation
but do allied things. Companies can outsource the designs to design studios
who know trends and can come up with alternative collections. It is convenient
and hassle free.
Desmania recently did a semi-formal and formal collection for the teen group
for Weldon International for the European market. It is very important
to follow the ethics and keep designs confidential, maintains Ms Sandhya.
According to Ms Preeti Khanna, designer with Modelama Exports, a leading export
house that has its own design studio, Design studios are very important
today when we have to operate in one big global market. They breed creativity
because the designers working here are well aware of the international trends,
happenings and fashion and they give different treatment to the fabric so that
buyers have a wide choice. They work on moodboards and keep themselves updated
which is very important in todays fiercely competitive market. For
instance, we should know what designs are in vogue by Versace or GAP, which
will make our buyers confident in our capability, adds Ms Khanna.
Even as some exporters are seriously looking at setting up design studios, getting
professionally trained manpower is a bit of a problem. Says Ms Goyal, We
need designers who will understand international trends, quality parameters,
and who will design clothes that can be viably produced, are cost effective,
and lend themselves to bulk production. According to her, international
buyers pick up concepts from all over the world, and especially Europe, modify
the same, and market them. Indian exporters can do the same, she
Says Mr Mehta, Exporters should understand that we cannot compete with
China in bulk production. So, we need to side-step China, by moving into value-additions,
and designer products.
However, he too points out the paucity of designers suited to the needs of export
houses. We have a strong fashion technology and design education base
in the country, but unfortunately the various institutes churn out independent
designers, who operate at boutique levels. There is a scarcity of designers
who can operate successfully at export houses, and add the much-needed value
to our textile and clothing exports.