Just about nine months ago, in the peak festive season last year, headlines screamed how Indians were not even buying underwear. It was basically to denote how bad economy was at the time.
Reports suggested how shopkeepers, yet to recover from the double whammy of demonetisation and GST, weren’t stocking up on the clothing essential because people weren’t ready to spend money even on something as simple and inexpensive as an undergarment.
Cut to a world that is just opening up amid easing of restrictions in the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The economy still isn’t any better. In fact, it is staring at an abyss as the lockdown forced the businesss and industries to remain shut for close to three months. However, as apparel shops open their shutters, they have met with an unexpected demand for undergarments. And other basic items such as lower pajamas, leggings, shorts and T-shirts.
Incidentally, it is one demand that none of the apparel manufacturers had anticipated when they restarted their units after curbs were lifted. Such has been the demand for the basic items of clothing that several industrialists have now started manufacturing these items instead of the usual fashion garments they used to churn out.
“People have remained cooped inside their homes for about 80 days. In this duration, all they needed or used or were basic items of clothing such as T-shirts, shorts, and lowers. The lockdown may be lifted but with restrictions on going to offices, on number of people at social gatherings and even at shopping complexes and malls in place, people need more of these items, and not the luxury apparels or fashion garments,” said an industry expert.
“Producers and retailers, however, should have anticipated the surge in demand for undergarments, considering that shops had remained closed for a long time”.
The hosiery and textile units in Ludhiana confirmed that they are getting orders from various parts of country for basic items of clothing. At Akal Market, a hub of wholesalers, traders have placed bulk orders with the hosiery units for casual garments.
Gaurav Jain, who owns the Redhill undergarments brand, said, “We also manufacture pajamas, T-shirts and shorts. Soon after the restrictions were eased, there was a surge in demand for undergarments and other basic items. People are focusing on buying casual wear only rather than spending on fancy items”.
The spending power having shriveled in the post lockdown economy with most people getting only part of their salaries and many losing jobs, the average buyer is not looking to spend on fancy clothing. “That is why daily wear T-shirts, in the range of Rs 150-250 and pajamas and lowers in the range of Rs 250-300 are high in demand,” said Gaurav Jain.
Rajat Sood, who has a dyeing unit, said, “The casual wear in shops have already been sold out. We were not prepared for for this sudden shift in demand. Now, most of the dyers are calling their labour back so that cloth could be made ready for producing casual wear”.
Bobby Jindal, who has already brought back 30 workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, said,” I am spending money on getting my workers back here. I need to manufacture cloth as per the market demand”.
Sudarshan Jain, owner of Sarjeevan Knitwears and also president of Knitwear and Apparel Manufacturers Association of Ludhiana (KAMAL), said,”We are primarily into manufacturing jackets and have not yet switched to the other products, but many units have quickly adapted to the new demand and are now only manufacturing only casuals and hosiery items. Fancy dresses have taken a backseat. It is back to basics”.
Vinod Thaper, president of Knitwear Club, said, “Many of our members have taken to manufacturing pajamas, shorts and other such items with whatever little workforce they have. The demand is decent, not huge. Purchasing power of people has dipped”.
Meanwhile, leading textiles maker and retailer Arvind Mills Ltd too said that they expect demand for home wear, casual and comfortable wear to increase as people worked from home during lockdown.
“I think home wear, casual wear and comfort wear and masks have become new accessories during lockdown,” Arvind executive director Kulin Lalbhai said, adding th demand for such items will further increase for the industry as people are now spending much more time at home.
Besides, there would also be demand for special products as antiviral fabrics, the Ahmedabad-Based company said as it introduced anti-viral textile technology-based the ‘Intellifabrix’ brand in the segment.
According to the company, HeiQ Viroblock significantly enhances the antiviral log reduction and reduces viral infectivity by 99.99 per cent and is one of the first textile technologies in the world to claim such efficacy on SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19.
Lalbhai said in the short term, there would be a good demand for such products.
While talking about the Indian garments industry, Lalbhai said that the pandemic has hit the industry hard and it would take time to recover.
With PTI inputs
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