Synthetic fabric, once popular among Indian women, is losing sheen among the young middle-class consumers.<read full article from economic times>
As fashion sensibilities change, women are now opting for stylish apparels made of cotton. That has forced textile companies, which currently churn over 4 crore metres of synthetic fabric daily, to revamp technology and blend more cotton.
With Surat alone producing over 80% of polyster fabric, a major shift in manufacturing trend will be seen in 450 textile units in the district. "There has been a steady fall in the demand for synthetic sarees and salwar kameez in the domestic market. Anually, we are seeing a 15% reduction in polyster manufacturing as women are increasingly opting for cotton and viscose (georgette and chiffon) fabric," said Pramod Chaudhary, president of South Gujarat Textile Processors Association.
The dip in demand is mainly due to the changing fashion trends and rising middle-class aspirations. Textile manufacturers also attribute the decline to the young generation moving away from saree and salwar to trousers and western wear. "The trend has started shifting with more western wear in vogue than it had been a decade ago. From manufacturing polyster sarees, whose trend started in 1976-77, we have now moved to making cotton dress material and men's suiting. Across India, we are seeing the middle-class consumers buying more cotton and cotton-blended fabric, even though it is costly," said Madhusudan Group of Industries' managing director Shrikanth Mundra, adding that the increased earnings of the middle-class were equally contributing to this trend. The company has a daily capacity to manufacture one lakh metre a day.
"In order to remain in business, the textile units, which manufactured only synthetic fabric, are now adding machinery that can churn out cotton and viscose clothing. Some others have also moved to manufacturing home-furnishing fabric and men suiting," said Chaudhary.
Leading synthetic saree and dress material brand 'Vishal' has slowly moved to manufacture other blends. "In 1999, when we started the business, we were processing and manufacturing polyster-base fabric 100%. Now it accounts for 60% with the rest of the capacity divided between cotton and viscose," said Vishal Group MD Gattubhai Shah. The Rs 150-crore company manufactures about 50,000 metres a day. "The synthetic cloth demand is from the lower middle-class, which does not want costly embroidered apparels but only prints. Moreover, there is a demand from the European and Middle East countries, which accounts for 5% of our total production," he added.
However, in its 10 retail outlets under the brand name 'Arissa', the company is only selling viscose and cotton dress material apart from Manish Malhotra, Neeta Lulla, Rohit Bal, Surili Goel, Archana Kochhar and Mandira Vig brands whose contract manufacturing is done by the company.
The prices of synthetic sarees and suits start from Rs 150 to Rs 1,200, depending on the embroidery work. With malls and multi-brand retail outlets selling cotton and cotton-blend dress material at the same range, the competition is tough, say companies. "There are more than 10,000 small brands in Surat alone in synthetic sarees, which buy the fabric for manufacturers and do marketing under there own brand. With women preferring cotton kurtis, tunics and skirts, we see the need to add new cotton manufacturing lines," said Bindal Silk Mills' owner Ravindra Arya who manufactures 2 lakh metres per day.